Exclusive interview with Stooshe: ‘People were scared to like us’
It’s a hot summer’s day, and rays of sunlight are beaming down on the few early-afternoon drinkers outside The Crown in Bow, East London. Karis, Courtney and Alex arrive attracting very little attention. A few suspicious punters begin to walk by, glancing sideways as they bite into their pre-interview oat-and-raisin-cookies.
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you will know that Stooshe are coming off a big year. They have survived the girl-band apocalypse and have seen their debut album, London With The Lights On, hit the charts faster than a speeding bullet—but with a further three chart-topping singles under their belts, Stooshe knows what happens next will ultimately define their place in music.
The group sat with Noel Phillips for a candid conversation about their journey from obscurity, their new single My Man Music, and having no “limitations”. They are good company, garrulous and relaxed.
As a group, your pop friendly lyrics seem to be part of what people really like about you. You also appear to be really self-assured and very elated. Is that intentional?
Courtney: We’re just having a really good time and people are starting to notice that. But while some people accept that, some don’t – but nevertheless we’re having fun.
It must be difficult for you now that you are idolised—you know, you’re not just Karis, Courtney and Alex anymore?
Alex: No, we’re not [laughs]. But in some ways, we are still the same girls from South London.
So, don’t people regard you differently?
Courtney: Yeah, but it depends. It’s really odd because you don’t expect to be recognised when you’re walking to the shops. For instance, if we’re all together, then we will get it a lot more. I suppose it’s all part of what we do.
Karis: We just embrace it as part of our success and it’s amazing when people know exactly what we’re about.
A lot of people were confused when you first emerged, as far as whether you should be taken seriously. Were you surprised by that reaction?
Courtney: At the beginning, people really didn’t know how to take us. We were three girls from South London that weren’t afraid to speak our minds. I think people were scared to like us. They did not know whether to take us in a good way or not but obviously over the years as we’ve unravelled – they have seen that we can actually sing and do other things. We are not the novelty act that people thought we were back in the days.
The titles of the tracks on your debut album, London With The Lights On, are pretty intriguing — Put the Kettle On, Jimmy, See Me Like This, Hoochi Mumma, Slip…
Courtney: That was very slick [laughs].
So you’re drawn to the trouble-free aspects of life?
Karis: It’s definitely not trouble-free. It’s more about growing up in London. We take ourselves seriously as artists. And in terms of the things, we sing about we like to be open and that’s why we have those song titles.
Your songs are usually heavy on narrative. To me, the video for My Man Music is a nice piece of art. It really seems to portray you guys celebrating — like the fantasy of you starting from the bottom, and now you’re at the top?
Courtney: We never thought about that – we just remembering having to walk up thousands of stairs to get to the top of the building to film the video [laughs].
Karis: I really like the concept of us starting from the bottom and ending up on the top of a building in Hackney.
Do you always develop language that corresponds to the music you make? Who’s the best storyteller among you?
Karis: Well, Courtney makes a lot of noise, and Alex is the best at stories. She can talk forever in the studio.
Courtney: When we’re in the studio we have to mean what we’re saying or singing, but somehow Alex always switches on a button and makes everything sound genuine.
Alex: [We all give Alex an impromptu round of applause. She giggles.] I think we can say that, all in all, we tend to vibe off each other, especially when we know what we’re doing.
I’ve listened to your album, many times now, and it could be described as “vintage Stooshe,” which in itself means you’ve established your own indicative style. Was that a deliberate thing?
Courtney: We had quite a lot of those songs from our album before we were even signed. They developed and obviously as we grew older, we learnt new things and went through different experiences. When that happened, we began writing about other stuff – which then changed the meaning of those songs. We always have some sort of banter in our music, but it’s not something that is intentional. It just happens naturally.
Alex: It’s really not about us wanting to be funny. It’s about having no rules or limitations in the studio.
Some people seem to join bands for two reasons: one because they want a slice of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, or two: because they can’t do it alone. What brought you together?
Karis: I think as a group we are more than close. You cannot have a successful career if you don’t get on with your band mates. It’s either you’re really close or you’re not.
You made some big jumps that take many artists a while to make in the early phases of their career. Do you wish you had taken-off more slowly?
Karis: In the words of our philosopher Dappy, we have no regrets [laughs]. If you’re at a point in your career and you’re happy, you cannot have regrets about your past. If we didn’t come out the way that we did, then we might not have got signed, or have gained the respect that we have now. I think people respect that we’ve done a bit of everything, and we’ve shown that we are real artists.
Your skin seems to be turning into a diary. How many tattoos do you have between you?
Karis: Collectively, we have just under fifty.
Courtney: Yes – but each and every one means something.
The three of you have really good chemistry on all of your songs. Do you all push each other?
Courtney: When we first started, I used to get embarrassed really easily. I’d start something and then I’d feel like I couldn’t finish it – so the girls would have to encourage me. It’s not like that anymore, but that just shows how much we look out for each other.
Where do you see Stooshe in 10 years time?
Karis: Hopefully, by then we will have a sold out world tour under our belts.
Alex: Just to continue to be recognised. We love performing, and we love everything what this life throws at us so if that can continue – then we can’t complain.
Stooshe’s new single, My Man Music is out now.Tagged in: My Man Music, StooShe
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