“Ladies all across the world, listen up, we’re looking for recruits” is the opening lyric on Little Mix’s second album Salute, and it absolutely sets the tone for a collection of empower pop ballads and anthems from the UK’s rapidly growing girl group. The winners of the eighth series of UK’s The X-Factor were the first all-female group since the Pussycat Dolls to hit the Billboard Top 100’s Top 5 with their debut DNA in 2012, but this year will be their first North American stadium tour as they join Demi Lovato and Fifth Harmony for 27 dates across the US and Canada.
This week marked the official US release of their second album, and Perrie, Leigh-Anne, Jesy and Jade have kept themselves busy promoting on GMA, Watch What Happens Live, and several album signings on the east coast before starting the Neon Lights Tour on February 9th in Vancouver. Jesy took some time out to speak with us about the more mature sound on their latest album and how they want to empower their young, female fans.
Congrats on the US release of Salute! What for you makes this album different from your debut DNA?
With DNA, it was the first time we were out there as artists and we weren’t quite used to it really. We were just kind of finding ourselves and transitioning from doing loads of covers. It was a little stressful, the first album, trying to see what works. And we did see what works — what fans liked, what critics liked, what we liked. For the second album, people were like “are you scared? There’s going to be loads of pressure.” This album was easier, I think, than the first because we’ve had way more experience. Salute is a little more R&B and a little more focus on our vocal harmonies. I think individually we’ve all improved with our vocals. We’ve had a lot of time practicing now. I think the production’s amped up…everything’s a bit more amped up really!
What were some of the influences you all drew from for this new album? I know you mentioned it’s a bit more R&B inspired, and that comes across…
We’ve taken a lot of [inspiration] from girl groups, like the old school girl bands: TLC, Destiny’s Child, En Vogue. We love that sound, so that’s definitely where we’ve taken [inspiration] from. We’ve harmonized more and have the production and the beats.
Both albums you’ve released begin with a sort of call-to-arms for young women — “Wings” on DNA and “Salute” on the album of the same name. Is that an intentional trend you’ve desired to have with both albums — these really empowering opening statements?
Yeah, definitely! Our fans really look up to us and really, we’re inspired by them as well. I think what we want to do with our music in general is like, if people listen to our music and they’re feeling a bit rubbish and hearing us brings them up, we’ve done our job. I think that’s why our fans like our music and what’s important about Little Mix because they believe in what we write about.
What do those two songs, “Wings” and “Salute,” mean to you personally?
We’re basically saying it doesn’t matter what people say at the end of the day! As long as you believe in who you are, then you can achieve anything you want. If you look at our backgrounds, if we had listened to haters we wouldn’t be where we are now. That’s really what it’s about: believing in yourself and having the confidence to do what you want to do.
Having been formed and meeting on X-Factor, how was the process of building a close bond between the group like? You all seem very natural with one another now. Were there difficulties?
I think people always question whether we’re actually really good friends, and we’re so lucky that it all worked out and we get along. We genuinely do [get along]. We are best friends! When we met each other at boot camp, I was so lucky I shared a room with Leigh-Anne. She ended up becoming my really good friend at boot camp, who I hung around with. And then [we started speaking to] Jade, then Perrie…it was just weird! It was like fate. We all became really good friends in the boot camp, then I don’t know! I think the judges saw that we clicked, and they decided to put us together. Very lucky.
See also: Pop Chat: Our Critics Discuss Demi Lovato’s Unbroken And The Uneasy Transition Away From Radio Disney
Can you tell me a little bit about the popularity you have received in the UK? I’ve seen the fervor on Tumblr and Twitter, and it’s been growing in the US pretty quickly. What have your personal experiences been?
It’s crazy! It’s weird how great X-Factor is as a platform. It’s people seeing you every single week, every Saturday and Sunday in the UK. Being in people’s faces, they get to know you. They get to know you personally. With that, when we released our music it did really well and everyone loved it. We’ve been super lucky. Everyone thought they we were going to get kicked out straight away on X-Factor because we were a girl group. We ended up being kind of a dark horse and winning in the end, and that’s when everyone kind of warmed [up] to us and took to us. So now we’ve released our music and everyone likes it, and now, I think, we’re just really relatable to girls in general. I think that’s why we’re doing well over here because a lot of the girls love what we like and love what we stand for. I think that’s a big part of why we’re doing well.
And this your first North American tour, correct?
Yes! We’re so excited! We can’t wait. It’s going to be incredible.
What are you most excited to see or experience in the US?
We’re definitely excited for LA. We’ve got a lot of family and friends coming out, so that’s going to be really cool. Everywhere, really! It’s just going to be amazing to be able to see everything and meet fans from different places.
What does the future hold for Little Mix?
For right now, we just want to write music that everybody loves really. We just want to go across the whole world, hopefully. We would love to play Madison Square Garden. We’ve got loads of goals, and we’re just going to continue to work really hard until we get there.
Little Mix will be signing copies of their album at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ today, 2/7, at 3:00 p.m.. They begin their first North American tour with Demi Lovato and Fifth Harmony on February 9 in Vancouver and will hit New Jersey on March 1 at Susquehanna Bank Center and March 9 at the IZOD Center.