Interview: Parade girl group member Bianca strikes out alone
Bianca, former member of disbanded girl group Parade, is set to release her Hi-5 EP on May 17. After her former group landed a top ten hit back in 2011 with Louder, Bianca has since treated us with 80’s inspired track Step It Up and recent collaboration with DC Breaks, Faithless. Inspired by the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Bianca’s new lead single Hi-5 is an energised dance pop track playing homage to Britain’s most definitive pop era, the 80s. Writing with producers who have worked with Lana Del Ray, Ellie Goulding and Christina Aguilera, we chat to Bianca to discuss her journey from girl group to soloist, her musical influences and the process of penning her own material. BIANCA A lot of people will know you from Parade. Why did you decide to leave the band? We had been out of our label deal for about a year. We had been writing and recording off our own backs and we did The Wanted tour which was amazing. We put out Light Me Up and that did okay, people seemed to like the new sound. We just felt like we had been working so hard for a year and we had jobs so we were struggling to juggle it all. It just felt like a natural time; I spoke to Jess afterwards and she was agreed that it just took one of us to do it. It could have been anyone because it felt like it had come to a natural end and it was time to do something new. We had done so much and we were proud of what we had achieved but we just weren’t sure we were able to hit that again so it just felt like it was time to go our separate ways. Being in the band, did it help you prepare for your solo career? Oh, absolutely! I was 18 when I joined the group so I came straight out of doing my A Levels, moved into the house in London and I had only ever lived in Nottingham so it was a bit full on. I remember saying to the girls at the time that I will always be so grateful for the experience. It is a mad one, we had so many great times, there were so many highs but there are also lows that come with this industry. I don’t think I would have dealt with them as well if went into it on my own straight away. I was so grateful that we all had each other for those moments and I will always love my time in that group because it taught me so much and it was just a great introduction to the industry. When you first sat down to plan your now upcoming music, what was your thought process? Did you know instantly know what direction you wanted to go in? Definitely. I’m a big old 80’s kid, I love Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Pat Benatar. My iPod is shamelessly 80’s, someone said to me the other day, “please download something from this century!” So for me it was always about drawing those influences and making sure that my music just has those really fun pop melodies that they had back in the 80’s; just proper powerhouse productions. Things in the industry now can be quite minimalist in the production, which is great. But I was like no, I want drums, I want guitars, I want it all! I immediately knew that’s what I wanted to do and it was just really about crafting it and finding how to achieve that sound. There is a great difference from going into a session knowing what you want to get out of it to actually creating it. When we started to get the first couple of songs that really made sense, we were like, yes, this is the sound. But it takes time to find that and making sure the elements of the songs satisfied everyone. We have heard two songs from your upcoming EP, Hi-5 and Step it Up. What can we expect with the other tracks? We have a remix of Step It Up by Newman, which was put out towards the end of last year. That track is a little bit darker, it’s the only down moment on the EP, the other two tracks are covers. One is Robbers by The 1975 which was very different for me as it’s from this century. That one was a lot of fun as it was very different, it’s really stripped back and unlike anything else I have done. I have also done a version of Pat Benatar’s We Belong which is also going to be on the EP. I think if anything puts me in a song, it’s that. With some original tracks, a remix and covers the EP feels like a nice package before I go on to release my debut album. In a previous interview with Metro, you said your highlights in Parade were shooting the videos. How excited are you to start shooting your own music videos? Don’t, I’m going to poo my pants! Literally, I’m going to take spare pants with me. I’m so excited just because it is another element to something. Now that I’ve written my own material, you see the process and the transition. Myself, a producer or a writer will mention how they are starting to picture the music video when creating the record. That makes it so exciting to imagine what it will look like as you are creating the song. It is long days, it’s mad and nothing ever gets done on time but it’s all just part of the experience. I’m so excited; it’s going to bonkers. I want a really wild wacky video that’s just mad. All ages, all sizes, done. Out of all the artists in the chart right now, who do you aspire to the most? I’ve always loved Pink and Taylor Swift is smashing it right now. I loved her 1989 record for obvious reasons. But personally, I really really like Jessie Ware. I love her voice, I love her sound and I love how she doesn’t conform – she just sticks to what her style is and I love that in an artist. That Say You Love Me record that she wrote with Ed Sheeran… oh my god, it’s so beautiful! I was in the gym today and they played a dance remix of it and I was really offended. Where can people catch you performing live? Do you have a tour that you plan on doing in the near future? We’ve got a few gigs that we are announcing soon but we haven’t got any set dates for them yet. The big one is the showcase, which is going to be the second week of May. We are also planning a couple of gigs in London. So it’s probably going to be about four gigs surrounding the launch of the EP. But yeah, we have a couple of big ones that we are hoping to announce soon. What is your end goal for 2015? I don’t know. World domination? I think if I’ve got new material out that people like, that’ll be the biggest thing. The most important thing is establishing myself as an artist that is 80’s inspired and just fun. People like to moan about things a lot which is fine. But I do think we get a bit sad in this country. I think we need to have some good old pop that is unashamed and completely positive. If I can establish myself as that kind of artist and people enjoy it, that’ll do for me. Bianca's Hi-5 EP is out 17 May. WORDS BY CASEY WATERS