Little Mix’s Jesy Nelson On ‘Glory Days’, Internet Trolls And Leotard Comfort: Interview
Little Mix’s new album Glory Days is due out this Friday (November 18). And in case you haven’t heard it yet, the LP contains one of the best girl group anthems of 2016, “Shout Out To My Ex.” Of course, the quartet have already experienced their fair share of faux public outrage. Back in October, after the premiere of the new single on The X Factor, the Internet was lit ablaze with comments about the group’s revealing ensembles – particularly Jesy Nelson’s leotard. Still, the group remained unaffected and “Shout Out to my Ex” made it to the top of the UK charts, where it’s now Little Mix’s fourth #1.
There’s no better person in the Little Mix universe to talk about this with than Jesy herself. The native from Romford, in East London, is familiar with the lashing tongue of Internet trolls. When talking about online culture, a steady theme of female empowerment laces the Nelson’s musings. It seems that, for her, comfort in her own skin is a top priority.
Jesy spoke to Idolator just days ahead of Glory Days’ release, phoning us up from her management’s London office. She spoke about Little Mix’s upcoming tour with Ariana Grande, Internet trolling and her engagement to Jake Roche from band Rixton. Days after this interview happened, the relationship went under scrutiny after fans noticed Jesy was not donning her engagement ring. Considering the prominent tattoo on her thigh reads, “A tiger never loses sleep over the opinions of sheep,” she’s most likely un-bothered.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: The performance on The X Factor was amazing. It’s totally surprising that it was the first time you all performed in heels.
JESY NELSON: Yes. It was terrifying. It’s really weird because obviously, as a woman, I feel like when any girl wears a pair of heels you just automatically feel sassier and sexier, and you just get a bit more confident. I’m probably going to say we’re not going to do it all the time because we’ve got dance routines that are just full-on and we’d never be able to do some of them routines in heels, but that night’s wasn’t for that long. We’ll definitely keep performing in heels. It feels sassy.
What do you think that whole backlash about what you were wearing was about, really?
JN: Oh, I don’t know. I just think everyone has something negative to say, and I think with four girls who are so confident and we want to rock it with confidence, I just think that’s a great thing. There’s not many girls who feel that confident in the world, and I think we’re all different shapes and sizes, and I think we’re sending out a good message to young girls that it doesn’t matter what size you are — if you feel confident, then you should be able to wear whatever you want. I like that about us.
The whole backlash was a little crazy.
JN: Isn’t it? No one runs at Beyoncé. Everyone praises her and calls her a queen when she comes out in a leotard. No one runs at gymnasts when they’re swinging around the pole doing their Olympics, so why is everyone moaning at us for wearing a leotard? They’re bloody comfortable and they’re easy to move in. Everyone needs to get a grip.
You had a really rough time with Internet trolls in the very beginning. Has it gotten easier? Even a little bit?
JN: I mean, to be honest, I think in the beginning because I’d never — obviously, you’ve got friends in the industry who are so new to everything. I just wasn’t used to seeing all these comments and being able to just have people say stuff about me, about literally the whole world. It was just awful, but I don’t look at that stuff anymore. I just think, “What is the point?” There’s no point in looking at negative stuff when you feel good about yourself and you feel positive. That’s all that should matter. No one else’s opinions matter. If you feel good about yourself then fuck everyone else.
How was the making of Glory Days different from Get Weird? Last time you four scrapped a whole album.
JS: Well, with the last album we just didn’t really know what kind of route we wanted to go. We didn’t really know what sound we wanted to go with, so it was a lot harder. This time around, we knew exactly what we wanted to do. We knew exactly what sound we wanted to go for, so it all kind of came really naturally. We had so much to talk about, it just all happened really quickly and we just knew it was right. We loved every single song. None of them felt like album fillers. It was really, really a much more enjoyable experience this time, I’d say.
What was the vibe like in the room when you all cutting “Shout Out to My Ex”? Some in the group were definitely going through stuff. It must have been amazing.
JN: It was. It was literally like,we just knew when we heard the song this has to be the next single because one, it’s just I feel like no one’s really ever done a song which is about heartbreak that makes you feel good about yourself, that makes you think, “Oh, fuck you. I don’t need you anymore.” That’s what we love about it. You listen to it and it makes you feel empowered, it makes you feel like you don’t need your ex, which we absolutely loved. I just think it’s a proper girl power anthem. When we were cutting it, it was just so amazing. We were so excited. We couldn’t wait for everybody to hear it.
Little Mix came right out of the gate contributing to the songwriting to your albums, which is historically very hard for new pop groups to do. What was the process of you all actually getting into that?
JN: We’re very creative in the fact that we literally are hands-on with everything we do that involves our choreography, the way we dress, the way — just everything. Literally from the very beginning, as soon as we got put together as a group, we knew exactly how we wanted to be perceived. It comes quite easy. We all used to write before, anyway. We used to write our own little songs before the group, so it was never a question of, “Oh, God — I’ve never done this before. This is scary.” What was exciting is knowing that there were four people to be able to experience it with and share stories with and write about our experiences together. We can all relate to the same things, but we’ve all got different stories to tell, and yeah — they all come out in our music, which is really nice. Just knowing that someone across the world can listen to our songs and feel better about themselves and feel more empowered just feels amazing.
Little Mix is heading on tour with Ariana. What are you looking forward to the most?
JN: Oh my gosh. I think one, obviously, getting to connect with her fans and hopefully them becoming our fans. And seeing our fans, as well. Two, just performing in the most epic arenas every night, like being able to play just incredible, iconic venues is just going to be insane. Madison Square Garden’s going to be great, and being able to watch Ariana perform every night because her album — we literally have it on repeat every day, so being able to see her perform is going to be so much fun. We’ve met her a few times, and she’s always been so lovely, but really getting to hopefully become friends with her would be lovely.
You’re engaged, but I was reading about you talking about having no rush into actually getting into the wedding. Were you just getting tired of the question, “When’s the wedding?”
JN: Yes. It’s funny, because when my fiancé proposed to me, he’d never done it like, “We’re getting married tomorrow.” He felt like when he called me his girlfriend, it wasn’t enough. He felt like it really undermined our relationship, and he loved the fact that — I don’t know, he loved the fact that he can say I’m his fiancé instead of just his girlfriend, and I love that. I think that’s really sweet. We’re in no rush. We want to travel the world together. There’s so much we want to do together, and at the moment, we’re so focused on our own careers that there just isn’t time. We’re literally in no rush. I think when we know, we’ll know, and we’ll do it, and [it will] probably be really intimate, hardly any people there. We’re very much in love, and we’ll do it when we feel the time is right.
Little Mix’s fourth studio album Glory Days will be released this Friday, November 18th. Pre-order it here.