Ladies We Love: Elly Jackson of La Roux
By Jason Lamphier
A week has passed since she won her Grammy, and Elly Jackson is still reeling. "I'm in a haze," says the 23-year-old singer, one half of the British synth-pop duo La Roux, as she heads to a London DJ gig in a cab in late February. "It's a feeling you expect to pass, but then you realize it's not gonna pass, that you're gonna have a Grammy forever." When asked where she plans to showcase the award, Jackson chuckles before launching into a story of cultural nuance. "On the red carpet I said to one guy that I might put it in the toilet," she says. "He was like, 'Oh, my God, do you really not care about your Grammy that much that you're going to put it in the toilet?!' I was like, 'No! I'm gonna put it on the shelf in my restroom! I don't have a mantle, and I guess it's a British thing to put your awards in the bathroom, but after how offended he was, maybe I won't."
It's the kind of unassuming anecdote you'd expect to hear from a pop music newcomer who has referred to her look as 'androgynous moody bitch,' a modish, nervy performer who for the past two years has flaunted a much-imitated, cloud-sweeping ginger quiff to rival Morrissey's circa Bona Drag (like him, she won't discuss the specifics of her sexuality). A year ago Jackson and keyboardist Ben Langmaid were merely a blip on America's radar. Then came the single "Bulletproof," their irresistable pogoing, Gloria Gaynor'trapped-in-an-Atari post-breakup survivor anthem. It cracked Billboard's top 10 last summer and went double platinum. Kanye West then tapped Jackson to contribute vocals to two tracks on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy -- "All of the Lights" and "Lost in the World" -- and to "That's My Bitch," a song they recorded with Jay-Z for the rappers' joint EP Watch My Throne. But the watershed was the Grammy for best electronic/dance album that La Roux snagged for their self-titled debut, beating out upperclassmen the Chemical Brothers, Goldfrapp, and Groove Armada with a project they recorded in their living room.
Still the wide-eyed ing'nue, Jackson marvels at her profile in the United States. "We went to this incredible house in the hills," she says, running through her post-Grammys festivities. "It had the most amazing view and statues of dolphins around the pool. Just after I left the party, I found out that Jay-Z, Beyonc', and Brandy had come down to say hello to me, but I'd gone!" Yet like the savvy pop-star pros before her, she says she's ready for the next stage in the fame game. "The pompadour is no more, I'm afraid," she says. "I've moved on. I've become much more interested in a simple flick, something slightly more classic."
And though she struck gold with her first effort, a bubbly, noirish homage to '80s groups like Depeche Mode and the Human League, don't expect Jackson to retrace her steps for its follow-up, which she and Langmaid have already started writing. "I've been listening to a lot of classic disco, a lot of 'State of Independence''era Donna Summer and Grace Jones and Tom Tom Club," she says. "I'd like a more sexual feel to the record, but not in a sex-in-the-club kinda way -- the way sexy was before it got made dirty. Sexy can be classy, sexy can be cool, sexy can be actually sexy."