Louisa Rose Allen goes by the name Foxes to avoid confusion with another famous Allen – Lily. Ahead of her upcoming tour and releasing second album ‘All I Need’ on February 5, she spoke to NME about touring with Pharrell, her love of Cyndi Lauper, and her Guinness World Record.
Morning Foxes! How are you feeling about releasing ‘All I Need’?
I just want it out now. I feel like I’m racing to the finish line.
What delayed it – going on tour with Pharrell?
I was in the middle of doing the second album and I got a call. You don’t really say no! I took my laptop – most of it did get written while I was on tour with him.
Did you eat together? Did you hang out?
We did quite a lot. At the beginning I was like, “Fuck, it’s Pharrell.” We had lots of catering hangouts. I was really impressed because he was constantly working, constantly making beats. Two seconds before he’d go onstage he’d be writing music. I just think he doesn’t really stop.
What about you, though – don’t you have a Guinness World Record?
The Guinness World Record was the amount of shows done in different cities in one day. I did seven gigs in seven different UK cities in under 12 hours and somehow that’s a Guinness World Record. I got a plaque.
When did you receive it?
At the end this man came out, like out of the darkness at midnight with this Guinness plaque and it was like he’d come out of nowhere. Quite mystical.
Which crowd was best?
Brighton. Who goes to a gig at 10 in the morning? It was actually really busy – I guess people in Brighton do. They were well up for it as well.
Speaking of crowds, how are preparations coming for your February tour?
It’s my biggest to date, and I’ve been really involved with a lot of the set design. I’m going to step it up from how the tours have looked before and been before.
You’re a fan of Cyndi Lauper and the Spice Girls – how will that love manifest itself?
There’ll definitely be a fun element, more in the set design.
So not costumes and stuff?
Yeah, maybe… maybe not though as well. That’d be a bit much. A lot of the more upbeat tracks are inspired by early 80s artists like Cyndi Lauper and even the Spice Girls in the 90s – that empowering female attitude I quite like.
It’s also quite fun as well, right?
Yeah definitely, I think a lot of the tracks have that ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ element to them.
What Cyndi Lauper song would you do for karaoke?
‘True Colours’ – a good belter.
You choose the ideas for a lot of your own videos, don’t you?
When I’m writing songs I always have an idea of what the music video’s gonna be. Like ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me Now’ – I had this idea, kind of Billy Elliot-inspired. I wanted to find a young dancer that was not too trained, just very naturally talented. I went up to Liverpool and I ended up auditioning for a young dancer and I found this young boy who was mindblowing. He had such a natural ability to dance, he was really free. So I worked with this brilliant director, and we went to Margate.
It was really fun to work with this boy who was learning these dance routines that were very linked to the song, so that was really fun. I played his sister – it was a bit like an EastEnders episode. It was quite emotional. That’s a video I feel quite close to, because I was really heavily involved.
The most recent video ‘Amazing’ was really fun to do as well, it was seeing a girl’s weekend in reality compared to what people think girls do on a weekend away, it was sort of taking the piss a bit, which is quite fun.
You also write for people like Rudimental and Giorgio Moroder – do you enjoy that?
It’s nice to be a songwriter and go in and work with an artist and not necessarily be the person that’s fronting it.
Your Grammy-winning Zedd collaboration ‘Clarity’ worked out pretty well though, didn’t it?
I wasn’t ever going to do it. It’s clearly very different to the music I was writing myself. I think what sold it was the song. It’s a very powerful song and I did feel really drawn to it. So Yeah it did work out with Zedd, definitely.
Who do you want to work with in the future?
I did a lot of dance music that year  and it’d be nice to go back to that. I really respect Calvin Harris’ songwriting and if there’s anyone out there writing really good dance music it’s him.
I’d love to work with Sia as well – that was supposed to happen. In the future that’d be great.
After your Grammy win, do you have any tips for how to break America?
I feel like definitely with ‘Clarity’, that song broke America. America has a real love affair with British music – how raw it is. When it’s real like that, and you do stick to your guns as an artist, hopefully you can break other places like America. I think Americans love it when they see an artist be an artist for them, and I think it’s not shiny, necessarily, and it’s just very raw and real. I don’t think I myself have broken America.
Is that a dream of yours?
Yeah, of course I’d like to.
Has fame brought you any interesting fans?
I was finishing a gig in Australia and I just hear these screams – ‘Sign my kettle! Sign my kettle!’ I bent down to sign this kettle and this kettle had my face on it. It was like looking into a mirror. This person had delicately painted my face onto this kettle. I did this plea online about this guy and I ended up finding him. He does massive fridges and draws people’s faces on them – fridges, bins, anything you’d have in the kitchen – a toaster. So odd.
A kettle with Foxes' face on it pic.twitter.com/mwL18Dn3ns
— Chris Lilley (@ChrisFLilley) November 14, 2013
I was in Scotland once and a guy pulled his tooth out with pliers, out of his mouth. He was like ‘do you dare me to pull my tooth out?’ and I was like ‘no, don’t do it’ and he was like ‘I’m gonna do it’. He pulled his tooth out with pliers and got me to sign the tooth.
I’m not sure how I’d deal with that.
How do you think I felt?
Do you worry about that aspect of fame?
I’m quite a private person. I’m shocked when someone comes up to me in a supermarket and asks me for a picture. Even my mum, she has a stall in Brick Lane and she gets recognised a lot. It freaks me out and it freaks her out a bit.
Do you still go and help her out on the stall?
Yeah, it’s really fun. If I wasn’t doing this I’d do that.