Tina Barrett

16th July 2021

Photography: Owen James Vincent

Make Up Artist: Alice Everiss

Hairstylist: Grace Tame

Styling: Rasa Balciunaite

Illustration: Emily Curtis

Words: Lucy Birchall

Having been propelled to pop superstardom in her early twenties as one seventh of the smash hit pop group, S Club 7, it’s fair to say the start of Tina Barrett’s pop career was quite the whirlwind. From sell out arena tours to selling millions of pop records, Tina’s initial popstar experience was during peak pop mania in the late nineties/early noughties, and the non-stop treadmill of promoting, performing and paparazzi. 

Now more than 20 years on since S Club first hit our screens and stereos, we caught up with Tina to reflect on how her experience in the limelight compares to young artists of today's streaming era, and discuss juggling motherhood alongside bring it all back to fans with her S Club brother, Bradley. 

Hello Tina! It’s such a treat to be speaking with you. You’ve been getting back out on stage with Bradley and Amelia Lily recently. How has it been performing again post-lockdown?

It’s been surreal really…! Having had a year doing nothing was quite bizarre. Speaking for myself, though I know Bradley felt the same, but we were really nervous. We’ve been singing these songs for 20 years but we definitely felt rusty. Lockdown took its toll, for sure, but it’s been so nice getting back out on stage in front of an audience. We feel so lucky to be in that position. You realise that you take things for granted so we feel super grateful as we’re so busy this year. Everyone just wants to be entertained after being locked away for a year! We’ve done three shows so far and have 75 shows booked in this year. We’ve got dates in Spain and Canada too, which fingers crossed will still go ahead.
We have Amelia Lily joining us too on selected performances and I just want to clarify - Amelia is not replacing Jo! Some of our hardcore fans were a little confused. We haven’t replaced Jo at all, Jo’s doing really well and working on a solo album and wanted to take a break from S Club to focus on that. Amelia’s come in as a featured part of the show, as a guest star if you like, and is joining us on some S Club numbers and singing some of her own songs too so it’s a whole new show. 

And talk to us about Amelia joining S Club… it must be great to have someone new to perform with?

Absolutely, she’s such a lovely girl, has great energy and a great voice. It’s just fun working with other creative people and musicians. She definitely brings something new to what we’re doing and I think she makes the show interesting for us too as it changes it up a bit. However I can’t stress enough - no one can replace Jo or any of the other members. If we were to do an S Club reunion, it would be as 7. 

Outfit: Stylist's Own

Do you still keep in touch with everyone from S Club?

Definitely, everyone’s still in the industry so it’s easy to still see what everyone’s doing and we still keep in touch. Recently we had our 20th anniversary. Everyone is always asking if we are going to celebrate this with a reunion, maybe, you never know we are really proud of what we have achieved in the band, so we might do a milestone tour like Steps. Never say never!

You must get a bit tired of people always bringing up your iconic Seeing Double premiere dress (sorry, we had to!). Are there any other outfits from your time in S Club 7 that you vividly remember? Any that you wish to forget?

I've always been a huge fashion fan as a little girl I would be always looking through Vogue magazines. I absolutely love everything about fashion and photography, so in the band I always let the stylist do their thing. Sometimes it was a bit of a risk [laughs].

There was one outfit, it was grey - almost like a grey apron? Grey trousers, a grey shirt under the apron and really horrid grey shoes. My friends said to me “why are you dressed like a headteacher?” I almost looked like Miss Trunchball from Matilda - it was awful! 

I did get some good outfits but it would have been hard dressing seven people, I wouldn’t want to do it!

Floral Coat from LalicA / Presented by I.DEA PR

You had some pretty memorable music videos in S Club, such as the retro themed You and disco-carnival-inspired Don’t Stop Movin’. Are there any video shoots that were particularly memorable? 

We always had a great location and were really lucky as we were always in an exotic location, so our videos reflected that. Bring It All Back was our first one on Miami’s South Beach. It was a long, long day doing choreography in 90 degree heat. We were dancing all day and because were were just so excited, we were able to do it but it was tough [laughs]. It looks very glamorous but it really wasn’t. We started at 2am and finished at 1am the following morning. It was a tough shoot, even though we were on the beach, but it was a lot of fun.
Natural was also on the beach and dancing on sand is really hard! No wonder we were all so fit… Don’t Stop Movin’ was actually in the UK in a grand hall with this massive chandelier that got completely smashed by the camera crane. Me and a few of the dancers got sprayed with broken glass but luckily no one got hurt, we carried on like true pros just like the song [laugh]. They made it into a carnival scene and in full carnival feathers which was really cool. All the rest were in the US and my favourite was Reach. That was in the dessert in LA, it was almost like a movie. We had a full cast of extras, about 600 and it was a huge production. I remember dancing on the pink bus and it just felt so surreal in the middle of the dessert and it made me feel so lucky to be in the band.

Whilst singing and dancing has been a big part of being in S Club, you were also regularly acting in your TV Series’ such as Miami 7 and Hollywood 7 (I used to have them as VHS boxsets…). How did you find learning lines for filming whilst performing all over the world and promoting music?

We had to learn these scripts in literally seconds. We’d film a 13-part series in about a month. I must admit, doing the show was one of my favourites to do, it was just so much fun. But they were long days, we were doing 18-hour days. There was lots of hanging around and waiting your turn, but we got to work with some real icons on the show such as Kenickie (Jeff Conway) from Grease, Greg Brady (Barry Williams) from The Brady Bunch and Linda Blair from The Exorcist. Obviously filming in LA, you’d see people all the time. I remember going into Starbucks and Bruce Willis was in front of me. LA was a lot of fun.

Growing up as a young woman in the music industry must have been overwhelming at times. Do you think young women have it easier these days or is it maybe harder, what with the pressures of social media?

I do think with social media, it does give artists more power. When I was a popstar in S Club, we had no clue about our fanbase or what they thought of us; it was all controlled by the record label. The press controlled everything as well, so we didn’t have a voice and platform like they do now, it was whatever they wrote. Whereas now the control has gone to the artist because of social media. They can edit everything and communicate with their fans and have a real voice which I think is so much more powerful. But I can see on the other side you get all the trolling and that must be hard. When I was in S Club, the tabloid press were known for being pretty tough in general back then! They used to be so mean and they’re not allowed to say those things anymore. But they used to be able to say whatever they liked. People did get a really hard time in the press and now they’re not allowed to do that but it’s been replaced by the public. I don’t think it’s ever going to be perfect but I do think social media gives artists a lot more say and artists just didn’t have that before. 

I must admit, looking at Jesy Nelson and how she’s been very open about what she’s been feeling, I can relate to it all. You do feel pressure, you do feel like you’re being judged and scrutinised and it’s horrible. It’s just that side of the industry. I do think it’s empowering though because when I was doing it, no one talked about it. If you did say that you’re not feeling good, people would think that you were just moaning whereas now it’s being taken seriously. That’s a good thing because it’s real. People are finally talking openly about how they feel and we just never used to do that. I think this is a good time for women, actually. There will be people that won’t like the fact that women are speaking out but I’m all for it.

You’ve always been passionate about performing. How do you find balancing your passions alongside being a mother?

It’s the famous juggling. People say that you can’t have it all but women can though it’s not easy working and bringing up children. It’s so rewarding but it is hard and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying that. It’s ok to get help, women shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. We’re hard on how they look, and being a mother, feeling like we should get back in shape straight away… it’s a lot. I’m glad conversations are happening, finally, but you can do both but you’ve got to have a bit of time for yourself too and that’s ok. 

Dress from Rue Agthonis / Presented by Crescent PR

You’ve also been releasing your own solo music over the last few years. How do you find releasing music independently compared to as a group?

It’s a totally different thing. In S Club we had it all there and we had Simon Fuller who’s super successful, and Polydor too. We were quietly confident that everything we did would get to the right audience and platform as we had such a massive team behind us, the record company and everything in place. It was hard work and a whirlwind but we were working with the best people. It is harder doing it independently but what I’ve really enjoyed is just doing my own thing and working with really creative people which I really wanted to do. It was great just getting my ideas across and working with great producers. We came up with these really fun songs and we just thought, why not release them and see how they do. Mwah Mwah (which I co wrote with Canadian producers, 80 empire) did really well and is doing really well on Spotify and charted in quite a few countries actually and in the Top 10. It was amazing, I was so grateful for all of the love. I released a second single in the middle of the pandemic called Private Dance Instructor (also produced by 80 empire) which was a little daunting as we didn’t get to do the video we were meant to, but we did a socially distanced one in a dance studio. That’s just starting to get out there. I love doing my own stuff and this year I’m looking to release another one. I haven’t done that much solo stuff publicly but I just love performing and putting stuff out.

Outfit: Tina's Own

Finally, what’s next for you Tina?

Other than the S Club duo with, he feels like my family, Bradley [laughs], my S Club 7 brother Bradley… we’re super busy with that. Then I’m also working on I'm also working some solo projects in the future, so I’m juggling both. Then my other hat and main role is as a mother to a very energetic four-year-old who’ll be five soon! I think my dance card is full at the minute…

You can download Tina's latest single 'Private Dance Instructor' featuring Ali Vegas on all digital platforms. Also catch Bradley and Tina at the Mighty Hoopla Festival this September!

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