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Music Interview

JLS

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JLS
JLS's last single may have been the musical equivalent of a Cheese 'n' Marmite sandwich, but enough pop fans fell on the side of 'Love It!' to give them their third No.1 hit. Since then the boys have been putting the finishing touches to their sophomore album, the boldly-titled Outta This World, and trailing it with newbie 'Love You More', which doubles up as this year's official Children In Need single. With a hectic Christmas schedule ahead of them, we grabbed the chance to sit down with Marvin, JB, Oritse and Aston for a thorough natter about all things JLS.

Whose idea was it to release your next single for Children In Need?
Aston: "We were set up with Children In Need through our label and management. We really wanted to do something for them this year after having a great time performing on the show last year. It's a real honour and hopefully the single will raise a lot of money for the cause."
JB: "We love this song. We wrote it in LA with Toby Gad and Wayne Hector - both geniuses! We felt a real buzz when making this track and we pretty much knew at the time it would be a single."

Are you nervous about following in Peter Kay's footsteps?
Marvin: "Not really - Aston managed to pick him up at the Brits this year!"
Aston: "When we found out we'd won I picked him up and swung him round. My mum was like, 'How the hell did you do that?!' It must be all the heavy weights these guys have me lifting!"

Your last single 'The Club Is Alive' provoked quite a strong reaction from pop fans. Did that worry you at all?
Oritse: "We thought it was a great thing. The same sort of thing happened with 'Beat Again'. What we do is throw something out there that people don't expect and see what happens. Thankfully enough people fell in love with 'The Club Is Alive' to take it to No.1, and we always see a great response to it when it's played in the clubs."

Do the two singles together represent the album well?
JB: "The album is diverse. With our new single, again people are saying that it's something we've never done before, but songs like 'Crazy For You' and 'Tightrope' from our last album were also stripped back. It's reflective of our feelings and our thought process. It's got a bit of a different flavour but it still has the JLS stamp."

You've co-written most of the album this time. Was that a challenge?
Marvin: "We've had a big creative input from the start of our career. When we first signed to our label, they asked if we could write songs, so we went into the studio for a couple of weeks and showed them what we could do. It was a similar process with this album, except this time we were writing in LA. We came up with about 60 songs and whittled them down to 14. We're hoping to use the other tracks as B-Sides and give them to other artists."

Where do you find the inspiration to write that many songs?
Oritse: "Our own life experiences and the experiences of people close to us, really. The most important thing when we go into the studio is that we have a theme and a reason for what we're writing. When we're on the same page we try and put together a joint storyline. We also like to get a vibe from the producers, because often a particular sound of music will inspire a song."

You've been hugely successful, so does the topic of fame feature on the album?
JB: "We had a song on our last album called 'Private' which was about being launched into the world of celebrity and how difficult it is to keep things private. Apart from that, writing about fame hasn't really figured yet, mainly because we're enjoying it and it's not something we need to get off our chests at the moment. I'm sure it will eventually creep into a song."
Oritse: "Lady GaGa writes about being famous in an incredible way. She's one of the most diverse artists of our generation and it would be hard to write something as well as she does - especially 'Paparazzi. 'Follow you until you love me' is such a powerful line."
Marvin: "Please excuse him - he gets a bit deep sometimes!"

Why's the album called "Outta This World"?
Marvin: "There's a song on the album with that title, but we also thought it made for a great theme. We asked fans for suggestions, and there were some really good ones, but in the end we thought Outta This World was the best because we could do something amazing with the artwork."

And with the tour?
Marvin: "Yes, exactly! I'm glad we're on the same page."
JB: "It's a powerful phrase and we wanted something that would really stick in people's heads."
Marvin: "The best bit is that when anyone says the album title, they're automatically saying how amazing it is. Even if people don't like it, they have to say, 'The JLS album, Outta This World."

You worked on the album in the US, so does it have more of an American sound?
JB: "It still has a UK sound. We recorded most of it here but wrote a lot of the songs in the US. I suppose there are some slightly different influences because we were in a different environment. They work later out there too but they also start later."
Oritse: "The sound is a progression from the last album though. We've taken risks exploring house music and left-field R&B. We wanted to merge the sound and create something for everyone. I think this album will reach out to a diverse range of listeners - that's the exciting thing about this album."
Marvin: "People are saying we've moved on to an American sound, but I think you have to be careful about that. Taio Cruz and Jay Sean are huge in the US right now, so the popular sound out there is in fact a British one! I suppose you could say the two countries have started to merge, whereas a few years ago the UK and the US were miles apart in terms of what was popular."

What are your favourite songs on the album?
Marvin: "For me it's 'I Know What She Like'."
Oritse: "Actually the title track is probably my favourite!"
JB: "Mine is 'Private War', probably because I contributed a lot to that one."
Aston: "'Superhero'".

Does the duet with Shontelle feature?
Marvin: "A lot of people have been saying that the Shontelle song will be on the album, but actually it's not. We did record a track with her, and it was great to work with her, but the focus for now is 'Love You More'."

You started to make waves in the US earlier this year. Are you hoping to launch the album out there?
Oritse: "Our priority is to the UK fans and we have responsibilities with the tour and our single releases. We'd love to spend more time in the US but right now we can't. It's our ambition to get our music played all over the world, but right now we want to focus on being successful here."

Are you watching The X Factor this year?
Aston: "Definitely! We all still love it! I'm a big fan of Cher Lloyd because she's something different for the show and someone to get excited about."
Oritse: "John's my favourite. I've worked with him in the past on a few tracks and he's incredible."

Will you be performing on the show again this year?
Aston: "Hopefully! We're actually waiting for Simon's call right now as he's supposed to be in this building any moment."
Marvin: "Maybe we should all go and wait for him. Have you seen his office? It's absolutely sick."

JLS release 'Love You More' on November 15. The album Outta This World follows a week later.

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