Sunday, August 1

Interview: Saturday’s girl

- November 23, 2011

The Saturdays new album is out this week & a Brighton show is on the horizon. Jeff Hemmings chats to Vanessa to find out what it’s like to be part of the girl band that’s on everyone’s radar

For those who don’t know, and I freely admit I was one of those, The Saturdays are Una, Mollie, Frankie, Vanessa and Rochelle. We can’t talk about Frankie though – the whole issue of ‘where is Frankie?’ has been kept well under wraps, although it looks like after a two month lay-off (through illness/stress?) she is back on board, taking part in the band rehearsals for the upcoming tour…

Anyway, Vanessa (White) gamely offers me a few minutes of her time, as it’s in the midst of a very hectic pre-tour schedule that involves all day sessions, every day of the week. The new album, the tour, the training, the endorsements – it’s a young girls dream, is it not?

“I always knew it was something I wanted to do from a really early age: from the age of 13 I started doing lots of auditions, and then started seeing labels at 15. But it just didn’t happen then. And then when The Saturdays happened it was really unexpected…”

Born in Yeovil, Somerset, in 1989, Vanessa moved to London at the age of five and from a very early age enrolled at the famous Sylvia Young Theatre School, learning to sing, dance and act. She applied for the Brit School (Amy Winehouse, Adele, Jessie J, etc) but was turned down, but appeared in several West End productions before a chance to become one of The Saturdays presented itself. “We all joined at the same time. I didn’t go to the first audition, but I sent them a video of me singing. And then they called back and there were seven girls for the second audition, which was about dancing…

“I missed the first audition which was probably the worst one because there was probably a million girls there! After the second audition the next time we saw each other there was just the five of us at a label meeting.”

Pulled together by a management company, The Saturdays are a manufactured band in so far as it has been put together by an outside group of pop music entrepreneurs. However, all members of the band have extensive experience of music, theatre and TV, and so their combined talents and photogenic looks, along with the assistance of big-name producers and writers, quickly gelled into the huge success it is today.

“We had no idea what would happen when the first single [If This Is Love] came out. It was at a time when pop music wasn’t big anymore, everyone was into indie music and people thought pop music was uncool. And we really wanted to bring it back. And, we did!” laughs Vanessa.

“We’ve written half of it, we’ve been more involved; it feels more personal to us”

“We couldn’t believe it when the song made the top ten, I don’t even think the label could believe it; no-one expected us to be in the top ten. That was amazing. I remember the first ever gig I did with the band which was a G.A.Y gig at London’s Astoria – it was awful, I was shaking and petrified, we were all shaking – I couldn’t even perform. It got better after that!”

Before their first album had been released they headed out on the Girls Aloud Tangled Up Tour. “It all came together when we did that tour. It was a massive deal for us… we came into our own. We started loving it – it was a big break for us.”

And now, just four years, countless TV appearances and product endorsements later, The Saturdays are just about to unleash their third album, On Your Radar, and go on tour. “We’re really excited about it – we’ve written half of it, we’ve been more involved with it, it feels more personal to us. It’s pop music, but there’s something there for everyone; you’ve got the dancier ones, the ballad [‘My Heart Takes Over’] and there are some pop-country ones and R’n’B songs in there too.

“We always work with different writers – but we don’t always go in as a five, it’s a bit much really, it’s hard to get your opinions across, so we split it up into twos and threes, and we’ll work on a part of a song then the other girls will work on the rest of it.”

Referring to the actual making of the music, Vanessa is obviously happy to be involved. “It’s something we wanted to do for a long time now and it’s good that we’ve been given the chance to do it,” she says.

Life for Vanessa revolves almost exclusively around The Saturdays, 24/7 – as well as the albums and tour they have been heavily involved in making TV and have put their name to countless products, everything from hair removal products to nail polish. “We’ve just put out our own nail polishes – we all have our different colours – what happens is you paint the colour on and there is a magnet attached and it draws out a pattern within the nail polish. No-one has done this before, that is exclusive to Superdrug!”

Preparations for their arena tour of the UK are well under way: “We’ve literally been in rehearsals every single day with the dancers, even weekends. 10am-6pm every day. In the last two weeks before the tour begins we go in with the band, do our vocals with them. A week before the first date we will be going to Leeds where will be doing a full production rehearsal with everyone, and then we’ll be ready for our first show! It’ll be a completely new show, it’ll be the first time we have performed the songs off the album.

“We have to look after ourselves all the time. I have to leave in a few minutes to see my personal fitness trainer in the gym, an hour and a half – loads of cardio, I do it all. You have to get fit for a tour!”

So, how about Una, who has recently announced that she is expecting her first child with England rugby player Ben Foden? “Una is brilliant – she’s making pregnancy look like a breeze, she’s up for it and is doing everything we’re doing and she hasn’t had morning sickness yet!

“She’ll still wear the heels on tour, but her heels won’t be as big as mine. I always wear the biggest heels because I’m the shortest!”

The Saturdays, The Brighton Centre, Tuesday 6 December,
The new album, On Your Radar, is out now.

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