I'm getting raunchier! Pixie Lott has always managed to be both sexy and wholesome but the 24-year-old singer says she's getting more risqué the older she gets
At the age of 24, singer Pixie Lott still goes on holiday twice a year with her parents.
On the most recent break, a skiing holiday to Switzerland over the New Year, there were a few differences, though.
Firstly, the party included her boyfriend as well as her parents and siblings. Secondly, she picked up the bill. ‘Yes, I paid,’ she admits. ‘It was my treat for them. It’s a nice thing to be able to do.’
Pixie Lott says that her music videos are become more raunchy as she gets older
Such are the advantages of signing your first record deal at the tender age of 15. She may not be able to drive yet (‘I got a block of lessons but didn’t finish them because I had to go off to LA’), and may still wear an invisible brace on her teeth, but in showbiz terms the girl from Bromley is already an old hand.
Not only does she have six Top Ten hits under her belt – including three No 1s – but she’s dipped her toe into the acting world, modelled and designed her own clothing line. Last year she added some dance skills to that CV when she signed up to do Strictly Come Dancing.
It was a canny move, given that it introduced her to a prime-time audience, making her a household name even in houses without teenage girls (or boys; the last two years she’s been in the top 20 in FHM magazine’s Sexiest Women poll).
‘I don’t think I appreciated how many people watch Strictly,’ she admits. ‘It’s changed everything. Before I was only recognised by my fans, and my fan base was quite narrow. Now I get little old ladies coming up to me. It’s incredible.’
The 24-year-old singer is on the cover of today's Weekend magazine in Saturday's Daily Mail
Of course, Pixie’s exit from Strictly provided the biggest shock of the series. Though tipped as a potential winner, she became the tenth contestant voted out when her routines with partner Trent Whiddon had too many illegal high lifts for Len Goodman’s liking and she lost a dance-off against Simon Webbe and Kristina Rihanoff.
‘It came down to Len’s vote,’ says Pixie with a shrug. ‘Obviously it was disappointing. I’d gone in to learn new skills and there were still a few dances I wanted to master. Trent said he’ll teach me them, though.’
There was much controversy about her exit, and all sorts of conspiracy theories were mooted – most linked to the fact that she was one of the few title contenders who did not sign up for the Strictly Tour taking place this month.
‘It’s true the four in the final did – but that was never something I wanted to do because I needed to get back to recording,’ she explains (she’s currently working on her new album). Does she hold with the conspiracy theory?
Pixie Lott competed in last year's Strictly Come Dancing and her exit proved to be the biggest shock of the series
‘I don’t get involved in all that,’ she says, primly. Still, it was rather brutal, given how swimmingly things had been going. Did she go home and cry? She giggles. ‘Oh no, I went out partying,’ she says, and starts recounting the names of all the nightclubs visited that night. ‘It was the best experience of my life, and I just wanted to celebrate it.’
She says she’s made lifelong friends on the show. Len? She shakes her head (they haven’t been in touch since).
‘I did know some of them already, like Caroline Flack and Frankie Bridge, but the brilliant thing was meeting people like Judy Murray, who was amazing. When would I ever have got to know someone like Judy?’ She was particularly impressed by Judy’s partying skills. ‘You should have seen her at the end-of-show party,’ she giggles. ‘She was getting into it. I love her.’
So who is Pixie Lott, and how has she crammed so much into her short life? Her real name is Victoria, but she pulls a face and says, ‘The only people who call me that are my sister and my mum, when I’ve done something wrong.’
The name Pixie supposedly started as a nickname because she was born seven weeks early and was so teeny. This isn’t strictly true.
Pixie has been attending the shows of the London Collections: Men over the past week
‘I was 7lb when I was born, so I wasn’t that tiny,’ she admits, agreeing that if she’d gone to full term she would have been more of a porker than a pixie. Still, the name suits her. There’s something of the fairy about her, even if she is 5ft 8in. ‘People think I’ll be very small,’ she muses, digging into some bruschetta over lunch. ‘But I’m actually not.’
She was never going to be an accountant with a name like Pixie though, despite the fact that her background suggested a future in finance.
Her father Steve is a stockbroker, and her older sister and brother followed him into that world. Pixie, however, lobbied to go to stage school and somehow persuaded her parents it was a good idea.
‘They knew I was serious about it. I’d been singing since I was little at family parties. I went to a Saturday stage school. It was all I ever wanted, but my parents wanted me to make sure I had something to fall back on. Dad wasn’t keen on full-time stage school at first, but he came round – on the understanding I’d still get my exams.’
So she did, and how. She got straight As in her GCSEs, despite the fact she was taking on acting roles – and jetting to LA to meet movers and shakers in the music industry. She’d applied to a talent-seeking advert in the press when she was 15 (lying about her age, since the requirement was to be 16 or over), and it led to an extraordinary opportunity. And more lies.
‘I had to say I had a dentist appointment at school so I could go to the meeting,’ she remembers. ‘It was all a bit surreal. I was supposed to sing one of my songs, but the CD wouldn’t work so the guy asked me what singers I liked. I said Mariah Carey and he said, “Oh, I’m working with Mariah.” He put on one of her songs, and I sang along – and that was it. The deal was done.’
So by the age of 15 she was travelling to the US to record her first album – with her mum Bev in tow. ‘It was mad,’ she agrees. ‘We’d go over for a few months at a time. Dad would come out for holidays. Friends from school would come over. We had a blast – but it was odd. I suppose it made me grow up fast. I was taking business meetings at 15.’
She’s still friends with people from her stage school, Italia Conti, yet the contrast between her life now (on Stevie Wonder’s speed dial, hanging out with Ed Sheeran) and theirs is striking.
‘A few people have got acting jobs but it’s hard. One friend has decided she doesn’t want to do it any more and moved into PR. The pattern seems to be that people stick it out for so long, then give up.’
This week Pixie has a centre-stage role at the prestigious National Television Awards, where she’ll be singing live in front of a TV audience of millions as part of the top secret Special Recognition Award, won last year by Ant & Dec.
She’ll perform a cover version of a well-known song – the personal favourite of this year’s winner. It’s all a bit cloak and dagger so Pixie can’t reveal too much, but she says it’s ‘a bit of a departure for me, but a huge honour’.
So what makes her different? Talent? Determination? A series of lucky breaks? She adds ‘hard work’ to the list, pointing out that she’s a ‘grafter’. And although she says she gets drunk and misbehaves ‘just like any other 24-year-old’ she hasn’t gone down the debauched path.
Her great heroine is Whitney Houston – but for the singing, not the lifestyle. ‘I don’t do drugs. It’s there if you want to, but I don’t think it’s more prevalent than in any other field.’
For the past few years Pixie has been in a relationship with the Calvin Klein model Oliver Cheshire
Her image is a curious mix of the wholesome and the sexy. One can’t imagine her parents being too thrilled with some of her videos, especially not the one for her hit Nasty, which shows her wearing knickers emblazoned with the word. She laughs.
‘That’s acting. I think I do have a responsibility to my younger fans, so I’m aware of what I do or wear, but at the same time the video has to reflect the music. It’s about telling a story – and the stories I tell are obviously going to get a bit more raunchy as I get older.’ How does that go down at home?
‘My parents are fine with it. They know it’s about me playing a role. I’m not sure my mum has shown my grandad some of my videos, though.’
She talks quite earnestly about the difficulty of writing songs when you haven’t yet experienced much ‘angst’. She says the biggest things that have happened, emotionally, have been the loss of her two grandmothers, both of whom had dementia.
‘That was hard to watch, but yeah, I’ve not had much to deal with. The way I see it everyone has something, small or big, to draw on. In my songs I just try to reflect that.’
The fact that she still holidays with her folks says everything about how close she is to her family, but the addition of her boyfriend to the holiday tradition is interesting. For the past few years she’s been in a relationship with the Calvin Klein model Oliver Cheshire. They recently moved into a flat in east London together (before that she was still sharing a room with her sister at home).
‘It’s my first serious relationship,’ she admits. ‘I had a few flings before, but was I in love? I think I thought I was, but I probably wasn’t.’ He is, she beams, the real deal.
‘I’m really happy. It just feels right. It’s not always easy – we both travel a lot – but we Skype.’ Is it an impossibly beautiful relationship, with them both wafting about in designer gear at home? ‘Oh no, at home it’s tracksuit bottoms and watching telly.’
Actually, Oliver sounds like quite the catch. On an early date she was hours late (she is eternally late, she confesses) but he was still waiting for her. ‘I’m not sure he would wait that long now,’ she laughs. He does most of the cooking at home.
‘I’d never learned, and when we moved in together he just did most of it – so that’s continued really. Now I don’t have to!’ She’s otherwise quite traditional when it comes to relationships, talking about the importance of fidelity.
‘Oh yes, of course, it’s everything. I can’t imagine any woman not wanting that.’ So are marriage and children on the cards? ‘One day, yes, I hope so. We aren’t thinking about it yet, but I always wanted to get married. At nursery school I used to run in and go straight to the dressing-up box and put on a wedding dress. I come from a very strong family, and yes, I want babies. It’s what we’re on this earth for, isn’t it?’
She’s still only at the beginning of her showbiz journey, so who knows where it will end for Pixie Lott. But she has ambitious hopes. I ask if the name will still suit her when she’s 80, and belting out showtunes in Vegas. ‘Oh yes, I’ll always be Pixie,’ she says. ‘And that would be a dream.’ n
The 20th National Television Awards will be broadcast live on Wednesday from 7.30pm on ITV.
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