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A Quietus Interview

Blackpool's Little Boots Interviewed By John Robb
John Robb , June 8th, 2009 13:19

Seeing as he grew up in the same town and went to the same college, we sent Brother John Robb to interview Little Boots for us

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It’s In The City 2008 — the new band jamboree in Manchester. It's the usual round of skinny jeaned indie boy band hopefuls with their variants on the three chord shuffle with just enough difference to justify some stage space and hopes of conquering an inch of territory just to the side of Pete Doherty. The indie world is congested.

It’s in this context that the homespun glamour of Little Boots makes sense. Her gig is a rare moment of pop flash and bedsit glamour. Hidden behind of a bank of keyboards playing to 25 people makes sense. The songs are instantly catchy and she plays pop in a small room but it's the kind of pop that usually relies on massive stadiums and hi tech backdrops and it is getting executed right here in a dingy cellar. And working. She has an innate northern melancholia that makes her music resonate with a soulfulness in the same way that New Order did.

She has the star thing nailed down. Her tunes glisten with keyboards and precise melodies. This is pop with a knowing intelligence and breadth of vision ticking away just below the surface. Little Boots seems to have arrived fully formed in the midst of the new band cattle market and is destined for escape.

And she is from Blackpool, which in my book makes her double interesting — that being the town where I grew up and learned how to be in band. I instinctively understand all the frustrations and the influences of growing up in the town — the ‘Tatty Seaside Town’ we once sung about in my band the Membranes and the most misunderstood town in Britain.

Months later Little Boots is the hippest name in pop and is wisely tipped by experts everywhere to be the sensation of the year.

Pop in 2009 moves fast.

"I guess things seem to have happened quicker than they actually have. In reality things actually developed gradually although it didn’t seem like that! I feel the pressure but not in an 'Oh my god!’ running around every day sort of pressure. I have just got to focus on what I'm doing and not worry about what other people are thinking about what I should be doing."

Little Boots AKA Victoria Hesketh hails from Blackpool. This town is like the anti-Brighton; the opposite to a city which constantly gets pats on the back from the media who live in glorious semi-retirement on the south coast. Completely unlike its northern counterpart which is sneered at for being tacky and wind-blasted.

However it remains the UK’s number one tourist attraction and this season has seen its best crowds for two decades. There is a strange and twisted beauty to the place, a rakish mash up of concrete and neon that out of season has a desolate and wild charm. Blackpool can be rough and dark but it can also be boisterous and fun in a way that terifies Guardian luvvies. It’s also a big place where most of the residents have little interaction with the holiday part of town.

These very contradictions fired up the young singer

"Blackpool’s history of being an entertainment town is quite fascinating and at the same time it’s also run down and there was quite a contradiction between the two worlds. There were not many musical opportunities there. If you wanted to do anything different you had to go somewhere else but I guess that’s the same with any small town. Blackpool is not a terrible place and lots of interviews I’ve done somehow make it out to be that. Blackpool is different obviously but most small places don’t have opportunities like cities do."

Victoria comes from the suburban sprawl that sprouts out of the north end of Blackpool — the endless red brick semis and proud gardens. She grew up in Thornton Cleveleys where I grew up twenty-five years previously. Little has changed round there — the average age of the residents has come down a bit and the magic mushroom punk/hippie scene that used to exist covertly in back rooms and the few mouldy bedsits in Cleveley Town Centre has gone. But it is where Britain’s best young pop star started to dream a very different dream

"I went to Manchester a lot at weekends to watch gigs at the Apollo and the Uni and would see stuff like the Foo Fighters — I used to be a lot more into rock when I was younger, it was what my friends were into. When I grew up I was into pop music like Kylie Minogue and Take That. When I was 15 I went clubbing, dancing to mainstream dance music in my late teens. I got into rock bands, then into jazz bands. I've always been a varied person into different styles of music. I love music as long as its good songs- from rock bands to jazz to pop.

"I was in proggy bands, indie band, punk bands and did covers. Typical stuff that you do at 16 messing round in college."

This is the same college that I went to as well. Blackpool Collegiate. In the 21st century it offers one of the best music courses in the UK in a specially built centre. In the early 80s music was frowned upon and actively discouraged. Now I go back every year and give a lecture on music and judge their battle of the bands competition which is always at a great standard.

Back then I was expelled for doing pretty much what I'm doing now — things have moved on.

"Blackpool music college was great and a really big influence on me. They have a music tech course that is really good. I then went to Uni in Leeds. I was in an indie band, Dead Disco playing synth."

Indie's loss was destined to be pop's gain however.

"Chris Lowe talks about Blackpool whilst Robert Smith from Cure has not much memory of it because he left when he was six. Chris Lowe mentioned it at the Brits recently which was massive", she says proudly, adding, "Millions of people were watching. Not that many musicians have come from Blackpool, you have got to be quite motivated to go out and do it. I'm certainly not embarrassed about coming from Blackpool, some people have picked up on way I said it was dark and run down but I'm also quite positive about it saying it's quite kitsch and a strange cultural melting pot — I’m fascinated by the way it is a seaside town based on entertainment and also quite run down but also northern and cold; there’s a lot of contradictions. It's quite a special place and in interviews people pick up on the dark side too much- everywhere has got good bits and bad bits. . . ."

It was in Leeds where she made her first serious musical steps when she joined Dead Disco. They became briefly hip in the wake of the Kaiser Chiefs and the mini Leeds scene and released three singles. Dead Disco fell apart when they decamped to Los Angeles in 2007 for writing sessions. Victoria left, suffocated by the three way writing split in the band and its change of musical direction and became Little Boots named after the Roman Emporer Caligula.

Within months she hit the internet with a series of bedroom YouTube cover versions and soon began writing her own music.

Her original demo was picked up by Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard who then produced her initial single 'Stuck On Repeat'.

"It’s difficult to play keyboards and perform. I cut down on the keyboards so I could concentrate on mainly singing and fronting the whole thing. It’s more of a pop thing now and I think it’s important if you are watching you need commitment from the singer. You need that connection from the vocalist. I'm totally fine with that, when I was stood behind the keyboard there was a barrier between me and the crowd."

Little Boots will transcend the hype and become another homegrown star in what’s shaping up to being a remarkable year for British music. Clouded by the talk of the end of the music business there has been an explosion of diverse talent and Little Boots has the talent and striking image to pull off this pop star thing which is good for her and good for Blackpool — the tatty Seaside Town could well do with that confidence boost.

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Mick Talbot
Jun 9, 2009 3:54pm

"And she is from Blackpool, which in my book makes her double interesting — that being the town where I grew up and learned how to be in band. I instinctively understand all the frustrations and the influences of growing up in the town — the ‘Tatty Seaside Town’ we once sung about in my band the Membranes and the most misunderstood town in Britain."

Sorry to burst your bubble John, but you are not from Blackpool, and neither is Victoria Hesketh. The pair of you are from Thornton which is not in the Borough of Blackpool its in the Wyre. Your nearest town was Fleetwood not Blackpool.

The mean dark streets of Thornton cum Cleveleys hey!?

Why is it that all you from the Villages outside our town claim to be from here, when you're not?

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John Doran
Jun 9, 2009 5:52pm

It was this sort of utter cuntishness that made me leave the north west at the first given opportunity.

"I think you'll find you're not from Blackpool but from somewhere that's really close to Blackpool."

Laughable.

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Mick Talbot
Jun 9, 2009 5:58pm

I'll think you'll find John Moran that Thornton is closer to Fleetwood and Poulton le Fylde than it is to Blackpool.

Its a simple fact, but then our 'popstars' do not wish the Public to know they are from little-ville UK, they'd much rather the public see them from the edgy streets of Blackpool than the sleepy streets of Thornton.

Go south did ya yer pansy?

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John Doran
Jun 9, 2009 6:22pm

No, east to Hull, then back west to Manchester.

Anything to get away from fucking idiots who thought it was important whether you came from Wigan or Warrington or St Helens or Rainford or whatever.

I mean, really, who in their right mind gives a fuck?

I'd move back to Manchester or Hull in a shot if I could get a job there.

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Mick Talbot
Jun 9, 2009 6:28pm

Lol... Lets see Wigan Warrington and St Helens are in Merseyside, are they now part of Liverpool?.. No?

Is Hull now in the Northwest?..No?

Is Fleetwood, and Thornton Cleveleys now in the Northshore area of Blackpool?, No?...

Who gives a fuck? ... We do.

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John Doran
Jun 9, 2009 6:29pm

And I'm related to the Morans of Gattacre; so good spot.

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john robb
Jun 9, 2009 6:30pm

Mick,

But I am from Blackpool! I have never claimed to have been from any 'mean streets'. I grew up in Anchorsholme which is in Blackpool. I was born in Fleetwood. I guess most readers can't be arsed with which suburb I grew up in. Which bit of Blackpool are you from?

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Mick Talbot
Jun 9, 2009 6:36pm

I'm from Layton. And you only attended Collegiate 6th form, you never went to school in Blackpool, and you grew up in Thornton not Anchorsholme.

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john robb
Jun 9, 2009 6:40pm

I went to Collegiate main school from 1st year to fifth year, I think you were in the year above me.
And I grew up in Anchorsholme not Thornton.

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Mick Talbot
Jun 9, 2009 6:43pm

lol no John I was at St Toms over the road kid. And your still not a sandgrown'un yer wull.

Did you read what Hesketh said about Blackpools music scene in the Gazette before you interviewed her?... She proper slagged the town off.

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Mick Talbot
Jun 9, 2009 6:52pm

"She grew up in Thornton Cleveleys where I grew up twenty-five years previously"

Anchorsholme my arse.....

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john robb
Jun 9, 2009 6:54pm

Mick...i've never claimed to be a sandgrounder, my parents moved to blackpool and i was born in fleetwood, like most people i grew up with i'm not 3rd or 4th generation blackpool and i've never claimed to be. oddly enough i still have loads of friends in blackpool and still support blackpool fc- not for any reason of 'credibility' but because thats where i grew up and it means something to me. there was a mick talbot in the year above me though but i guess he would be too old to care about this kind of stuff! Little Boots is usually pretty positive about Blackpool in the stuff I've read about her- I'll go and read the Gazette website.

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Mick Talbot
Jun 9, 2009 7:06pm

Fair enuff you support BFC, it doesn't make Blackpool your hometown, and just because Hesketh says she is from Blackpool doesn't make Blackpool her hometown because she shops here.

I'm made up the pair of you are doing well for yourselves. But please don't be saying you're from here just to big yourselves up.

Say No to the BNP!

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john robb
Jun 9, 2009 7:15pm

In reply to Mick Talbot:

But Mick I am from Blackpool! although i suppose if I was born in Fleetwood maybe that means I'm not! after three days in Fleetwood I went to Anchorsholme Lane and thats where I grew up! I know it about 200 yards away from Cleveleys but its still in Blackpool thats why i went to a Blackpool school. there's no point in me making it up! Anchorsholme is as suburban as Thornton but it's in Blackpool and I've as much right to say I'm from Blackpool as anyone else who grew up there! and that's why I never run the place down and I'm proud of where I came from and still have a lot of affection for most of the bands that came from there and still do my little bit to help them out.

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Mick Talbot
Jun 9, 2009 7:17pm

John you have just stated in your interview with Hesketh, and I quote... "She grew up in Thornton Cleveleys where I grew up twenty-five years previously"

Thornton Cleveleys is not in Blackpool. Now either your a liar or you are not John Robb.. you decide lad.

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Mick Talbot
Jun 9, 2009 7:20pm

Check mate... ;)

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john robb
Jun 9, 2009 7:22pm

when i grew up in the sixties thornton cleveleys felt like a suburb of blackpool, i didnt relaise that it had become a totally different place, it was just an area that was 200 yards from where i lived so to someone from blackpool i would shorten im from anchorsholme near cleveleys down to cleveleys , it didnt mean anything then, to me and most people i grew up with it was all the same. i guess its changed now and to the rest of country the distinction is meaningless. its like me syaing that in one of your replies you said you are from layton and not blackpool...

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Mick Talbot
Jun 9, 2009 7:30pm

See I live on Talbot road opposite the Queens.. I was brought up in Queenstown Layton.. its actually in Blackpool, a 10 minute walk to the Town centre, whereas Thornton Cleveleys is how many miles from the town centre again?.

Your closest town of any significance was Fleetwood, your birth place.

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Mick Talbot
Jun 9, 2009 7:33pm

Anyways, my problem is not with you John its with Hesketh, who slags the town down despite only ever played one gig in the town and that was at the HMV store the other day, and the audience consisted of kids and gays [not that I'm Homophobic].

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john robb
Jun 9, 2009 7:36pm

Mick,i read the gazette stuff and i think she was trying to say that it was difficult to get a band/music thing going in Blackpool. I thought she had played Blackpool in the bands she was in before she went to college in Leeds. i think the tabloids may have edited what she said. she was quite piostive about blackpool when i spoke to her.

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Mick Talbot
Jun 9, 2009 7:45pm

John she played around the Fylde, she has never played in Blackpool under any guise until her gig at HMV in the town. She was never a part of the local scene.

As you and Coofy would know have known there is a lively local scene, but a lack of venues.

Hesketh was never part of the struggling local scene.

ps Loved the Westcoast gig in rememberance of the GodFather of Blackpool Punk.
s'right..

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john robb
Jun 9, 2009 8:45pm

Fes Parker RIP
still think about Fes every day.
His records are amazing.
was proud to have him as one of my friends for 35 years!
and he lived in Anchorsholme as well!

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Mick Talbot
Jun 9, 2009 9:13pm

At least he was proud to say where he lived, and where he was from aye? ;)

Feck Thornton.

Say NO to the BNP!

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Fred Zeppelin
Jun 15, 2009 1:33am

Has Mick Talbot made the most tedious posts ever on this site? Yes, I think he has. This is the kind of dullard who could start a fight in an empty room. Who gives a fuck where you're from? It's where you're at that matters.

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Chris Etches
Jun 16, 2009 2:08pm

See first Blackpool gets electricity, then it's gets the internet, then the problems start.

ChrisError x

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Mark Eglinton
Jun 17, 2009 7:37am

maybe, but is he ACTUALLY from Blackpool? ;-)

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Kelly Smith
Sep 1, 2009 12:04am

I think Vicky saying that she comes from Blackpool rather than Thornton is because nobody would know where she was talking about if she said Thornton! It's a bit like when you're on holiday and people ask you where you're from you end up saying near Manchester cos that's the nearest place they've heard of! Anyway, anyone who was born on the Fylde Coast and surrounding areas was more than likely born in Blackpool Victoria Hospital so technically we are probably all "from" Blackpool no matter where we now live. With regard to Vicky not being part of the music scene, I went to school with her and she played lots of gigs in the area, but a lot of it was jazz and so perhaps you never came across her. She has played gigs in Blackpool before HMV, she used to do quite a bit at Jenks as far as I can remember. Anyway no matter what, I am very proud of her. She has done amazingly well and whether you like her music or not she is an accomplished musician who has been learning her craft for many years and she deserves to be celebrated.

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Darrell
Oct 12, 2009 10:06am

Anchorsholme is in Blackpool.
I know because they get their bins emptied a day before us in Cleveleys.
Thats Blackpool Council.
I am in Wyre. (Not the band..)

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Chris
Jan 19, 2010 12:54pm

Great interview, not really a fan of her music though. John's starting up a Rivmixx blog which looks to be pretty awesome check out more here http://bit.ly/6lglgZ

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Roger
Aug 26, 2010 6:20pm

Little Boots? More like "Shite"

The bargain bins of tomorrow await the lovely Miss Hesketh.

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Jon Bamborough
Jan 13, 2015 7:27pm

In reply to Mick Talbot:

John Robb ( and Ian and Mark Tilton) lived on Anchorsholme Lane. Now Mick Talbot says that you you can't be from Blackpool and Thornton Cleveleys but actually you are very wrong. Anchorsholme Lane is in the Borough of Blackpool but the postal address is Thornton -Cleveleys so he tecnically lived in both. But who really cares??? These people that harp on about being a sandgrown 'un send me to sleep. How does it make you better just because you were born there? You didn't have any choice in the matter.

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Adrian
Apr 20, 2017 10:47pm

In reply to Jon Bamborough:

My first love lived on anchorsholme lane back in 19 oh dot I remember Mark tilton big lad the membranes playing in the park and jon robb before he was famous. I went to montgomery and collegiate 6th form as did wait for it. Hang on I forgot his name. Jethro tull Ian anderson but of a flute player bought an episode once jism

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Apr 20, 2017 10:59pm

In reply to Adrian:

Jism n blues. Stanley park bandstand when the sun used to shine and battle of the bands was in yatess which has gone however on a good note I am now 50 odd with 2 boys and a wife and come to Blackpool about once month to walk and love it Cleveleys ace Michelle hey. Always missed you.

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Apr 20, 2017 11:04pm

In reply to :

Hope your life worked out. I reckon it did . Hope I didn't fuck things up that time I turned up. It was an Adele moment. Couldn't help it

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