JC Chasez has entered new terrain, taking on the role of a musical "dad" to the many members of his new female pop project. The former *N SYNC member and solo artist recently teamed up with producer/songwriter Jimmy Harry to create Girl Radical, which currently features 11 vocalists who hail from a variety of backgrounds. "Alex Radical," for instance, is a former San Francisco ballet dancer who is the niece of actor Rob Schneider, while "Nyla Radical" studied theater in college before pursuing a career as a solo artist/keyboardist in the L.A. music scene.
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Over the past year, Chasez and Harry have been hard at work assembling their team of female performers and bringing Girl Radical to life. In this exclusive first interview, Chasez walked Billboard through his vision for the pop endeavor.
Billboard: How did Girl Radical come about?
Chasez: Jimmy and I have been friends for many years, and we're always writing and submitting things for different artists. We always talked about starting a project from scratch, but we didn't know what it was going to be. One day we ended up working with this Japanese artist and she showed us this thing called AKB48. Basically it's a Japanese group that started with 48 members and has fluctuated anywhere from 48 to 60. We saw one of their music videos and I was blown away. It was like this army on stage performing, and I've always been attracted to the spectacle. The next day we went back into the studio to start writing another song. I was like, ‘We should build our own pop group, but in our own way,' and Jimmy agreed.
JC CHASEZ IN JUNE 2013
How did you select the girls for the project?
Once we told two or three people about it and they were into the idea and wanted to be a part of it – it was kind of like, ‘All right. Let's go for it.' We built a foundation from there. We put a blurb on the Internet and passed out flyers at different places. We just wanted to see what people thought at first. We have 11 members right now. There is a rough number in our head. We are thinking that 21 might be the magic number, but again, it's constantly evolving. We believe in the talent that we have right now.
Are you going to have every girl sing on every song?
In background vocals, yes, because what we learned from the Japanese thing is that the choruses are big. In the songs that we've been doing, they've [done] these big-sounding choruses, so that's what we've kept in mind. That being said, not everybody is going to get a lead/verse part on every song. It's kind of like playing checkers – we'll plug this one in here, we'll plug this one in here, and so on. Every one of them will step forward at one time or another when it's their time.
Check Out Our Long-Read on JC Chasez's Solo Career
Why did you decide to go with an "Just a Girl" cover for the debut?
We just like the feel of it. It's a good jumping-off point as far as a cover tune goes. There are 11 girls, and they can each represent their femininity or toughness or however you take their performance. We shot the video with Steven Barston, and we want you to get a look at the girls, so it's a clean white wall. For the first couple of videos, we'd like to keep them very simple because you have to get to know them first.
Have they recorded any original tunes yet?
We have three originals that we really feel strongly about. We wrote an original called "Don't Get Me Wrong," which we love. We wrote it with Jimmy, myself, and this woman named Danielle Brisebois, who did quite a bit of writing for Natasha Bedingfield… We shot a video for that song, so we'll have that ready to go when we feel like the moment's right -- after the cover lives to gauge a response.
Are there plans to make a full album and eventually take Girl Radical on the road?
Absolutely. First, we're releasing the cover and will get America's take on it. We want to let people talk to us because we've been in this bubble for a year trying to put all these pieces together – trying to figure out how to make this many voices work together, and learning to make these formations work together. Coming from my pop background, I'm very much a perfectionist, so I want to make sure that it's right because you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Then we'll go from there. It's about developing [the music] instead of just slapping a sticker on it and pushing it out there. I don't want a hard sell.
Do you see Girl Radical being like the Spice Girls in a sense where fans ask each other, "Which Girl Radical girl are you?"
100 percent. There's no denying that. And even when I was in the band, the girls would be like, 'I'm a Justin guy. I'm a JC guy. I'm a Joey guy. I'm a Lance guy…' That's just natural and the way it goes.
What are you envisioning for the live show?
A spectacle! If there's one thing that I love as an entertainer, it's a spectacle. We all have looked up to either Michael Jackson or Madonna or Janet Jackson or anyone of those things. When I was in *N SYNC, I would watch any concert video ever and really drink it all in. For me, the bigger the better -- that's essentially why I am working in a group that is bigger. I would love to have a stage show that is bigger. If you're going to go out, you might as well go big.
I don't think it won't work but who knows what tomorrow will bring, no even believed AKB48 will be this successful 7 years ago