Originally published for The 405.
The music industry can be tough on girl bands. There’s the constant scrutiny over their appearance, criticism over their creative input and their general struggle to succeed. It really is hard out here for a bitch.
Currently creating a buzz in the industry, however, are M.O, a trio of 90s R&B/garage revivalists keen to prove that they’re not your average girl band. “You won’t see us on stage in a pair of heels,” said Annie. The group are often photographed in their signature baggy jeans, crop tops and their “matching Timbs”, as Nadine says, and when discussing their love of ’90s fashion and music during our chat, the girls broke into an a capella version of Mya’s ‘Ghetto Superstar’, which I can assure you was something special. M.O set themselves apart from a lot of modern-day girl bands by writing their own songs, having incredible voices and seeming to genuinely get on – surely a recipe for success.
Members Annie, Frankee and Nadine met when they were in their previous groups: Annie and Nadine were part of a four-piece and Frankee was one half of Mini Viva – you may remember them from the absolute tune that is ‘Left my Heart in Tokyo’, from summer 09. “When we were in our other groups, we met on the scene. We were always at the same kind of events together and we always spoke to each other about what we would really like to be doing,” said Annie. Surprisingly, the girls don’t speak too negatively about their past group experiences and instead seem to look back on them as good learning curves. “I think we needed to do what we did in our other groups to realise who we are as artists and who we wanted to be as a group,” added Frankee.
The girls recently released the video for their new single ‘Dance On My Own’, a feel-good, ’90s garage throwback track, which samples ‘Flowers’ by Sweet Female Attitude. “It’s for those people who aren’t afraid to be individual, different, stand out and dance on their own,” said Nadine. The video was shot on a rooftop car park in Peckham, with the girls flying back to London on their one day off from supporting Little Mix on their UK tour to film it. “We flew back from Cardiff straight after the show, got in about 1am and we were up at 5am, ready for hair and make-up and ready to shoot on that one day off and then straight back on tour that evening,” said Annie.
For the past year and a half, in between touring and building up their fan base, the girls have been hard at work on their debut album, which they hope to release towards the end of the year. “I think we’ve definitely got an album of songs ready that we would be happy to put out but we’re constantly working on it,” said Annie. “We’re constantly writing and creating more music. I don’t think you can have enough new music,” added Nadine.
Having a lot of creative input in their music is really important to the girls who work closely with producers in order to ensure that every track suits their sound. “Usually how it works is we get in the studio and they’ll come up with a few ideas that they know will work for us and our sound and they’ll just play through their stuff and we’ll know automatically which ones we like and which ones we want to write to,” said Annie. As well as their music, they also take pride in their aesthetic and worked closely with the director, Carly Cussen, on concepts for the ‘Dance On My Own’ video. “We had a few meetings with her before and we gave her our ideas and she gave us hers and together it was just wicked,” added Annie.
After performing at the British Summertime Festival in Hyde Park last year, the girls are back on the festival circuit this year, performing at Wireless, Tramlines and Liverpool International Music Festival, so I asked them about what their live show was like. “We’ve got a DJ, Melody Kane – we love her – and we’ve also got our guitarist. At first we do a couple of tracks then we go in to an acoustic set, where we do a cover and one of our own songs. We love mixing a bit of acoustic in to it, where we can really sing,” said Nadine. The girls often upload acoustic covers on to their YouTube page and their cover of Brandy & Monica’s ‘The Boy is Mine’, with Lady Leshurr, for SB.TV brought them a massive amount of exposure, racking up over 50,000 views in 48 hours. “We have fun with it. We all sit together and pick a song that we want to do and work out the harmonies. We’re constantly singing together,” added Nadine.
With their strong work ethic and compatibility, maybe M.O can be the exception and break the curse of the girl band – they certainly seem to be doing well so far.
You can pre-order M.O’s new single, ‘Dance On My Own’, now on their website.