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WPGM Commentary: Little Boots Is Holding Tight To Hope On ‘Silver Balloons’

Hi I’m Victoria, I go by the artist name Little Boots, and I’m originally from a seaside town called Blackpool in the North of England, although I’ve more recently lived in London and Los Angeles.

I’ve been making music under this moniker for over a decade, and have just released the first single from my fourth album, Silver Balloons. This record will also be the first I have totally written and produced myself.

Silver Balloons” is in many ways a metaphor for all the cancelled plans and parties of lockdown, all of the disappointments as one by one we watched many of our hopes and desires burst like shiny balloons at the end of the night. All we had left is each other; coming together and holding tight to hope is the way we all seemed to get through the last couple of years.

The song and indeed the whole album is in many ways a return to my roots. It’s a DIY disco pop record, written by one girl with a piano, a couple of synths and a drum machine holed up in a bedroom, similar to how I started out. But this time the background was a worldwide pandemic.

I started Little Boots in 2008, writing from my parent’s garage in the north of England one bitterly cold winter, not really knowing what the future held or what would become of any of the music I was writing, although many of those songs would go on to make up my debut Gold selling album.

Fast forward over 10 years later and yet again I found myself at my parents, this time under a national lockdown, dusting off the same old keyboard, again with very little idea of what the future held.

Although much had changed there was a sense of coming home, and reconnecting with that initial feeling when I started out, writing for the love of a great pop song, experimenting with technology or more often the lack of it, embracing the limitations of a home studio and lack of any professional producers or collaborators.

But the record has a stranger life before all of this. What would become the opening track was actually started on a tiny island off the coast of Seattle, in the middle of a snow stormed forest, inside a tiny wooden hut heated only by a small fire stove, as part of the Hedgebrook Women’s writer retreat.

As the blizzard swirled around I set up my synthesizers and microphone recorded the bare bones of a few songs, again totally alone with a very basic set up and zero pressure or idea of where I was heading, the running theme of this record.

Living between Los Angeles and London, I started picking up writing a full album again and revisited the songs, slowly progressing, filling in my production knowledge gaps along the way. After lockdown writing and producing in Blackpool I knew I was close, but still had a lot of finishing to do.

Twists and turns of fate took me to Belize, where again I packed a very minimal set up, and ended up recording most of the final vocals in a closet full of pillows sweating in a bikini because I couldn’t turn the air conditioning on without picking it up on the mic. So an album that started on a snowy island, and took form in the north of England was finished up on the coastline of the Caribbean.

I found myself feeling confident in a way I hadn’t for years. Suddenly all bets were off, no one knew what was happening, and in a way this freed me from any pressures connected to making not only a new record, but my first full length album in 5 years, which even after all this time in music felt daunting. It felt in a way like starting out all over again.

I centered myself at the piano and began all of the songs from here. I re-listened to many of my favourite songwriter albums of the 70s – Elton John, Carole King, The Beegees and of course my eternal favourite – Abba (who’s live band I will be joining net year as part of Abba Voyage).

All studio sessions were suddenly cancelled, which meant I had no choice but to step up as producer, something I’ve long felt a lurking sense of imposter syndrome around, but forced to take a leap of faith, I have now completely written but also produced this record myself, a career first for me.

Like many, I spent much of the time dreaming of discos, fantasising about parties of the past and future, and wondering if the world as we knew it would ever come back. I think you can hear this in the music. It’s nostalgic but hopeful, a soundtrack for getting ready to go ‘out out’, dancing around your kitchen, its sequins in the bath, its beautiful strangers and old friends.

Its soaring strings and squelchy synths, casio chic drum machines, live bass from the back of a tiny smoky stage at a Blackpool Working Men’s Club, vocals stacked so they wash over you like Belizan waves and piano so rich and warm it could fend off a Seattle snow storm. You can dance and cry and laugh and forget and remember to it.

It’s a record for the fans who have been with me from the beginning and all those I gained on the way. I feel like I’ve come full circle. And I think it’s the most ‘me’ record I’ve ever made.

Watch the video for “Silver Balloons” here!

Words by Little Boots // Follow her on Twitter + Instagram

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