'There will be criticism': Leigh-Anne Pinnock on why Little Mix's bond stays strong

The British group support each other and seek diversity, star tells us

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 23: Leigh-Anne Pinnock of Little Mix performs onstage during the Daytime Village Presented by Capital One at the 2017 HeartRadio Music Festival at the Las Vegas Village on September 23, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.   Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for iHeartMedia/AFP
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Little Mix may be approaching their 10th year in the industry, but there is still plenty of fuel left in the tank.

The successful UK girl group are gearing up to take over the second half of 2020 with both a new album and TV show in the works.

When it comes to the former, the four-piece this week released their second taster of the upcoming project, out later this year.

Holiday is a prime example of what Little Mix does best: breezy, carefree pop with an ebullient, tropical-sounding chorus. It's fun, frivolous and, considering the trying times that we are in, rather vital.

"We just want to spread some smiles," band member Leigh-Anne Pinnock tells The National when describing the song. "Even if people can't go on a holiday this summer, hopefully they will hear the song and be transported in their mind to a beautiful exotic location and just dream of staying there."

Holiday follows the still-untitled-album's lead single, Break Up Song, another sunny slice of radio pop that came with a colourful part-animated video shot while the UK was in lockdown.

Pinnock, 28, admits to having enjoyed a break from the stage. With Little Mix renowned for their work ethic – since winning season eight of UK talent show The X Factor in 2011, they have released five albums and conducted six world tours – Pinnock says spending time at home was an unexpected break the group needed.

“We are living in very strange times but we have started to enjoy the time off. We switched off a bit and took some time off for ourselves,” she said. “This is because I genuinely think we needed to have a break from everything.”

No signs of cracks in their bond

Basically our rule is is that if you have something to say, just say it

While they may have needed some time-out from touring, Little Mix are closer than ever.

Formed under the gaze of millions of television viewers, Pinnock says the pressure-cooker environment of the entertainment industry, not to mention becoming instant celebrities, caused the girls to form a tight-knit bond.

“It comes from us having that same sort of idea from the beginning, in that we all wanted to be successful together," she says. "We are like a family and we genuinely have fun together. It is always constant laughter.”

And, like most families, there are times when tough conversations are needed. This has become even more necessary over the past two years as Little Mix has taken increasing creative control of their careers.

Little Mix (L-R) Perrie Edwards, Jessy Nelson, Jade Thirwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock. Courtesy: Sony Music Middle East

As well co-writing Holiday and Break Up Song, the group also executive produced their previous album, 2018's LM5. Taking on creative and business aspects of the group, Pinnock says, meant communication between all members needed to be clear at all times.

“It definitely showed us the importance of being open with each other. Basically, [our rule is] is that if you have something to say, just say it,” she says. “We have reached that point now where we can be totally honest with each other.”

'The music industry is a strange world'

And now, for the next stage of Little Mix’s career, the girls hope to pass on some of that hard-earned wisdom to a new generation of musical talent.

Airing in the last quarter of the year on British broadcaster BBC One, the group will judge their very own talent quest, Little Mix: The Search.

With British comedian Chris Ramsey as host, the show follows Little Mix as they scour the UK for singing talent – both male and female – in a quest to form a new pop group.

The winning act will receive the grand prize of supporting Little Mix in their arena tour next summer.

Pinnock confirms filming is already happening, with no complications caused by the pandemic.

While she can’t reveal too much about the contestants and format, she does say the show will be as nurturing as it is competitive.

Pinnock says she plans to give contestants the advice she wishes she could have received at the onset of her career.

“I would tell them to prepare for what you are opening yourself up for. There will be criticism and people will say whatever they want to say about you,” she says.

“I will talk to them about seeing a therapist regularly and how that is super important. The industry is a strange world. People think it’s glitz and glam and they don’t really understand how hard it can be. People sometimes see how colourful Little Mix is and how it’s fun, but deep down everyone has to go and face issues of their own.”

One aspect she is determined to rectify with the TV show is the issue of diversity, with Pinnock keen to see more talented people of colour entering the UK pop music space.

“This is the number one thing for me, when it comes to the show,” she says. “We knew that it had to be diverse, 100 per cent, and we definitely made sure this is the case. Some of the talents that you will see are just incredible.”