All Access: An Interview With Fifth Harmony

By: Blake Ryan
Image via Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images
Image via Gabriel Olsen/ Getty Images
  TAGS:   Article, Exclusive

Walking onto the set of a Fifth Harmony photo shoot is like arriving at the slumber party of any teenage girl’s dreams. Spice-worthy platforms lined up under a rolling rack packed with bomber jackets and leather mini skirts are set up across from a huge table covered with tubes of mascara and lipstick in every shade. While I’m examining the wares a stiletto-clad Normani Hamilton marches over from the shared dressing room and immediately plants a bubble gum pink kiss on my cheek like we’ve been friends for years. Camila Cabello, Ally Brooke, Lauren Jauregui, and Dinah-Jane Hansen file in stopping for hugs and kisses, touching up hairspray at the last minute before we sit down to chat. The ladies who make up Fifth Harmony have been on a wild ride since forming on The X Factor in 2012.

After the show they released an EP called Better Together. It went Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned them two certified gold singles. They went on to tour with the likes of Demi Lovato and Austin Mahone before releasing their debut album Reflections. Songs like the girl power anthem “BO$$,” and the Megan Trainor-penned “Sledgehammer,” saw immediate success, while the Kid Ink-assisted “Worth It,” has become a bona fide song of the summer after racking up over 49 million views on YouTube at the time of this writing. Already at this early stage in their career Fifth Harmony have surpassed the X Factor contestants who beat them out on the show. They’re gracing world class stages at New York Fashion Week and sharing bills with names like Kanye West and Justin Bieber. When we meet, the ladies are getting ready to set out on a second leg of their Reflections tour starting this July. Get to know them below, and don’t miss out on a shot to watch them live in action.

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What have been the pivotal career moments that have helped define Fifth Harmony?
Lauren Jauregui: X Factor was definitely a place where we grew a lot, in terms of finding our sound and feeling each other out. I think definitely the album process—both the first EP and the second album—were learning experiences for us. We got to vibe with each other, running around the world doing crazy things together. Throughout that process, having all these experiences we got to figure out who sings what well, who sings what where, and how our voices blend.

What about your incredible performance at Wango Tango?
Ally Brooke: We were on the same bill as Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Calvin Harris, Sia, Tori Kelly, Echosmith, so many incredible, successful artists. For us to be on that same roster is really crazy. We were performing to a stadium of 18,000 people. For us to go from the X Factor stage—and going through all the craziness of trying to figure out who we are as a group—to now, being on the Wango Tango stage is such a massive thing.

Are there people you’d die to share a bill with?
Brooke: Justin Timberlake
Camila Cabello: Ed Sheeran
Normani Hamilton: Beyoncé
Jauregui: Lana Del Rey.
Dinah-Jane Hansen: Sam Smith, Etta James, Michael Jackson.

Let’s talk about your Summer Reflection tour starting next month. What does a day of prep look like for you guys?
Cabello: We usually have very limited rehearsal time before a major tour starts. A day of rehearsal can be really stressful; they’re really intense and really long. Usually, we wake up the next morning and we’re sore as hell. We usually have—how long would you say our days are?
Hamilton: Eight hours.

Are you dancing the whole time?
Everyone: Yep.
Jauregui: We’ll break for lunch in between and sometimes things are broken up for fittings, or a vocal session with our vocal coach. Then we’ll do the dance rehearsal and choreography. Like Camila said, we usually only have three or four days to prepare everything. It’s actually nuts.

You guys are going to be so fit after this tour.
Hansen: That’s what we thought! Whenever we get off stage Ally orders cookies and ice cream, chicken wings. We thought we were going to be so fit, but Ally really takes care of the after-show set up. (Laughs)
Brooke: I mean we’re dancing for a good hour and a half.
Hamilton: It’s a nice workout.

Let’s say you guys get a full week off, you get unlimited credit cards. What would you do? The only catch is that you have to be together.
Hamilton: Let’s go to Australia
Jauregui: I say we go on a European backpacking tour so we get to see everything.
Brooke: Oh yeah let’s definitely hit up all the bomb European restaurants.
Hansen: Go to concerts.
Hamilton: What about the Kangaroos
Brooke: We should swim in the ocean.
Hamilton: A week isn’t enough.
Jauregui: We could invest some of that money in the stock market and grow it so that we can vacation forever.

Speaking of your stock market acumen—what kind of advice do you have for your young creative fans coming up? Do you have different advice for the girls and the guys?
Brooke: I think you just have to be confident in who you are. Don’t compare yourself to anybody else. Find what makes you you and let that stand out, whether you’re going on a job interview or going on a date. In business and in life, don’t lose yourself and who you are.
Cabello: I feel like there are different pressures for each gender. Like, for women in the music industry—before there was controversy around being sexual. There are a ton of boundaries that people set and any time a woman tries to step outside of them, they’re judged. For men I feel like there are pressures to be less emotional. Drake and Macklemore took a lot of hate for putting really emotional content into their songs. So I think there are different pressures that come from society for each gender. I think you have to be strong enough to know that anyone has the right to express their sexuality, their emotional side, their vulnerability, their strength. We all have that right as humans. You have to break out of that in order to be different.
Jauregui: I think another piece of advice is to not limit yourself. There are no boundaries around what you can do. You can be in so many places at once and do a million different things.

Anything else you want to share with your fans?
Cabello: Shout out to all of our fans for loving us, and supporting us requesting our songs on the radio. We love you and we can’t wait to see you on tour.

Want more firsthand Fifth Harmony knowledge? Check out part two of the interview on Complex.