La Roux (// lah-ROO) is an English synthpop act formed in 2006 by singer Eleanor "Elly" Jackson and record producer Ben Langmaid. Their debut album La Roux (2009) was a critical and commercial success, winning a Grammy Award and producing hit singles such as "In for the Kill" and "Bulletproof". Recording of a follow-up album was marred by unsuccessful collaborations, the cancellation of two planned release dates, and reported conflict between the duo. Langmaid ultimately left the group, and Jackson released a second album, Trouble in Paradise, in 2014, maintaining the former duo's name.
2006–10: Beginnings and self-titled album
In 2006, Jackson and Langmaid were introduced by a mutual friend. Their first project was named "Automan" and they wrote largely acoustic music due to Jackson's great admiration of acts like Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell. Her interest later shifted to electronic music, drawing inspiration from acts such as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. The band's name refers to Jackson's red hair and tomboyish appearance, mingling the masculine ("le roux") and feminine ("la rousse") French terms; she has said: "To me, it means 'red-haired one'—and it does, vaguely. It's just a male version of 'red-haired one'".
La Roux's debut single, "Quicksand", was released by French independent record label Kitsuné Music in December 2008. They then signed to Polydor Records in order to release their debut album. La Roux's second single, "In for the Kill", was released on 16 March 2009. Later, two prominent dubstep producers, Skream and Skrillex, created remixes of the track. Another remix was made by Lifelike. "In for the Kill" debuted at number eleven on the UK Singles Chart on 22 March 2009, peaking at number two four weeks later. "Bulletproof", later remixed by dubstep producer and DJ Chrispy, was released on 21 June 2009 and debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart. The song was released on 11 August 2009 in the United States and topped the Hot Dance Club Songs chart the week of 17 September. As of 11 June 2010 it had peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and had sold over 2.0 million copies. The band's debut album, La Roux, peaked at 70 on the Billboard 200 and at number four on the Dance/Electronic chart. "I'm Not Your Toy", released on 29 September 2009, reached number twenty-seven on the UK chart. On 10 September 2009, Jackson confirmed in an interview with French musical website Hall Musique that "As If by Magic" would be the fifth single to be released from the album, and on 15 July 2010, she uploaded a behind-the-scenes preview of the music video for "Tigerlily" on YouTube discussing its theme. However, neither "As If By Magic" nor "Tigerlily" were ever issued as singles, and the full "Tigerlily" video also remains unreleased.
In order to promote La Roux, the band was the supporting act on Lily Allen's UK tour of March 2009. La Roux headlined the Samsung NME Radar Tour 2009 and played alongside Magistrates and Heartbreak. They were scheduled to perform at the Glastonbury, Reading, Oxegen and Leeds festivals as well as the Scala, Southend Chinnerys and Coventry Kasbah venues. In July and August 2009, La Roux toured North America. The eight-city tour included performances at Osheaga Festival, All Points West Music & Arts Festival and Lollapalooza. On 23 July, the group performed on the late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live!. The group returned to North America for a seven-date tour in October. The group sold out their two Australian dates within minutes forcing an upgrade in venues. In November, the duo embarked on an eleven-date United Kingdom and Ireland tour. La Roux gained fifth position on the BBC Sound of 2009 poll. The Guardian website featured La Roux on their New Band of the Day column. The Guardian also featured La Roux as one of the "Best New Acts of 2009" in January of that year. The album has been nominated for a Mercury Prize.
Sales of "In for the Kill" spiked 600 percent when Skream's "Let's Get Ravey" remix of the song appeared on the HBO show Entourage in August 2010. Later that month, it was announced that an EP remix has been released in tandem with the November US tour. In October, a second video for the song was released that was shot at New York's landmark Hotel Chelsea. The song was released in the United States 7 October.
2011–2015: Departure of Langmaid and Trouble in Paradise
In February 2011, at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, La Roux won the Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album for their self-titled debut album. Their single "In for the Kill" was nominated for Best Dance Recording; Jackson wrote on Twitter "This is the happiest I think I've ever been". This contrasts Elly Jackson's previous comments at the 2010 NME Awards, where she lightheartedly stated that the group "rarely wins awards". Ben Langmaid stated in a post-award interview, that the day before the Grammy Awards, the duo were rewarded with a double platinum set of discs from their record company, describing the weekend of the Grammy Awards as "My happiest weekend ever". In 2010, Jackson added vocals to Kanye West's platinum-selling album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which was released on 22 November 2010. Jackson contributed vocals to West's debut album with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne, on the track "That's My Bitch". The album was released on 9 August 2011. In addition to her appearance on Kanye West's album in 2010, Jackson performed on Chromeo's third album Business Casual, providing chorus vocals for the track "Hot Mess".
La Roux were scheduled to start writing material for their second album during Christmas 2009 at their manager's home. Jackson said, "I think there will be a natural instrument or two on there though, which will make a change from the first record." She added that due to limited time, she did not think there would be "anything in terms of a second record for a while". As of January 2011, La Roux were writing their second album with a somewhat established indie rock band whose members are friends of Jackson. Jackson told the NME, "I know I'm not going to stop writing until we've got songs that can compete on the same level as 'In For The Kill' and 'Bulletproof'". In January 2012, Jackson described the second album as "a lot cheekier. Not 'Touch My Bum' cheeky or Carry On cheeky—just slightly suggestive [...] A lot of music that's quite sexual is aggressive, but the music itself doesn't sound sexy—it's more people shouting, 'Look at my bum! Look!' I'm not turned on by it, I'm terrified." She also noted she felt a lot of pressure to replicate the quality of the duo's debut album. Unlike the first album, album two was said to draw more on acoustic sounds and instruments, including guitars, organs and percussion; however, analog and digital synthesizers would still feature as part of the overall sound. Jackson confirmed she would be playing instruments on the record, in addition to co-writing, co-producing and providing vocals.
La Roux started a low-key comeback tour on 28 March 2013 in Brighton with two more venues in Bristol and Coventry during the following week. It was confirmed via a copy of the set list that there were four new songs: "Uptight Downtown", "Kiss and Not Tell", "Sexotheque" and "Tropical Chancer". Early reactions to the new material were positive. Proof of a new album surfaced on 21 March 2014, when Tim Jonze, music columnist for The Guardian, tweeted that he "heard the new La Roux album yesterday and it was bloody brilliant." The official La Roux page responded with "Thanks!" On 8 April 2014, La Roux announced their second studio album, Trouble in Paradise, would be released on 21 July 2014, preceded by buzz single "Let Me Down Gently", which premiered on BBC Radio 1 on 12 May 2014. During the promotions for the album, Jackson revealed that she and Langmaid had parted ways, and she was now the sole member of La Roux. Langmaid responded that he was "truly saddened" by the split, and added that he was still a fixture in the album's writing, including "Let Me Down Gently", which both he and Jackson enjoyed.
Elly Jackson's first interest was in folk music. She was particularly interested in Carole King and Nick Drake whose music she discovered in her parents' record collection. Jackson's early musical material consisted of folk ditties influenced by Joni Mitchell. Her taste in music changed during her mid-teens when she became involved in the rave scene. She lists Gerry Rafferty, Madonna, Prince, Depeche Mode, the Eurythmics, Jenny Wilson, and The Knife as her influences. In July 2010, La Roux curated and mixed the latest volume of Sidetracked, a compilation series from Renaissance that allows artists from the electronic field free rein to showcase their musical interests. The mix eclectically features the likes of Japan, Heaven 17, Joyce Sims, Fever Ray (lead singer of The Knife), Doris Troy, Tears for Fears, Gerry Rafferty and many more of their influences. It also includes an exclusive recording of The Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb", a cover La Roux have been featuring in their then-recent live sets.
Jackson is unhappy with what she perceives as a "normality" fashion trend among a majority of today's musical acts. Her androgynous clothing and hair style has been compared to the 1980s group A Flock of Seagulls. Jackson strongly opposes stylists who try to change her appearance to a more classically feminine look.
Eleanor Kate "Elly" Jackson (born 12 March 1988) is an English singer, songwriter and the sole member of La Roux, a former synthpop duo which is now a solo project. Jackson is well known for having reddish toned hair and androgynous style. Jackson has a soprano vocal range. Jackson was born in London to The Bill and Emmerdale actress Trudie Goodwin and actor Kit Jackson, and has an older sister named Jessica. Jackson's great grandfather was Anthony Bernard, founder of the London Chamber Orchestra and first musical director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford upon Avon. Jackson attended Pimlico School, Sydenham High School, and Royal Russell School. Jackson has accumulated a lesbian cult following. Jackson was frequently bullied in school because of appearance and weight.
Mickey O'Brien is the longest member of Elly's live band, having joined in 2008. O'Brien was born in London, England. She played in a punk/rock band called Past Caring, and she was involved in the London scene at the time with The Libertines. She then joined Ali Love and supported the likes of Mark Ronson on tour and was part of the arising London warehouse Electro genre. Mickey is also the younger cousin of Radiohead's Ed O'Brien.
The latest line-up in 2016 comprises Seye from Gorrilaz, Gbenga from Metronomy and Jay Sharrock from Miles Kane's band as well as Mickey.
Former member Ben Langmaid did not participate in the music videos or live performances with Jackson. Langmaid, a London-based producer and composer, has been involved with various other music projects in the past. He was a DJ throughout the 1990s. He has a close association with Rollo Armstrong of Faithless; the two musicians went to the same school and later collaborated as Huff & Puff in the mid-1990s, releasing the house single 'Help Me Make It' in 1996. Langmaid also recorded as Atomic and was one half of Huff & Herb, before contributing as a songwriter to indie rock band Kubb's debut album Mother, released in 2005. This project was again linked to Rollo Armstrong; Kubb's frontman Harry Collier was introduced to Langmaid after Collier sang 'Happy Birthday to You' to Armstrong whilst working as a waiter in a North London organic café. Langmaid turned down the offer of a permanent position in Kubb. In 2011, Langmaid wrote material for the early 1990s R&B-styled girl group War of Words.
|2009||O2 Silver Clef Awards||Best Newcomer||La Roux||Won|
|Studio8 International Music Awards||Best Female Newcomer||Elly Jackson||Won|
|Studio8 Song of July 2009||"Bulletproof"||Won|
|Mercury Prize||–||La Roux||Nominated|
|MTV Europe Music Awards||Best New Act||La Roux||Nominated|
|Best Push Artist||Nominated|
|Best UK & Ireland New Act||Nominated|
|Virgin Media Music Awards||Best Newcomer||La Roux||Nominated|
|Best Album||La Roux||Nominated|
|mtvU Woodie Awards||Breaking Woodie||La Roux||Nominated|
|Q Awards||Breakthrough Artist||Nominated|
|UK Festival Awards||Best Breakthrough Act||Nominated|
|Popjustice £20 Music Prize||5th||"In for the Kill"||Nominated|
|The Record of the Year||7th||"In for the Kill"||Nominated|
|UK Music Video Awards||Best Styling in a Video||"Quicksand"||Nominated|
|iTunes 2009 UK Music Awards||Single of the Year||"In for the Kill"||Won|
|Best Art Vinyl||Best Art Vinyl 2009||La Roux||9th|
|2010||Brit Awards||British Breakthrough Act||La Roux||Nominated|
|British Single||"In for the Kill"||Nominated|
|Glamour Women of the Year Awards||Band of the Year||La Roux||Nominated|
|Sheer Infusion Newcomer||La Roux||Nominated|
|NME Awards||Best Dancefloor Filler||"In for the Kill" (Skream Remix)||Won|
|Best New Band||La Roux||Nominated|
|Best Dressed||Elly Jackson||Nominated|
|Ivor Novello Awards||Best Contemporary Song||"In for the Kill"||Nominated|
|MTV Video Music Awards Japan||Best Dance Video||"I'm Not Your Toy"||Nominated|
|International Dance Music Awards||Best Underground Dance Track||"In for the Kill" (Skream Remix)||Nominated|
|Best Alternative/Rock Dance Track||"Bulletproof"||Nominated|
|Best Electro Track||"In for the Kill" (Skream Remix)||Nominated|
|Best Dubstep/DNB/Jungle Track||"In for the Kill" (Skream Remix)||Won|
|Best Break-Through Artist (Group)||La Roux||Won|
|NewNowNext Awards||Brink of Fame: Music Artist||La Roux||Nominated|
|2011||Grammy Awards||Best Dance Recording||"In for the Kill"||Nominated|
|Best Electronic/Dance Album||La Roux||Won|
|Billboard Music Awards||Top Dance Artist||La Roux||Nominated|
|2015||NME Awards||Best Album||Trouble in Paradise||Nominated|
|Best Solo Act||La Roux||Nominated|