In this age of self-isolation and quarantine, it's never been more important to check in on each other and to connect. This goes for artists, too, who have been social distancing alongside us: livestreaming concerts and hangouts, creating their own talk shows, and... well, that's what we want them to tell us, with Remote Access.
Jade Thirlwall has taken a sip of her water bottle and cracked up the rest of her group, Little Mix. This is no ordinary water bottle. It's simply massive, larger than a Nalgene and roughly the size of Thirlwall's entire head, a fact that becomes clear when she holds it next to her face. It also, somehow, looks a bit lopsided, and it's missing a cap. Cue the laughter.
"Well, the thing is," she explains via video over Zoom as Perrie Edwards and Leigh-Anne Pinnock look on in separate windows. "It arrived and it smelled, so I put it in the dishwasher, and it deformed, so now the lid doesn't fit on."
Though fourth member Jesy Nelson couldn't join because of a dead battery, the scene is still a preview of Little Mix's camaraderie, energy they've largely had to keep alive in a WhatsApp group chat this year. 2020 saw the longest stretch of time the four had ever been apart since the group formed nine years ago, and it was tough, especially considering the summer tour plans the group had to scrap.
Luckily, they've since reunited in person for some work. They filmed both a lyric video for new song "Holiday" — which found them all at the same shoot, but not on camera together due to social distancing guidelines — and the song's forthcoming official visual. When they talk to MTV News, the trio are apart again, but still enjoying a laugh. Below, they tell us about their long-deserved time off, the playlists that have kept them afloat since March, and what they've learned as they near 10 years of Little Mix.
MTV News: Everyone's still riding high on the excitement from "Holiday," so can you talk a little bit about how the song came together?
Perrie Edwards: It was the three of us with [producer] Kamille, and we're at the studio, and I think we wrote, like, six songs in one session, didn't we? I think the reason it just kept going is because we just kept ordering champagne. We were just loving life, and Kamille loves champagne in the studio, doesn't she?
We were just thinking, oh gosh, it's like, what can we write about, we feel good... Then we just started writing about how boys can make you feel like a holiday, and then that's how it came about. It just literally fell into place. It was so much fun to write. Obviously we were getting lit, so it was even more fun.
MTV News: About how many bottles of champagne do you think you went through?
Edwards: Well, I'm a lightweight, so one glass was enough for me. Maybe three [bottles].
Leigh-Anne Pinnock: Yeah, it was a couple.
Edwards: But there was, like, six or seven of us in the studio.
MTV News: What were the logistics behind filming the "Holiday" lyric video? I assume everybody filmed parts separately. What was that experience like?
Jade Thirlwall: At that point, we were allowed to go back to work, but we had to all be socially distant and couldn't stand next to each other on camera, all that sort of thing. So yeah, it was really bizarre actually. But I guess everyone is just having to get used to it, aren't they? Was that our first day back at work?
Edwards: No. Our first day back was the actual "Holiday" music video, which was even more weird and bizarre.
Thirlwall: Well, we are content queens. We like to serve content in all different formats, so for the lyric video, we thought, here's another little video for you: us standing in front of the curtain with a blue and pink light.
Pinnock: Have some of that.
Edwards: Fantastic. You thought we were done? No, no. There's more to come.
MTV News: Personally speaking, what's the best actual holiday that you've ever been on?
Thirlwall: I'm not going to lie, I feel like I would probably quite enjoy a holiday by myself.
Thirlwall: Yeah. Because... I don't know. I feel like I'm a bit of a wanderer. When we're on the road and we've got a day off in whatever city or country we're in, just leave me at the hotel by myself. I'll have a book or whatever and I'll just be wandering. I just like finding out about new places. I went to Thailand in January, actually, with two friends, but I do admire those people that just sort of go traveling by themselves.
Pinnock: Would you be able to just go up to people and talk to them, random people?
Edwards: [concerned] No! She'd get kidnapped!
Thirlwall: You know what, actually? I think it was in Austria: I was wandering around by myself and a man asked if I wanted to go in his ice cream van.
Edwards: You've got to be really careful, Jade. You can't just gallivant on your own.
MTV News: This is the first summer in some time that you actually weren't able to perform and go on tour, even though there were plans to do that. How have you all spent the summer instead?
Thirlwall: I try not to think about it too much because, if I thought a lot about the fact that I should be on the road right now doing what I love the most, that's not going to do anything for my mind.
Pinnock: But also, we know it's coming. We know tour is coming. So at least we've got something to look forward to. It's in the pipeline, yeah, so it's not like it's completely canceled. We will make it to tour.
Edwards: And also there's so much going on in the world right now, so it would be kind of selfish of us to feel a certain way, because everybody's going through it. The whole world is on lockdown and the whole world is missing out on things that they wanted to do, like weddings and stuff like that. It's just a lot. Everybody's going through a lot right now. We're just excited for it to end, so we can get back to normality.
MTV News: Before you got back together to do the "Holiday" video, was that the longest amount of time since the group started that you hadn't really been together?
Edwards: Yes. It was awful. It was bittersweet. It was nice to have time off for the first time ever in our lives — we've never had that much time off — but not being with the girls just made me feel... I think we all said it. We'd message constantly. Like, guys, this is why we depend on each other so much because when we're not together, it feels weird. We'd go through things individually and we just want our girls there, and not being able to see each other and comfort each other in the way that we always do just felt really shitty. Felt like I lost a limb.
Thirlwall: I felt like I had a breakup or something. You know, when you're sitting and you see something funny, you'd be like, the girls would find that really funny.
MTV News: Have you all had a go-to soundtrack that you've been listening to?
Thirlwall: I've been making a lot of playlists in quarantine. I've got one called "Gag," lots of gag-worthy fantastic pop songs, that helped me get through. I've got one that I called "It's Cool to Cry" playlist. It's filled with songs that make me cry.
Edwards: I like that.
Pinnock: I feel like I get an album and I just rinse the hell out of it. I just rinse, rinse, rinse for months and then I move on to something else and then rinse that for months.
Edwards: I've been trying so hard not to listen to our new album too much because I do really overdo it sometimes. But I've hammered it already.
Pinnock: I've hammered, too, and that's the ballad and the slow one.
Edwards: Really? That's probably because you've lived with the rest of it for so long now. Because they're the newest, maybe?
Pinnock: It's because I love slow jams. Anything slow, don't I?
Edwards: I tell you what: Harry Styles's album is absolutely addictive. I've been addicted to it since it came out, but I'm still addicted now. It just never gets old.
MTV News: What were some of the things you did to flex your creativity over the past few months?
Thirlwall: It's been nice to do things that you wouldn't usually have time for.
Edwards: Like TikTok! I feel like we were all addicted to TikTok and we did so many of them and then, because they're so hard to do, I was like, right, I'm bored of that now as well.
Pinnock: They take so long!
Edwards: It takes 10 hours to record a 30-second, 15-second clip. Not I, even if you're in lockdown.
Pinnock: You know that wipe one? "Wipe, wipe, wipe it down." I really wanted to try but I thought, you know what? That's just long. Who's got time? I ain't.
MTV News: Next year, it'll be 10 years since Little Mix was formed. When you think about where you started until now, what do you reflect on?
Thirlwall: I actually still can't believe that, as a girl band and as a pop girl band, we've lasted 10 years. That's literally unheard of. I think it's all right to blow your trumpet now and again. I think we should be really proud of ourselves for that. We've managed to reach a decade and we've always —up until a few years ago — we were always kind of the underdog. No one expected us to win The X Factor. No one expected us to be around for a long time. I just think it's incredible, really.