Foxes’ evolution has been completely transformative. When the British singer-songwriter first came into our lives after featuring on the Grammy Award winning Zedd collaboration ‘Clarity’, she really wanted to show that she was more than just an EDM-pop feature. Her debut album ‘Glorious’ was this stunning collection of tracks that highlighted a raw vulnerability mixed with a power inside of her that was very much alive. The critically acclaimed record saw her doing an extensive route of touring and really finding a passionate fan base through the emotional connection of songs like ‘Youth’ and ‘Holding Onto Heaven’.
For her sophomore record ‘All I Need,’ she decided to get a little more playful and tap into the pop market with punchier ear-worm hooks. Songs like ‘Better Love’, ‘Body Talk’ and ‘Amazing’ became these anthems in their own right that were about celebrating the carefree moments in life. But her songwriting still had a level of raw vulnerability in tact, with songs like ‘Devil Side’ and ‘Scar’ having a deep emotional connection with her fans.
As she took some time to step into this next chapter, she wrote an album that ended up losing its connection with her because of the global pandemic. Her ‘Friends In The Corner’ EP was a little look into that lost world, but she started to see and hear a whole new one through the things she was experiencing in real-time. Her third studio album ‘The Kick’ (out now) captures that angsty, anxious, and confused energy we all felt being locked away in our houses alone with our thoughts. Longing to be out dancing again, this record almost became a love letter to the nightlife she didn’t realise she was going to miss so much. Exploring the downfall of a toxic relationship in the middle of a pandemic, she navigated through her anxiety and heartbreak to find a personal and artistic confidence that radiates so bright through this body of work.
I recently chatted to Foxes about the craving to have human connections and nights out again that inspired ‘The Kick’, and explored the creative processes behind songs like ‘Two Kinds Of Silence’, ‘Potential’, ‘The Kick’ and ‘Forgive Yourself’. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: Your third studio album ‘The Kick’ was a body of work that was created completely during lockdown through many different virtual sessions. What was it about this creative process being so vastly different to your previous records that actually inspired the experimental direction behind this new chapter for you?
FOXES: It’s been a while! ‘All I Need’ was released in 2016, and I felt like after that record I needed to push my boundaries and go into something slightly different for me, and for the people who listen to my music. I just wanted to have fun with it and experiment.
I collaborated a lot with James Greenwood on this record, and he is an incredible producer, and an artist in his own right. He’s quite a big influence on how the sound has turned out. It’s slightly edgier, and a bit different from what I’ve done before. He comes from quite an experimental place musically. And I guess I do too, but I am definitely from more of a pop place.
TB: What was it about the lockdown that kinda pushed you there musically?
F: I just had this feeling, this pent-up energy, and this desire to just dance. I think that is really where it comes from. I had this energy inside of me which encouraged me to dance around this kitchen that I’m currently in and write melodies. They were coming out so quickly. I was almost pretending I was out again with my friends connecting and having fun. I was craving a night out so badly, so I think that’s why it has a heavy dance element to it.
TB: ‘Two Kinds Of Silence’ is a track that immediately stands out with its punchy 80’s synth production and infectious hook. Can you explain the creative process behind the track?
F: I really like this track as well! It has a lot of angst. I was going through a bit of a turbulent relationship in lockdown, and I was just so angry. I was in a relationship where we had two different ways of dealing with arguments, and there was a lot of toxicity going on. It’s really hard to put two very different people together in a relationship anyways, but ‘Two Kinds Of Silence’ is basically about two people dealing with arguments in very different ways and clashing.
I was actually listening to a lot of Janet Jackson, so I would say her album ‘Control’ inspired a lot of the sharp production in the track.
TB: “Forgive yourself, it’s easy when it’s somebody else” is a lyric from ‘Forgive Yourself’ that resonates quite deeply as it’s a sentiment we all need to remember. Where in your own personal journey were you when you realised that was something you needed to keep reminding yourself and eternalise it through a song?
F: As I’ve gotten older, and definitely through lockdown, I realised that I tend to give myself a hard time in life. I was thinking about it, and I was like we are born alone and we die alone, and I know that sounds so depressing, but all we have is ourselves, so why not make yourself your best friend? So I guess it was me talking to my inner child and going “we got this”.
I think everyone tends to give themselves a hard time, and when you think about it you wouldn’t do it to someone else so why do we treat ourselves like that. I really felt that sentiment in lockdown, especially with the isolation as you had to sit with yourself, and through that I realised if you didn’t have yourself then who else do you have?
TB: “Watching you bloom, makes me want to move with you” is another lyric from ‘Forgive Yourself’ that captures seeing someone else discover that sentiment and feeling inspired. So who are some creatives you are seeing bloom at the moment who are personally inspiring you?
F: I’ve been listening to a lot of Mykki Blanco. The energy there is insane, and there are such good, feel good, and positive messages in their music. But I am also in love with Studio Ghibli movies. I actually put them on my projector on mute and just write to them. I find them so inspiring. The colours are incredible, and they’re just so visually beautiful.
I also love soundtracks. I watch a lot of film and take a lot of little inspiration from film scores. So I’m always just watching movies and seeing what inspires me.
TB: ‘The Kick’ gives me some serious nostalgic 80’s influenced production with its different synths and samples. What was sonically inspiring you with that track particularly?
F: I am definitely inspired by the 80’s. It has been such a key influence to me since I was a kid. I have a very eclectic list of musicians that I listen to from Whitney Houston to Cyndi Lauper, and the list goes on. But for this track it was really about having the feeling in the music that was about escaping out of yourself. ‘The Kick’ is about taking down barriers around you, like your insecurities. At the time I was in my own four walls just like everyone else, and I felt very trapped. I had this image of wanting to push down all of the walls, all of the barriers, and just escape and feel free. I felt like I was missing something. I felt like I really needed to get out of myself, so I think the music came from there. I usually write a song and then sonically try to match what the lyrics are saying. And I think that’s where the angst came from, and I matched that with the 80’s drums and 80’s guitar riffs. They went really well with what I’m talking about.
TB: What song from the album went through the most versions to get it to where it is now?
F: That is such a good question! I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I will go through quite a few different versions of a song. It’s funny cause people don’t realise how long the behind the scenes processes are, and how much I piss my label off because I keep saying no to mixes and then end up saying “okay, I will do it myself” *laughs*. But on this album the song that went through the most versions was ‘Sister Ray’. It just means so much to me in so many different ways. Basically the demo was written so quickly on my iphone. I set up a little studio and it had hardly any production. It had like 3 different music parts, and wasn’t complicated at all as it was just stripped back. But I knew I wanted the song to have this huge energy, so I got in my head that I needed loads of production on it. We got like 8 mixes in and I was like “okay, we need to take everything out” and we started again because I knew how important it was for me to get this one right.
TB: The riff behind ‘Potential’ is EVERYTHING. What is a random fun fact you can tell us about that song?
F: I was actually going to use a male voice on the chorus, that’s quite random! I was working with Morgan Nagler and we were going back and forward on voice notes. I sent him this idea, and he sent back an updated version and I was like “can we just have your vocals on the chorus?”, and then he was like “no, we seriously need your voice”. So we ended up putting my vocals on the track, but pitched it low to give it that same effect.
TB: Reflecting back on your previous albums ‘Glorious’ and ‘All I Need’, if you could choose a song to reinterpret with a new 80’s inspired synth makeover to add as a bonus track on this record, what would you choose?
F: I love this question too! You are killing the questions. Ummm… it’s so hard as there’s so many! But I think ‘Holding Onto Heaven’ could be quite cool, and could have a reinterpreted Prince vibe with it.
TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions about the album. Are you ready?
TB: The emoji that best describes ‘The Kick’ is…
F: The punch!
TB: The song that nearly made the album was…
F: There’s loads! I pretty much have a whole other album. But ‘Alpha’ was a song that didn’t make it on this record, but I will make sure it comes out.
TB: The song I’m most excited to perform live would be…
F: ‘Sister Ray’
TB: The song that hits me deep in the chest lyrically still is…
F: ‘Too Much Colour’
TB: If your friends hadn’t heard my new music yet, the first song I would play them off the album would be…
F: ‘The Kick’!
‘The Kick’ is out now!