Last Friday, we got to nip down to Universal for a quick chat with Marvin Humes of JLS fame and his mate JKAY, whose name you may not know, but his music you will. Together with The White N3rd, they’re launching a new exciting new project called LuvBug. Armed with Red Bull and questions written on the inside of a packet of paracetamol, we attempted to get two very tired music makers to spill the beans on their music, The Voice and, uh, beans.
So tell us a bit about the LuvBug project
M: So the LuvBug project came together about 18 months ago. I’ve known JKAY for a long time. We grew up together in the same area, we lived like two streets apart. I’ve known him from when I was a teenager and I worked with J on early solo, in a band called VS and was in then a band called JLS. Then fast forward to when JLS was coming to an end I knew that I wanted to get into making a dance record. I’ve been DJing for years and J is a fantastic producer, and I’ve always wanted to work closer with him, and White N3rd sorry he can’t be here today, he’s about to have a baby. He’s based up in Manchester so he comes from that house-y, hip hop crossover. Between the three of us we feel like we’ve got a good collaboration, it’s worked out really well so far and it’s just happened quite naturally, not forced or anything like that. We’ve been working together lots and decided to make it official in the last few months.
How would you describe your sound, and who are you inspired by?
J: I wouldn’t say anyone specific, we all come from the same musical background. I would say we were inspired by nineties house and garage, and RnB in terms of the vocals. That’s what we try and do, we try and bring that from the nineties into what we would play now in DJ sets, in terms of house music and combine them together.
Looking at the charts, it’s been EDM for a while and now it’s getting more house-y. Do you think it’ll keep progressing that way?
J: Absolutely yeah. People now want the organic sound, not the formulaic pop as such. EDM always has that really heavy topline. People now want to hear the real music coming through, and it’s gonna be a around for a while. It was so saturated, like here’s the build-up, here’s the chorus, now you don’t even have to have a chorus. We’ve got tracks that are structured like full, classic pop songs but on clubby beats, we’ve also got dub style tracks. It might evolve, like you said earlier, and go more eighties and it feels nineties now.
The single’s out October 5th. Are you nervous about it?
M: Of course we want it to do well. I wouldn’t say nerve wracking, more excitement really as its been such a long time in the making. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t want it to do well but it’s a long term project for us. It’s not a short term thing, we want to release a lot of singles from this album. Calvin Harris did like nine or ten off his 18 Months album, and we thought we could do that with our material. We’ve got a very strong songwriting team and about 50 songs now. The album’s gonna be really good, can’t wait for everyone to hear.
Now you also do a lot of presenting. Is that something you’ve looked to get into, or did the chance come up and you thought “yeah, let’s go for it”?
M: Nah, I’ve always wanted to get into TV presenting, and I’ve been really lucky to present big shows like The Voice and This Morning – I’ll be back doing The Voice next week. It’s great and I don’t take it for granted, it’s a great experience.
You were also in a band called VS that was put together by Simon from Blue. Do you think its come full circle with you being an ex boybander doing your own thing now?
M: Yeah, actually it has. I owe a lot to Simon because he gave me my first opportunity in music, I’ll actually be going to support him at Strictly Come Dancing tomorrow, which will be nice to see him. That’s the industry isn’t it, things do go full circle. You’ve got to be nice everyone all the time, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. People who were interns ten years ago are now A&R execs and people don’t forget things. You can learn a lot, this world is so small and things move so quick in this industry, you’ve gotta be nice to everybody.
A lot of people say the album format’s dying out, and you’re planning to put an album out. Would you ever look at alternative ways of putting out music, like just slapping individual songs on Spotify?
M: We’ve actually looked at doing a compilation album, like three or four LuvBug records and a few other records and make a party album; a LuvBug Presents sort of thing. I think people are still into albums, you look at Calvin, Guetta, Avicii, they’re still selling 300,000 albums plus and that’s just in the UK. There’s still a market for albums in the dance world. There’s not many more after those three I just named that could sell albums so you gotta really have a strong few singles and when you release the album hopefully people will connect with it.
You’ve got Talay Riley on your first single. Any other vocalists lined up?
J: We’ve got loads! We’ve been working with MNEK, Becky Hill, Kaleem Taylor who’s on the new Promesses track by Tchami, Joel Compass, Angel Haze, All About She. We’ve got a load of features lined up.
M: You can feature if you like.
Yeah OK. I can’t sing a note but there’s autotune for that.
M: That’s fine. (To Jkay) D’you remember the other day we were talking about that Jay-Z song, New York, and then there was the Newport version. So good, I watched it again the other day.
[sings the bit about Josie D’Arby]
M: There you go! We could sample that.
Be the first Welsh person sampled on a dance track since Faithless did a song with Dido. Anyway, you’re obviously really busy so do you get to see the JLS lads often?
M: Yeah, all the time. Seeing Aston tonight, saw JB in the week with his new baby, saw Oritse in Vegas last week. We still see each other all the time, not as much as we’d like to because we were together every day but we try and see each other as much as possible.
Could you give us any exclusive The Voice gossip, like who else was being considered to replace Kylie?
M: Wish I could mate, I’m being honest mate, genuinely I didn’t even know Rita was confirmed until a week ago. Anything exclusive… no, I can’t, sorry to be rubbish. You’ll have to interview Ricky Wilson, he’ll probably give you some scoop.
We bought you Red Bull and everything, ah well. That’s the end of the serious questions, now onto some quick-fire, silly, Maximum Pop! style questions. So the first is, zebras: white with black stripes or black with white stripes?
M: There’s one over there! (Points outside the room, where we eventually do spot a giant zebra in the office. Not a real one, but it’s pretty life size) White with black stripes.
That throws people normally, I like to see their reactions. Didn’t expect a zebra to be there. OK next, what is your favourite The Saturdays song?
Jkay: Promise Me!
M: (laughs) Wheyyy, the one that he produced! Higher.
J: Awww, you let the team down Marv!
Flo Rida or normal version?
M: Flo Rida. Flooooo Rida! Nah let’s go with Jkay’s one, that was good.
Horse walks into a bar, the barman asks ‘why the long face’. What does the horse say?
M: (confidently) Have you got any dental floss?
Well no, the horse wouldn’t say anything. JB owns a farm, come on Marvin, poor show.
J: That was a good trick question.
M: Have you got any dental floss, I dunno why I said that. (much laughing)
We’ve had a poll to decide the best hair out of 5SOS, Union J, 1D and The Vamps. Who would you say?
M: Is this fact?
Well, its your opinion but once you say it then it will be fact.
Wrong. Best thing on the menu at Maccy D’s?
J: Big Mac!
M: Six nuggets, barbecue sauce.
J: Nawww, Big Mac!
Twenty nuggets share box!
M: Yeah, twenty nuggets.
J: You know what, the breakfasts are nice though: the wraps and (at the same time as us) double Sausage and Egg McMuffin.
Alexandra Burke was in The Bodyguard. Did you go to see it?
M: I did! I went with my wife, three weeks ago.
Do you think Alexandra would make a good bodyguard? Like in the club, someone starts on you, would you be like “Yo, Alexandra”?
M: Yeah I think she would to be fair. She’s strong, we’ve got the same personal trainer.
I bet you’re there and she’s just racing ahead of you.
M: Well we don’t have the same sessions but if we did she’d put me to shame.
She is a beast, like that song where she says “Eh, eh, I’m like a beast”.
[Both burst out laughing]
#reference. You guys are pretty ahead of the curve so who is going to be huge in late 2014/early 2015 – apart from you?
M: MNEK. Just on the cusp of it blowing up for him.
J: You gotta say Becky Hill, I know she had a number one with Gecko but that was a feature but her solo stuff is great.
M: There’s a girl called Youth who’s featured on one of our records and featured on Radio 1 at the minute. I think she’s gonna blow up.
M: Kaleem Taylor, who’s featured on a record called Promesses.
Everyone on your records then, you’ve got that magic touch. You should give Florrie a call, she keeps getting this close to breaking through. Another question: if you were a filling of jacket potato, what would you be?
M: I wanna say tuna mayo ’cause that’s my favourite flavour but I don’t want people to think I smell fishy. No one wants to be fishy do they? I wanna say cheese and beans but then I don’t wanna be cheesy.
J: Or beany.
Or runny. What does that say about you?
J: I don’t there’s a win-win. Like chilli is my favourite.
M: But then you’d be chilly all the time, like cold.
J: Cottage cheese?
M: Cheesy! I don’t think anything that tastes good smells good.
J: D’you know what? I’m just gonna say butter.
But then you’d be boring.
M: But then you’d be a melt.
All: But then you’d be a melt!
M: I don’t think you can win. Salt and pepper! Can’t go wrong with that.
J: Who has a salt and pepper jacket?!
M: Just a plain jacket, with salt and pepper.
Pick any song for our Maximum Pop! playlist. Just pick a great song.
M: Chris Malinchak – So Good To Me
Jkay: Robin S – Show Me Love
Good choices. Thank you guys and good luck with the single!