As festivals make a welcome return, Pixie Lott discusses her own musical comeback and why Essex will always be close to her heart
We have all had to sacrifice things we love since the first lockdown was announced back in March 2020, but while we had brief moments of respite in between the darkness, music is one industry that has suffered more than most. It has only been recently that gigs have started to take place again, albeit as government experiments to track the spread of Covid, and festivals – finally – are shaping up to resume just in time for the end of summer.
We may have lost behemoths like Glastonbury once again this year, but there are some gems worth seeking out and travelling for – most notably, Camper Calling festival, taking place in Warwickshire at the end of August, which features a stellar line up including Manic Street Preachers, Supergrass, Embrace, plus one Pixie Lott.
Victoria Louise Lott was born in January 1991, where she immediately picked up the name millions would know her by. “I was born seven weeks early, so I had that nickname as a baby from my mum,” she recalls. “My brother and sister caught on, and then everybody called me it at school.”
Aged just 14, she performed in the West End and also as Louisa von Trapp in BBC One’s Celebrate the Sound of Music, and was soon the subject of a bidding war by rival music labels. She was still at school studying for her GCSEs when she started recording her debut album, as well as writing for other leading singers at the time. In June 2009, she released her debut single, Mama Do, which started an unprecedented run of singles and album successes. Her debut album, Turn It Up, went on to be certified double-platinum, and was followed up by second album, Young Foolish Happy, in 2011, and her self-titled third album hit in 2014. Amongst the albums were six Top 10 hit singles in the UK.
But, since 2014, fans of Lott’s music have had to be very patient indeed for something new. “I can’t believe it has been so long and how quickly time passes,” she says on the musical gap, but goes on to explain that she hasn’t been twiddling her thumbs. “Since then, alongside my writing, I started focusing a little more on acting and did my first play [Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in 2016]. I set up my performing arts school for aspiring performers in Chelmsford, which is now back open, and I am absolutely loving being a coach on The Voice Kids.”
There seems to be a real sense that Lott wants to help develop the next generation of musical and acting stars, and her academy in particular has seen many a success story with students going on to star on both stage and screen. It also keeps Lott connected to the county that played such a key role in the early days of her career. “I moved to Essex when I was about 14 because my mum is originally from [the county],” she explains. “I live in London now, but would love to move back one day to be nearer to the family. There are so many beautiful places and I absolutely love the Essex countryside. I was looking at a house once in Wickham Bishops, which is a lovely little village. I love Mersea for the beach, and I love Upminster because it reminds me of my nan and granddad.”
The Chelmsford academy, aptly named Pixie Lott Academy, is a family-run performing arts school with a strong faculty of staff. Of the academy, Lott explains: “It has always been a dream of mine to start a school with my family and it is our aim to help give young performers the opportunity I had starting out.”
The academy is also a great example of how Lott has never really stepped away from the world of entertainment, despite the seven-year gap to her last album. “All of my interests are pretty much in the creative world,” she enthuses. “I love dance, drama, fashion and beauty, but music will always be my number one.
I do have a passion for meditation though. That is the thing that really helps me to stay in a positive place or help me out when I am feeling low. I have missed performing so much, but I have kept busy with writing, and I did a little shower series on Instagram where I was taking people’s song requests and singing them in the shower. As much as I like being in the shower, the stage is going to be better!”
For her fans, there’s good news too when the subject turns to album number four.
“I have been working on it for the past few years,” she says, “and I’m so excited to say that it’s nearly ready and I can’t wait for people to hear it. It is a departure from my earlier stuff and definitely more raw and live, so it will be the best to perform live. My recent writing is more mature, live, organic and authentic.” It sounds like visitors to Camper Calling will be in luck.
Whilst the days of All About Tonight and Cry Me Out may be over, fans will surely be excited to hear what Lott brings out next. The pixie, it seems, has grown up.