After establishing herself with empowering anthems like "Clarity" with Zedd and "Right Here" with Rudimental, as well as issuing her gorgeous debut LP Youth, British pop singer Foxes didn't expect to release an album that was all about love. Make no mistake, however: the recently released All I Need is far from a gooey ode to romance.
Foxes' sophomore LP stands out for telling stories that detail the complicated middle section of relationships when one isn't in love but isn't out of love, and has to navigate that complex space. The singer moves from being ready to leave someone on "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" to begging them to stay on "If You Leave Me Now," moving through a slew of different moods and feelings, as one often does at the end of a relationship.
Fuse got to go in-depth with Foxes about her new album and talked all things love, along with classic pop albums and when we'll see her in America next.
Fuse: I think the thing that is most striking about All I Need is how this album isn't really about being in love, or not being in love, but that tough middle area in between. Were you consciously writing from that place?
Foxes: I think so! I was never someone that wrote about relationships, really. I was always quite against writing songs about love or that felt soppy. I'm more someone that wants to write about the rougher and the more darker kind of things. I quite like to write songs that feel empowering and a bit more stronger than something that feels ballad-y. So, I guess I had it in mind and at the time I was taking inspiration from sort of coming from a relationship, but I didn't want to talk about it in a way that was just too painful—even though some of it does talk about that side to it.
Was this album about one relationship? A few different ones?
So many! [Laughs] I'm being a bit dodgy, hm? No, it was about one, just that one. And I really didn't intend it to be about particularly one, I wanted to just write music, but I guess at the time that was the one thing that was going on in my life that felt emotional and I felt like I had an outlet. So I used music to accept it, and with some of the music, I wanted to cheer myself up a bit. So I wrote things like "Body Talk" to almost give myself a pat on the face and be like, "C'mon, pull it out!"
"Body Talk" in particular moves from wanting someone back to not needing them anymore. There's several songs like this that show that progression. Was it important to show the spectrum of emotions?
It was almost a bit of an accident how the sides were shown. I was just writing constantly for about six months and I wrote about being in a relationship, trying to leave a relationship, to being really indecisive and unsure and vulnerable, to then making a decision, being hurt—there were so many things that happened in six months. I guess when a relationship is coming to an end, there are loads of emotions you go through, from it dying out to it being really bad that someone's gone out of your life to trying to pick yourself up again to actually being stronger again. They were the stages I was writing about, because they were actually happening.
“With different people you meet, I do think you're meant to meet them for a reason. You just need to make sure you learn from it. But that's my own advice that I never say!”
I think the album's very relatable. Did you consider how it would be when recording?
Sometimes when I write, I forget that people are going to hear it. It's so much like writing in a diary. I write these things out very raw and I don't think about it, and it's just what's happening in my thought process. And then I'm like, "Oh, shit. Everyone's going to hear this." What I quite like is people relating to the different songs in their own way, and I like people interpreting the songs in their own way. That's why I didn't want to dwell on the fact that it's about one person, because I think there are a lot of messages in a lot of the songs that can be relatable to lots of different subjects. So I think it doesn't have to be about a relationship, it could be about changing something in your life, or it could be anything. I'm always interested after the album comes out what [messages] people have taken.
I particularly connected with "Better Love," and not being able to see someone as they are when you're having fun, having sex, etc. Can you talk a little about the mindset behind that one?
You're right, a lot of the songs can speak to being indecisive. I was sort of going back on what I was saying: I knew what the right answer was, but I didn't want to admit it. A lot times when you're in a relationship—and I think a lot of people can relate to this—it's very obvious to everyone around you that it's not right, and you just can't work it out. You're coming up with every excuse to make it fine, and it's not.
I think with "Better Love," I was really trying to make something work that clearly wasn't meant to be. It was only when I came out of the relationship that I looked back on it that I realized it wasn't right. When I was in it, I couldn't see a fault. Love can be really blind like that and I think that's what happened. You think it's as simple as asking someone to love you, when that's just impossible.
Yeah, I've been there, so thanks for the advice. What's the best love advice you've ever been given?
Ooh that's interesting. When you're in love, you can't see anything else besides that. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. It's kind of the ups and down. But advice when it comes to love...ah, that's difficult. Oh! I can't think! Well, clearly, because of the album I've just written, I haven't been given much good advice! [Laughs]
Love and learn, I think is quite good? To love and learn from it. Don't stop yourself from falling in love, because it is powerful and it is worth it. But you need to learn from it and not fall for the same things. With different people you meet, I do think you're meant to meet them for a reason. You just need to make sure you learn from it. But that's my own advice that I never say! [Laughs]
“You think it's as simple as asking someone to love you, when that's just impossible”
Sound-wise, there's a lot of different genres on the album as well as the many moods. You've mentioned Christina Aguilera's Stripped as a past inspiration which has a similar vibe to All I Need. Was that going through your head?
I definitely miss albums that had a lot of dynamic and the different sounds. Pop albums that have a lot of different things going on. I think something like Stripped or even the Taylor Swift album , I think they touch on so many different genres, and I think that it's almost like the emotion that pulls it together to not get lost in the genres. So I wanted to do it, but I wanted there to be a continuity that went through the album. I wanted it to feel like a whole piece of work, and I didn't want people to get bored, so I wanted there to be lots of ups and downs, different stories and emotions. There wasn't a moment where I was like, "Have I made this a bit confusing, sonically?" I really did just want to make a record that was held up by emotion, most of all.
What's your ultimate goal for the album?
Really, I'm just so excited to tour it around the world and I want it to live. I don't want it to be an album that is just a flash-in-the-pan. I'd like to just live, for lots of people to hear it, but live naturally.
Are you coming back to America any time?
It's not confirmed yet. I think so, hopefully towards the end of the year I'll be coming to America. I haven't been for ages so I hope so. But I'm going to be coming to see my U.S. fans because I miss them!
Flashback to Fuse talking to Foxes after she won her first GRAMMY Award in our video interview 2014: