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Little Mix Give Us a Snappy Salute

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Little Mix at the Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden, NJ, March 1, 2014, Photo by Julia Shepard.

Little Mix

Give Us a Snappy Salute

by Shana Bergmann, Sami Speiss & Ali Speiss

Upon the first time hearing Little Mix’s hit single “Wings,” one thing was blatantly obvious: they might just be the next best thing since Destiny’s Child. Their spunky personalities, cutting-edge song choices and fashion-forward looks make them so much more than your typical one hit wonder.

Four-piece girl band Little Mix were one of the success stories from season eight of The X-Factor UKwhich was much more popular than the show’s underwhelming run in the US. While all auditioning individually, Simon Cowell, with his magic eye, saw potential in putting Jesy Nelson (from Romford, East London), Leigh-Anne Pinnock (from high Wycombe), Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall (both from south Shields) in a group – and boy, did he make a good decision.  While being viewed with the same admiration as One Direction in the UK, Little Mix has just gotten started with the US, and they aren’t stopping anytime soon.

Immediately after winning X-Factor, the girls of Little Mix signed with Simon Cowell’s Syco Records and Columbia Music.  They promptly released their debut single “Wings,” which quickly became every teen girl’s favorite song. Shortly there after, Little Mix’s first album DNA was released in November of 2012 – which showcased a pleasant blend of pop, R&B, and hip-pop. Ever since, they have been on a fast-paced rise to the top, which is being spurred on by the recent release of their follow-up album Salute.

I had the privilege to interview the girls just before their performance on the Neon Lights tour (featuring Collins Key, Fifth Harmony and Demi Lovato) in Bethlehem, PA. Feeling more like a get together amongst friends than an interview, our conversation went as follows:

So, how did you guys come up with the name Little Mix?

Jesy Nelson: Well, originally, we were called Rhythmix but when we were on the show, we found out that a charity was called Rhythmix, so we had to change it.  We wanted to keep the mix so we just thought, “Oh, well we’re all little.”  So yeah, we just called ourselves Little Mix. (laughs)

You guys all started out as solo singers, what’s it like being in a group? What’s that experience like?

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: It’s amazing, isn’t it? (looks around at group whilst everyone nods) Yeah, now, we couldn’t imagine being on our own at all.

And the company is good, too.

Perrie Edwards: Yeah, it’s nice if you’re having an off day or if you don’t feel well or something.  You don’t have so cancel an interview or any shows or anything, because you have three other girls who can talk and who can answer for that person.

Were you guys expecting your single “Wings” to get so big?

Jesy Nelson: No! I don’t think we were because it was our first ever song that we wrote since coming off of The X-Factor.  We were just more excited just to see how everyone would react to our music.  Obviously we were on The X-Factor for so long and we got off.  Everyone did and it did really well.

Would you say that you relate to the lyrics in “Wings”?

(an in-sync “definitely” from the group)

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: I mean, yeah, that’s why we wrote it. We write from the heart.  If it wasn’t written from the heart and it didn’t mean anything we wouldn’t be able to sing it. Just don’t let anyone put you down – because we have all experienced it at one time in our lives.  It’s just all about not giving a crap about what anyone thinks about you, really.

That’s awesome. What song on your album do you feel most emotionally connected to?

Perrie Edwards: The first album, or the second? (everyone laughs)  (The group takes a moment to reflect and ponder.)

Jesy Nelson: Well… I’m gonna say “Salute” because I like to feel like when we’re on stage that we like to get girls 100%.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: Yeah, it feels like it was where we were always meant to be and we’re there now.

Perrie Edwards: I think every time I listen to “Good Enough,” I’m like (mocks crying and the group laughs)  I don’t know why, that one just really hits a soft spot.

Do you guys ever listen to your music on your own time?

(a mutual “yeah, all the time” between the group)

Perrie Edwards: We’re very proud. (laughs)

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: Especially Salute because I felt like, “Oh yeah, we have finally found our sound now” and what we want to do.

Perrie Edwards: Just after we wrote “Salute,” we were like, “Please can we have a copy?” for the car and all that stuff.  We weren’t allowed and we were like, “Excuse me! We were the ones who wrote it and we want it now!”  Because like when it’s not a final copy they get really insecure about you hearing it first.  They just want it to be done.  But we were like, “Well, we were there. We know how it sounds and we want it.”  As soon as we got that CD, we put it on.  We blasted it.  Literally we had it on repeat, and on repeat, and on repeat.

What was the most exciting venue you guys have performed at, or your favorite one?

Jesy Nelson: Over here?

Wherever. Just in general.

Jesy Nelson: I think UK probably for us. We love everyone but Ireland is a good one for us, too. They're crazy in Ireland.

Perrie Edwards: Irish fans are really fun.

Jesy Nelson: I think over here.  The first one, Canada.

Are there any rituals you perform before you go on stage?

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: Yeah, we'll do this with the dancers and everyone.  We'll put our hands in and go, "Attention Hut!  Attention Hut!  Attention Hut!  Attention Hut!  Attention Salute!"

Jesy Nelson: If we don't do it, it's bad luck.

Have you ever not done it before?

(The whole group moans, "no.")

Perrie Edwards: What's really funny is that before we go on we'll see each dancer and say "good luck."  If I don't see even just one and I'm just like: "Ahhhhhhhh!"  Where is everyone?!  I'll think that something bad is going to happen.  I'm really superstitious.

Do you guys ever get stage fright? And if so, how do you cope with it?

Jade Thirlwall: Perrie and I, especially.  We're the nervous wrecks of the group.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: But you're not that nervous on this tour.  Or are you?

Jade Thirlwall: Ummm, I still get that horrible feeling just before.  I have to control it with my nerve techniques.  (giggles)

Perrie Edwards: Jesy is my nerve technique.  (everyone laughs)

Jesy Nelson: The only time I get petrified, well... not petrified but just nervous... is when we perform back on The X-Factor.  But it's good nerves.

Perrie Edwards: Sometimes my mouth flinches, as well.

But you need nerves sometimes.

Jesy Nelson: I think you do.  I hate not having nerves.

Perrie Edwards: I think a good bum pinch goes a long way. (laughs)

Is there anything you miss most from day to day life since your success?

Jesy Nelson: Yes.  I think we miss being able to see our families as much as we used to. [And] Um.. sleep.

Perrie Edwards: We don't get any of that. (laughs)

Jade Thirlwall: I miss just being able to look awful.  Being able to go to shops in pajamas, without my make up on, without worrying about someone taking a picture.

Perrie Edwards: I don't like going to the beach anymore because as soon as they catch you bending over to fix your sand castle... boom! picture!

If you guys weren't singers and not doing what you're doing now, what do you imagine yourself being?

Jesy Nelson: What we'd like to be doing?  Or what would we be doing?

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: Let's do what we would like to be doing.  I like that.

Jesy Nelson: I've always wanted to be an actress.  I would like to be doing that.

Perrie Edwards: I've  always wanted to be Cameron Diaz. (laughs)  That obviously wouldn't have happened, but I would've wanted to be a drama teacher.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: I was going to do educational studies at uni and be a private school teacher.  But hearing from other people, it's apparently not the best job.  So I'm glad I'm a singer now.

Jade Thirlwall: Honestly, I don't know what.  I would just try to do a bit of everything trying to find something that I love doing.  I liked English.  Maybe do something in English.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: You could do anything.  You've studied literally everything.

Perrie Edwards: We play a game where we're like, "Can you do this?" and she's like, "Yup."  Then we're like," Have you ever done this?" "Yep."  Then we're like, "hmmm ... well can you yodel?" and she's just like, "yep" (everyone laughs)

Do you speak a lot of languages, Jade?

Jade Thirlwall: Ahh, no.  (The whole group screams and points at her, for we have finally found the one thing she hasn't done.)

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: I'm surprised you haven't learned a language, actually.

Jade Thirlwall: Well, I did go to Arabic school.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: (throws hands up)  There you go then.

Jade Thirlwall: Actually in my handbag I've got a little Arabic learning book.  I want to try and learn it again.

Perrie Edwards: Wow.  You should do that.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: I can say "hello".

How do you say it?

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: As-salaam alaikum.  Arabic is a lovely language.  We can also sing and speak a little bit of Japanese.

So, what country, would you guys say, has your biggest fans?

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: A big fan-base for us is actually in Japan.  We have a lot of fans in Japan, which is amazing because not many international artists crack Japan.  So that's pretty impressive.

Perrie Edwards: I think when we go somewhere, we never expect to have any fans.  We expect to have maybe three people there.  Then we always get so overwhelmed by how many there are, so it's quite cool.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: I think we had a proper Justin Bieber moment in Japan.  We just got off the train.  We were in the subway and literally we looked to the left and it was just like, "Ahhh!"  A whole wall of our fans coming after us and we were like, "Noooo!" (everyone laughs)  It was so funny.

Kind of scary though.

Jesy Nelson: It is.

Does it take getting used to?

Perrie Edwards: At first you're like, "Yeah!"  At first you're just like, "look at this!"  But after people start getting hurt it's like, "Uh-oh".

Jesy Nelson: Sometimes stupid people mistake you for a fan and hit you in the head.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock:  But its really cool that we can now say that we might need an

extra security guard around because it's getting that much bigger.  That's really cool.

You only have one right now?

(they all say,"yes" and point at him)

So do you guys all know what fan-fictions are?

Jesy Nelson: Kind of.

Perrie Edwards: Oh yeah.

Jesy Nelson: Some are creepy!

Jade Thirlwall: I've seen a lesbian one about all four of us.

Jesy Nelson: Yes!  It's so creepy!

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: What are you all talking about?

A fan-fic is a story that fans make up about a specific celebrity or group and they just... really get into it... (everyone laughs)

Jade Thirlwall: Nice ones are good.

I would say that they're all nice.

Jade Thirlwall: It's just that some are weird!

Just think of it as flattering. (Everyone laughs)

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: So tell us a story.  What have they said?

Jesy Nelson: One said that I broke up with my boyfriend to become lesbian with you. (nods to Pinnock)  And we're in love with each other.

Perrie Edwards: It's always you!  I was with you!

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: (Taken back but almost impressed) Wow.

Now you know why you haven't read them.

Jesy Nelson: But they get detailed.

Perrie Edwards: Yeah, detailed.

Jade Thirlwall: Like 50 Shades. (referring to 50 Shades Of Grey, an erotic romance novel.)

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: Oh my god!  No!  Give me an example, go on.  (everyone laughs and screams,"No!")

So, on a more serious note, your songs obviously come from a very common theme of empowerment.  What one piece of advice would you give to any young women out there?

Jade Thirlwall: Well, the music speaks for itself.  Just be yourself.  Believe in yourself and just ignore all the haters, really.  That's what we've learned to do.  Look at us now. Copyright ©2014  All rights reserved.  Posted: March 12, 2014. 

Photo Credit: © 2014 Julia Shepard. All rights reserved.


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