“It’s such a cliché, but I can’t not say it. I’m totally obsessed with ‘80s music. I don’t listen to anything else.”
As one half of La Roux, 20-year-old Brixton-based Eleanor Jackson doesn’t appear to be exaggerating. Her admission is further enhanced by a Flock of Seagull’s haircut and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the decade’s most obscure and overlooked pop. So far this has stood her, and co-writer / producer Ben Langmaid, in good stead. Their single ‘Quicksand’ is tale of frustrated love set to a cascade of Speak & Spell-era Depeche Mode synths-and-stomp that transcends the trappings of pastiche that so much contemporary electro pop finds itself shackled to. Naturally, it’s one of the highlights on the latest Kitsune compilation and has been remixed by Chateau Marmont and AutoKratz.
Despite this obvious concession to Hoxton’s hipster demographic, get Jackson onto the subject of her influences and she starts name-checking the kind of esoteric reference points that would probably have your average Super Super reader reaching for Wikipedia. “Blancmange, Heaven 17, a lot of much earlier stuff that people don’t tend to know about like really early Human League, their album Reproduction.” And if that’s not geeky enough for you, the duo’s currently nursing a synthesiser fixation. “We’ve got a Roland, a Juno, a Yamaha DX7, a Nova, a Korg, a Moog… Me and Ben just go on eBay and say ‘buy it buy it!’ We’ve got a living room piled up with synths.”
It’s not difficult to discern, for all the obsessive tendencies, that La Roux are passionate about pop. Eleanor has been playing guitar since she was six, when she learnt the basics from old rock ‘n’ roll records given to her by her dad. For her, pop is about universalism, embodied by the way a song such as Eurythmic’s ‘Sweet Dreams’ still has the power to move people 20 years later. “You could play that in an airport and people would go mad,” Jackson says, before summarising La Roux’s simple manifesto. “We just want to write massive pop tunes that stay with you.”