Yes she's another female pop artist, yes she's heavily influenced by 1980s electro-pop. But dismiss Norwich bound La Roux and you're missing out, says ANDY WELCH.

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Yes she's another female pop artist, yes she's heavily influenced by 1980s electro-pop. But dismiss Norwich bound La Roux and you're missing out, says ANDY WELCH.

Another month, another new female artist.

Fresh on the heels of Little Boots and Lady GaGa - with Florence And The Machine and VV Brown having also unleashed their debuts on us in recent months - has come La Roux.

Anyone who thought they didn't need to hear another electro-pop-singing twenty-something, however, has been missing out on something truly special.

Breathing new life into the synthesizer-powered pop of 1980s pioneers such as Yazoo, Human League and Eurythmics, La Roux - aka 21-year-old Elly Jackson - is a sure-fire success story for 2009.

Mention such expectation to Elly, though, and she goes from confident and outspoken to nervous worrier in the blink of an eye.

"At the moment every day is a bit different, some days I feel good and others I feel stressed," she says. "I just want to do my best, and I'm so happy the album is out now. We have been working on it for five years."

The "we" refers to co-songwriter Ben Langmaid. That's right, La Roux's not strictly a solo artist, but as Ben has no desire to appear on stage or do any promotional work, Elly is well and truly the face of the outfit.

"Some days I think, 'How did you get away with not doing any interviews?'," she says, laughing.

La Roux roughly translates from the French for 'red-haired one', a nod to Elly's flame-coloured, highly-coiffed mane, so any confusion about her being a solo act is understandable.

"My mood all depends on how tired I am," she continues. "I think definitely over the last few weeks I've been asked about pressure and I just say, 'I'm fine', but I had a moment recently where I was like, 'Maybe I do feel a bit pressured'.

"Not so much about the album and the pressure of doing well, but the pressure of what this job involves."

Elly then explains how she constantly worries about letting people down or getting ill and not being able to perform. She recounts a particularly harrowing night where she got so worried about the prospect of losing her voice and having to cancel some scheduled gigs that she couldn't sleep, and lost her voice as a result.

"It's just not acceptable to do an OK gig, it's all got to be the best it can be, so I'm freaking out about not letting anyone down lately."

The truth is, she really needn't worry. From the moment second single In For The Kill was released and duly headed for the number two chart spot, the crowd have been on her side, managing to turn early media support into bona-fide success.

The follow-up single, Bulletproof, debuted at number one.

Add to that her debut album, released in June, which also went to number two in the chart. Had a certain King Of Pop not passed away that same week, it's an absolute certainty the album would have hit the top spot.

"We were taken aback by that success," she says. "We didn't expect In For The Kill to do quite that well that quickly, even more so with the album.

"It wasn't like I was jumping for joy, or anything," she says, doing her very best not to sound ungrateful. "When you hear you're number two in the charts, it's great, but you can't feel it. It's just a fact, and it's very hard to feel a fact."

Elly and Ben met via a mutual friend "about five years ago" and after getting to know each other they began recording her folk songs, which reflected her parents' love of the likes of Nick Drake, Carole King and Neil Young.

After trying, and failing, with that, they went back to the drawing board, put away their acoustic guitars and plugged in the synths.

"It's been building for such a long time, and the music has changed a lot too, so it hasn't felt like it's been the same baby for the whole five years. It does feel like the whole year has been building towards these past couple of weeks though."

Earlier this year, Elly got a taste of the big time when she was invited by Lily Allen to support her on tour. The jump from 200-capacity venues to small arenas and town halls could overwhelm some, but Elly, daughter of former The Bill actress Trudie Goodwin, says she found it easier to play bigger stages.

"I loved that tour, loved it," she says, animatedly. "It's easier to relax when it's not your tour because people aren't hanging on your performance or judging you. You're just the support act. It's so much easier to mess about on stage every night."

As well as performing to big crowds each night, she also learned a few lessons from Miss Allen about how to react to fans.

"There would be big crowds outside the stage door each night and I would see Lily outside signing autographs for an hour or so," she says.

"That sort of attention has to be a good sign, it means people like your music and they're interested in what you're doing, and fans are the people that buy your record, they come to your gigs and make your career. You just have to turn up and say hello. It's not a big deal."

Elly has, however, also tasted the less desirable side of fame and had a few brushes with aggressive paparazzi photographers, eager to get a snap of this year's hottest act.

"I was in London the other week, getting into a cab and two photographers stopped me and said I could either get out of the car and have my picture taken, or they were going to follow me home, so of course I wasn't going to give them a picture because I don't want to court that sort of attention. They then followed me home.

"It was like being in a James Bond film - a really bad James Bond film, without any gadgets to get rid of them, just me in a cab being followed by these really aggressive photographers. They're only doing their job, but God, get a new job!"

It's a particularly negative side to modern celebrity, but with an album riding high at the top of the charts, more singles planned and festival dates booked around the world, it's one La Roux will have to get used to.

La Roux plays UEA on November 22.

Her self-titled debut album is out now.

Further listening: www.laroux.co.uk

La Roux - Fact File

t Elly Jackson was born in Herne Hill, South London.

t Her dad taught her to play guitar when she was six.

t She says the school she attended was "right-wing, really religious", and that she was also bullied for her androgynous look.

t She came fifth in the prestigious BBC Sound Of 2009 poll published last December to spot promising new artists.

t The actual French for 'red-haired one' would be 'La Rousse'.

ends

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