JLS have enjoyed huge success since they broke through with Beat Again back in 2009 and this year they will be releasing a fourth album as well as releasing the single for Sport Relief.
They have also been involved in the Mastercard Priceless Duets competition which gave a fan of the band the chance to sing with them.
I caught up with Ashton to talk about the competition, the new single as well as the tour that they are about to embark on.
- You are working with MasterCard and the Priceless Duets competition so can you tell me a little bit about it?
It was an honour for us to be involved in something like this because it’s basically someone going out of their way to be noticed by myself and the boys to win a performance. We have literally just done that with one of the winners.
They came in and had the mic singing one of our songs and we surprised them and they got to sing with us and duet with us. It was a first for us as well singing with one of our fans - so it was cool.
- How excited are you to get be getting behind the mic with a fan - who has the potential to be a real talent?
Exactly, you never quite know what to expect, you are about to sing with someone that you have never heard and never met before. It was exciting for us; we are always excited to do new things. This was a first for us and it was amazing.
- Congratulations on the Brit nomination for Best British Single so you must be so excited to be recognised once again?
Thank you very much. Being recognised two years ago for Beat Again was just out of this world; it was crazy. Getting nominated for a song that we have written and getting recognised not just as performers but for our writing talents as well is a big honour for us.
Fingers crossed for us on the night hopefully we will get to take the trophy home but we are just happy to be nominated and it’s always a fun evening, we can’t wait.
- This award is one that is voted for by the public so do you want to tell fans how they can vote for you?
Yes it is voted for by the public, mainly on the Capital FM website. It is also on the Brits website www.brits.co.uk/voting and click on JLS.
- You are doing the Sport Relief single Proud, which is released next month, so how have you found the reaction to the record?
Really really good and everyone has said that it is a heart wrenching record that is perfect for the time of year that it is and the cause itself.
We knew that we were getting involved with Sport Relief somehow this year so when we heard the song for the first time we thought that it was perfect. We played it to the guys at Sport Relief and they loved it.
We co-wrote the song with a great writer called Alan Tennant and he has written hits for the like of Lemar. To work with him was a great honour and to write the song as the single for Sport Relief was an ever greater one. For them to put it on our shoulders and fly the flag for Sport Relief this year is going to be an amazing thing.
- You also spent some time in for Sports Relief so can you tell me a little bit about your time out there?
Yes we went out to Uganda in October. Over the years we have all watched the appeal films and you do get that cut up feeling and lump in you throat when you are watching it but when you actually there and witnessing it first hand it’s a whole different ball game.
We were like ‘we know what we are going to see and nothing is going to shock us because we have seen it before’ but we had never seen anything like it.
We turned up to a hospital on the first day and we were walking in as a woman was being dragged out screaming because her young daughter had died, just a couple of years old.
Seeing that straight away and having a camera in your face and trying to talk about it it was the most difficult thing. Seeing life from that point of few was just awww.
But it was an incredible experience to see how people live out there and how they survive and source water and food - but the downside is the hospital visits and all that kind of stuff.
We just hope this year it helps raise a lot money to help these people because these things are happening every day.
- You had huge success last year with your third album so have you started work on a fourth and if so how is it going?
We actually started the fourth album literally just before we finished the third, we didn’t waste any time. We have just come back a trip from the States, we were there for about two and a half weeks, we were working with different veterans in the game.
They have worked for the likes of Babyface and Dark Child; these guys have written some of the biggest hits of all time from Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, Usher and Britney Spears.
So us working with them on this album has, so far, been amazing we have got some really really great stuff and we are really excited.
- Without giving too much away what can we expect from it - I was reading that you would like to work with Adele & Ed Sheeran so is the record going to be something along their sound?
Not so much their sound but their writers in itself, you need different creative minds to create different sounds of music; if you take out style of music and Ed Sheeran’s style of music you don’t know what you are going to come out with. You have to craft different bits of music and you will hopefully come out with a new sound.
The stuff that we have been doing at the moment is in that throwback nineties RnB sound and then bringing that modern twist to it as well.
We are trying to take the best from both avenues and out stuff together. All the current artists are doing their own thing; Ed Sheeran, Adele, Jessie J, Tinie Tempah, Labrinth and Olly Murs they are all doing something different and it is all working in the music industry right now.
- This will be a fourth album for you in four years so how have you seen yourselves develop as artists in that time?
Yeah massively, we have come on leaps and bounds I believe from meeting in those dry and cold rehearsals rooms to now where we have music in the charts. Even going into writing sessions with huge named writers just makes you a better performer and makes you a more seasoned performer and I suppose a more seasoned person.
We have learnt so much from behind the scenes as well as being on stage. You do grow up fairly quickly as well because you are taking your life in your own hands and putting it on the line every time that put music out there.
So it’s exciting, it’s still exciting and we still have leaps and bounds to go - all of us are no where near the finished article for an artist. But we are always striving to be the best and hopefully we will have another successful year.
- You are also heading out on tour so what can we expect from the live shows this time around?
Yes we start the tour in a month’s time, we haven’t started rehearsals yet which is a bit daunting. I have been injured for a little while because we have been conditioning for this tour - we are trying a lot of new things such as trick wires and things like that. So it’s going to be very very interesting to see if we can pull off a lot of the things on the show.
- Finally you have a huge fan base so is there anything that you would like to say to those fans reading this interview?
I don’t think thank you is enough from myself and the boys. We have had a good few successful years now and hopefully the people who have supported us over those years will carry on and I hope they will continue to enjoy us. Words aren’t enough but thank you so much because it means the world to us.
JLS teamed up with Mastercard for its exclusive Priceless Duets competition, which supports its 14th year of partnership with The BRIT Awards.
For your chance to win a Priceless Duet go to www.somethingforthefans.co.uk. JLS’s competition is now closed, but there’s a ‘Priceless Duet’ with BRIT award winner Jessie J still up for grabs.
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw