Sometimes you need a break from the studio – and the British weather. And so it was that the girl band Little Mix jumped at the chance to jet off to Dubai to help launch the inaugural season of the local version of The X Factor.
The brief respite from the winter chill this month would, say band members Jade Thirlwall, Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jesy Nelson, help with focus upon returning to London to finish their latest album.
“The songs are done but we just need to now go up there and record it all,” says Thirlwall, 22.
Edwards, who at 21 is the youngest member of the band, adds: “The writing process is so long and we have written more than 100 songs – now it’s just about picking the songs that will go on the album.
"We are really happy with the whole process so far and I think it's going to be amazing. But before all that, we are happy just to be here and help support The X Factor."
Her words are sincere, given that the British version of the programme made Little Mix into stars.
The group, who won the eighth season of the talent show in 2011, came together in a manner similar to One Direction a year earlier: all four members arrived on the programme as solo artists before the judges – the singers Kelly Rowland, Gary Barlow and Tulisa, plus the entertainment manager Louis Walsh – recognised that they would be better as a group than individuals.
They were proved right. After their X Factor triumph – which eclipsed One Direction, who could only manage third place a year earlier – Little Mix's 2012 debut album DNA and the follow-up Salute, released the following year (both came out here on Sony Music Middle East), topped the UK charts, generating hits including Wings and Move.
Nelson, 23, who has the distinction of being the group’s oldest member, four months older than Pinnock, says the decision to band the girls together didn’t bruise any egos – and the group’s fun ethos is responsible for their tight bond. “We have a lot of similarities in that we don’t take everything too seriously,” she says. “We just want to go out there and enjoy it and that has always been the key to our longevity.”
Pinnock says solidarity is important while on the road.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know how many solo acts do it, being alone on that big stage,” she says. “With us, we experience it together and we can talk and reflect on it later on.”
Thirlwall doesn't see the audience appetite for shows such as The X Factor being satisfied any time soon. She believes such shows are beneficial for aspiring pop singers because they shine a light on real talent rather than just an image.
“Sometimes record labels turn away people because of their looks or age and if you are trying for years to make it, that can really get you down,” she says.
“But when you go on a show like that it actually gives you a platform to show what you can do.”
Shortly after their trip to Dubai, it was revealed that a song rejected from the Little Mix album, Pretty Girls, has been snapped up by Britney Spears.
That link could prove fruitful to Little Mix, as one of the main aims of the new record is to finally break into the tough American market.
“We actually have the fans over there,” says Pinnock. “But it’s all about getting that big radio hit. We need that song and we are on our way.”
• The X Factor is broadcast on Saturday nights on MBC4 and MBC Masr at 10pm. Visit www.mbc.net for more information