Neon Jungle Open Up About ‘Trouble,’ Meeting Taylor Swift + More [EXCLUSIVE]
To say it’s been a whirlwind year for Neon Jungle would be a severe understatement.
The four Brits — Jess Plummer, Amira McCarthy, Shereen Cutkelvin and Asami Zdrenka — officially landed on the U.S. radar with their energetic performance in the 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. When the band stopped by the PopCrush office in New York City, they were a mix of elated, grateful and flat-out excited to be releasing their ‘Trouble’ EP in the United States.
It’s a journey that — as Jess explains — began with fate.
“How it all happened, it does feel like a Cinderella story. It couldn’t have happened any other way,” she recalls, adding that the label was holding auditions for a new girl group.
Jess was scouted while waiting for her sister on Brick Lane in London, while Amira was found during a shopping trip. Asami and Shereen were discovered via YouTube videos they’d uploaded to the site.
“I couldn’t even make the final audition,” Jessica explains. “…The fact that Shereen only came to the last audition, and the fact that Asami was found on YouTube with only 14 views on the video. Amira was just walking down the street. It’s all such coincidence. We hadn’t all sung together until our first showcase. They took a risk.”
"How it all happened, it does feel like a Cinderella story. It couldn’t have happened any other way."
The girls claim they would never have been put together on a reality show because they’re so different, but their unique personalities mesh well.
“We got put into a house together,” Shereen says. “We were like, “Oh, gosh. Four girls in one house, this could be messy,” but it really, really helped our relationship. We just completely skipped the friendship stage and went to sisters.”
“The whole coming to America thing started when Victoria’s Secret was like ‘We really like your song,’” Jessica. “I remember being at home and Victoria’s Secret followed us on Twitter — and this is like a month before we were told we were doing it – and I’m thinking, ‘That’s really random, maybe they’re going to gift us some underwear or something!’ … We found out the day before we were flying over and since it’s just been a whirlwind.”
The ladies light up when recalling their meetings with the two other music acts in the show.
“We met Taylor Swift and she’s so big and you don’t want to be like, ‘Maybe she’s not going to be nice, I don’t want to meet [her]’ and then she was so lovely,” Shereen recalls. “It’s just like “Aw, I want you to be my best friend.” She was the nicest person ever , and her mom was there and they gave us merchandise with Taylor Swift.”
“She walked into our dressing room and introduced herself like we didn’t know who she was, and I was like, “OK, now I really, really love you,” Asami. “But we were performing ‘Trouble’ and she was doing her song, ‘I Knew You Were Trouble,’ and she was joking that she was doing a piano ballad of our song ‘Trouble.’”
“We’re holding her to that promise,” Shereen jokes. “She’s still got to do a cover for us.”
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As for Fallout Boy? “It was one of those moments where ‘I was singing to your posters in my emo stage,’” Asami says. “It was an intense moment.”
Things are only going to get bigger for Neon Jungle, who dropped their ‘Trouble’ EP — which Asami describes as having “lots of energy — on June 17.
“It’s like a small teaser into us,” Shereen says. “It was Victoria’s Secret that started us all off with ‘Trouble’… We’ve got a cover on there as well, so it just kind of shows our four individual tastes.”
One of the EP’s most recognizable songs is the title track, ‘Trouble,’ which was the first track the group recorded in the studio.
“It’s quite cool, obviously, meeting the person that wrote it and she was very involved too with it, wasn’t it?” Asami recalls. “They were very involved in the whole recording … It was really cool to meet them, the people behind the song. They were so lovely, so it was cool. I felt quite nice, honored that we get to record our song written by such lovely people. I think that’s what we feel about every song on the album, like they’re just such nice people.”
“From all the songs we’ve done, ‘Trouble’ is the one we most love performing,” adds Shereen. “Because as soon as it comes on, just that beginning, you’re just jumping up.”
That enthusiasm carries over into the girls’ life off-stage, where they couldn’t be more grateful.
“We’re just super, super, super excited to be here,” Jessica says.