Alexandra Buggs, Karis Anderson and Courtney Rumbold are Stooshe, a new British RnB, pop and hip hop group who came straight into the UK charts at number five with their debut single Love Me earlier this month.
I caught up with them at Britain’s National Student Pride in Brighton, which GSN was supporting as a media partner, to talk to them about bullying, sexuality and their music.
How did you guys get together to form Stooshe?
Alex: I live in Kent. I was shopping in Topshop and someone spotted me and asked me if I wanted to be in a girlband and if I could sing so I got into Stooshe. It was a shock because my mum’s a singer and I thought it was a bit of a coincidence. I didn’t want to do it but my dad told me to take the chance and see how it goes.
Regretted it yet?
Alex: Yeah. [Realizes] Oh, no, no, no, no. [Laughs]
I almost got you there… How about you Courtney?
Courtney: I’m the same as Al, I was spotted in Topshop. I poked my head round the curtain, got spotted, went round to the studio. I am the babe of the group so I was in sixth form, just finishing up there and I was working in Marks and Spencer.
It’s a big change. You were at a time of your life where you were deciding what you were going to do.
Courtney: It is a big change. I am happy it has happened so young because then I didn’t have to make those decisions, someone made them for me and it’s doing really well now. So it’s cool.
And you Karis?
Karis: I got put in the band last. I knew our creative director, I had worked with her before and she called me up and asked me if I wanted to be in the band and I met these two and got together.
I have always done music but I had always been behind the scenes. I had done a lot of feature work so people wouldn’t it was my voice. Because I didn’t want to put my name out until I had find my own voice. I was a dancer my whole life so that’s what I was doing before. I was at the Brit school in south London where Jessie J and Adelle went [top British pop artists] so it was good to open my eyes to everything before.
I am glad I made the choices to be behind the scenes because if I had overexposed myself I might not be in the band.
You are the main headline act at Student Pride. So why did you want to do this event?
Alex: We like to express ourselves through like clothes and music and everyone has come together to express themselves, to be who they want to be and enjoy it.
Courtney: And there is obviously the link in of me being gay so it’s like yeah, let’s just go and have a good time so it’s cool.
You’re all fairly young and you’ve been at school recently. One of the things being talked about at Student Pride is lots of kids being bullied because of their sexuality or for lots of different reasons – race, age, size… Is that something you guys feel strongly about because some of your fans are probably going through it at the moment?
Karis: We have like an agony aunt page on our website where we have a lot of our fans talking about being bullied because of their sexuality and everything. I think it’s just important to be strong in thoughts. You can’t let people be horrible to you. You have to stand up for yourself a lot of the time and just have good people around you because then you’re in your own bubble and nobody can really get to you.
Is this something that was particularly part of your life at school?
Courtney: I kept it quiet to be honest. My family didn’t really know until the song was released. What a way to come out. All my school friends and stuff, everyone was cool, everyone accepted it but they were like, ‘we already knew’ and I was ‘what do you mean “we knew”’ and they said ‘we knew before you even said anything’. For me it has actually been really cool and I am who I am, the same way everyone else should be who they are.
And as the gay girl in the group, are you hoping to meet someone or have you already got someone in your life?
Courtney: I’ve got music in my life.
Karis: We’re not looking for anybody.
So music is in your life. How would you describe your band’s music and what are you doing that is original or different or exciting.
Karis: We live by no rules and say what we want to say in our music but as an overall general collective it sounds urban pop. The most extreme urban music can go pop and the most extreme pop music can go urban. But on our album we have funk, we have reggae, we have a bit of Motown.
Alex: We talk about different topics, it is all things we can relate to and if one of us can’t relate to it, someone in our team will relate to it. Everything we do is real and it’s an eclectic mix of sound and genres.
Is there anything you’ve talked about with your music that you feel particularly pleased or really came from the heart?
Karis: The song called Black Heart on the album is about falling in love with a complete idiot and I think we’ve all done it at some point in our lives and it’s really close to all of our hearts and when we’re performing it’s really passionate. There are songs about… for example me and Courtney have had to bunk trains to get to studio in the past and we’ve spoke about that, so the whole album is just real.
So is that why you’re keeping single for the moment, because of that song Black Heart?
Karis: We never said we were single. Oh, ok, you’ve got that out of me. But music is the priority in all our lives, no matter what.
What are your hopes and dreams for 2012? What are you hoping this year will bring you?
Karis: We have the new single, Love Me, the album and we want them to do well.
Alex: But just to keep gigging around the country and building up our fanbase.
What kind of reaction do you get from you fans and the other people you gig in front of, some of whom will know you really well and others won’t?
Alex: Everyone is really supportive so it’s really cool.
Karis: A lot of people don’t expect the kind of show we put on. We all sing, there’s no lead singer, we are all confident to do the lead part in a song and we all just have fun. There is obviously a kind of stigma over girlbands and when they see us on the stage they already have a perception of what we’re going to do and I think we surprise them.
Courtney: No one performance is ever going to be the same.
Alex: All three of us, all our personalities come out. Everyone has their own time to shine.
Watch Stooshe perform their first solo single, Love Me, here: