Little Boots has come through a life-defining break-up. A relationship that met all her wildest desires and dreams, ultimately became a trial of confidence and self-esteem. Victoria Hesketh realized what the relationship was doing to her and decided it was time to part ways - except it wasn't a romantic partner she was dealing with, but a major record label.

After being signed, the singer-songwriter found herself in a whirlwind that took her from her bedroom-bound pop songs and plunged into recording sessions with some of the biggest producers in pop. The release and promotion schedule of her debut album, Hands, drew the curtain back of the inner workings of pop world and identified the disconnect it had created between her and her work. The pressure to look a specific way, write with certain producers was far-removed from the initial idea of what Little Boots started as.

After parting ways with the label that gave her a spotlight, she was left in a grey area - she knew wanted a career in pop music but it had to be on her own terms. Inspired by how Robyn rebooted her career by starting her own label from her house after being signed with a major label - Victoria recognized how her own label be a means to create exactly in the way she wanted. She set up On Repeat, released her second album Nocturnes in 2011 - influenced by DJing and the nightlife world that she immersed herself in after her first album.

The experiences of creating her own label and taking control of her career are channeled into her new album, Working Girl. Themed around the persona of a strong businesswoman (part character-part herself), its songs are about her journey of having courage and belief in herself again as an artist. Andrew Darley chatted with Little Boots about how 'power bitching' has liberated her and how this new album feels as exciting as when she first started writing music.

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The title Working Girl references your shift in essentially becoming your own boss and independent artist for this album. How has bringing this record together been different to the previous two?

It was written very differently because it was created as an independent artist - not for an A&R man at a major label. I really wanted to give myself new boundaries and new starting points, instead of writing spacey-disco songs about hearts and things. I banned myself from writing about love because I was bored of it. Once you start looking around, it's very hard to write something that's not personal to you. I'd been on this whole journey in my career and it was almost like a massive break-up story - just not with a person, with a label. There was something really relatable in that and it wasn't just specific to me. The themes of having faith in yourself, picking yourself up and turning around and how we define success are things we all experience so I started writing around them.

I was also having this tounge-in-cheek obsession with lots of late '80s - early '90s yuppie films, going to lots of vintage clothes shops and buying lots of shoulder pads. I have a lot of female friends in the industry and we were working together a lot. This whole idea of 'power bitching' started as a joke but I realized that it totally made sense as a concept. The character of the working girl emerged from there. She is kind of me but also a fantasy boss version of me that I was pretending and also having to be so I could become an independent artist. It's a theme rather than a concept - it is me and it isn't.

Has it been fun playing this character?

Oh yeah, loads of fun! I just felt I was this CEO of a massive company and wore blazers all the time. It's great! Sometimes I can't tell where reality stops and fantasy starts. I can get a bit carried away with it but that's very now. Look at PC Music or even people's Instagrams. I'm calling bullshit on Instagram. All these people who have these perfect lives with perfect avocado on toast every morning - nobody lives like that. I bet their houses are a mess and they eat Coco Pops in their pyjamas. The Internet is so much about constructing identities and fake realities, while everyone is comparing themselves to these fake personalities they're building on social media. If I can dream to be anything now, I'm going to be this boss-lady. What I found was that "fake it till you make it" actually worked - once you start pretending to be something, you'll soon find that you're doing it.

Even though this record is partly based on a character, do you think it also shows more of your personality? I couldn't stop smiling at the Intro and Interlude with the 'Remedy' ringtone and answering messages.

I was very excited about that so I'm glad you picked up on it was 'Remedy' because not everyone has. I wanted to make an elevator version of it. It's self-referential with me having a joke on myself which I do everyday. The album is definitely about me in a lot of ways, there's very personal themes but essentially they are all bigger than my record label journey - they can be applied to anything.

There's lyrics throughout like "I paid the price to be perfect" and "I'm not your girl in the machine" which I'm assuming refers to your move away from the mainstream pop model. What compromises have you made in becoming independent?

It definitely is about 'the girl in the machine' and being caught up in major label pop. Every girl, or boy, gets caught up in a situation where there is a bit of a glass ceiling and certain things are expected of you. You have to fight those structures that have been in place for so long and making something happen outside of all of that. It's a very different landscape. Now I have to work three times as hard to get anything done. We had a huge team on the first album and now it's a very small team but it means that I'm overseeing everything.

I love wearing all the different hats and making sure I know what is happening with every element of the process. It gives me that extra control whereas before if I had an idea, I would be met with "No", now it's "We can totally do that!" because I know how it all works. In some ways it is less glamorous but I think in that super-pop world, few people have longer than five minutes. If you're a true music lover and writer, the ultimate goal is to have a long career. I was never in this for fame or glitzy stuff or endorsing hairspray - I love writing pop songs and I'm addicted to that.

I remember an article you wrote around the release of Nocturnes that gave your insight into this pop world, particularly the night of your first Brit Awards. It seemed surreal how you went from your average flat in London, to a make-up team arriving, being dolled and dressed up in Alexander McQueen and given shoes that were too big. I know you probably did want to become a popstar at one point, but looking back are you surprised how easy it was to get sucked into that bubble? Did you lose sight of what you wanted to make creatively?

I was very wide-eyed and naïve going into this. Somebody came along and said "Cinderella, you're going to the ball!" as long as I bleach my hair, lose half a stone and wear a sexy dress. You're not going to say "No" and I was responsible for most of my decisions. I'm not blaming or pointing the finger at anyone because it's not true. If you put a girl who's dreamed of being a popstar and put into a situation where that can happen, you're going to do it whole-heartedly. I wish I had a bit more information and an understanding of how things work and that I was stronger on certain things because I did lose sight of where Little Boots came from.

A lot of people knew me from this one song they would hear in their student bar which was very disconnected from me as an artist. 'Remedy' was a big dance song people knew the chorus to because it was catchy but was removed of my own personality. I think that's where it went wrong really because all my favourite artists are full of personality - that's what I always wanted to do and maybe I lost focus of that. I'm as much to blame as anyone and I had a bloody great time. I sold a lot of records and learnt incredible things.

After Hands you immersed yourself in DJing and nightlife. Your sets were made of disco, house and techno which coloured your second album, Nocturnes, and certainly this album too. Do you see a connection between the relationship you made with dance music in those yearsand finding your own creative freedom?

I think I threw myself into DJing because I guess I was making dance music all along. It was only then that I discovered its history and got excited about disco and old house music. It became this thing I could throw myself into and play these great late night gigs - it was an escapist underworld for me. It was the antithesis of the shiny popstar singing on GMTV I had become. DJing taught me so much about how to structure songs and gives you a deeper understanding of how people react to music so you can incorporate those feelings into a pop song. My favourite records growing up were by Everything But The Girl and Moloko. These great dance pop songs - they were pop but you could dance to them in the club at 4AM or in your bedroom if you weren't old enough, which was me! They told stories and took you somewhere else. There's not that many dance records now with that element of story-telling and narrative. That's what I wanted for this Working Girl.

Songs like 'Paradise' and 'No Pressure' suggest someone who has been challenged on a very personal level and has had to learn ways to cope with stress. Would you say that becoming a musician has made you develop stronger will?

Definitely! I've had to have build so much self-belief. In hindsight, I realize I was so much full of self-doubt before. It sounds cheesy but the key to being a strong artist is believing in yourself everyday. You need to work on creating this unshakeable will for yourself, so that if people come along and say "That's rubbish" or "That's no good", you can still hold your ground. That's one of the hardest things to learn. Even when things do go wrong, you have to pick yourself up. I'm lucky that I have incredibly loyal fanbase. They got me from the start and are still getting what I'm doing now.

The song 'No Pressure' is literally about the pressure of songwriting. People have said to me "You just need a game-changer, you just need a massive hit". It's like "Okay, I'll just go write a miracle tomorrow". It's a huge amount of pressure and I think that's why a lot of new artists who get signed struggle as they go on because they're under a huge amount of pressure - I know I was. Going from that innocent space in your bedroom to being sent into writing sessions with massive writers and label pressure to deliver a hit who have invested a lot of money in you. I feel like I'm in the headspace of when I used to write songs in bedroom again. I'm brave enough to be silly again and that's how you write your best stuff.

One song that really stood out for me was 'Help Too'. Would you say that this may be the most vulnerable moment of the album?

I wanted to show that this working girl was not just a complete power bitch. I wanted to make this character believable so she has a fragility and self-doubt in her as well. It's one of my favourite songs of the album. It's about someone who is very strong that can own up and ask for help sometimes too.

Was there a specific night that 'Better In The Morning' was written about? And was it better in the morning?

I'm no angel! I don't think it was one specific night but many mornings rolled into one. I've definitely tottered down my local high-street in a coat and heels and skimpy shirt at about 7AM bleary-eyed and I'm not ashamed to say it. People find it relatable because everyone's been there. The song is so cute that it gets away with it.

It's an old song from what I gather.

Yeah it's one of the oldest songs on the album. I tried to get it on Nocturnes but it didn't fit. I've got a drawer full of 100 songs some you just don't want to leave lying in there. The sound of it fits much better on this record than the last one - it just would not have worked. It doesn't sound like anything else on this album either but felt right in its context. I'm glad we rescued this one!

Has there been any people in particular who have helped or given you advice that has stuck with you in the journey you've taken to where you are artistically?

I'm really lucky that some of my closest friends are in the music industry and have given me invaluable pieces of advice. Some of the people who worked with me on the first album are still with me. I'm the sort of person that when I work with someone I become my friends with them. I'm still super inspired by Robyn and how she began her Konichiwa label from her kitchen. She started a label when it wasn't that popular to do so and it took a few years for her first independent album on Konichiwa to connect with people. She had the perseverance and the creative vision to run with it. Everytime I'd wake up in a sweat with worry that was a real thing that kept me going.

Róisín Murphy made the move too and is directing all her videos for the new record.

It makes complete sense. If you're more of an artist who turns up in a nice dress and sings - that's different. But if you're an artist with a creative vision and ideas outside of singing the songs, it makes complete sense. Why would you give away all your income streams, when you can keep control of those and then reinvest that money in your own business? The alternative is being sucked into a massive company who then spread it out over everything and then call all the shots about what you can invest in.

It's like the business side of things becomes a creative outlet in itself once you take ownership of it.

For me, I needed to be bullied into being that brave. I didn't have very much self-belief at the end of the first record. I really needed to be put in a situation where I had nobody else to make those decisions. When you're independent you have to call the shots on the video, the producer and the artwork. It's down to you so you have to. It forced my personality to step up and once I started doing it, I realized I was good at it.

A self-fulfilling prophecy! It's no secret that you're obsessed by pop music and what makes them addictive. Now you're on your third record, are you any closer to finding out what that magic is, or indeed, feel like you've written a song like the ones you love?

No, it's the holy grail! I'll never know. Even Dr. Luke doesn't know. If someone did, they would be able to churn out the hits every week. It changes all the time as well. When I worked with RedOne, every song he put out was a hit but that's not going to go on forever. It's always changing in its context and the zeitgeist.

I think the secret is simplicity - being able to do a simple thing really, really well. A simple melody with the right lyric or turn-of-phrase is magical - it hooks you. I approach pop in an analytical way. I'm obsessed with how it works and what makes things tick. I don't think I've written my best song yet and that keeps me going every day. I'm writing a lot for other people now so maybe the best song I write won't even be for me. There will probably never be a moment where I'll say "There I did it!". I'll always be chasing that magic.


Working Girl is out July 10th via On Repeat.