The original line-up of the Sugababes, now christened Mutya Keisha Siobhan, sent the net aflutter last month with official confirmation of their reformation.
Now, the ladies look set to do the same with their first interview as a unit in over a decade.
Our friends over at Pop Justice earned the honour of asking the questions everyone really wants answers to. So without further adieu…
This is quite funny isn’t it.
Why do you find it funny?
Mutya: We’re here! Doing an interview with you!
Who would have thought, eh?
Keisha: Not us!
Mutya: Well, it was definitely meant to happen. It was just a matter of timing – when we were all ready.
Keisha: Well I would never have thought we’d be doing this again.
Mutya: Oh, okay… (Giggles)
Keisha: I always wanted to though. I remember listening to the ‘One Touch’ album and thinking, “what if…?”. I suppose there was a ‘to be continued’ type of vibe.
Did you listen to it after you left the Sugababes?
Keisha: Um, I was trying to just be normal for a minute, and get my head into other genres of music after I was in the Sugababes.
One of the questions new girlbands – which you sort of are – get asked, is: ‘how did you get together?’. So, how did you get together?
Siobhan: We met when we were twelve and thirteen. They went to primary school together. Mutya and I were both signed to our manager Ron Tom as solo artists but we wanted to work together. Keisha came down to the studio that night and it just seemed very natural that the three of us would sing together. We did, it worked out well on that track, and the band was formed.
So you released some records. People went, ‘these are good’.
It wasn’t a massive success, though.
Siobhan: It was critically acclaimed! It went gold!
Which these days is actually pretty impressive, but in those days people weren’t happy. So then what happened?
Keisha: And then Siobhan left the group, and me and Mutya went on to change labels so we went from London Records to Island. Heidi joined. And, yes. We put out ‘Freak Like Me’.
Siobhan, how did you feel when they put out ‘Freak Like Me’ and everyone was going, ‘this band is brilliant’?
Siobhan: I loved it! People have to remember that we were in the band for five years before I left – it wasn’t exactly a flash in the pan. It was a lot of hard work. We were homeschooled. We built something that I was very proud of and it was actually genuinely very nice to see it continue.
Did you really leave by climbing through a toilet window while Keisha and Mutya were doing an interview?
Siobhan: (Laughs) I didn’t leave through a toilet window!
It seemed quite sudden, from the outside…
Siobhan: It might have seemed sudden from the outside but I’d been unhappy for a while. It was an unusual childhood that we had. I just wanted some normality back in my life. I’d reached a point where I felt I had to go off and do that. I didn’t regret it, I never have: I had great time in the band but I had to go off and do my own thing. But I’m also incredibly happy that we get to make this second album together now. This is the right time.
The thing is, if you’d stayed together, you would have split up by now. So you never would have made this album you’re making now.
Siobhan: Also, the album we’re making now is quite positive. And we wouldn’t have made an an album like that back then. This actually feels like the perfect record that would have come after the first.
Let’s talk about this perfect record you’re making. You’ve been in the studio since…
And the music’s coming out next year?
Siobhan: There will be something to hear this year. The album will be next year.
What are your three favourite songs from the sessions so far?
Keisha: There’s a song called ‘Drum’ which we all love – it was one of the first songs we did. Actually, before we got signed to our label we’d finished half the album already. It was all about just going in and vibing off each other.
Siobhan: In the beginning we were left to our own devices to figure out exactly whatwe wanted to do. And the nice thing about ‘Drum’ is that we were working with a guy called MNEK who’s 17, and he’s incredible. It’s really exciting to work with someone like that who’s really fresh. ‘Drum’ is kind of Afrobeat.
How does it go?
Keisha: It’s just of repetitive – “I love it when you beat that drum…”. It’s really inspired by Rihanna, one of the tracks on her album.
How about another song?
Keisha: Another one we all love is called ‘Love Me Hard’ – we did that with Biff and wrote it with Iain James. It was lots of fun – we knew Iain from before, from when he was in Triple 8. Another song we’ve done is called ‘Back In The Day’, and that was produced by Mojam, who were in Blazin’ Squad.
Mutya: They’re amazing.
So the early-2000s pop gang is back together!
Keisha: Basically, yes! ‘Back In The Day’ has a strong TLC vibe, we’ve been referencing them a lot.
Siobhan: There’s a lot of early-90s R&B in there – it’s what inspired us to get into music in the first place.
So to start off with, before you had a label involved or a label A&R getting tracks in for you, what sort of message were you sending out to writers and producers? What did you say you wanted your music to sound like?
Siobhan: None. There was no message. It was all about coming in on the day and being completely open-minded about where we could go with it.
Keisha: So they’d play us loads of [backing] tracks and we’d go ‘yes, we like that one’, ‘no, we’re not into that one’. Then we’d get a mic and we’d just put most of the melodies down. Most of the album was recorded like that – I can’t remember being in a booth once for this album.
Siobhan: Which is what we did with the ‘One Touch’ record. It gives it a sightly raw element, so there’s not a completely polished finish.
Is it quite hard to spend so much time on something you don’t want to sound too polished?
Siobhan: No, it’s nice to keep in the glitches – it gives it character and you’ve just got to be confident enough to live with it and go, “that’s the one – we don’t need to perfect it”. We haven’t revocalled anything during these sessions, they’re the original demo vocals.
What’s the vibe of the album going to be? Upbeat, downbeat, mid-tempo…?
Mutya: It’s a bit of a mixture.
Sioban: We started off with a lot of mid-tempo. It seemed like a natural place for us to sit because we love emotive melodies and lyrics and that works with mid-tempo, but we’ve been concentrating a lot more on uptempo tracks towards the end of the album sessions. It will be a 50/50 mix in the end. ‘Drum’, for example, is one of the first uptempos we did and it’s still one of our favourite tracks.
From their honesty, to PJ’s gloriously OTT questions, this made for quite the epic read. Needless to say, we can’t wait to hear the new material!