This week, I met one half of the biggest pop bands in the world. Two of the most talked about individuals in 2015 pop culture and as I entered the room to grill them some more, they stood up and gave me a welcoming hug. That set the precedent for the interview. Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan sat relaxed yet engaged with my questions, which no doubt had been posed a 1000 times before. The preparation for this experience had started long before that moment though.
In the weeks leading up to, I had pitched for questions from the online fandom aka 'directioners'. The response was slow at first and I was worried that people might miss the opportunity. However once it had fallen in front of the eyes of some of the most well connected One Direction fan accounts, the force was unstoppable. 20+ notifications every 10 seconds for three or four days. It was exhausting trying to make sure I copied and pasted all of them into a document but I fully intended to read every single one of them. I wanted to do right by the thousands of teenagers who's wishes are ignored frequently, despite the fact they are almost entirely responsible for the band's success. Turns out, a lot of the fans would rather not have the boys pinned down on their relationship status or other personal facts because they have respect for their privacy. I wanted to provide an interview that would find the fans as close to the band as possible and despite a lot of them respecting certain boundaries, I still had to act as a moderator. I needed to make sure I didn't entirely alienate those who were not a part of the fandom. I spent the weekend feeling sick. Reading and re reading thousands of questions, trying to decide what was unique and what would be crossing the line. What people would find interesting and what would provoke a negative reaction online.
It took 3 hours to drive to the arena where the guys were playing on Monday night. The driver was my boss and unsurprisingly, we spent our time listening to and critiquing various radio stations (only broken up by singing to One Direction songs and the revelation that I once auditioned to be in Harry Potter). When we arrived we had a lot of time on our hands so we sat in mostly silence, chewing over a few lettuce leaves and chips in our discount Wetherspoons meal. Show business is a fickle beast.
We arrived at the arena, again early, driving past 40 or so teenage girls and I started to feel excitement for the first time. Nervousness and excitement are practically the same emotion in my eyes so it was either that the end was in sight or because I had been reminded that this was an incredibly precious experience. Once inside, I started to broadcast with periscope what I could see, black curtains, leather sofas, complementary bottles of water, creeping into places that I knew I probably shouldn't be. Time started ticking, other interviewers arrived, cameras, lights, microphones everywhere. I was struggling not to pace like a wild animal cadged but it wasn't just me doing it so I continued. With 10 minutes to go, I snuck off to the toilet and did a final broadcast, asking for last minute tips from the people that knew these boys the best. The encouragement from the fans was overwhelming and really settled me down.
The guys then came in, sat down behind the black curtain and had their first interview. We could hear everything.
Then it was my turn. I was shaking with nerves, unsure how to introduce myself as they were mid conversation with a member of management. The room was incredibly hot and I was grateful that I was wearing something dark when they stood up to great me (sweat patches were the curse of my teenage years). I put out my hand to shake but Louis leant in for a hug. Anyone who gets a sweaty back knows the anxiety that fluttered through my mind but the only thing that I could reassure myself with was that it probably wasn't the sweatiest back they've ever hugged and that I had immediately gained some cool points by hugging Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan.
We sat down and I told them I was nervous. They reassured me not to worry and we began.
10 minutes goes so quickly when you literally have 1000s of questions to ask. Some I really wanted to ask didn't make the cut. I had several people performing the international sign for 'wrap it up' in the corner of my eye (which is hella unsettling) before I asked the boys a question they'd never been asked before. I wanted to ask it because when my friend had asked me the same question, it had instantly made me laugh. That was my favourite moment. The question wasn't groundbreaking. It won't make headlines but it might make someone laugh. After all the fame, the hype, the pressure, there is nothing better than making someone laugh.