British singer Foxes has gone from unknown to Grammy winner and red-carpet regular in less than a year

When Louisa Rose Allen won a Grammy in January, few had heard of her. But after a starring role at London Fashion Week, and with an album imminent, the Southampton chatterbox isn't going anywhere – unless she wants to

The young Southampton pop newcomer known by the nomme de gig Foxes didn't expect to win a Grammy. Of course she didn't. For one thing, if Louisa Rose Allen had thought she might beat the all-conquering Calvin Harris to the Best Dance Recording, she wouldn't have nipped out for a pint with electro duo Disclosure and Brits Critics' Choice winner Sam Smith halfway through January's ceremony.

For another, the 24-year-old was, say it again, a brand new artist, scantly known in the US and with barely one full UK single to her name.

As it was, when Foxes' name was called from the podium at the 56th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on 26 January, she had not long scraped back into the auditorium, and just remembered to give a shout-out to the key person on her non-existent thank-you speech: her mum. "And for some reason I decided to tell everyone in the room, and everyone on telly, that I had chewing gum in my mouth," Foxes reflects with a mortified sigh. "It's so bad. I just vomit words."

This bright, personable young woman shrugs and returns her attention to demolishing the blueberry muffin she's having for breakfast. We are sitting in a canal-side café near her flat in Dalston, east London. Soon, by chance, her big (and heavily pregnant) sister will enter the same café – she also lives round here, as does their mum. (Their brother lives in Amsterdam; Foxes has no contact with her dad.) Meanwhile, much to her mortification, I try to Google her acceptance speech.

The backstory, then, to Foxes' out-of-nowhere success at the world's most prestigious music awards: "About 18 months ago", young dance producer Zedd was searching for a singer for a new track. After "looking for ages", the LA-based German (who has also worked with Lady Gaga) heard Foxes' "Youth"; the lyrics were inspired by the artist's single-parent mum – a young-at-heart mother-of-three who followed both her daughters to London to open a second-hand clothes shop, Vintage Upmarket, on Brick Lane.

Although some way off being released as a single, "Youth" was knocking about on the internet. Zedd was impressed. This was the singer he needed for his single "Clarity": clear and soulful, full of personality but no dance diva; powerful without being foghorn.

 

Foxes admits that at first she was wary – the potential for raver-queen naffness was high. "As much as I really do love elements of dance music, and it's something that has inspired me a lot, the whole EDM thing," she squints, referring to the cheese-whiffed acronym (electronic dance music) that Americans insist on applying to dance music, "isn't something I would want to pin on myself."

But Foxes had done time as a singer- songwriter, and (briefly) at a performing-arts school, and had played her share of open-mic nights in London. She's been signed to her record label for more than two years now, and been hard at work writing and co-writing her debut album, Glorious. She knew that young artists have to explore every opportunity – guest slots on other acts' tunes being one of the best. So she listened to Zedd's track, and thought it was "really beautiful. It wasn't just a dance track; it was in the vein of a lot of my music. It sort of felt like a song that was gonna change the way people perceived dance."

That might be overstating things a little. But "Clarity" is a persuasive and effective stadium-house belter. It was followed by other guest-vocal appearances by Foxes: on the single "Right Here" from the number-one album by fellow Hackney residents Rudimental, on "Just One Yesterday" by American rock band Fall Out Boy. And then, 16 months after its release, it was followed by a Grammy – a surprise achievement that has rocket-powered Foxes' public and social-media profile.

We're meeting 10 days after she landed back in the UK from LA. There's been no time for celebrating for the girl known as Loui to her friends. "I went straight back to work. I mean, if I look at my diary," she says flicking to her iPhone calendar, "I just don't even know what I've been doing. It's day and night now – it's just got very busy…" she exhales, still fatigued by a whole day's worth of regional radio interviews.

This is the midst of awards season: the opening two months of the year studded with film and music bashes aplenty, from the Brits to the Baftas, the Grammys to the Oscars. We talk about what it's like on the ground at one of these events. On the mandatory pre-event red carpet, Foxes was already feeling out of place. "I really felt like I was gonna be told to leave at any point! 'Make way for Beyoncé…'" she recounts in her speedy, bushy-tailed manner. "You just think: what am I doing here? I started getting interviewed by Jack Osbourne. And I thought, 'This is a bit bizarre – I should be interviewing him.'"

It's not a completely fanciful suggestion. In the modern, multi-tasking, starter-star way, Foxes has already been for a meeting with hipper-than-thou media brand Vice about fronting a youth TV show of some stripe for Channel 4. And, as is equally mandatory for young musical stars, she has representation at Premier Models – they look after her for fashion and brand partnerships.

Foxes wore Vivienne Westwood to the Grammys. Shall we Google that, too? "Stop Googling me! I didn't actually like the dress that much," she says, her newbie-naivety trickling through – fashion people are never disloyal, at least not publicly. "On me, anyway," she backtracks.

To paraphrase the biggest viral hit of the last year: what does Foxes say? Why be a musician, and why with that name?

She says she always wanted to be in music – not so much a pop star, more a singer and songwriter. It took her a while to find her footing, though. "I was a bit of a blagger growing up. I went here and there and didn't really know what I wanted to do," she says, copping to long stints working in bars and a year at London's Institute of Contemporary Music Performance.

Earlier on, aged 18, she was accepted into beauty school in Southampton. The day before she was due to start, her big sister called. She knew of Loui's passion for music. She told her to wise up, forget make-up, and come up to London immediately.

"And my mum and I put all my stuff in her car. And this is really cheesy but Mark Ronson's [cover of] "Stop Me" came on the radio. And my mum was like, 'It's a sign! Let's go!' And we drove up to London, and I never looked back! My mum is awesome."

Indeed, that mother-daughter bond in part explains her stage name – a change that was, initially, born of necessity. Just as Emeli Sandé's actual first name is Adele and that was already, as it were, taken, so Foxes' birth appellation is uncannily similar to the full name of another British female star: Lily Rose Allen.

"I just thought, the comparisons are gonna get too much. Then someone said, 'What do you think about Foxes?' And I was like, 'That doesn't make any sense. I don't think it's very good.'"


But it stuck in her head – partly because the first song she'd ever written, aged 13, was called "Like Foxes Do". Sample lyric: "Like what foxes do/ I'll bury underground whilst I wait for you/Make a palace out of trash/ Like foxes do/ I'm the only one for you/ Isn't that what foxes do?" Yes, she concedes with a grin, "I was young and weird and soppy. I used to dedicate diaries to boys I had crushes on. But you do learn…"

She asked her mum what she thought of the name Foxes. She replied: "That's so weird. Last night I had this dream about these foxes running up our street and they were howling and making these beautiful noises. And I woke up thinking, 'God that's like your music…'"

Loui is "very close" to her mum, "and I like that she has that connection. So I thought, 'That feels right, we'll go with it.'"

The irony, of course, being that while Foxes' music is dance-flavoured, big-voiced pop-soul, notably on her super-energetic new single, "Let Go For Tonight", foxes sound like a baby being mangled. "It's horrendous," she agrees. "But the thing is, you know when you get used to a name? Like, Sting is quite a weird name… But also, someone told me yesterday that on Google Images, apparently I'm the first entry – I've taken over actual foxes on the internet," she says with notable pride.

The canidae's loss is London Fashion Week's gain. A week later, I hunt Foxes again – over the five-day style binge, her presence is in hot demand at catwalk shows and presentations by a host of labels: Vivienne Westwood, Topshop, Jonathan Saunders, Miu Miu (which was dressing her for the Elle Style Awards), Mark Fast (who was dressing her for the Brits), and Markus Lupfer (for whom she had compiled a playlist of tunes to mark the unveiling of his new collection).

"I just love her because she's young and energetic," the German-born designer tells me as fashionistas swarm around his Saturday- afternoon show in Covent Garden (we've just missed Natalie Portman and Myleene Klass, apparently). "I'm obsessed by her music. She's got such a good vibe. She's fresh and new and quirky, and I love her image."

After being Instagrammed by fashion bloggers in her new Lupfer outfit – hot-pink sci-fi Barbie, I'm saying – Foxes has to dash. She's squeezing in tour rehearsals before her next awards-season pit stops.

At least this smart young star already has some serious red-carpet experience; at least she already has her own award. Not that Foxes has actually taken possession of her Grammy yet – it's still in America, being engraved.

"I loved Jay-Z's acceptance speech that night!" she beams. The rapper dedicated his award to his and Beyoncé's baby girl: "I want to tell Blue – daddy got a gold sippy cup for you!" Foxes was touched. "I thought that was genius. So when I get mine, I'm gonna give it to my little niece. Just for a bit, though."

'Let Go For Tonight' is out now. Foxes' debut album, 'Glorious' is out on 12 May. Foxes is on tour now; for details: iamfoxes.com

Arts and Entertainment
Tate Modern chief Chris Dercon, who will be leaving to run a Berlin theatre company
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Tasos: 'I rarely refuse an offer to be photographed'
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Girls on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Florence Pugh and Maisie Williams star in 'The Falling'
Film
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence