Fri 4 Jun 2021

Interview with… Diversity

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Diversity took the nation by storm when they won the third series of Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, and they are about to embark on their biggest tour to date, the ‘Connected’ 2022 UK tour will run across March – June 2022. To which they have just added an extra 10 dates to bring the tour to a staggering 78 shows. We caught up with group members Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely to find out what we can expect from this thrilling tour…

Congratulations on adding 10 extra days to the tour. How does it feel knowing there is such huge demand to see you guys?

Perri: The last tour we were on, I remember getting ready for. It was just under 50 dates. We were like: ’This is crazy’. I didn’t know if we were physically going to be able to get through it. We have a physio with us, but we thought: ’This is going to be a monster tour’. Hearing that this is pretty much 80 is scary but after the last year we’ve had I don’t think it could come soon enough. We’ve all been craving that audience engagement for one. What’s been nice about the pandemic it’s allowed everyone to think – you’ve got to work around things. We’re dying now to get out there and perform in front of an actual audience.

Are you all on one big Diversity tour bus?

Jordan: It’s carnage. Sometimes you get on and you’re like: ‘Perri, I don’t want to make this awkward but Star’s sitting in my seat. I don’t know if you could ask her to move down the front?’. We’ve had the same tour bus since Britain’s Got Talent. The same driver – this German dude called Robert. You’ll go in and he’ll be whipping up some German cuisine. No-one’s asked him to do it, but he will so you’re like: ’Thanks Robert’.

Perri: He’s very cool.

How do you get your stamina up and running for going on tour?

Perri: It’s really hard to get your fitness up ready for a tour. The only thing that gets you ready, is the show. Obviously, you get fitter through the whole thing but the minute you start the shows you fall in getting fitter. It’s only when you get off the tour you realise how fit you were doing all those shows. It’ll be a bit of a struggle; we haven’t done it in such a while. We’ve done odd performances, but it’ll be a shock to the system. We’re all getting on a bit, so the physio is needed.

Jordan: You can rehearse the same show for maybe a year, feel ready and confident. The moment you step on stage and do it the output goes up 100%. When you’re physically performing and there’s a crowd the energy changes. You go on autopilot.

Can you tell me any themes or costumes planned for the tour?

Perri: This is what happens. Ash comes up with this crazy tour and crazy idea. It sits in his head and his notebook. If you looked at his notebook it looks like it was a two-year-old that’s scribbled around.

Jordan: It’s all Xs and Os.

Perri: If someone thought they could figure out Ash’s mind from seeing his notebook they’d have no chance. Usually, a couple of weeks before the tour he sits us down and is like: ’This is what’s been happening in my mind and we’re going to bring this to life’. That stage hasn’t even happened yet. I know when it comes to tours Ash is always pushing the boat out.

Congratulations on your BAFTA nomination for your BGT performance last year. How do you feel?

Both: It’s just crazy.

Did you expect the reaction you got?

Jordan: When we talk about the reaction a lot of people associate it with the negative side, because there was a huge negative presence initially. I didn’t expect the negative part as much and I didn’t expect the positive part of it either. At first the loudest voices in the room always seem to be the ones that are angry. That was the initial wave. We were like: ‘Woah, what’s going on here?’. What we had, no matter where we were – you could be out in the petrol station – the amount of love and support we got was baffling. Builders popped their heads up and were like: ’That performance was epic. Normally we go on TV and people are like: ’That was really cool. I enjoyed that performance’. We try to connect with people by entertaining you. I feel like that performance connected with people for a few different reasons. It hit people a bit deeper than seeing some backflips and stuff. For us, I don’t think we expected it to be as big as it was. For a long time for weeks, you’d turn on the TV and if it wasn’t a debate on This Morning or Loose Women it was on the news or back in the press.

Perri: There was a lot of negativity around it with complaints but that was heavily outweighed by the positives. You do focus on the negative things. We haven’t had a backlash like that. You go out to perform and understand some people aren’t going to like what you do but you don’t expect a reaction like that. When you put that negativity aside and see how many people are coming up to you and genuinely feeling proud of what you’ve done. They don’t have to go out of their way, but they’ve been affected. That’s what we set out to do.

Does it feel a defining moment for the group?

Perri: It’s a BAFTA. The amount of calls and texts I’ve had about it is insane. Like Jord said, to be this far into our career and be the busiest we’ve ever been in probably one of the hardest times there’s ever been but still to be strong, pushing through and making achievements like that, we never would have dreamed about it. It’s incredible.

What about filming a Diversity documentary when you’re on tour?

Jordan: We’ve had conversations about that. It’s finding the right people to do it and giving yourself enough time to get sorted properly. The hard part is that when there’s always so much stuff going on between the book, KISS, potentially a couple of TV shows for me, Pel and Ash, other performances outside tour then you get to tour itself. How do we fit in? Fly on the wall things are not just fly on the wall, are they? It takes more time – and you want it to be done properly. We’re going to put on an 80-date tour, everything else around it then bring in a film crew? Let’s make sure it’s entertaining.

Perri: I think it would be really cool. It would be nice to watch online, like a YouTube thing. See the inner workings. There’s so much more than meets the eye.

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