Jessica Agombar Talks Rihanna and Beyoncé Hand-Me-Downs And Girl Group Antics
The Debrief: The ex-girlband member also confesses to getting banned from just about everywhere.
As if we needed any more evidence that manufactured pop groups are all a bit silly really, just take a look at East Londoner Jessica Agombar. It wasn’t until she quit her major-label-signed girl group Parade (you may remember them from their top 10 hit Louder – or then again, maybe not) and struck out on her own, that her true (super impressive) vocals and songwriting abilities finally got a chance to shine.
To the surprise of the whole internet, Jessica’s single Bam Bam (Part 2) served listeners with a hefty sample of Roll Deep’s When I’m ’Ere and even enlists the original Roll Deep-ers Manga and Scratchy.
We caught up with Jess to talk outspitting grime legends, Jameela Jamil’s impressive body confidence speech and getting banned from basically everywhere.
Hey Jess! So your track Bam Bam (Part 2) is doing pretty well! It features from some serious grime legends, too. Did you feel nervous going head to head with them?
I shit myself! I wrote it down and had loads to say and they went, ‘Oh Jess, you go first!’ I got up on the mic, did it in one take, in one breath and they just looked at me and went, ‘That’s not the first time you did that, you’re lying!’ But it was! They were like, ‘You must have listened to so much grime as a kid!!’
That must have been an awesome feeling. How did it differ to what you were doing before as part of Parade?
Before I wasn’t doing my own music, I was being told stand here, sing this, do this with your hair. We just got flown to LA and we were working with the writer for Rihanna and Beyoncé, so whatever songs they didn’t want that's what we were given for our album.
Must be a refreshing change… What’s your favourite song to shak out to when out clubbing?
It’s gotta be Murder She Wrote by Chaka Demus & Pliers. That’s so classic, innit? The hook is so pop so everyone can sing along and dance.
And what would you be sipping on?
I don’t drink alcohol… I’ve tasted it but I don’t really like it. I’m a control freak and I was brought up very strict. My area is quite dangerous and a lot of the girls were getting into really bad stuff so all I did was come home, do my homework and then listen to music. I just thought to myself, ‘Na… my music, I can’t.’
Amazing that you’ve always known what you wanted to do, it took us ages to figure it out. You’ve done a bit of acting, too right? We think we may have spotted you in St Trinian’s the movie…
Yes! I played myself: Jess, the rude girl. I’ve got canerows, tracksuits and loads of gold bling. I was on the soundtrack, too. That’s the best job I’ve ever had. Can you imagine being in St Trinian’s? It was pure anarchy!
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Were you guys badly behaved in Parade?
Yeah. We didn’t used to smash up hotel rooms or anything but we’d get banned from everywhere because of the mess and the noise. We also got banned from Sony ATV studios… they’ve got stills of us on the CCTV playing cricket with the director’s fruit from his fruit bowl in the office and everything. You can imagine, just five of your mates living in a house in Chelsea. We didn’t have any outgoings, we just took Addison Lees to wherever we were going. It wasn’t the real world.
We saw you tweeting about that amazing speech Jameela Jamil made on body confidence. Is it something you’ve had experience with at all being part of a girlband?
That speech made me think I could go out and conquer the world. I love that. It was hard when I was in the girl group, weirdly not because the five of us got each other up about the way we looked at all, but the men at the label were a little bit ergh... We were all in personal training sessions four times a week and we all had to lose a lot of weight. I think they found it shocking when I said I’d actually rather put on weight! It’s not something I focus on now, but I think every girl struggles with the way they look.
People do love pitting girls against each other...
Yeah, it’s like, ‘Everyone should look like this image’ but like, really? Is that realistic, though?
Hells no. What’s your definition of success generally?
Achieving your personal dreams, not ones that people set for you. For me it’s about recording and writing a record that crosses over between mainstream and what my friends would like and it’s literally as simple as that.
Thanks Jess, byeee!
Jessica Agombar’s Bam Bam (Part 2) is out November 13
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