Maybe it was a case of too much too soon for Louisa Rose Allen, 31, who models and records under the alias of Foxes. When her first single “Youth” was released in 2012, she caught the ear of electronica producer Zedd, who put her to use singing on his hit “Clarity.” It won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording, before her debut disc “Glorious” topped overseas charts in 2014. When her second album “All I Need” was released in 2016, she had done a lot. She sang on cuts by Rudimental, Sub Focus and Fall Out Boy, opened Pharrell’s European tour at his request and appeared on the legendary BBC TV series “Dr. Who.” Then there was silence. Foxes slipped off the radar for four years, returning April 1 with a revitalized percolating pop EP, “Friends in the Corner.” She’s happy to explain her self-imposed absence.
So where did you go in 2017?
What’s interesting is, I didn’t ever really leave the music industry. I was actually doing a lot just behind the scenes. I continued writing, and I was still standing, but I just wanted to go find some inspiration from different places, I think.
Did you travel?
Well, actually I did quite a few writing camps in the jungle. And lots of people went. I was there with quite a few writers and artists, and it was actually the label that put out my very first single, Neon Gold, that was setting these camps up. So I just headed to the jungle for a bit, which you can sort of count as leaving the face of the Earth slightly. It was in Nicaragua, and it was definitely an experience, with lots of strange noises and animals but tons to write about.
Did they pair songwriters off there?
Yeah. They paired us up, but we didn’t really have any rules, and you could just write when you wanted. So we were writing all through the night, and then you’d go into one room and everyone would be having a party at 4 a.m. So it was very, very mental, but a lot of fun. And it was definitely inspirational to have that kind of freedom and figure out a new way of writing and being. The camps went for two weeks at a time, and I did three of them in one year.
What else happened?
Amongst that, I left my record label and I also got new management. I wanted to come back to a place where I wasn’t thinking about the business side of music; I was thinking about the creative side, like at the beginning, when I was first writing in my bedroom and I really didn’t give a s—- about what major labels thought, because I didn’t think anyone would ever listen to it. I wrote my first album before I’d even signed to a label, so I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do.
So your comeback single “Love Not Loving You” is a big kiss-off to your old corporate backers, not a relationship?
Oh yeah! And that song, for me, was crucial. The production is a bit weird, and it’s a pop song, but it’s not the easiest to digest in certain places. But I quite like that kitchen-sink sound, and it was coming back to what I did with “Youth” and my early songs. It had the same kind of creativity and energy that I had in the beginning. It was all about starting again, about being able to trust in yourself and trust in your muse. And I think a lot of the music that I’ve written since leaving things behind has got that spirit.
A good life lesson is that you can actually fire your friends, people who aren’t in your camp for the right reasons.
Yeah. That’s really interesting. A lot of these people pretend they’re your friends, but they’re keeping you on their side so they think they can get away with anything. I did actually have to do that at the end of 2016. I just realized that these people weren’t listening to me and I didn’t have a voice, and it wasn’t about me as an artist anymore or the music. It was about trying to create this other thing that could make them money, and it was totally soulless.
And there went their idea for promotional Foxes glow-in-the-dark yo-yos!
Ha! And you’re like, “What the f—-?” And before you know it, you’re selling yo-yos and you’re not knowing what’s going on, and you’re not even in control of it. So for me, it was all about taking back control.