FEMME on turning down major labels to make 'ballsy pop'

By Jimmy Blake
Newsbeat reporter

image copyrightother

FEMME describes herself as a "singer, performer and everything else". It's a fair claim.

Laura Bettinson, which is her real name, self-funded her debut album Debutante and produced it herself in her bedroom in south London.

But she didn't have to; FEMME turned down offers from major labels in an effort to make what she calls "ballsy pop".

"I didn't really set out to do it all myself," she tells Newsbeat.

image copyrightTwitter/ @Femmehq
image captionFEMME grew up listening to 60s pop groups as well as the likes of Destiny's Child, All Saints and bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Placebo

The singer met with record labels but soon realised what they were offering might not suit her.

"When I had those meetings it was quite obvious very quickly that, as a woman in pop music, there's a certain path and I could see that it wasn't going to be the right fit for me," she explains.

"I see no reason why pop music can't be stretched and challenged.

"It [the album] is a ballsy pop record but it's all about mates and strength and power so it speaks to women.

"It's too easy just to bang out another song that sounds like so-and-so because it's been in the charts."

image copyrightTwitter/@femmehq
image captionThe album was released on 15 April

FEMME funded the album by being paid to make music for adverts and admits there have been "extreme lows" along the way.

"If we were having this interview three months ago I would have said, 'I don't even know if we can afford to put out an album.'

"Suddenly overnight, two or three adverts came in and we had something going on.

"I feel like we might have just turned a corner."

image captionCharli XCX invited FEMME on tour over Twitter after hearing one of her songs online

Another key moment came when FEMME was asked to support Charli XCX on an American tour in late 2014.

"I can pinpoint that as the moment my career changed quite dramatically," she says.

"I put everything I owned into it and hoped there was somebody at the shows, I'd spent my life savings on it.

"We set off on tour with 1,000 fans or so. We came back within four weeks having 20,000 fans scattered across different networks."

She's had the backing of Radio 1 DJs Huw Stephens and Annie Mac but hopes it's just the beginning.

"It's a tight, neat business we've got going now but I think moving forwards, now I've established myself with the album, it's very firm footprint of who I am.

"I'm always moving my own goalposts but I feel like we're getting there now."

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