Since being pushed together on the second series of The X Factor USA in 2012, Fifth Harmony – comprised of Ally, Normani, Dinah, Camila, and Lauren – have set their sights on global domination. After releasing two gold singles in the US, Miss Movin’ On and BO$$, the five-piece are preparing to unleash their new Meghan Trainor-penned single Sledgehammer over here next month with their debut UK television performance on The X Factor.
We caught up with Camila from the group to chat about critics of their X Factor journey, what fans can expect from their debut album and how they dealt with being judged by the legendary Britney Spears every week.
Can you tell me a little about the group’s sound?
We have our debut album Reflection, which is coming out January 27. What I love about it is that it’s such an eclectic mix of sounds. We’re five different girls from five different places, so there are different songs on there that we individually connect to most. There’s urban beats, there’s more fun pop stuff and there’s hip hop you can dance to. There’s going to be something for everyone to connect to.
Give us an insight into the characters within the group?
Ally is kind of like the positive one, she’s the oldest, and the most talkative and always has a smile on her face. Normani is the glam, fashion diva of the group. She’s sort of the dancer of the group and because she was in pageants she’s very glamorous. Dinah has a very big heart and she likes to dress kind of like sporty spice, she has this tomboy vibe going on. Lauren is the serious, edgy, indie-rock girl of the band for sure. I’m kind of like the baby girl of the group. I have a very preppy style. I might not be the youngest in age, but I’m the youngest in how I am. I make a lot of bad jokes…
You formed on the US version of the X Factor two-years ago, could you tell me about the experience?
The whole experience was just really, really huge. That’s the best way to put it. For me, it was my first time on stage singing in front of anyone ever, I hadn’t even sung in front of my family. For all of us it was our first time being in the music industry and it was just like everything in the world at once. It was a large dose of it every week and it became overwhelming at times, but we got to do so many things that we never thought would be possible.
Would you say it was a good way to prepare you for the next stage of your career as a group?
Absolutely, it really was. We say it was kind of like the boot camp for the music industry, it was sort of a simulation of what is happening to us right now two-years on.
You were on the show during Britney Spears’ infamous stint as a judge, who gave you the best advice?
Ironically, L.A Reid gave us the most criticism and then he went on to sign us! The judge we liked best? I think they all had things to contribute, but I think for me, Simon [Cowell] and Demi [Lovato] were people that I knew a lot of before the X Factor, so they were the people I was most nervous to sing in front of.
Was it easy to gel as a group after Simon Cowell decided to put the five of you together during the early stages of the show?
I think the chemistry between us came straight away. We laughed at the same things, talking about the same things because we’re all around the same age. I think the bond that we have now, it’s still growing. The tears, fights and struggles that you have to overcome together, I think that’s where the bond comes from.
What would you say to critics that suggest shows like The X Factor are an easy way to make it in the industry compared to artists who have worked for years before getting a record deal?
I feel like people forget that for us, without the show, we probably couldn’t have gotten to where we are. In order to work at it from scratch, you need to be able to have the financial stability to go places and play shows and go to meetings with people. We didn’t have the access to that because I come from a working class family and we wouldn’t have been able to afford that. I feel like The X Factor gives people from the bottom of the ladder the ability to learn and have that chance. It’s kind of like getting a scholarship! I don’t think the chance we got was unfair at all.
You won the ‘Artist to Watch’ award at this year’s MTV: VMAs – how did that feel?
It was definitely unexpected, as shown clearly by our incredibly unorganised acceptance speech! We were up against some tough competition – people we hear on the radio every two seconds – so we weren’t expecting it in the slightest. Our fans are very passionate and loud, when they have a goal they work incessantly to get us there. They come through for us and we’re so grateful.
You did an incredible performance of your new single Sledgehammer at the MTV: EMA Award’s earlier this month, where you all wore some fierce black outfits. As a band, do you have a big say in the way in which you project yourselves?
We have a really good team of stylists. Basically they work with us and we will be like ‘this dress is my style or could you pull something together for me like this’ and they will. We have to match together with the rest of the group though. If it were up to me, I’d wear the same thing every day, so they help me break out of that!
You’re going to be performing on The X Factor in December. Can you tell me what fans should expect?
We are so excited because The X Factor has an incredible production team. How we’re able to perform, with our kind of budget, is not the same as on the show. It’s going to be absolutely huge in a way that nobody has seen before. Even though we’re from the US version of the show, it’s like a homecoming.
Sledgehammer was written by All About That Bass singer Meghan Trainor, can you tell me how you guys came to record the track?
We worked with Meghan on a couple of songs for the album; she’s a really good writer. She says the same things that we want to talk about. Sledgehammer came about when we heard it in the studio and we immediately were desperate to record it.
Why was Sledgehammer picked to launch you guys in the UK?
I think that BO$$ has its run and so did Miss Movin’ On, so we moved onto Sledgehammer. I feel like it reflects the air of the group right now and I feel like we’re in the Sledgehammer stage of our lives…
There are a lot of British artists breaking into the American charts at the moment; do you have a favourite singer from the UK?
I have always been obsessed with British culture. I am a huge One Direction fan. In their interviews I learned so much about what you guys eat, the slang that you use and the music you listen to. I know a lot more than I’m supposed to know! I saw the 1975 a night ago in LA and I absolutely love them. I like a lot of indie bands, I think the best music comes from the UK.
Will you guys be touring over here next year?
I don’t know! We don’t have a plan as of now; I think internationally touring is something that is on our bucket list for next year. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and see how it works!
Sledgehammer is out December 7, while Reflection will follow on January 27.
Words: Josh Haigh