A very clever Foxes

6:00am Saturday 8th March 2014

Foxes has been busy featuring on other artists' music but is now ready to go it alone. The singer, Louise Rose Allen, tells Andy Welch about her upcoming debut album, her recent Grammy win - and why cake is the answer to life's problems.

"Don't tell me our youth is running out, it's only just begun," sang Foxes on her debut single, Youth.

Of course, being only 24 now, the Southampton-born singer doesn't have much to worry about on that score for a good while yet - and she's already crammed in a lot.

Released in September last year, when it reached No 12 in the charts, the song kick-started her solo career, although she'd already been involved with a number of hits.

There was her appearance on a song called Clarity by Russian-German dance producer Zedd. That was a Top 10 hit in the US, while the Rudimental track on which she appeared, Right Here, was a hit in the UK.

"The last year or so has been me working with other people, so now it's my turn," she says, sitting in an east London café around the corner from her flat.

"It feels like I've been around a while but it's accidental. I wasn't ready, but I'm not going to turn down those guest spots," she adds. "They came about because I was asked to write a part, but it ended up that I sang the parts as well."

As a small child, Allen had the pretty standard dream of becoming a pop star. When she grew older though, her ambition wasn't to be in the limelight herself, but to write music for others.

It was only when one of the songs she'd recorded as a demo was used on an episode of American teen drama Gossip Girl that things changed. It was then she met Zedd, and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, who asked her to sing guest vocals on Just One Yesterday, a song on their fifth album Save Rock And Roll.

"Pete heard one of my songs at a party, although I should tell everyone he heard it while on a Gossip Girl box set marathon really."

It's not hard to work out why these artists would want to collaborate with Allen. Her music pitches her somewhere between Florence And The Machine and Bat For Lashes; it's bold, at times bombastic and drenched in melody.

Lyrically, she writes about herself, despite coming up with a stage name to keep some distance between her music and her real self, and looks-wise, well, the word pretty doesn't quite do her justice. As far as modern pop stars go, she has absolutely everything needed to succeed.

"I didn't need any persuading to step up and perform," she says. "It was more just the fame and negative things that come with it that I didn't want.

"What convinced me more than anything was doing a couple of shows and seeing how my music can inspire people.

"I can see that from the stage and that was a real turning point and then I started thinking, 'I do actually want to be the face of this, I don't want to let someone else sing these songs'. If I have the chance to do this, and maybe inspire people in the same way, say, Patti Smith inspired me, then I should."

Allen is talkative, and down-to-earth. Genuinely so, too, not the kind of down-to-earth many singers affect so they don't appear overly calculated and career focused.

She occasionally drifts into talk of 'journeys' and being able to inspire people, as if she's talking down a camera on X Factor, but it seems like youthful enthusiasm rather than stage-school ruthlessness.

Talk then turns to cake. She says she's particularly into Victoria sponge at the moment, and her love of cake began about a year ago, when she realised the baked good's positive qualities.

"It symbolises celebration," she says, "like you only have it when something good is happening. Stopping for a cup of tea and piece of cake is a good thing too; if you're really busy it means you can have a few minutes out to sit down and enjoy yourself."

With that, a waiter walks past taking a huge slab of coffee cake to the next table and she completely loses concentration.

"I'm not really feeling any pressure," she says, regaining focus. "There are times when I have a bit - the internet doesn't help, it's weird, so it's no bad thing to separate it.

"It helps a bit having a stage name, but don't think Foxes is some brand, it's all me. It's possible to be honest without giving absolutely everything away."

Earlier this year, her collaboration with Zedd earned them a Grammy for Best Dance Recording, beating the likes of Calvin Harris and Duke Dumont, and has sold roughly 1.2million copies.

She's still pinching herself from the win. In fact she very nearly missed her chance to go up and collect the award because, not thinking her name would be called, she'd decided to go to the buffet and get a burger with Disclosure and Sam Smith.

Ambition then crops up, and she admits she does have certain expectations - "probably a lot lower than my record label do," she says - but would rather concentrate on what she's achieved so far.

"I just very grateful for what I have and what I've done already," she says. "I'm ambitious, but not in a scary sense. I'm very happy and I want to do well, but I don't have targets for what I need to achieve, and it's certainly not at any cost.

"I'm just trying to imagine, after all this, what it will feel like to finally release my album. It was on the back burner for most of last year.

"It's scary, but I imagine it feels like skydiving, while trying to eat a cake and not choke. Do you know what I mean?"

Extra time - Foxes

:: Louisa Rose Allen was born in Southampton on April 29, 1989.

:: She says her stage name comes from a "haunting and beautiful" dream her mum had about a fox running down a street and howling. The first song she wrote was called Like Foxes Do.

:: She says she'd like to write songs with Eminem and Drake.

:: The Fall Out Boy album on which she appeared also featured guest vocals from Elton John, Courtney Love and Big Sean.

:: She studied at the Institute Of Contemporary Music Performance in London when she was 18, but says she didn't apply herself and turned up hungover a lot.

Foxes' UK tour dates

February 24 - Liverpool East Village Arts Club

February 25 - Birmingham Institute Library

February 26 - Glasgow King Tut's Wah Wah Hut

February 28 - Oxford 02 Academy

March 1 - Nottingham Stealth

March 2 - Brighton Haunt

March 4 - London Scala

March 6 - Leeds Cockpit

March 7 - Bristol Thekla

March 8 - Manchester Ruby Lounge

March 10 - Dublin Academy 2

:: Foxes' debut album Glorious will be released on May 9. She begins a UK tour on February 24.

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