Few artists tread the same path from one album to the next and, where they do so, it is either because they've run out of things to say or - more often than not - because a particular sound holds more for them to explore or a certain theme inspires them beyond the confines of one project. But, on the whole, it is musicians who grow and change from an older record to its subsequent sibling who manage to keep their audiences' interests piqued and continue exciting with their output.

Other than her unmistakable voice, there are very few similarities between Beth Orton's 2012 Sugaring Season and its follow-up, Kidsticks, which is coming out almost twenty years since her breakthrough with Trailer Park.

Orton moved to L.A. a couple of years ago and, spending a week-and-a-half with Fuck Buttons' Andrew Hung, resulted in her experimenting with electronic loops that became the seabed for her latest collection of songs. Kidsticks is at times playful and often poppier than the vast majority of her efforts since Central Reservation (which got her a Brit Award).

Here Orton tells The 405 about the process that brought Kidsticks to life.

Hello Beth. How did the move to California come about?

Oh, just, you know, personal reasons... just a little bit of work and, yeah, stuff like that.

A positive move, though?

Yeah, amazing!

Did you start working on the album prior to that or did the move itself then herald the creative process for it?

I think that there was an influence in moving in terms of the fact that, basically, I started the record when I got there. Andy Hung flew out there to meet me. Just the fact of relocating to another country had a great effect on where I was, in terms of... there's a sense of reinvention and there is also a sense of reconnecting to who you essentially are, in a way, as far as your identity is. I think there is an element of that.

But it, essentially, started with Andrew coming to see you there?

Yeah, Andy came over and we went into my friend, Kaveh Rastegar's garden - he had a studio in his back garden - and I played the keyboards and we just spent ten days coming up with stuff. He did some drum programming, I played some keyboards and came out with about 20 four-bar loops. I just started writing to them from that point on. It was a complete process, you know, the writing bit, and then I pulled in other musicians at certain points.

When you first approached the process did you consciously set out to depart from the sound of Sugaring Season?

Well, I think I was still touring Sugaring Season when Andy mixed a track off that and it was kind of, like, oh, just come on over to L.A. and let's do something. There was no expectation, really, of anything coming of it. I didn't really know his music very well. I knew of it, obviously, and I knew what it sounded like but... you know. He came over and we kind of winged it. I played the keyboards, he would change the sounds and we kind of found it quite funny most of the time. We were just having fun. And I think what was surprising was that, playing a new instrument was incredibly informative.

In what way?

Because I've not really done that before, I've not played keyboards - I mean, I've done a couple of songs on piano but this was totally different. I think it was sort of like beginners' mind. You go back to the start and there I was just fumbling through. But by day three I was, like, hang on a minute, I wanna hear this melody and, unlike on guitar, where I can hear a melody but I might not necessarily know how to find it on the guitar fret, I could on the keyboard. Instantly. I'd find it and play it. So that started to happen and then Andy went back to England after ten days in L.A. and I then just worked on writing songs to these loops.

And that was just you working on your own.

Yes, but I would send stuff to Andy for him to listen to and he would send me ideas back. But at certain points it was quite an insular process and then I was, like, I really want to bring live musicians and that's when Shahzad Ismaily came in and put bass on the song 'Moon'. I think 'Moon' was one of the songs that really came together for me at that time. And there were these pivotal moments, throughout: obviously, all the work with Andy in the initial stages but then Shahzad coming in and putting that bassline down and me realising that I wanted to hear live musicians on the record. I then worked with Chris Taylor from Grizzly Bear - he put the bassline down on the song 'Snow', which just blew my mind. The backing vocals happened with him as well - I recorded some vocals in his studio. I then did five days with the live musicians, like the drummer, Guillermo Brown, George Lewis Jr, who played the electric guitar and also Lucky Paul, who did some additional drum programming. Oh, and Bram Inscore played some bass too. And that was when I got to do stuff like... for example, in the song 'Petals' I could hear that it really needed to kick off and I was, like, can you please just go fucking mental on that, go smashing up the room, I wanna hear that. So it was extraordinary to be so involved in the production of this record because I have never really done that before. There was a lot of change but without any great expectations that this was what I was going to be doing. But this is what unfolded.

When it was all finished and you submitted the record to the label, were you surprised with the end result?

Was I surprised?

Yeah, when you reflected on how it was incepted and where you ended up with as a finished product -

[Indignantly] No! I knew exactly where I was going because I was there throughout.

You mentioned that 'Moon' was possibly the first song that came together for you from the sessions, is that why you decided to make it the calling card for the album?

Well, what do you mean by sessions? Because there wasn't 'a session' - I mean, I guess when Shahzad put the bass on the song I did get a sense of, like, ok, this is... yeah, I mean - the difference with this record is that a lot of records get made in a studio and they are done with a certain person and I guess that it just feels like such a different process and that's important to be clear about. But, yeah, that was one of the first ones that came together in that time. But, to answer your question, was it the first song to be released because of that? No. That was a decision made by the powers that be. They were, like, that should be the song.

It's interesting that Kidsticks is coming out twenty years after what is perceived to be your debut album, Trailer Park...

Well it kind of was my first album because the one I did with William [Orbit] is William's record, really, it's hard for me to call that my first record. It was very affected and put together by The Man [laughs], it wasn't me. With Trailer Park it was me who pulled that together and it was very important to me, you know, after working with William initially - I found out that I could sing, with William, and that I could write songs, with William, but beyond that, when I first picked up guitar of my own accord - excuse the pun - and just went off and wrote my own songs it was very important to me to steer my own ship from the off, I think. As a kind of reaction to me not being sure where it came from originally, because it came out of the blue, really - my singing - in a way.

And is the level of excitement about the release of a new record now similar to or different than what it was like for you twenty years ago?

I don't know. I mean... when I released Trailer Park I was incredibly scared. I was really beside myself. The idea of anyone hearing it was just beyond me. And I remember the label saying they wanted the song 'Live As You Dream' to be the first single and I was, like, 'no fucking way. No, no, no, no that cannot be a single'. That's just too embarrassing, oh my god... It was just agony at every step of the way because I was so self-conscious about people hearing what I'd done. Because I couldn't imagine that it was any good. And I think the difference now is that... with '1973' which is the [next] single from the record, I feel that it has similarities with that song from Trailer Park and this time I am just much more like, you know what - it's just a drop in the ocean. I am not as freaked out about putting my work out into the world now. It is what it is. It's a statement of this moment and beyond that I don't know how anyone is going to react to it. In a way it's a sweeter excitement. There was an excitement for Trailer Park because, like - Jeff Barrett, who I'd worked with, was so excited for me and that was quite contagious.

'1973' is one of the highlights on the record. To me, it's one of the poppiest tracks you've done, to date. Would you agree with that assessment?

Yeah, definitely. I do agree. I started to write to simple loops and to the beats that I'd created with Andy and I felt like, 'ok, this reminds me of something between Blondie and Talking Heads. What would those people do?' So I just, sort of, entered a mind-space of how do I feel when I listen to their music? And then I just made shit up [laughs]. And that's what came out and I sort of ran with it, with the ideas that came up. I didn't have anything written down in terms of what was gonna come, so it was more spur of the moment.

'Corduroy Legs' stands out from the others for being not quite instrumental but, as a lot of the lyrics are inaudible, it's more about the song's overall sonic landscape. What's this song's story?

I started it when my daughter was born and I finished with my son. It's just a little love letter to them, really. Just hearing my son run with his corduroy legs, you know - when you can hear that and it was just like - how adorable is that! So I wrote what it made me feel.

You named the album after the track 'Kidsticks' - which is an instrumental number. Where does the title come from?

It was just a way of remembering the song, really. 'Kidsticks' sounded to me like kids playing with sticks, as in making music on bottles and floors and walls and ceilings... you know when you just get a couple of sticks and... [makes sound of percussion]. And that was what it sounded like so I called it that, without thinking about it too much and then when the record was finished I was like, 'fuck! This album feels like kidsticks' - it feels playful and the word just seemed to encompass a lot of the energy of the record.

With the live shows for the album, how loyally do you intend to reflect the electronic side of it?

I'm gonna be pretty loyal to the record and I think that older songs are going to have to take the lead of the new record to a degree. So there will be older songs in the live set but it is definitely not going to be an acoustic set.

Is there a song from your back-catalogue that you are particularly looking forward to updating in line with the Kidsticks sound?

Yeah! I thought of one the other day actually and now it's completely gone... Ummm, bugger. Well, there are many songs from the older records that are very fitting for this record, I mean - for this kind of show. They will fit perfectly. I'm as excited as anyone to find out what it's going to sound like. And I'm not really going to know until I get into rehearsals. I've got a few ideas but I need to get in there and work on it. But I'm sure there'll be surprises for me as much as anyone. Definitely.

Kidsticks is out now on Anti Records.