The duo were doing OK in Australia, they say, but after John took an interest, things changed considerably. They moved to London at his suggestion. Littlemore’s collaborative project with Luke Steele of indie band The Sleepy Jackson, Empire of the Sun, sold more than 1 million copies of their album Walking on a Dream. They worked with Robbie Williams, Ellie Goulding and The Killers: Littlemore is currently engaged with both the new Mika album and the latest Cirque du Soleil show Zarakna, due to fetch up in Las Vegas in August: “I used Elton’s name to get me the job,” he deadpans.
“Well, yes, I wanted him to do it,” Elton says, “because I thought it would be a horrific thing to do.”
And then there’s the new album. It’s not the first time in recent years that John has returned to his early 1970s catalogue. Indeed, he’s returned to it again and again, in a way that suggests he’s keen to remind the world that behind the extravagant sunglasses and platform shoes there lurked a serious singer-songwriter, releasing a follow-up to 1975’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy in 2006’s The Captain and the Kid, and collaborating with his early inspiration, Leon Russell, on 2010’s The Union.
This summer, John and Pnau are playing together in Ibiza at the behest of the DJ Pete Tong, a state of affairs that seems simultaneously to horrify and amuse him: one minute he’s saying that he “might go down like a turd in a punchbowl,” the next that it’s going to be great and he’s planning on wearing a fishtail dress for the occasion. “I’ve never been to Ibiza,” he says. “I’ve got my house in France, so I never really go to places like Ibiza, and also I don’t take drugs, and it’s part of that culture, isn’t it? You have to go to a nightclub and get stoned. The last time I went to a nightclub was in London about 10 Christmases ago, and I felt so old. I felt like the Queen Mother coming down the steps. All I needed was a Dubonnet and soda in my hand.”
Indeed, there are moments when you’re reminded that for all his loudly-expressed love of dubstep auteur James Blake, John is a pop star from another era. He doesn’t own a computer or an iPod or a mobile phone.
There are more immediately pressing things to attend to: a million-US dollar piano to play, a small boy to bath.