Top 40 fans would likely recognize the voice of Louisa Rose Allen, better known as Foxes, as the guest on Zedd’s hit single “Clarity.” Or, if you’re a Fall Out Boy diehard, Foxes is the artist alongside frontman Patrick Stump on “Just One Yesterday,” from the reunited group’s recent No. 1 album “Save Rock and Roll.” And if you’re across the pond, you might recognize her as the guest vocalist on Rudimental’s track “Right Here,” from their debut album “Home,” which was released last month in the U.K.
It’s been a whirlwind year of flashy guest collaborations for Foxes, but the 22-year-old London native tells Billboard that she’s ready to move on from drive-by appearances and present a more substantial body of work. After all, it was her achingly georgeous solo song, “Youth,” that gained her enough attention to score those guest spots in the first place.
“I don’t want to be that ‘featured’ artist,” says Foxes, “because I also have my music that’s my baby, and at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing to me.” The singer-songwriter plans to release her debut album this fall, and first up is the new track “Beauty Queen,” which will receive a digital release next Monday (May 13).
Foxes admits that the gentle track, which evokes Florence & the Machine while taking aim at modern expectations of beauty, is not the roof-rattling single that will lead the album, but more of a treat offered up to loyal supporters of her solo work. “I don’t expect it to do anything,” she shrugs. “I think it’s more of a teaser track of what’s to come.”
Last year, Foxes released her “Youth” single on Neon Gold, and the song captured the attention of two extremely different music stars: Zedd, the German dance producer who’s remixed Lady Gaga and Skrillex, and Pete Wentz, the Fall Out Boy bassist whose band was still trying to record an album under cover of darkness. Zedd was the first one to move: after complimenting Foxes on “Youth” over Skype, he offered the singer the chance to take on “Clarity.” The song and lyrics were already written, which was an uncommon scenario for Foxes; rarer still was the singer taking on a big, brash EDM track as her own.
“If someone had said to me, ‘Sing this dance song,’ I probably would have said no,” Foxes admits. “But I heard the song, and it was really emotional, and I felt like it was not too far from what I was about… I remember first listening to it and thinking, ‘I’d be so stupid to not do this.'” Released as a single from Zedd’s album of the same name late last year, “Clarity” has sold 291,000 downloads according to Nielsen SoundScan, and climbed six spots to No. 64 on last week’s Hot 100 chart.
Stranger still for Foxes was ending up on the track list to Fall Out Boy’s “Save Rock and Roll”: months after Zedd had taken on the singer for “Clarity,” Wentz heard her voice during a New Year’s Eve party at his house. “Someone just put her song ‘Youth’ on and I said, ‘Holy shit, this voice needs to be on our album,'” Wentz told Billboard last month. “Patrick’s never done a true duet, so that seemed like a cool thing to do.”
Aside from Foxes, there are three other featured artists on “Save Rock and Roll”: Elton John, Courtney Love and Big Sean. Foxes’ outlier status in that group is in plain sight. “I remember seeing the track listing and I was like, ‘…What?’ It’s just ridiculous,” Foxes says with a laugh. “Someone said to me recently, ‘If you’re ever sad or feeling down about anything in life, just remember that you’ve been on an album with Elton John and Courtney Love.'”
Foxes will release her debut album on Big Picnic Records, and she says of the full-length, “There’s a dark streak with the album, as well as a pop element that runs through it.” Although she’s done with the featured-artist opportunities for now, Foxes says that she’s also been writing for other artists, in the hopes of putting her own spin on Top 40 from behind the scenes. “I love what Sia does: she puts that emotion into commercial dance music, and I think it sounds great,” she says.