For almost 30 years, En Vogue have been at the forefront of R&B excellence.
Indeed, sewn into the group’s fierce fabric is the reality that every member possesses the potency to be lead. In many ways, it’s the reason the ensemble has long been hailed as a “super group.”
The dual definition of divadom and endurance, the vocal ensemble are now a trio comprised of originals Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron-Braggs as well powerhouse Rhona Bennett – who has been a member for over a decade.
Today marks the global release of En Vogue’s long-awaited seventh album ‘Electric Café’ – which features contributions from the likes of Ne-Yo and Snoop Dogg.
As the ladies geared up to set sail on their supporting international tour, That Grape Juice caught up with member Terry to discuss the trek, the new music, biopics, reality shows, Fifth Harmony‘s split, and much more.
That Grape Juice (Sam): We love your new single ‘Rocket.’ How did you guys link up with its writer Ne-Yo?
En Vogue (Terry): Thank you! Our producers, Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy, they heard the tracks. They also work with one of Ne-Yo’s producers, Curtis Wilson, who actually produced that track. While sourcing music for our record, they heard that particular track and thought it would be great for us and he called us and said “Hey, I found this great track for you guys. You’ve got to record it.” And we heard it and we were like “Oh my gosh! Let’s get in there! And this was written by Ne-Yo, are you kidding? Of course!”
That Grape Juice: That’s awesome.
Terry: Yep! So, that’s how that happened.
That Grape Juice: Why did you guys feel it would be the best “first single” from the album?
Terry: Well, it was so different yet it was still giving you those En Vogue signature harmonies. And simply because it was a great song. A really a great song and you know, we’ve never really released a ballad before as a first single. So, we just thought it would be different, it’s a great song, people are getting the signature En Vogue harmonies and we hope that they’ll love it.
That Grape Juice: Let’s talk ‘Electric Café’ – the album. What can fans expect from the LP?
Terry: This time – it’s a slightly different flavour, even though our original producer spearheaded the record. You’re getting an eclectic blend of expanded music, so to speak. Initially, we thought we were going to do an electronic dance music record, EDM. But as we started recording and going through the recording process, the music just started to creatively take a life of its own. So, you’re going to get I think an eclectic blend of music a little bit of Bossa (Nova) you got from ‘Déjà Vu’, there’s a little bit of funk on there, I think we tap into a few different genres of music. So, there’s, although we didn’t go EDM, there’s still a little bit of that there.
That Grape Juice: That sounds cool. And then in terms of the next single, has there any thought that has been put into that yet?
Terry: We’re trying to decide now! We’re trying our best to figure that one out. We’re like “Oh my God, we love this one, what about this one?” “No, you got to do this one.” “Well, how can we pass this one up?” “No, we got to do this one.” So, we’re going through that right now. But, we’ve got some goodies on there. There is a song that we’re thinking about called ‘Reach 4 Me,’ which is- the groove, it’s insatiable. It’s just undeniable. So, we’re thinking, I don’t know, do we want to come with a dance track after ‘Rocket’? It seems fitting, but we don’t know. So, because we have another song called ‘Blue Skies’ that we love and people are really gravitating to it and so, we don’t know.
That Grape Juice: So, there’s like a lot to choose from. It’s a good problem to have and it does make us really excited to hear the album holistically.
You implied recently that, unlike some other girl groups like the Xscape’s and SWV’s, that you weren’t particularly open to the idea of a reality show. What about that route is unappealing for En Vogue?
Terry: Well, let me say it this way. We’ve been approached many, many times, so it’s not that we’re not open to it, it’s just that we want to be open to the right situation, one that we feel is fitting for us. We would like- if we do a show, a reality show, we would like for our show to be uplifting, motivating, encouraging and inspiring. So, once that particular situation comes along or expectation comes along, then we’ll be open to it. We just want the right partnership you know, someone who’s going to allow us to dictate and create our own narrative.
That Grape Juice: For sure.
Terry: Because that’s how we’d like to be represented and that’s the message that we want to put out there for all women, but especially African American women because you know, we are black women. And it’s important for us to represent in a way that we are uplifting and inspiring other women.
That Grape Juice: With the deals that were put to you before, was that a primary issue?
Terry: Right. Yes, people were looking for drama and you know, mess and that’s just not who we are, that’s not what En Vogue is, that’s not what we stand for, it’s not what we represent. Nor what we’re about.
That Grape Juice: Shifting gears a little bit, biopics are a super hot topic as well. Is that something En Vogue would ever consider? Because we know En Vogue has a very illustrious history – musically and with your narrative.
Terry: Absolutely. We’re open to that. Again, in the right situation, because we’re been approached for biopics as well but, we just- the story has to be reflective of our music which has always been message oriented and representing women and African American women especially. The story has to be something that is positive, true, but positive and uplifting and inspiring.
That Grape Juice: Cool. We’d love to see that, we really, really would. So, fingers crossed.
Terry: Thank you.
That Grape Juice: Who are some of your dream musical collaborations?
Terry: First thing’s first, having a song written by Ne-Yo is just incredible and then Snoop Dogg also worked on this project. He threw some verses on one of our songs called ‘Have A Seat’, so that was really super freaking awesome.
But shucks, let’s see. We would love to work with Anderson.Paak I would say.
That Grape Juice: That would be very interesting.
Terry: Wouldn’t that be cool?
Let me see who else (who else)…maybe Cee-Lo Green. El DeBarge, I got to tell you right now, before, when we’re getting ready for our shows, we cannot stop listening El DeBarge album called ‘Second Chance.’
He’s an incredible songwriter, we would love to work with him. And an incredible artist as well. I mean the way his singing, his flow is just, it’s just giving you all of the nineties and all of the eighties, I mean he’s giving it all to you.
That Grape Juice: Now that sounds like a really eclectic mix of acts. So putting that out into the air and hoping they come to fruition.
Terry: Love it!
That Grape Juice: Drawing on recent headlines, the music industry just lost Fifth Harmony who have gone on a “hiatus.”
As a girl group that has endured for so long, what advice would you give to girl groups or hopeful girl groups about lasting the distance in the music industry?
Terry: I would say first and foremost, continue to hone your craft and then I would say it’s so important to learn the business of the music business because it’s all business. Thirdly, if you’re in a girl group I would say understand that although you’re in a group, that you are still individuals and learn how to respect your individuality and accept it and honor that because at some point in time you’re going to continue to grow together and you’re going to grow, everyone is going to have different goals and aspirations and it’s important to understand that from the beginning so that you can accept it, allow it and respect it.
That Grape Juice: That’s some great, great advice!
Rounding up now, we recently learned that the iconic red gowns from ‘Giving Him Something That He Can Feel’ were on loan to the Smithsonian.
Congratulations on that, and how does it feel to be the only girl group featured so far?
Terry: It’s incredibly humbling and just- we are so grateful, words almost don’t even express how I really feel because it’s so surreal to us. It makes us feel like we did something right and it’s humbling in that people feel like we were a credit to our race, our culture and which is all the more reason why it’s so important for us to be of substance you know, because someone is looking, someone is watching. Little girls especially little black girls are looking at us and whether we like it or not, we are someone’s role model. It’s important that we continue to be respectable and because we are touching someone through our music. So, we’re very grateful for that.
That Grape Juice: Absolutely and with thirty years in the music business as En Vogue, what keeps you guys going?
Terry: I think it’s simply our love for what we do. Our passion for it, our respect for it and the opportunity to continue to do it. I think our fans understand that we are grateful that they have continued to support us for 27 years. I think they really get that and I think that’s why they encourage us to continue to do it and just realize that we work really hard and it’s our love for what we do and our love for being in the studio to create music that we hope that they will love. You know, I think it’s an even exchange of energy that’s keeping the drive going.
That Grape Juice: What can folks expect from your upcoming tour?
Terry: They can expect new music. We’re going to be doing a lot of our new music in the show. We have an amazing new opening for our show that we think they’re going to really enjoy. New costumes and surprises. So, we’re really excited about it and let’s see what else. Overall, lots of great energy and dancing.
‘Electric Café’ is out now
En Vogue’s tour commenced this week and tickets are available now at Live Nation.