Wednesday 14 November 2018

Sugababes: Sweet as pie

When you arrive to interview the Sugababes and one of them is nowhere to be seen, your first thought is that she may have followed two previous fixtures of the line-up and quit.

Thankfully, as Heidi Range and 'new girl' Amelle Berrabah prepare to answer questions, it's clear why original Sugababe Keisha Buchanan isn't present.

"She's just running a bit late," says Heidi. "She'll be here soon, but let's crack on."

The girls are on the verge of releasing their fifth album, the first with Amelle, despite the fact she joined the band around two years ago. "I wasn't nervous about doing it, I just couldn't wait to get stuck in," says Amelle, enthusiastically.

"We're really happy with the stuff that we have on the album, and it means that bit more to me because I've been there from the start this time, and we've done it together."

Only a week into their promo schedule and one newspaper has rehashed an old story that the girls in the band aren't being nice to the newest member.

Siobhan Donaghy left the band in 2001, amid reports that Keisha and fellow member, at the time, Mutya Buena were freezing her out. She was duly replaced by Heidi, and the news was once again rife with stories they were bullying the third 'babe.

However, they denied there were any rifts, and rode the storm. "I didn't get it at the time, but now I see why people might have thought there was a divide in the group," says Keisha, while explaining why she was late. ("I overslept, then I drove over in mad traffic").

Even if there was, it didn't involve Heidi, as Mutya was the next to leave. Amelle was duly unveiled as the new addition, which gave the tabloids the perfect excuse to write a story that Amelle was now on the verge of quitting the group thanks to the other two being so cruel to her.

"It's just a bit boring," says Heidi. "It's horrible to start promo for a new album and that be all we're talking about."

For the record, the girls do seem happy, and while it might be easy to fake being nice to one another for a few hours at a time, they have a closeness that can't be put on.

The forthcoming album Change is, as the girls say, their most international-sounding to date. This is due to the record largely being produced by Dallas Austin in his Atlanta studio. He's a producer who has crafted hits for the likes of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Pink, TLC and Gwen Stefani.

Of the new songs on Change, the girls all agree that Back Down is their favourite. It's a reggae track with each of the girls describing what they look for in a man.

"Lyrically, I really like the song Undignified, which was something I was going through a little while back. It's about being in love with someone who is blatantly no good for you, but you're willing to put that aside as long as you get them," confesses Keisha.

Current single About You Now has been described as a pop masterpiece by various music publications, but for the girls, the video accompanying the song stands out.

Filmed on London's South Bank by Ken Livingstone's mayoral office, the trio were under the impression it would be a closed set, like the rest of their shoots.

"It was so embarrassing," says Heidi with her head in her hands. "Not for one second did I think it was going to be actually on the South Bank. I was shaking. You have to stand there looking into a camera, trying to look sexy, which is embarrassing anyway, even if it's only in front of the crew.

"But we had to do it in front of people commuting to and from work. It was awful!"

Sugababes' album Change is out now

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