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JLS “My New Boy Toys” are Heading to the USA

I’m kinda embarrassed to say it, but I think I may have a bit of a cougar-crush on Brit boyband JLS. Thing is, I’m old enough to know better. I went through my boyband crush way back in high school. But even though I’ve recently hit the big 3-0, it looks like the ability to swoon over younger boys never left. Sigh. Don’t worry. I’m trying to get over it, but it’s so haaaard! These boys are all over the British press at the moment, so it’s proving to be a hard task. I feel 14 again. It’s SO embarrassing.

Who am I talking about? JLS, of course. Probably the nicest boys in the UK pop at the moment. They’re a four-piece group, and I’ve written about them before when they became runners up on Simon Cowell’s UK X Factor show back in 2008.

I’ve interviewed a lot of crap boybands in my time (e.g. Pretty Ricky. I actually walked out of the interview. I was that bored, and they were that annoying), but it was SUCH pleasure to talk to JLS. I don’t even mind that I interrupted my holiday to the South Coast of England to do it. They seriously are nice guys, talented, and from my side of South London.

Of course, I would have liked to have put my best flirty-cougar hat on. But alas, this conversation was all business. The boys are on their way to the USA to make their mark, so I sat down with Jonathan Gill for a chat with Parlour.

A bit of background info first: the group consists of Aston Merrygold (22), Marvin Humes (25), JB (23) and Ortise (pronounced Oree-SHAY) Williams (23). Their first album sold over a million and they’ve had three no.1 singles “Beat Again“, “Everybody In Love“, and “The Club Is Alive” They released “Everybody in Love” in the States earlier this year.

Parlour: Are you excited, nervous and/or scared about trying to break the States?

Jonathan JB Gill: We’re not kidding ourselves here, we know it’s a huge territory. There’s so much that goes into it. I mean I’m always saying to the boys that people like the Justin Timberlakes and Biebers of this world have a head start because they’re from the US. It’s similar to the situation we have in the UK, they would’ve had time to work on a fan base. But we don’t get that chance [to do the same in the US] because we have so many commitments in the UK. When we go to the US, we have to cram it into two weeks or a month. There’s so much to do still [in the UK], it’s difficult to find the time to devote to the US. Saying that, the record label (Jive) is working hard for us they’re trying to find the right inroads to get us on the radio, in order to establish us a bit more.

Sometimes it can be hard when you don’t see the results straight away but we’re patient and we understand that anything outside our home territory is a bonus. We can’t complain though, because we’re only one of five acts who’ve sold a million records last year.

A tap on the back for JLS then?!

Well, you know we never forget where we’ve come from. If we never make it in the States, then so be it. At least we know that we would have given it a shot, given it a try. Fingers crossed that we do, but if we don’t then so be it. We’ve got a fantastic fan base at home, so it’s not all gonna be a loss.

You were runners up in “XFactor” in 2008, we’re now midway through 2010. How do you deal with that sudden fame? How will do deal with it in the States?

As you’ve said, we’ve had some sort of preparation. We were always working towards achieving something like this, but we never knew how quickly it was gonna happen. We didn’t believe that we were actually going to be in the show and to do as well as we have. If things go as well in the States then we’ll deal with it, we got support around us. We’ll take it as it comes.

Will anything change with your style or the way to market yourself, in order to fit in with an American market?

I’m gonna say no for the most part, because a lot of the songs that we’ve done have been in collaboration with American producers so they understand the European and American markets. But yes, it’s a different sound on American radio because American radio is different to the UK. It’s a whole different network and structure, we don’t want to compromise who we are, because we have something that’s unique and Americans don’t want us to come over there and copy what they’ve already got. But I don’t think we’ll ever want to do that anyway.

What about other territories in the world music market?

We’ve had some radio play in Australia, and that was one of the first territories that we were going to promote. I have a friend from university who lives out there, and she’s always wanting to know when we’ll be coming over. But there’s only so much time that we have, and I guess it can be difficult to branch out and be everywhere at the same time. Ooh and we’d really like to go do Japan.

You are seen at the sweet boys of pop and R&B in the UK. You’re never viewed as bad boys, do you think that image will translate well in the States?

For us, it was never about trying to promote a certain image, it was about being something that we’re comfortable with. By just being ourselves, we have a good time. We’re young guys, but we’re respectful and that goes a long way. For us, it’s important to have a reputation of being respectful and nice. Sometimes it’s just nicer to be a calm working environment where you get on with everybody.

But how do you cope with something like that? The music industry has a negative side to it, which will be 10 times as harsh in an American market. So how will you deal with just being “nice”?
You’re right, it can be difficult because it can be a stressful environment. It’s especially hard for me. I’m the one who doesn’t like early mornings. I don’t mind working late, but the waking early really kills me. I used to be so grumpy in the morning, it was ridiculous! It wasn’t because I was being rude – it was because I hadn’t woken up yet. So I’ve had to change, because I know as soon as we need to be up for a photo shoot or whatever you have to be on the ball.

If you break the US market, which artists or producers would you like to “nicely” ask to collab?

To be honest, we’re published by EMI now so we’re covered on the producer front. We just worked with Stargate, who’s worked with Ne-yo and other amazing artists through the years. And they’re one of the best, if not the best in the game. We’d like to work with Timbaland, I mean there are so many brilliant producers around at the moment. In terms of artists we’d love to do something with Jay-Z, Justin Beiber and Miley Cyrus. They’re ticking the right boxes and I love to be apart of that.

For a Parlour reader in the US who’s never heard of you, what would you say to entice them to give you a go?

There is something for everyone on our albums. Not just for teenagers but for adults too. Just try it, and you may well like it.

So there you have it. My cougar-moment with JLS is over. Sigh. I really hope they do well in the States, they’re great guys, hard working, and their music is ridiculously catchy. Maybe it’s because they’re local to me, maybe it’s because they’re cute, maybe it’s because they’re actually nice… but there is something about these boys. Take a look at their latest single, “The Club Is Alive.”

JLS Official Site

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