Pixie Lott

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Pixie Lott is back. All About Tonight, a Hi-NRG hymn to the joys of being single (and of dancing on tables), was an instant online hit, and an airplay smash. As the onetime teenage sensation announces at the beginning of the song,"I bought a new pair of shoes, I got a new attitude… it's all about tonight."

It's all about the numbers too. Less than two years since she released her debut album Turn It Up, Pixie Lott is firmly lodged in the public's affections. Let us count the ways… One million albums sold, a triple-platinum triumph. Two Number One singles. Weeks in the chart: 96 and ongoing. Three Brit nominations. Winner of two 2009 MTV Europe Awards. A 19-date, sold-out UK tour. One million Facebook friends. Half a million Twitter followers. And, since its debut just last month over Two million online views of the video for All About Tonight.

But more than that, it's all about the music. Pixie was determined that her second album would not only build on the huge success of her debut, but also that she would have an even greater hand in the writing and recording process. So she's overseen a heartfelt musical project that features contributions from Stevie Wonder and John Legend; reunites her with Phil Thornalley and Mads Hauge, her song writing partners on Mama Do (Uh Oh, Uh Oh), Boys And Girls and Cry Me Out; was recorded in various studios in London, New York and Los Angeles; and includes a collaboration kick started by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. Daunted? Not Pixie.

"I guess I'm so used to travelling around and working with different people," says this young veteran who only said goodbye to her teens in January this year. "It can be quite weird if it's just me and new person, a boy, and it's just us in his room working on a track - and by the end of the day were meant to have written a hit song!" she laughs.

"But I've been doing it since I was about 13. For the first few years solid I was in the studio every day. A third of my life! So being in studios and meeting and writing with different people is normal to me. And I always think songs do come out better when you work with people who you've worked well with before. Me and Phil and Mads make a great team," she adds, highlighting the trio's writing on Kiss The Stars, the electro-tinged belter that's scheduled to be the second single from the as-yet-untitled album. "We wrote that one pretty quickly: we had the main idea one day and then the next day we finished it."

The uptempo, dance flavour of some of the new songs is balanced by the rich, soulful sounds of tracks such as Nobody Does It Better, and the strings-laden ballad Everybody Hurts Sometimes.

The latter was written with 21-year-old LA-based writer CJ Baran, a friend of Perez Hilton. The blogger was an early champion of Pixie in the US, and suggested the pair work together. Baran's past life in boy band Push Play was matched by the song's third writer - he's James Bourne, formerly of Busted.

"We set up a day in a studio in London on one of my days off - we didn't even tell the label," she grins. The below-the-radar collaboration resulted in an emotional centrepiece to the album - an expansive, impassioned song that gives full reign to the fuller, more gravelly, more soulful end of Pixie's vocal range.

"I grew up listening to a lot of soul," says the girl who was raised singing and dancing in Kent and Essex. "And on the first album there's a lot of kinda sweet pop tunes. But on this album, alongside the happy, uplifting songs, I wanted to explore more soulful sounds - and it's like I get to sing more on those songs.

"I wanted it to be more mature than the first album," she continues. "When I started the first album I was 13, 14. And I was in the process of writing it for four years. One of the songs, Hold Me In Your Arms, I wrote when I was 14, and the vocals are from then too. I think you can tell from my voice - it sounds sweet and innocent."

John Legend appears, on piano and vocals, on You Win. Pixie was introduced to the well-regarded one-time protégée of Kanye West by a mutual friend. The pair clicked immediately and, managing to find a free slot in their respective, equally packed schedules, wrote the song in one evening in New York.

There was more fleet-footed inspiration on the retro-soul of Stevie on the Radio, which features Stevie Wonder on harmonica. Another mutual friend introduced Pixie to the soul icon. Over dinner in LA, a hook-up was discussed - although Pixie admits the fan in her took over… "I was asking him how he wrote so many amazing songs, and which was his favourite - like a proper fan! And he said, 'all of them are my children, I love them all.' He was just so gentle and humble."

And the ideas for songs have kept coming. This summer Pixie has been writing in London with Mr Hudson and Cathy Dennis. She has her eyes on an up-and-coming rapper to join her on the mic on What Do You Take Me For. She's been recording with Tinchy Stryder too, for a song for his next album.

It's not just musical inspiration either. Pixie is about to start designing her fourth fashion collection for Lipsy, a partnership that's gone from strength to strength. Her distinctive look has taken her into other interesting new territories - earlier this summer she signed with Select model agency. Having firmly established herself in the music world, she feels ready to branch out in other directions.

But she'll always stay with her first love: the music.

"If someone had told me a year ago that my second album would have collaborations with John Legend and Stevie Wonder, I wouldn't have believed them," she beams. "But I've been working towards this for so long, since I was 13. And I've worked hard. I just couldn't think of doing it any other way. That's just what my mind was set on doing. But with all these great people I've worked with on this album, it all just happened really naturally. It wasn't pushed by my record label or forced by me. They just came together, and I just feel really lucky."

If you're as talented and enthusiastic as Pixie Lott, a natural born pop star, you'll have all the luck in the world.

 

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