Victoria Hesketh, better known as Little Boots, played the major label game for her lauded debut “Hands,” but for the forthcoming follow-up “Nocturnes,” the 28-year-old U.K. native has reinvented herself as a self-empowered pop singer with her own label, On Repeat Records.
Released in the U.S. by Elektra in 2009, “Hands” was a modest success, selling 17,000 copies in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan. The single “Remedy” was produced and co-written by RedOne around the same time the producer helmed massive Lady Gaga singles like “Just Dance” and “LoveGame,” and was a hit in the U.K. But Hesketh was left wanting more creative and financial control, which set her on a different path for “Nocturnes,” due out May 7.
“There were times I felt very powerless,” Hesketh tells Billboard. “I’m not that kind of person… if you’re happy to be a big phony playing someone else’s music, I think it’s a very different thing and you have to play that game.”
Hesketh says that her Little Boots debut on On Repeat Records will be helped by external funding, marketing, and distribution assistance from Kobalt Label Services and Little Boots’ management team at This Is Music Ltd.
“I remember what Robyn did,” says Hesketh. “(She) left her label, set up her own one, and it worked out pretty well for her… in the U.K., it doesn’t feel like there’s a credible pop label, an interesting pop label outside the mainstream.” The singer is also open to releasing other artists’ albums through On Repeat, which is currently setting up a proper website so demos can be submitted.
Likewise, the collaborators on “Nocturnes” are more indie-centric than those of “Hands”: DFA Records co-founder Tim Goldsworthy produced the LP, which also features collaborations with Hercules and Love Affair’s Andy Butler and red-hot producer-songwriter Ariel Reichstadt (Sky Ferreira, Charli XCX).
“When I finally got into the studio with Tim and Andy, it was kind of like, oh my fucking God, I’m in the studio with people that I have huge respect for and am a huge fan of,” Hesketh gushes. “Once I got back in charge I could do more of what I wanted to do, and not what anybody else wanted me to do.”
The ethereal “Motorway” was released as the debut single when the sophomore album was announced last month, and Hesketh says that the rest of “Nocturnes” will contain dance pleasures as well as more thoughtful tones. “It definitely has a feel of either, you’re ready to go out and have a good time and get away from it, or it’s the middle of the night and it’s 4:00 AM and you’re still up,” Hesketh shares.
“Nocturnes” likely won’t be a massive departure from the sound of “Hands,” but for Little Boots, virtually everything else surrounding the release marks a major shift. “It’s been a long hard journey becoming the artist I am now and getting taken seriously for it,” she says.