Mis~Teeq - Su-Elise - Interview

13 March 2003

Mis-Teeq - Interview

Contact Music met the lovely Su-Elise of R'n'B/garage pop phenomena Mis-Teeq.

In the swanky environs of the Grosvenor House Hotel on London's Park Lane amidst the remnants of a champagne breakfast and in the eye of a media whirlwind Contact Music met the lovely Su-Elise of R'n'B/garage pop phenomena Mis-Teeq. At just 19, the youngest of the three (other members being Sabrina and Alesha)

With publicity, reaching intense levels in the weeks building up to the release of the hotly anticipated new album, 'Eye Candy', you might expect her to be flustered or stressed but far from it.
Curled up on a sofa she exudes cool, and seems so sure of her own mind that even when she claims that Shaggy is a real gent you find yourself believing her. The girls are on top.

Contact Music: Your debut album, 'Lickin' on both sides' is the biggest selling record by any female garage artist (500 thousand to date), how do you think it became so successful?

Sue-Elise: It was a balanced album it wasn't just garage. There was garage and r'n'b, it had five top ten hit singles on it, so obviously the music was popular. Not only was it underground but it was also commercial. When we first came out we were the only girl group doing garage music or anything with a garage influence and I think that helped us a lot because it was something new which people hadn't seen before.

CM: Was that crossover something you aimed for or just something, which happened?

S-E: It's something that we wanted but it did just kinda happen, we didn't try to hard to do it. We recorded a track and it was a hit in the clubs and all of a sudden we had a record deal, we were very, very lucky.

CM: How would you describe the new album, 'Eye Candy'?

S-E: I would say it's extremely diverse, we worked with a lot of the producers from the first album, like Stargate and also Ed Case to bring that garage flavor back in. And we worked with Dave Kelly who does a lot of the production for all the Shaggy stuff. It's been very successful and this album is a lot more r'n'b dominated than 'Lickin'... which was more equally balanced with the garage and the r'n'b. 'Eye Candy' is very much r'n'b but within that there are so many urban influences, the garage element, hip hop a much greater reggae aspect and an element of bangra.

Mis-Teeq - Interview @ www.contactmusic.com
Mis-Teeq - Interview @ www.contactmusic.com
Mis-Teeq - Interview @ www.contactmusic.com

CM: Why have you moved away from the whole garage thing?

S-E: We've not moved away, we still have a garage element on the album. We just do whatever we feel and at this particular moment in time were kinda feeling r'n'b more. Whatever music you're vibing to when you go into the studio is the kind of music you will create. We don't go into the studio with any preconceived ideas, we just choose some backing tracks then start writing and switch things around after that.

CM: R'n'B is where it all started for you, isn't it?

S-E: Yeah, that's the music we grew up listening to but as we moved into our teenage years we started raving to garage. We are all listening to a lot more r'n'b now than we are garage though.

CM: Lots of people are saying that garage is over, that it has seen its best days.

S-E: It's not over; it's just gone back to the underground where it started. Music does that it has a cycle; it begins on the underground, comes up, has a commercial peak, and then goes back again. Then you will find a new sound on the underground and that will come up again, it's been happening for ages, Jungle was the first, for my generation anyway.

CM: People have accused you of being garage sell outs, how would you respond to that?

S-E: I would definitely disagree because although the garage mixes may not have been the main mixes, we have always done garage mixes, we always cater for everybody. I don't actually think that people do call us sell outs and if they do then what are they listening to?

CM: Who's doing it for you these days then?

S-E: We worked with Ed Case because we think he is one of the producers who are still really cutting it, as far as beats and concepts go. He is top of his league.

CM: Is there a lot of pressure to repeat the success of 'Lickin'...?

S-E: Not for us, I think some of the record company is very nervous; they would be though wouldn't they. We try not to put to much pressure on ourselves. When we first started out we probably did, but now that we've been there we've learnt a lot and we are much more relaxed about everything.

CM: 2002 was an amazing year for Mis-Teeq as far as chart success and awards etc., what was your favorite moment?

S-E: When our album went platinum, because the awards and all that kinda stuff are nice but without the music there wouldn't be any of that. A lot of people get caught up in that kind of stuff and forget where it all started, that's where my passion is, in the music. 'Lickin'... was our baby and when it went platinum it was just great, my mum's got a disc up in the living room and everything.

CM: Getting the MOBO for 'Best Garage Act', must have been very special though?

S-E: Yeah it was great, but the only awards we are really interested in are the ones voted for by the public. There is too much politics involved in those voted for by the industry, so they don't have the same kind of value, although it is great because you get recognition for all the hard work that you are doing, for UK urban music within the industry. That aspect of it is brilliant but all the things that go behind it we can't really be bothered with.

CM: How are you coping with all the fame and fortune?

S-E: I am not coping with fortune because I don't have fortune yet. Fame? We aren't really that famous, I can still go to the supermarket, and no one is camping outside my house, no problems.

CM: You've toured with Shaggy. How is the man behind the legend?

S-E: The real Shaggy is a lovely gentleman, he was more like a family member, he would sit us down and give us advice about our careers, and he was just really lovely to us. He wasn't what you see on TV, how he is in interviews is all just an act.

CM: Are you trying to crack the States?

S-E: We will do eventually, not this year, this year everything is fully booked and blocked up. We are touring the UK and Ireland in September and October a theatres tour, tickets for which are going on sale on the 28th of this month. So that is what we will be doing when we get back from Japan and Australia. Next year, providing all goes well, we will start looking at the States. Cracking the States is a goal everyone would like to achieve, to do it would be a fantastic thing for any artist, but at the same time we still don't put too much pressure on ourselves. When the times right we will go out there and we will try our best. It's either going to work or it isn't and whatever happens happens.

CM: What do you think you can offer different from the masses of R'n'B they already have?

S-E: For a start the American's love our English accents. We will have to be different or we will get ignored, there is so much competition and the place is so huge. But hopefully for the same reason that people picked up on us over here - when we get on the stage and we perform and they see the energy and the love we have for what we are doing - we will be popular there.

CM: What are Mis-Teeq trying to bring to pop?

S-E: I think music has got really serious since we've been away, and we want to bring some fun back, that is what I think the new album does. Music can send important messages but for some people it is escapism, you want to get away from all that heavy stuff and be happy, that is what we have tried to achieve with 'Eye Candy'.


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