Bright future for homegrown Lights star

Thornton-born Little Boots
Thornton-born Little Boots
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For many a performer, the chance to join Blackpool’s biggest party night of the year is something to celebrate.

But for a resort-born star it’s one of the biggest honours they can receive.

And the lucky local taking the stage tonight for Switch-On is pop’s Little Boots - aka Victoria Hesketh.

Tonight’s show, as part of the iFest Illuminations weekend, is the first time she’s played in Blackpool since 2013 having hosted a signing event at the town’s HMV store.

“It’s great to be finally making it back,” she said. “I’ve played at the Christmas lights switch ons in other places, and I’ve been waiting for Blackpool to finally ask me and it has happened.

“It feels good to get that request. It’s really nice to play your home town, with my friends and family there - it’s like coming full circle.

“It’s quite a scary prospect actually. It’s quite a gig. Last time I played Blackpool it was HMV and now this and it will be fantastic to be outdoors, right in the heart of it.

“It’s something I had always thought would be a nice thing to do and now it’s finally happening.

“I’ll probably stick around for a couple of days, although I’ve been up quite a bit recently and I try to get home every month or so.”

And she’s amazed at the celebrity pulling power of the Switch-On, with Hollywood director Tim Burton set to do the honours.

He’ll be back in the resort after shooting stunt scenes for forthcoming movie Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children in the resort, starring Samuel L Jackson, earlier this year.

“Tim Burton, it’s amazing,” he said. “It was really weird seeing Samuel L Jackson on the Graham Norton Show and him talking about Fleetwood on it.

“And then to hear Tim Burton was hanging round Cleveleys.

“I’m always proud of the town and to come from there, and I speak up for it. I’ve got such strong connections to the town and it’s cool that Tim Burton is into it too.”

But there’s an embarrassing admission from the Thornton-born musician, given tonight’s gig: “I don’t think I ever actually went to the Switch-On gig, but it wasn’t so big when I was a kid,” she said.

“We always went to the Lights, but the Switch-On was so busy with tourists that we didn’t really go.

“It’s great that it’s more of a concert now than just the Switch-On.

“It’s difficult with tours to come here,” she added. “Blackpool gets either really big concerts but nothing mid-scale as it doesn’t have the venues and it’s a shame.”

Initially making her name as a more typical popster, Victoria is now a determined Working Girl - the title of her new album, running her own On Repeat Records label and taking charge of her own destiny.

Independent music making is not something usually associated with the candy floss world of pop, but Victoria’s happy to break that mould.

This summer, she’s been back in the national limelight following the release of her third album Working Girl, with TV appearances on ITV’s Sunday morning magazine show Weekend, presented by Aled Jones, as well as morning broadcast Lorraine.

“Aled was brilliant,” she said. “He comes to Blackpool quite a bit and was yabbering away with my mum - as they have mutual friends.

“With that and Lorraine, it was nice to get back out there. It’s my third album and it feels like where I want to be. I’m proud of it and what it represents for me.

“Also, people are ‘getting’ it, and getting me. Aled and Lorraine understood it and what I was trying do do - that you can be ‘independent’ and ‘pop’.

“Traditionally pop stars are from the major labels. I have been through this long journey and am working independently while running my own label.”

And she combines her own music making, and running the label, with a busy DJing schedule, which takes her around the world playing top clubs. “I always prefer a live show or mine,” the 31-year-old said. “It’s rewarding and my band is great, it’s an experience perorming live.

“But I enjoy DJing, picking out music for a great party.

“I’ve always done both alongside each other, and they build into each other.

“My understanding of dance music helps feed back into writing, where I can take inspiration from what I’ve been playing as a DJ.”