It’s evident in the arcane lyrics of her first U.S. EP, “Illuminations,” and clearer on her U.K. debut, “Hands”: Victoria Hesketh, who records under the Caligula-inspired alias Little Boots, is one of the most literate young artists on the U.K. scene.
“I’ve always been a rabid reader,” says the keyboardist, who’s mastered an arsenal of complicated synthesizers like the Japanese Tenori-on. “My mom used to get mad because I’d hide books under the table and read at dinner, or I’d stay inside the house on sunny days just plowing through books.”
Last week, the singer finished Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar,” Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” and Homer’s “The Odyssey.”
“But before that, I’ve been averaging about two books a week — I’ve been reading like a madwoman!” says Hesketh, who brings Little Boots to San Francisco on Saturday.
She’s stockpiled J.G. Ballard, Truman Capote and Martin Amis for her American tour.
“Planes, trains, tour buses — you’re just wasting your life, spending all those hours traveling,” she says. “So I make myself read on tour now because I hate dead time.”
She doesn’t know what her most crucial text would be: “I’m always changing. But I just read the ‘Twilight’ books, kind of as an experiment, and they’re so good — they’re addictive. I’m not saying they’re my top books of all time. But from ‘The Odyssey’ to ‘Twilight,’ anything I pick up, I devour.”
Her smarts have come in handy through the years, as she pinballed through band after band, finally settling in to a signed electro-punk outfit called Dead Disco.
But on a recording junket to Los Angeles, the label — and fellow bandmates — ditched her.
Alone in California, Hesketh recalls, “I’d already started writing really poppy stuff, which was not the direction Dead Disco was going. So I just kept on writing.”
Her first effort: the frothy “New In Town.” Moving back to her parent’s house in Blackpool, England, she set up a studio and began making even bubblier music, and YouTube videos, as Little Boots.
“My mom was always telling me to stop trying so hard to be something else, to just be myself, and she was right,” Hesketh says.
Soon, she was a hit. But, you can still spot her on the street, she says, because she’ll have a book in her hand.
“Even on dates,” Hesketh says. “If my date’s really boring, a book is extremely useful!”
IF YOU GO
Where: The Independent, 628 Divisadero St., San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $15 to $17