LOUISA Rose Allen, the artist known as Foxes, sounds taken aback. Three days before our interview she shared in Grammy glory with Russian DJ Zedd for their dance music collaboration Clarity and even though the track has sold more 1.2 million downloads in the USA she still says winning one of pop’s biggest prizes was unexpected.
“It’s a really big shock,” says the 23-year-old singer from Southampton. “I was not expecting it. That was my vision five years ago ought in a million years I would be able to hold it in my hand. It’s insane, it’s everything to me, I’m very blessed.”
What the award means in career terms, Foxes is unsure. “I think I still have a lot to prove with my own music,” she says. “I’ve not even put out my album yet. It feels mad.”
Keeping her feet on the ground, she adds, is “the most important thing in the world”.
“If you work anywhere or do anything you should always stay grounded – as a person it’s such an important thing. No one likes someone that is not. I’m lucky to have around me people I’ve known all my life who pull me back to the ground and make me see it truthfully for what it is. Not losing your head in all of this is the best thing you can do.”
A natural born performer, who enjoyed entertaining her family from a young age, one of Foxes’ earliest musical memories is of a music box she was given by her mother when she was six years old. “I was so obsessed with it,” she recalls. “It had a perfect little ballerina made of china in the middle. It was so beautiful, so delicate. It felt so magical. That was something that made we want to do music, weirdly.
“When I was four I used to raid Mum’s kitchen. With her pots and pans and wooden spoons I would make my own band. I’d turn the pans into drums and tap them with the spoons. I’d have pretend keyboards and pretend drums. I was quite an imaginative child.”
But it was not only her mother’s pots and pans that Foxes raided. She also loved her record collection – in particular albums by Kate Bush, Bjork and Portishead. She believes music should be full of character and quirks.
“It should be as personal as possible,” she says. “Real and honest and really come from you. There’s nothing more beautiful in music than quirks, something that sounds different. I love that’s what Bjork and Kate Bush do. They have a way of drawing you into their world and making you see things different, which is nice.”
At the age of 18 Foxes moved to London and began performing as a songwriter. Her shift towards electronic music happened gradually. “It was more about finding a sound and who you are as an artist,” she explains. “I knew I wanted to play instruments and make music but when I was 18 I did not know who I was as a person rather than musically.”
It took two years of experimenting with different instruments and song writing styles before she arrived at where she wanted to be. “I met a guy called Ghostwriter, he really inspired me. He showed me different avenues of music. We have really got a musical connection – he’s my musical soul mate, in a way. We get on so well.”
The next step up, after a string of singles, was a series of collaborations with established artists such as DJ Zedd, Rudimental and the US rock group Fall Out Boy. The last came about when FOB singer Pete Wentz heard her song Youth –a UK top 10 hit late last year – at a house party and declared: “I want this girl on my next record.”
After tracking her down, they wrote the song Just One Yesterday together and performed it live at last year’s Leeds and Reading Festival. “It was a amazing, a real moment,” remembers Foxes. “They’ve been such a supportive band to me. They’ve given me so much great advice over the past year.”
Foxes’ debut album, Glorious, is due to be released in March. “You can expect a very real, emotional album,” she promises. “I’ve been writing this since forever. It’s interesting because it’s got moments of real pop, anthemic moments, and also a kind of melancholy. There are very cinematic moments that run through it as well.
“I’m a big fan of album tracks,” she adds, “ones that are not obvious pop songs. I don’t think albums have enough moments like that in them these days. You used to put a CD on and there would be a hidden track at the end that you never knew anything about. I would like to bring that back.”
In the meantime there’s the video for her new single Let Go For Tonight to look out for. It features a spectacular food fight. “It was like the most fun I’ve ever had ever,” Foxes enthuses. “That treatment I wrote in my diary when I was eight. I got a chance to live out my childhood dream.”
March 6, The Cockpit, Swinegate, Leeds, 7pm, sold out – returns only. www.thecockpit.co.uk