In unprecedented times pop provides escapism. Thankfully, Little Mix have returned with their new single – ’80s style anthem ‘Break Up Song’ – to soundtrack our social isolation. Jade Thirlwall from the band joined GCN’s Conor Behan on the phone for a chat about the single, why the next Little Mix album is “an absolute hun” and her love of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Jade is keeping busy. The night before we spoke she shared snaps of herself watching a Cheryl live DVD. “Honestly, I’m just living my pop fantasy” she says with a laugh, adding “I’ve had Cheryl on, I’ve had a bit of Rihanna ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ tour. I’m getting all the classics out.”
But what’s it like to be releasing new music in such an uncertain time when all your typical promotional methods may be out the window? “It’s very strange,” Jade admits, “but I’m so glad we didn’t postpone the single because I think now more than ever it’s the perfect time to be releasing happy pop music while people are stuck indoors.”
Earlier this week, Jade took part in an entertaining Twitter Q&A. In one response Jade described the forthcoming sixth album for Little Mix as “An absolute hun of an album.” Trying to figure out just what she meant, I ask Jade, who laughs and says, “I just love what I like to call ‘hun culture’”.
She mentions the Instagram account Love of Huns, a tongue in cheek meme account that uses British celebrity moments for comedy gold. Jade says of album six “I just mean like an amazing female pop album that’ll go down in history in years to come, people will look back in ten years and be like- ‘you know that sixth album from Little Mix? Absolute hun of an album.’”
Considering she is speaking to GCN, Jade takes the role of being an LGBT+ ally seriously, including working with UK LGBT+ charity Stonewall. “Being from a very poor working class town, I used to be in a lot of amateur dramatics groups and performing arts groups and I had a lot of friends who were LGBT+,” she recalls, nothing they “felt like they couldn’t be themselves or had to move to London or from their hometown to be more accepted.”
As she grew up and moved to London she pointed out it was her LGBT+ friends who “really helped me feel like I was part of a family.” She adds, “it’s only right that we do what we can to raise awareness, help and be allies.”
Jade is also a massive fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race and last year appeared on the panel for Drag Race UK, calling it the “most surreal, best day of my life.”
“It was just so bizarre being on set and being a part of it,” she says adding, “I was trying so hard not to freak out.”
Jade is buddies with Drag Race alumni too. In fact, Willam, Alaska and Courtney Act joined the band for the video of their single ‘Power’ and Jade admitted she was starstruck. “I was such a fangirl that the director had to come on set and tell us that it actually was my music video and not theirs and to remember to push to the front!”
When asked about the fact that the Little Mix track ‘Salute’ is constantly referenced on Willam and Alaska’s podcast Race Chaser, Jade simply says: “Honestly, we love to see it. Very much here for that”
“I feel like I am very much a drag queen trapped in a woman’s body,” she admits, adding, “I think I sort of forget that I am a popstar but watching Drag Race a lot of my friends are like ‘well, what have you got to lose, just message them.’”
Still, she says it feels odd, noting, “It is so surreal to be hanging out with them and be friends with them. It’s weird that they see me as this big popstar because I’m like ‘aw hun!’”
On the topic of drag names, it seems Jade’s famous friends may have some ideas. “Well, Willam named me Shaneeda Nibbles,” Jade reveals “because wherever I go on a night out I always have some form of snack in me bag. I swear by it. When you’re absolutely mortal and you’re on the way home in the taxi if you’ve got a Dairylea Lunchable in your bag then you’re laughing!”
Of course Jade is up to date on Season 12 of Drag Race. When asked, she gives the kind of perfectly formed answer only a super fan could give – “I think there’s no obvious front runner. I love Gigi Goode. I think she’s great because actually when she came in everyone sort of rolled their eyes like ‘oh this young girl, her mam sowed her costumes for her’, but actually she’s turning out looks, she’s performing well. She seems quite nice as well. She seems like a bit of a dark horse in the competition.”
I tell Jade she sounds like someone on the judging panel and she gushes in response- “Thank you so much! I’ve watched it so much that every time I say something, it’s like a little soundbite”.
As we wrap up with a cheeky “Bye hun!” it’s easy to see that Little Mix’s plan to keep us smiling in tough times is definitely working.
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