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G.R.L. is ready to take the world by storm, and the new girl group kicked it off with a stop by the TODAY show on Monday to perform with Pitbull. The five ladies of G.R.L. — Simone Battle, Emmalyn Estrada, Lauren Bennett, Natasha Slayton and Paula Van Oppen — are featured on the international superstar's new tune "Wild Wild Love."
The five-some are currently working on their debut album with producer Dr. Luke to spread the message of female empowerment, and sat down with TODAY.com after their performance Monday to chat about working together.
What was it like performing with Pitbull?
Paula: You know, he pulled us into the dressing room, and gave us a little pep talk before it. Because we did one sound check that was a little, like, because we didn’t have the sound right ... so he pulled us in before our second sound check, and was like, 'Are you guys OK? Let’s have fun, the most important thing is to have fun." And he just always gives just that easy vibe, and it’s a pleasure to go on stage with him. It’s really nice.
What have you learned from working with him and being on stage with him?
Simone: He’s a huge hitmaker and he’s had so much success but he’s still so humble and rounded. And I really admire that. Feeling his energy and his words of wisdom that he gives us, it's genuine. It’s beautiful to see.
Paula: He’s truly a leader, like when he walks into a room you feel it. He has this confidence that we, I’m sure all of us, aspire to have. It’s like looking into the future, it’s like please, one day I want to walk into a room like that.
How did you come to start working with Pitbull?
Paula: Well, Dr. Luke kind of connected us. We’re kind of the same family (on the) Sony label. So, they brought us together and it's magic and we’re really honored to be on the same label.
Speaking of Dr. Luke, tell us about your upcoming album and sound.
Paula: We definitely want it to be fun, it’s not quite finalized, but it’s definitely us and our individual vibes combined together, so it’s a variety of feels and sounds.
Natasha: It’s primarily pop and super upbeat, authentic, girl-empowerment pop. But we have a lot of influences because we love to listen to everything, and we take inspiration from everything. So there’s some R&B in there. Our single “Ugly Heart,” we call it a “Hawaiian hoedown” — you’ve got a ukulele and then you’ve got some country vibes, country twang.
Lauren: "Ugly Heart" is about meeting or seeing a guy, or being in a relationship with a guy that's like, physically really beautiful, but inside, he has an ugly heart. I think everyone can relate to that.
What makes you different from all the other girl groups that have been?
Simone: I think what’s really unique are our personalities. Each one of us brings something that’s really cool and unique to the table and it makes this whole blend, this whole life of the group that’s really cool and powerful.
Paula: I think that what’s different about us is that we’re all very strong individually, and when you bring us together, it’s just kind of like a mega, like, woman. It’s like, Transformers.
Why a girl group instead of being a solo artist?
Paula: Because we’re stronger together!
Simone: We’re all individuals and maybe we can all have successful solo careers right now, but as one force, as one unity, we want to inspire that amongst women.
Natasha: Doing something like the TODAY show, if I were alone, I would have been so nervous, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed the experience. I would have been almost in tears beforehand because you’re scared, the pressure's on you. I think we all have so much fun together. And we support each other, we help each other with everything and we have fun. We’re five best friends.
You've stressed the importance of unity and togetherness among girls ...
Emmalyn: It’s natural for girls to kind of compete with each other and I think that’s completely wrong. All girls should be like we are, because we’re so supportive of each other. People don’t know that we’re actually really close. We’re best friends.
Lauren: I think, coming from all different backgrounds and still learning to get along with each other, and like, bond, and you learn so much from what you’re not used to. I don’t know if we would find each other, if we weren’t in this group. But being in this group, you get to learn so much about someone you maybe wouldn’t have in your life.
Paula: We wouldn’t be here today if we weren’t supporting each other, so that’s a huge message for me, let alone, the world. So I just want to share my own personal experience of what these girls have given me — support and love and teaching me things about me that I probably won’t have been able to find until 10 years from now.
Natasha: Bottom line, you can be totally different from another girl or another human being, but at the end of the day, if you can learn something from everyone, you can get along with anyone and if you come together with your own individual strengths and your confident within yourself, you can still be unified.
You've performed at SXSW and the TODAY show. What’s next for G.R.L.?
Simone: So our first single “ Ugly Heart” is coming out soon, and Ester Dean and Dr. Luke and Cirkut helped us on that, so we’re excited.
Paula: We’re going to be shooting the "Ugly Heart" music video, so that’s going to be exciting to do. And, of course, “Wild Wild Love” just came out today, the music video.
Natasha: We’ll be doing some more performances with Pitbull as well, so we’re very excited about that.
G.R.L.'s debut album is slated for a 2014 release.