an a-z guide to prettymuch, the boy band of your teen dreams
This generation has been crying out for an all-singing, all-dancing boy band and PRETTYMUCH is here to answer our prayers.
This article originally appeared in The Sounding Off Issue, no. 350, Winter 2017.
If One Direction’s hearty ballads weren’t your thing, then PRETTYMUCH, with its throwback feet-twitching pop, impressive dance routines, and 90s nostalgia might be exactly what you’re looking for. Like all the best arranged pop marriages, Austin, Brandon, Edwin, Nick, and Zion were thrown together in a house in LA, and they’ve been making magic ever since. i-D gets up close and personal with the five-piece teen dream via this concise A-Z.
A is for Austin Porter He was a skater boy, he said see you later North Carolina! Austin started dancing and playing the drums at 10, before switching to songwriting in his mid-teens. Now 20, he might be the oldest member of the group, but that doesn’t mean he’s the most serious. From behind his mane of floppy blonde hair, Austin says he loves, “Watching anime, doodling all over my photographs, and playing Dungeons & Dragons.” We’re grateful that his childhood dreams of being in the army were never realized, because fighting isn’t cool and his Cheshire Cat smile was destined for pop stardom. @theaustinporter
B is for Brandon Arreaga Back home in Dallas, Texas, Brandon performed with the TruCrew dancers, produced music in the home studio he built at age 12, and got pretty close to perfecting his photography and filmmaking skills. Brandon’s now 17 and making the most of the lavish studios at his fingertips. “I’m huge fan of Boyz II Men,” he says. As he and his bandmates make the same transition, he hopes to channel their predecessors as they bring the classic boyband appeal up to speed with 2017. @brandon_arreaga
C is for crush Because you’ve probably already got one on at least two members of PRETTYMUCH, right?
D is for dance moves They’ve got them. In fact, one of the boys was even on America’s Best Dance Crew.
E is for Edwin Honoret Don’t be fooled by the rocks that he’s got, Edwin from the Bronx is super chill. Obsessed with shoes and jewelry, he was discovered through his YouTube covers of Drake tunes and soon found that "Nothing Was The Same." “As a kid, I wanted to be a scientist,” Edwin reveals. Luckily, the sportiest member of PRETTYMUCH dropped his childhood science ambitions to conduct long distance experiments on fans’ hearts instead. @edwinhonoret
F is for fandom PRETTYMUCH already has a dedicated global fan base that goes by the name BEANZ, because: Brandon, Edwin, Austin, Nick and Zion… duh. Their fans came up with it back when they first started sharing covers on SoundCloud, and the boys now have a much-Instagrammed neon sign bearing the name in their house. “Fans throw parties and sometimes we crash them,” Edwin grins. “We like to show up, have some food, sing a little something, and leave.”
G is for good advice Considering they’re still so young, they’re pretty wise. “Those who mind, don’t matter, and those who matter, don’t mind,” Zion told i-D. “If you want to start a band, just do it!” Edwin adds.
H is for harmonies PRETTYMUCH’s specialist subject is harmonies. “Our all time favorite song to harmonize to is 'If I Ever Fall in Love' by 90s R&B band Shai.”
I is for "issa bop" Which is how Edwin has described the group's next single, a collaboration with French Montana. Word is, it’ll be packed full of their individual personalities, and the ideal soundtrack for driving fast with the windows down.
J is for jokers They love a joke. They’re in agreement that Austin and Nick having a fight at In-N-Out burger while dressed head-to-toe in animal costumes was probably the most ridiculous thing they’ve ever done. “I was a bear, he was a fox, and the others were filming on GoPros,” Austin says. “Nick grabbed a wet floor cone and threw it at me, and then we started pretend fighting on the ground.” They got chased by a security guard and, realizing they had no pockets and thus no phones to call the others (who had already run off) for a lift, had to walk all the way home.
K is for K.O. Back in second grade, Austin tried to impress a girl he liked by backflipping off a set of monkey bars. “I fell off and fractured my wrist.”
L is for LA PRETTYMUCH has been living there under one roof for a year and a half now. “We’re one big happy family. It’s like a sleepover every night!” Zion tells us. Nick likes to clean, which makes up for Zion’s lack of housekeeping skills. Edwin reckons he knows the others so well, “to the point that, when someone farts, I know who it was.” Impressive and disgusting.
M is for matching tattoos They all have "March 18th 2016" tattooed in Roman numerals. “It’s the date we moved in together!” Brandon smiles, exposing what is a totally adorable and very permanent declaration of bandmate love.
N is for Nick Mara Fans of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew might recognize Nick from season six. “Yes, I was in iCONic Boyz,” he tells us, reluctantly. Now age 19, the New Jersey kid’s go-to move is the boogaloo and though he can be shy, he is driven by his artistic nature. Talking of which, he’s recently started giving everyone stick and poke tattoos, so corner him at a party and who knows what you’ll end up with. @therealnickmara
O is for One Direction As in, don’t compare them. Sure, they’re managed by the same pop music overlord, but they’re a different thing. “Harry’s hair though! I watched their movie like five times, I’m a Directioner,” Zion confesses. “Yeah, we’re fans,” adds Brandon, “but that’s not who we are. We wanted to surprise people by bringing back an era of music that’s easy to dance to and all about fun!”
P is for psycho Or Syco; Simon Cowell’s record label, to which they are signed.
Q is for quality over quantity At the time of publishing, the boys only had one tune out, their debut single "Would You Mind." But it’s a total banger, and the promise of more like it, coupled with their total confidence and impressive precociousness has done it for us.
R is for R&B The quintet is inspired by iconic boy bands past, such as Boyz II Men, N*Sync and Backstreet Boys. So think matching outfits, slick dance moves, wonderful hair, and screaming hordes of teen fans.
S is for Simon Cowell Who handpicked them, arranged playdates for them, and once he saw they played nicely together, signed them to his record label and bought them a fancy home to live in. “Simon is a boss,” Nick says, before Brandon confirms that, “He’s the nicest guy! He just tells us to have fun. He says, ‘If you’re not smiling, it’s not worth it.’”
T is for Teen Choice Awards 2017 It was the moment they had been waiting for: their first ever live performance. Teen girls screamed, waved life-size pictures of their faces around, and appeared to know every word to their just-released debut single. No big deal.
U is for their unconscious minds Dreams, basically. “When I was little, every single night E.T. used to chase me round my backyard until I tripped over,” Zion remembers. Edwin, however, recently spent a whole night being chased by a tiger.
V is for very big ambitions “The dream is to put smiles on everybody’s faces and have a big party with everyone. We wanna see everybody dancing. I’m talking, like, Superbowl level,” Brandon says. “We want world equality!” Zion adds.
W is for "Would You Mind" Their debut single came out on July 21, and it rules. It reached the top ten on Spotify’s viral chart and the band was profiled as "artist of the week" on Apple Music. To shoot the accompanying music video, they took over a whole street in the Malibu hills, for something Beastie Boys-esque.
X is for straight edge The boys are all under 21, so no drinking for them. Nick remembers that the first thing Zion told him was that in ninth grade he had a house party when his parents were out of town and the cops came and shut it down. Nowadays, there are no parties at PRETTYMUCH HQ; the boys are too busy working, staying focused and crashing fan parties of course.
Y didn’t you discover them sooner? DW, they’re here now. “We’re pretty much sure that we were meant to be,” Edwin says.
Z is for Zion Kuwonu Charismatic Canadian Zion first got into music when two of his high school rapper friends were looking for a singer to feature on a track. All the girls at school liked the song, so he didn’t take a lot of convincing. But it wasn’t until later that he took his talent seriously. “I had no idea what I wanted to do in life until I watched Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never film and I said, ‘I wanna do that.’ It would be dope if I could be Justin Bieber.” So, when a Vine of him covering Chance The Rapper’s "Cocoa Butter Kisses" went viral, he followed his destiny. @zionkuwonu
Photography Harry Carr
Styling Gary Armstrong
Hair Louis Ghewy at Management + Artists using Bumble and bumble. Make-up Natsumi Narita using M.A.C. Photography assistance Alessandro Tranchini. Styling assistance Penny Chen. Hair assistance Luke Castillo. Make-up assistance Ayako Nakamura.