Page last updated at 08:19 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Talking Shop: Mini Viva

Mini Viva
I Left My Heart In Tokyo reached number seven in September

There was a period of about six weeks last summer when you couldn't enter a clothes shop, newsagent or nightclub without hearing Mini Viva's smash hit I Left My Heart In Tokyo.

An attention-grabbing, rainbow bright pop single, it burst onto the radio boasting more hooks than a fishmongers.

Singers Britt Love and Frankee Connolly, 20, cheerily admit they are a manufactured band, but seem like they have been friends for years, chattering 10-to-the-dozen and collapsing in fits of laughter at the slightest provocation.

As they release their follow-up single, the bittersweet I Wish, the duo tell the BBC about pursuing pop perfection while eating stale airline sandwiches.


Hello Mini Viva!

Frankee and Britt: Hello the BBC!

We've been following your career for the past five months, and we still don't know who is who. Please help.

Frankee: I'm Frankee, the one with the curly hair.

Britt: And I'm Britt, the one with the dark hair.

Thank you! Now, can you tell us how you came to be Mini Viva?

Frankee: We were put together by our production label Xenomania (Girls Aloud, Alesha Dixon). We were scouted, separately, by them and didn't meet until we got to their headquarters about two years ago. We just clicked instantly and started working together. Now we're Mini Viva.

Xenomania famously work out in the countryside. What's the atmosphere like?

Britt: It's like Oz. You wouldn't expect a hit factory to be hiding out there. It's really quiet. But as soon as you walk into the house there's music pumping, and there's platinum discs for Girls Aloud on the walls.

Frankee: It's like a little fairytale house. Apparently, it's where Alice in Wonderland was created.

Britt: Where Lewis Caroll wrote the book.

Frankee: Or I think the little girl lived there.

Mini Viva
The band found their name on a billboard poster in London

It must be intimidating to walk in and see all that pop history on the walls.

Frankee: To be honest, when we first went down there, we didn't know what it was until we saw those gold discs and we thought, 'okay, this is the real deal, now'.

Britt: Obviously, we'd love to have the credibility of a band like Girls Aloud, but we're not copying them. We're Mini Viva, and we want to have our own stamp on our music.

Xenomania are often called the 21st Century Stock, Aitken and Waterman…

Frankee: I don't know who that is.

They were a team of writers in the 80s, who produced hits for Bananarama, Kylie, Jason Donovan, Mel And Kim…

Together: Oh, Mel and Kim!!!

Britt: They were cool, they had great style - the shoulder pads and everything! The 80s are coming back. It's really cool.

You have some 80s elements to your own style - with the sparkly leggings and baggy t-shirts. Was that down to you, or have you been styled to stand out from other girl bands?

Frankee: We work with a stylist but we don't want to be too sexy, because we want to grow with our music. We're not at that stage of having our boobs hanging out - we want to keep it street.

Britt: Young and fresh and approachable.

Britt, you've got quite a individual, combed-back hairstyle. Are you annoyed that John and Edward stole your look?

Britt: Yes! I was trying to keep it different. There's not many girl bands who are doing quiffs at the minute. I don't want to be like anyone else. But I think John and Edward are cool. They've got good style. They've got good hair.

Frankee: They've got good trainers.

Can you tell us about the single?

Frankee: It's about when you've come out of a relationship and you you're reminiscing, wishing you tried a bit harder.

Mini Viva
They describe their style as "high street, a bit of vintage and a secret love of the top floor of Selfridges"

Does that make it a follow-up to I Left My Heart In Tokyo - which saw you splitting up with your boyfriend?

Frankee: It could be!

Britt: With both songs, I guess every girl or boy can relate to it. There's been times when I wished I could have tried in a relationship.

You shot the video in LA? How was that?

Britt: We loved being out there. It was nice to be out in the sunshine!

After one top 10 hit, did you demand to be upgraded to first class?

Frankee: Oh no! We're still in economy.

Britt: No leg room for us.

Frankee: And no food! For 12 hours!

Britt: We only got little sandwiches from the back. And they were stale!

It's a hard life... Has this setback affected the release of the album?

Frankee: The album has been delayed, but not by that!

Britt: It's all finished now. We actually write 50% of our stuff, so it was great to get the chance to work over a whole album, and it's coming out in 2010.

Had you ever written before, or was it something you were being encouraged to do by the team at Xenomania?

Frankee: There was encouragement - but we're really grateful they pushed us to do it. Because we love it, and we've grown as writers. It's like a habit now.

Britt: We learnt that you have to go through a lot of ideas and tracks before you strike gold. That's what happened with I Left My Heart In Tokyo, and that's what's good about Xenomania - they want us to push, and push, and push until we get a great song. They're not just saying "oh yeah, that'll do as an album track". They want us to really think about what we're writing.

A lot of people your age are out having fun, instead of thinking about how they define themselves in the world, and their personal style, and how to express their emotions in lyrics. Was that a difficult or strange process?

Frankee: It's just part of our job, at the end of the day.

Britt: But girls should be thinking about how they feel. We want to encourage that. There's more to life than what you look like. You should be thinking about what you say and do.

Mini Viva were speaking to BBC entertainment journalist Mark Savage. I Wish is out now on Polydor and Mini Viva's album is out in 2010.



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