It might be hard to believe, but it’s six years since Little Boots set off on a ‘crazy road trip’ through the music industry.
She started 2009 labelled as the star of the year, according to BBC Radio One’s ‘Sound Of’ award – a position her fellow Fylde songstress Rae Morris could find herself in this week.
But as Rae faces an anxious wait for the Sound Of 2015 top five to be revealed each morning this week, Little Boots is quick to praise her – and just as quick to warn the young musician that these titles are not the be all and end all of music success.
“One of the big challenges to have is longevity,” she said. “There are hot new artists’ lists and I’ll be amazed how many last until 2016.
“There’s a real disposable feel about new artists.
“The smart way to get longevity, for me, is to have control.
“The industry is changing so much and no one knows where it’s going. It’s a crazy road trip.”
Six years down the road, and Thornton-born Little Boots, real name Victoria Hesketh, has taken a lot of her own advice and now runs her own record label.
Despite the plaudits, her 2009 debut album Hands and single releases New In Town and Remedy failed to make a long-term impact, and she was left behind Sound Of 2009 also-rans Florence And The Machine and Lady Gaga.
“I’m sure Rae doesn’t need my advice,” the 30-year-old said of this year’s ‘Sound Of’ hopeful, the Blackpool singer-songwriter Rae Morris. “She’s doing really well.
“But I’d say keep grounded and know when to compromise, and when not to.
“It’s hard. Not everybody who wins that goes on to be successful.
“It’s something made up by critics in a small bubble.
“The times they get it wrong are more than they get it right, so keep doing what you do and make good music.
“It’s all about the album, touring around that and everything that goes with that,” she adds from the position of experience, and on the brink of her third album release.
“Maybe it will be third time lucky for me, I know what to expect now – although there are always surprises.
“It will be good to get the new tracks out and playing them and nice to get a new live show together.”
In recent years, Victoria’s been kept busy away from the limelight, setting up and running her own music label On Repeat Records, on which she released 2013 album Nocturnes, as well as current EP Business Pleasure, and the forthcoming full-length offering.
“It has been really busy getting the release finished, as a lot of people in the music industry tend to stop working between December and February, and we’re just trying to get the last songs mixed,” she said.
“It’s still really pop,” she explained about the latest tracks, Taste It and Heroine, “but I’ve been trying to experiment with the production, using more experimental producers and getting more unusual electronic sounds, pushing the production and marrying it with pop melodies.
“It’s an accessible and alternative pop sound, which has been cool.
“Being my own boss means I have complete creative freedom and can do what I want, but that makes it a more than full time job.
“More and more artists are doing it as the industry changes, people don’t need a manager or labels to be successful.
“So many success stories of recent times are on independent labels and artists doing things from the ground up, that market share has risen. It’s an exciting time.
“That old way of working with labels isn’t working now. People are selling albums in thousands now, not millions.
“It’s a state of flux, but I’m enjoying it. It’s rewarding being my own boss.
“I work on the business side as much as the creative side now and putting out other people’s recordings, too.”
The former Rossall School pupil, who now lives in London, admits writing music is ‘where the heart is’, but accepts that working on the business side of the industry brings her pleasure, too.
“Song writing is the bit I really love, it’s where my heart is, writing pop songs, and I’m doing it for other artists more and more and it’s probably something I’ll do more of in the long term,” she said.
“Everybody in this industry is going to love the creative side rather than marketing, but I see the big picture and make it work together.
“It’s a lot of pressure and responsibility, there’s no one else to blame if things go wrong, but I come from a family with a strong business background, so that helps.”
She makes regular visits back home, to see her parents and three younger brothers, and takes inspiration from their family business success – owning Hesketh Cars at Cleveleys.
“My parents’ work gave me confidence to not be scared,” she said.
“Starting the label was daunting, it was a big thing. But watching them has made me think I can do it.
“I’m a long way from it being a complete success, but I can always turn to them for advice.”
Although 2013 saw Victoria come home to film a video for single Satellite in The Tower Ballroom, one trip home she’s not been able to make as yet is to play a live show.
“It’s a shame there’s not a venue for me in Blackpool,” she said.
“I always try to have a Blackpool date when I tour, but it’s very much about the venues and technical specifications being right.
“My whole family has such history in the town, we’ve all grown up there. I come back fairly regularly.
“There’s always a connection, so if I can do things like the Satellite video I will.”
For those of us who remember Little Boots’ breakthrough, the quirky images of something of a space-hippy have been replaced by a much harder look for Business Pleasure – channelling the 80s and 90s ‘yuppy’ in a pin-striped blazer.
“You evolve, your image evolves and it’s part of the industry. It would be pretty boring if you stayed the same.
“The visual side has always happened hand in hand with the music, one reflecting the other, It’s a strong look with this new work.
“Musicians have more followers on (social media photo-sharing website) Instagram than anything else.
“Music is becoming low down the pecking order of being a pop star.”
While it’s clear Victoria doesn’t take herself too seriously on this front – she’s got a strong opinion when it comes to young women in the music industry.
“It was a statement,” she said of the suited styling.
“It’s important I have grown up. I wanted to reflect that. I’m not going to run around dressed like a fairy in a Christmas tree at 30.
“I felt people underestimated me as pretty spacey, but I’m tough and not messing round – I wanted to get that message across.
“This isn’t a game. I do what I love and it’s a career, but I’m not taking myself seriously.
“I have been quite involved with things like feminist issues in music, and while I’ve been getting into that, this look suited the idea that I can be strong and feminine.
“I hate to generalise, but there’s a pressure for girls and women in music to look and dress a certain way.
“The industry is run by middle aged men and that hasn’t changed for a long time.
“But you look at artists like Lourde and Charlie XCX, they are strong girls, not scared to look, dress and say what they want and it feels so much more exciting than when the Pussy Cat Dolls were launching.
“It’s great to do what you want, but there are double standards.
“One video of mine got blocked by Google claiming it was offensive and inappropriate – a woman eating a rubber eyeball, rather than a close up of Nicki Minaj or J Lo’s bottom, close up for five minutes which is ‘OK’.
“I don’t judge, do what you want, but I think it’s cool that there are interesting figures starting to stir things up.”
To listen to the Business Pleasure EP, visit www. littlebootsmusic.co.uk