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Sugababes: "You Can Lose Your Identity Within This Industry"

Sugababes: "You Can Lose Your Identity Within This Industry"

Image Source: shotbymelissa

British girl-group the Sugababes — with original lineup Keisha Buchanan, Mutya Buena and Siobhán Donaghy — crashed onto the music scene in 2000. Their cool, upbeat, pop anthems like "Push the Button" and "About You Now" dominated the charts in the early noughties. Since then, the women have been through many ups and downs — including a temporary name change a decade ago. But after a long legal battle in 2019, and five years back as the Sugababes, it really feels like the group are thriving as the original three — and they aren't letting anyone get in their way.

PS UK caught up with the iconic British girl band to talk reclaiming their name, TikTok, crafting a new sound, and their collaboration with Absolut Vodka.

You Finally Got Your Original Name "Sugababes" Back in 2019. Why Was It So Important For You?

Siobhán: I think the market is so oversaturated and if you look at all the different social media platforms, there's so much noise. It just made it so confusing to still be in the Sugababes but not be able to use the name. It felt weird and everyone called us the Sugababes anyway.

Keisha: We've had the name since we were like 12 years old, so we felt like it was our identity. It was really important that we stuck it out and made sure we fought for what was rightfully ours.

We Have to Talk About the Changes in the Music Industry Since You Debuted. Now Anyone Can Go Viral in a Few Minutes on TikTok - Do you Think This Is a Positive or Negative Thing?

Siobhán: You love a bit of TikTok don't you Mutya!

Mutya: I go on TikTok as soon as I wake up in the morning, it's so bad! But in all seriousness, I think the app is a great way to connect to the young crowd and show our personalities which is great!

Keisha:In our early days, you couldn't get any records out without a label and infrastructure. So, we utilise social media and use social media to push ourselves and also get to know about other bands and other artists that are out there. A lot of songs that we love right now are not even on radio yet — social media has a massive impact. However, I'm happy that we avoided this generation that grew up with social media because the things that we got up to when we were younger — I won't reveal them. But I think about some of the big things that have happened in the history of Sugababes, I'm like, "Oh my gosh, can you imagine if we were on socials back then?"

Do You Ever Wonder What It Could Have Been Like If You Did Have That Quick Global Exposure at the Very Start?

Mutya: No, I'm happy how we put the graft in! I was having the same conversation with someone this morning, it's just completely different now — even down to how you recorded songs back then. You had to take time to go back into HMV and have people go in there and listen to your music before even buying it. It was actual dedicated fans that went out and bought your stuff.

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Siobhán: From a singing perspective, if you recorded a song and you were a bit flat or it wasn't quite what you wanted, there was no, "Oh, I'll fix that later." You would just have to do it again and again until it was right and that becomes muscle memory. You learn your craft. So, I agree with Mutya we've definitely had the best of both worlds.

It's No Secret That Girlbands Get a Harder Time Than Boy Bands, Why Do You Think This Is?

Siobhán: There's still a lot of sexism - whether you want to talk about in the music industry or globally, it's there. I think there is something about being in a collective of girls that riles people up and makes it worse. We've definitely had to stand up for ourselves and band together. But we're lucky that we just have just such a wealth of experience, we just don't take any nonsense now.

What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self About the Music Industry?

Keisha: Not to lose yourself because I think you can really get overwhelmed with everything going on and take things really seriously. I think nowadays, we're having a lot more fun and having our own personal lives and ensuring we get a balance. You can lose your identity within this industry.

Siobhán: I was such a serious teenager in general. Then we got back together and started choreography two and a half years ago, I was recommending that we throw in a couple of slut drops in there. So, I've had a personality transplant! I guess I'd tell my younger self just to try and take more of the joy out of it because it is such an incredible experience and honour to be able to do this as a job.

Siobhán and Mutya, You Both Have Kids — Do They Think Their Mums Are Cool?

Mutya: My daughter is 19 now so she pretty much knows everything we do, including our routines. So, she still thinks it's cool. When we're on stage, I can see her on the side and most of the shows, she's doing the dance routines along with us. She loves what we do!

Siobhán: Mine are a little younger, they are three and six years old but they love it. They'll be back on the tour bus this summer and I'm hoping I've got a few years before I start to be an embarrassing mom.

If Your Children Wanted to Get Into Show Business, Would You Be Open to It?

Mutya:I don't know. I want her to live her life and if it was something she wanted to do maybe in the future, then I would never stop her. But I'd have to see everything that comes our way - I'd have to like be the one that says yes to or no to things.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 02: (L to R) Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan and Siobhán Donaghy attend the launch of Absolut Hunni at the Absolut Vodka Hunni-Hive event featuring a performance from The Sugababes at The Standard, London on May 2, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Hoda Davaine/Dave Benett)
Image Source: shotbymelissa

Siobhán, Your Children Are Young, What Is the Juggle Like as a Mum With a Successful Career in the Spotlight?

Siobhán: Well, the juggle is real and it goes in waves. Sometimes it's working amazingly well. I rely on my parents a lot with childcare, which I know is super lucky. I moved to be closer to them two years ago to make that possible. You want the best for your kids and you want to be there for them every minute of the day. But actually, I think it's really positive that they get to see me out working. I actually felt like I wasn't so much taken for granted when I went out to work. Do you know what I mean? They appreciate me a little bit better. I have my moments of mum guilt and all you can do is what everyone else does. You just do your best and you hope that it's alright,

You've Collaborated With Absolut Vodka to Launch a New Honey Flavoured Vodka – Absolut Hunni - Why Did You Decide This Was a Good Move?

Siobhán: First of all, I love how they've spelt "Hunni" - I just thought that was quite fun. I feel like it reflects with our audience coming to see us and having a good time.

Keisha:Yeah, we were really excited as well when they contacted us to do this. We spent most of our summers doing festivals and our band started mixing this amazing cocktail for us before we went on stage. So, when the opportunity came we were like "Oh my God, we've been doing this anyway." Obviously, the honey flavour is unique and it's super exciting."

Are There Any Other British Girl Groups on Your Radar?

Siobhán: We love FLO! They look amazing, have a strong bond together and their harmonies are tight. We've met them and hung out with them and they're absolutely lovely. So, nothing but love there.

What Is the Secret Sauce to Being in a Successful Girl Group?

Keisha: It's about accepting that everyone's different but still shines. I think it would be so bland if we were all the same. We all bring different things to the group and it's about supporting each other, knowing our strengths individually and just being very confident in what you bring.

What's Next For The Sugababes?

Keisha: We have loads more performances and festivals coming up, which we're excited about. We're also trying to get some music together — hopefully we'll have something out there soon for you guys.

Siobhán: Once we finished the summer festival season last year, we went straight back into the studio because it's just been impossible to find time. However, we've definitely found our sound for the new record. I can reveal that the album is in its finishing touches stage now.

Absolut teams up with the iconic Sugababes to launch new honey flavoured vodka, Absolut Hunni, and kick start the Bank Hunni Day weekend. Available to buy at all selected retails.

Aaliyah Harry (she/her) is the associate editor at POPSUGAR UK. She writes extensively across lifestyle, culture and beauty. Aaliyah also has a deep passion for telling stories and giving voice to the voiceless. Previously, she has contributed to Refinery29, Grazia UK and The Voice Newspaper.

Image Source: shotbymelissa
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