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La Roux Interviewed: In For The Kill With Elly Jackson
Luke Turner , June 18th, 2009 09:38

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"You know it's not underground any more when that happens" says La Roux, or Elly Jackson as she's known to The Bill's Sergeant June Ackland, of being recognised by a laundrette attendant during a recent photo shoot for Quietus pals The Stool Pigeon in Portsmouth.

Sitting in the vast offices of the Universal group drinking a paper cup of stern-looking tea, Jackson looks incredibly young in the flesh, her boyish frame sat down in a sofa. She's far from shy and retiring though, refreshingly smart, verbose and entirely unafraid to speak her mind without being gobby, whether it's blasting what she sees as America's ignorance of electronic music, or how women are represented in the pop world.

What with her label being the corporate monolith that had seven out of the ten acts in the preposterous BBC tips for 2009 at the start of the year, it was easy to be cynical about the appearance of La Roux and her mysterious co-writer Ben Langmaid. Surely she was just another puppet, her strings pulled by a major label world bored – like we all have been – by landfill indie and lumped in with the Xenomania-knock off of Little Boots, and the cut price Kate Bush "I fell out of a tree OMG" wackiness of Florence and The Machine? The answer, it has subsequently emerged, is an emphatic 'no'.

For starters, La Roux didn't actually have it all easy. The songs that make up her debut album were four-and-a-half years in the making, no mere flashes in the pan dreamed up by a song writing team as is the pop norm. Her debut single, last year's 'Quicksand', paid a brief visit to Number 133 in the charts before disappearing. Music biz sources tell The Quietus that mainstream radio producers were initially extremely reluctant to add follow-up 'In For The Kill' to their playlists, only capitulating when the single started to sell, and sell, and sell...

That track has now shifted nearly half a million copies, and La Roux sold out her autumn date at London's Scala in five minutes. Her next single 'Bulletproof' has the potential to do even better than the last and, more importantly, her eponymous debut album is packed with killer tracks, opening with a slew of superlative pop bangers before introducing slower material that, for once, doesn't drag out the stools of R&B that have formed the filler on every disappointing British pop album over the past two decades. Yes, so her music is built around Langmaid's judicious deployment of lush synthesiser arrangements and sprightly beats, but La Roux is never an album that's merely an 80s retread.

Indeed, the broadsheet pieces written about La Roux have generally been embarrassing pieces with journalists knocking back Taboo in a queasy quest to be a talking head on the next series of I Heart 1984. Doesn't that get frustrating?

"I don't get it either. Obviously there's elements of Human League, Heaven 17, Blancmange and Simple Minds, we're not denying that because those were our influences with the album. But we certainly haven't just gone and tried to recreate 80s music. I think 'Quicksand' is probably the most 80s sounding song on the album. But I never thought of 'In For The Kill' as an 80s sounding record. But because it's all synths, people go 'oh, 80s'. It's just pop music! The Eurythmics was never seen as electropop, it was just pop music. Neither was Depeche Mode, it's just pop music."

So you're not into that awful I Heart the 80s shtick?

"Legwarmers and shoulder pads and bouffant hair, stuff like that, no. This is a fifties-inspired quiff! Get a grip."

You grew up listening to all sorts of music, from rock & roll to folk, did doing everything electronic evolve gradually?

"It did. That's another thing, I've read an article on the Guardian website that someone sent to me where there was the most ridiculous debate going on, saying 'this isn't really electronic music is it, because it's shiny pop stars, La Roux is not forging the way for really good underground electronic music because she's presenting herself like a shiny pop star'. Well a) I never set out to present myself as a shiny pop star, I've just had good pictures taken of me, fuck off and b) it's obviously pop music, but I don't think it's the shiniest album you've ever heard, and c) unless you're mainstream, how on earth are you supposed to forge the way for anything? If I stayed underground, the music stays underground. There's no other way of being successful, or bringing a certain type of music into the foreground, without being in the charts. So that argument is totally contradicting itself.

Is it quite exciting to feel that you're bashing into the mainstream? I mean, you've sold half a million records, that's quite a feat these days

"Radio didn't expect, not that they didn't want it to or weren't hoping for it to, but no one expected anyone to jump on this."

Did you expect it?

"Me and Ben were always quietly confident. Ben was always like 'I don't agree, this is a big tune, I think it'll speak to people, I don't think everyone's necessarily right'. We were quiet about it, but he said 'If other people can hear what I can hear in this tune and in your voice, then people will respond to it'. I think it's great when music does that without being shoved in people's faces, it's always much more rewarding."

But I suppose now you're the person on constant rotation on the radio...

"That's what's weird, you're suddenly part of that thing you were fighting against, and you can't complain any more. I think essentially, not that I've ever really tried to do this, but one of the coolest things that hit me about being in the mainstream and lots of people knowing about you that you can't have if you're underground, is that you can have an effect on people. It's all very cool being in the underground, but you only ever reach about 50,000 people, if that.

"I was in a pub the other day, and these two girls followed me into the toilet and said 'excuse me, are you La Roux?' And I was so touched because she went 'you make me feel better about being the way I am.' She had short hair, I don't think she was a lesbian, she wasn't some big butch woman coming over and going [adopts big butch voice] 'yeah wicked, you make lesbians alright', it was a girl with short hair, who wasn't very girly, who didn't have a tan, who didn't have massive boobs, didn't wear high heels. She was just a girl like the kind of girl I've been when I've been growing up, and she was saying 'we think it's really cool that there's someone out there who's a role model for people like us, because there's no one for us to look up to any more since David Bowie'. I though that's fucking cool, that's amazing. Even if my music is retro, or whatever, even if it's shit, at least there's someone out there for girls to look up to who doesn't have boobs and a tan and high heels."

What's your stance on the way that female musicians either choose to or are forced to use a sexuality that's essentially just designed to appeal to men?

"It's really patronising to women. I know that there's far more ways to be sexy than to dress in a miniskirt and a tank top. If you're a real woman you can turn someone on in a plastic bag just by looking at them. That's what a real woman is, when you've got the sex eyes. I think you attract a certain kind of man by dressing like that. Women wonder why they get beaten up, or having relationships with arsehole men. Because you attracted one, you twat. It's a funny culture, it's definitely a funny culture. Those women are just insecure, but they'll turn round to me and say 'you're just jealous 'cos you want a tan and you want big boobs, stupid boy-looking girl'. You can't win, they wouldn't believe me for a second."

Do you deliberately try and subvert all this?

"It was more just being who I am. Of course it's slightly exaggerated, to fight back against that in a way. Thinking that if I'm going to do it, I'm going to go all the way the other way."

How do you see La Roux evolving?

"Talk Talk and New Music and some of the later Heaven 17 stuff like How Men Are, the slightly more epic stuff, and Tears For Fears. And a bit more Young Americans, get some saxophone on there, make it a bit more soulful. [sarcastic tone] Maybe have Timbaland on there, someone like that?"

Haha. So I take it you're not going to ask him?

"No fucking way mate. I remember Lady Gaga asked me, and I don't think she knew that I was a duo, [adopts American cocaine fashbitch voice] 'So who did you make your album with', so I explained, and she said 'so who are you going to work with on your next record?' and I said 'Ben Langmaid', and she said 'aren't you going to want to work with other producers, guys like Raekwon or Timbaland or someone like that, you can't turn that down'. And I said 'yeah I can'. 'Cos they wouldn't know me, and wouldn't understand me, and if I went out to LA someone would say 'you'd like nice in a dress', and I'd have to say 'fuck you'."

Are you comfortable with how big it might get?

"Not really, no. The other day I was really stressed and talking to my sister and she said 'babe, we never knew it was going to go this big. We knew you had good songs but we never expected it, and we can understand why you're not dealing with it'. I got followed home by photographers the other day, and thought 'this is fucking horrible, I don't want it'."

Are you scared?

"Yeah I am a bit. Even if you retire at 30 are people going to stop being interested in you, and who you're going out with? Of course they're not. It's already fucked, mate, it's fucked."

Feminist UK
Jul 1, 2009 11:36am

Should Elly Jackson not have been challenged by the interviewer for her quite disturbing views on women's dress and physical violence? "Women wonder why they get beaten up, or having relationships with arsehole men. Because you attracted one, you twat." Quite sick really to suggest that women are twats because they experience violence or abuse because of how they dress. Jackson also makes reference to 'real' women. What exactly is a 'real woman'? One that can make sexy enough eyes at men to get what she wants? Maybe a real woman is one who has the confidence to dress however the hell she likes and doesn't dress to impress men at all. Surprise, surprise, these women do exist. Anyone who suggests that women who dress in tank tops and mini skirts bring violence upon themselves needs a lesson in the real world where sexual and physical violence is a harsh reality for 1 in 4 women who dress in all ways and come from all walks of life. Disappointing comments from a woman who could have encouraged a positive attitude to women who, as she does, choose to look how they want: diverse and different regardless.

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Rachel Daves
Jul 1, 2009 3:06pm

Elly, I don’t suppose that you read the comments made on your interview but incase you do I wanted to say how concerned I am about your comments about women. You may never have thought of yourself as a role model, or wanted the responsibility which it entails, but the truth is in projecting yourself into the lime light you are a figure in the public eye and as such have a responsibility. It joining in, in castigating women, who choose to dress in a certain way you are only feeding the myth that somehow women are responsible for the atrocities that befall them at the hands of men. Domestic violence, rape and sexual assault by men on women is prolific in our society – and it is through a misunderstanding of the truth of male violence towards women that mean many women suffer in silence believing they are to blame for what is happening. I truly hope that this was a slip of the tongue on your part, or perhaps it was miss-reported because I do believe you are very talented and until I read this interview I had a huge amount of respect for you. I hope you change my mind back in future

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white hotel
Jul 1, 2009 7:06pm

The woman's a total and utter moron. She believes that women experience domestic violence because of the way they dress. Nice chav-hating in there, too. Thoroughly vile.

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Nicola robinson
Jul 3, 2009 9:56am

I disagree, its a refreshing change to have someone in the public eye that says it how she sees it and doesnt feel the need to conform.
Good on ya girl!

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The Schnack
Jul 3, 2009 3:32pm

What an ignorant shithead. I really hate it when pop stars open their gobs. Puts you right off their music, it does. Seems like a silly little girl who will look back on her comments with horror when she grows up a bit.

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Mark Jones
Jul 9, 2009 2:28pm

I've not particularly enjoyed any La Roux interview I've read. She really doesn't come across as very likeable does she? Great tunes though. She's constantly going in circles and contradicting herself about what's 'real' or 'genuine' about herself, which is a little unnerving.

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Lou B
Jul 11, 2009 4:03pm

While I find her comments rather naive, I don't believe she is directly criticising women. I think she's having a go at a culture which encourages women to dress for men and not themselves. Unfortunately some women totally buy into that idea and can't see past it, even when the reality is pointed out to them.

Remember, Elly Jackson is a product of a post feminist era. It's quite usual for naive middle class women to be unable to understand how underprivileged women manage to find themselves in horrible positions at the hands of men. She may change her attitude as she gets older.

I think La Roux's music is brilliant and I love the fact she is the complete opposite to the likes of Lady Blah Blah!

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Angus Finlayson
Jul 11, 2009 6:49pm

Give her a break guvnor.

It's not unusual for a burgeoning pop star (particularly one who, by her own admission, is struggling to cope with the newfound exposure) to put foot in mouth. I'm not defending her sentiment, but the hateful comments seem a little cruel. I'm sure she regrets what she said.

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Stephanie McCormick
Jul 16, 2009 9:24pm

I completely agree with Angus. Some of the early comments are far more vitreolic than than the remarks by Jackson (this obviously makes them them the better part of society??)
Jackson has barely entered her 20's...she has probably never had the joy of meeting any men remotely likely to batter another woman. Of course she will 'change her attitude as she grows older' -haven't we all?? I find her fascinating and envy her youth and naivity but then I'm 40 something!! Keep on it Elly.

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Gordon Hulley
Sep 25, 2009 6:21pm

I get the impression that this young woman is rather daunted by this sudden shock of exposure; suddenly all these magazines TV shows etc. want interviews. So, she's trying to defend herself against becoming a complete victim-puppet of pleasing everyone all of the time by carefully guarding her every utterance. So she says what she thinks, trying to maintain a sense of normal communication. The problem with this, of course, is that she isn't having a normal conversation. She's in a public dialogue and being held up as a role model and some sort of expert on youth culture and modern society. And she isn't. She's a decent popstar is what she is. And that's a creditable achievement. And I think we have a responsibility, if we're older and wiser, to take this into account when judging her remarks. Either that, or she has to drag a PR agent around everywhere to ensure she utters nothing but bland, evasive platitudes. Young women everywhere, in miniskirts or punk ball gowns or neon-brite jeans and sneakers can, and should, think for themselves. And, if they want to know more about the world, they should take care of their sources. Gossip never produced much wisdom, but that's what many people read. That's the problem, not a young popstar making unguarded remarks.

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B
Nov 10, 2009 2:33pm

well like you guys are saying, she didn't want to become a role model and i don't like how as soon as someone is in the spotlight they have to always watch what they say. if she isnt afraid of getting what she dishes out than good on her. she has the right to have her own opinions even though she's in the spotlight now.
i really like her and how she isnt afraid to say it how she sees it.
and to 'Feminist UK' "Maybe a real woman is one who has the confidence to dress however the hell she likes and doesn't dress to impress men at all". that is exactly what she is trying to say, that a real woman doesn't need to dress all sluty to impress guys. that you will attract the right person if you don't otherwise yes most of the time you are going to just attract assholes because thats the type of men that are into woman like that.
i've enjoyed any interview i've seen or read with her, she's funny and she actually has a personalty. she isnt just feeding us all bullshit because its what we want to hear. i'm glad that there is someone who can be a role model for girls out there that don't dress just to impress guys and that actually are real people with opinions. i see her as a great role model and would prefer her over anyone like lady gaga anyday =D

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Jay
Nov 22, 2009 4:19pm

Clearly another member of the 'i'm trying really really hard to be controversial'' club. Her comments are idiotic and perhaps one day she'll look back and 1. see the mass of contradictions in this interview 2. how much of a twat she came across as. But then I guess it is a teenager's prerogative to think they know it all.

Note to Elly Jackson- remove the chip from your shoulder. Concentrate on your music rather than slating people and things you know nothing about to make a bigger name for yourself.

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Lisa Ansell
Nov 24, 2009 4:46pm

First of all, men who abuse, abuse, because thats what they do. They do it because THEY are in the wrong. And this kind of abuse happens to all women, in all sectors of society, even, shock horror- women with short hair, who dont wear short skirts.
Save us from vapid entertainers, who are marketing themselves to sell records of questionable merit, who decide that their particular marketing strategy(in this case short hair, and wasnt it black women bumping and grinding round her in a video)somehow means that they have the right to make such absurd ignorant statements and dangerous statements-whether those entertainers be popstrels from the mainstream, or entertainers who consider themselves to be more serious.
As for the person who conducted the interview? Shouldn't a journalist be challenging comments like these-even if it is a puff piece to flatter the singer.
Dont worry Ms.LaRoux- you wont be part of what you are 'fighting against'(seriously-how are you 'fighting'-picking a short hair cut really doesn't seem like that much effort)-you, and your vapid perspective on the world, will be forgotten fairly quickly, I assume.
Would be very nice, just once-for a discussion about domestic violence/sexual assault- to not centre on the culpability of the victim-just once. But I suppose thats more likely to happen when discussing it with someone who has to stretch her brain beyond singing a few songs, and deciding on a marketing strategy that seperates her from Cheryl Cole.

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Lisa Ansell
Nov 24, 2009 5:12pm

And I take exception to the idea that because she was not guarded in her interview, and she is in her early twenties- that somehow- this excuses the comments.
If this is an artist who wishes to be taken seriously-perhaps she should try educating herself about issues, which she feels so strongly about, that she is making such statements.
The idea that we should all chuck her on the chin, and go aww look how cute-she will learn- is insulting. She is an adult. If she wishes to be taken 'seriously' perhaps she should say something worth taking seriously. You dont get to be taken seriously, when uttering such ill informed rubbish.

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kayleigh
Dec 13, 2009 10:46pm

i love la roux she is an amazing person i love her to bites i wld do eneything 2 be m8ts with her xx love kayleigh

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Dec 17, 2009 2:24pm

In reply to Feminist UK:

Good on her! She was only speaking the inconvenient truth!!! Of course she wasn't referring to ALL women in abusive relationships- she was referring to the shallow 'sexy' girls who often go for the wrong guys for the wrong reasons!! This is a REAL female musician speaking out against the all too common stereotype which many women feel they need to conform to. If anything, Elly is standing up for women and females in the industry and also in society. Just look at the females plastered all over the media today- Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears- I'm sick of it! These are the real disgraces to women.

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Live in Tampa
Jan 2, 2010 4:59am

Elly's just pointing out what twats people are in general. She's obviously bright and not going to put on a tight red dress to get some attention. What she doesn't realize is that a lot of women don't have much else but sex to offer. I know that sounds mean but the fact is that a lot of guys aren't interested in anything but sex. I personally like witty, intelligent women with big attitudes but I've known plenty of guys who would run the other way because they're scared or repulsed. People suck but bright stars like Elly make up for 'em.

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Katherine D
Jan 20, 2010 1:33am

In reply to Lou B:

I agree with you Lou B. Though I don't like women using the language men use to put us down, such as "twat." She was on her way to making a point about women objectifying themselves, but went a little too far, and maybe doesn't have all the facts. I hope to see more women in pop culture who, like Elly, refuse to objectifiy themselves.

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Olivia Logan
Jan 20, 2010 1:47pm

What she said obviously wasnt right. but still, everyone's entitled to their own opinion right? Pretty sure the rest of you have had an opinion on a certain group of people before. If you hadn't then its not exactly the norm.

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Croft
Feb 18, 2010 11:09pm

I don't think La Roux was saying that women dressing a certain way directly attract men who are abusive, as if individual women themselves are the cause of it. I think she was trying to say is that popular culture tends create an environment that can be unfriendly to women and at times push women into situations that aren't good for them.

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K
Mar 27, 2010 3:53am

love elly!
shes so real with people.
my idol, no one even comes close

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Casey Soneson
May 5, 2010 8:28pm

In reply to white hotel:

NO NO NO! Those who are commenting about how Elly says that the way women dress gets them violance is all wrong! What I think she is saying is that the girls who act all fake and go out into public with their boobs hanging out of their shirts and their tiny little shorts attract stupid and abusive men. They intentionally dress like this to get men, and they just so happen to get narrow minded men, because that is what narrowminded men like in a woman. The way they act to try to get men is all wrong! It's just that fake easy women attract bad men.

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Stephanie
Jun 25, 2010 5:02am

Wow some of you people are harsh. Yeah I think her comment was worded very poorly but the point she was trying to make is legit-that women who dress and act like two-dollar whores are going to attract men who will treat them like a piece of meat. Once again it was a case of foot-in-mouth but I HIGHLY doubt she meant it to sound that way.

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brianna
Jul 12, 2010 12:48am

how old r u im a really big fan my friends say ur to high picth and i say yea she is but ths hard to do like in in for the kill i love u so much u r gifted with something big

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Jul 13, 2010 9:25pm

In reply to Feminist UK:

you are so, so, so right.

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Charlene
Jul 16, 2010 1:41pm

Good Lord this girl is a pretentious asshat.

I don't care what she meant by her statement regarding women being in abusive relationships, but the truth is, the problem doesn't lie in the women who get abused, it's in the men who feel that abusing others is okay. There really needs to be a shift in our paradigm that women are deserving of ill treatment because of the way they dress. Hurting others is unacceptable, always and in all ways.

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zoe
Jul 16, 2010 3:03pm

hi hi that is so cool. elly jackson u look good with out makeup i like u with out it but in your muis thing u look weird not to be mean or any thing

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Ruth
Jul 16, 2010 5:25pm

Domestic violence against women has absolutely NOTHING to do with the way women dress or behave, and by perpretating that archaic belief, it insinuates that the women did something to "deserve" the abuse-that she did something wrong. And that, most definitely, is not the case. And it's disheartening to hear such a young woman speak like this!

Truth is, there is NO such thing as a "real" woman, despite what anyone tries to say. Women come in all shapes and sizes, with all sorts of tastes and ideas. That girl who enjoys short skirts and low-cut tops is just as much of a woman as the woman in jeans and a t-shirt. You shouldn't feel bad about how you are, and you most certainly shouldn't look down on anyone about who THEY are! The person who realizes this is the only person worth "looking up to."

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Jul 19, 2010 11:32pm

DAVF

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Pam
Jul 22, 2010 7:37am

In reply to B:

Bingo!

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Sep 3, 2010 1:54am

"If you're a real woman you can turn someone on in a plastic bag just by looking at them. That's what a real woman is, when you've got the sex eyes. I think you attract a certain kind of man by dressing like that. Women wonder why they get beaten up, or having relationships with arsehole men. Because you attracted one, you twat."

ugh

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The don
Mar 2, 2011 12:32pm

I believe elly is right because i have a cousin who kept attracting these abusive assholes all the time and it was her fault and she realized it after the 3rd hospital visit... Elly was refering to the girls who bring it upon themselves and not all women so i dont know why your all assuming what she meant..your just looking to attack her on her slightest slip of the mouth.. Why dont you see the good in her..and other people for that matter because is you all learn to see the good..and not the bad in people..it can change your own personal lives and you will be happier people. I really like how elly makes the not so girly girls feel normal and accepted to..and that its ok not to have enormous boobs or wear designer labels or fancy shades...get over yourselves...elly is more real than any other "pop" singer ive seen thus far.

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Rosamai Lee
Jul 26, 2011 4:17pm

Elly Jackson speaks truth. She was just giving her honest opinion,something that not very many artists do today. And she was pretty young when she said this... I don't think she would of said it in that harsh of a way today.

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Elyse
Sep 17, 2011 3:44am

If you're a fan of La Roux, chekc out Katy B...her album "On a Mission" is fantastic;)

http://music.aol.com/new-releases-full-cds/#/1

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Oct 1, 2011 2:40am

Ale italy

I think girls have the right to dress how they like to dress, even if it is sexy ... sexuality must be lived in a relaxed way , u can't be afraid to be raped for dressing a miniskirt...
anyway, an ironic and smart style like La Roux, her music and look should be appreciated by the world of pop music, because it's very simple and kinda sad a woman need to get away her dress to be noticed and listened!

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Feminist AU
Jan 23, 2012 1:28pm

I agree with Feminist UK. I do see where Elly's coming from because SOMETIMES if one dresses in a sleazy way, one can attract sleazy company, but this isn't always true. And blaming women's choice of clothing for getting beaten up is totally out of order! Um, rape culture much? I'm dissappointed in Elly. Hmm... I guess I'm willing to forgive her though since she's such an androgynous cutie ;)

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cindy
Aug 31, 2012 3:11am

In reply to K:

compleatly agree with youx k i w8ed 41 years for SOMEONE to rock me so comfortable she is Elly

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Jun 2, 2013 4:50pm

I love her and the things she says! We don't need this P.C. crap in society. People should express their views whether you agree or not. Whether society says so or not. Most of society is programmed by what they see and hear on TV. Not only that, people get so easily offended by a person's words too. (I blame shows like Jerry Springer, just to start with. "What did you say? I'm gonna beat your ass!" Also, modern day politics we see on TV that lacks debate and goes into personal attacks.) Hey, some people are in their 20's and don't know how to choose words carefully in order not to offend certain people. Everyone offends somebody sometimes. Get over it!

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Humanist
Jul 12, 2013 11:54pm

Fellow feminists PLEASE, would you think straight for a moment? What you're all basically saying is that a woman deserves respect regardless of the circumstances. So take your own advice. Put out some words of wisdom, express YOUR opinion (not your opinion on other people's opinions) All of you who are shaming Elly based on what she says are no better than the society that shames women based on what they wear. And the problem with that is that society cannot progress if we're busy tearing each other down. We need to communicate, educate, and support our fellow humans if we every want to move forward.

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