Nouveau Rouge: Elly Jackson of La Roux
Elly Jackson is on the move. No, really. The clicking of the 21-year-old musician’s heels punctuates each pause in a transatlantic phone call as she walks down a busy London street. But as quickly as the redheaded front woman seems to be moving, her career—as part of chart-skipping, beat-happy British pair La Roux—is moving even faster. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a good artist or if you’re a shit artist,” she says of her success. “If you’ve got a catchy song, people will catch onto it really quickly.”
And Jackson’s songs are nothing if not catchy. La Roux’s infectious, bop-along singles include “In for the Kill,” “I’m Not Your Toy” and “Bulletproof.” The last, Jackson’s first number-one hit in the U.K., pairs an unstoppable hook with lyrics made for the desperate teenager inside us all. “This time,” sings the self-empowered new-waver, “I’ll be bulletproof.”
Suit by Nova Dando. Jackson’s own jewlery. Top photo: Shirt by Jonathan Saunders.
Jackson has the generational habit of punctuating her thoughts with a not-entirely truthful, dismissive shrug. (See: “I think people were ready for something a bit different. I don’t know.”) But she and songwriting partner Ben Langmaid do know something the rest of us don’t—how to write an insidiously memorable pop song. And they learned it from the greats. “Freddy Mercury, Prince, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Grace Jones, Blondie, Marilyn Monroe,” Jackson says, rattling off her influences. “An icon is someone who doesn’t sell themselves out, someone who has ideas of their own. I don’t think we really have icons anymore. There were only a handful of them to begin with. ”
She could continue, but Jackson—whose eponymous album just got its American release and who is now hitting the road stateside—is a busy lady. “You never see icons doing shitty interviews or shitty TV things just because of the money, or anything like that,” she says, casually curbing the conversation. We let her go. She’s got work to do.
Shirt by Erika Trotzig. Vest by Missoni. Pants by H&M.
Photography by Paul Farrell. Styling by Nova Dando. Makeup by John Christopher. Photographer’s assistant: Mike McCartney. Stylists’s Assistant: Bubbles. Location: Holburn Studios, London.