Sunday, 21 February 2010

No more tears: The Sugababes strike back

No more tears: The Sugababes strike back By: Lyndsey Gilmour 21/02/2010

The Sugababes have reinvented themselves with a new member. They talk tears, tough times and why they’re happier and hotter than ever...

JADE WEARS: Top, £35, Topshop; leggings, £16.99,; boots, £70, Faith
HEIDI WEARS: Dress, £42, American Apparel; tights, £10, Jonathan Aston; shoes, £70, Faith AMELLE WEARS: Dress, £65,; boots, £90, Topshop

Few groups can survive a line-up change, especially without any original members, so when Keisha Buchanan left Sugababes last September, the critics predicted doom for the remaining two. But Amelle Berrabah, 25, and Heidi Range, 26, weren’t prepared to walk away from the ’Babes legacy, which includes five platinum-selling albums, and vowed to carry on.

And when they turned up to our shoot with their new recruit – 22-year-old Eurovision star Jade Ewen – in tow, they behaved like a group of giddy teenagers who’d known each other for years. Making up little songs and dance routines as they posed for pictures, the girls seemed united and totally at ease with one another.

Any nonsense about Heidi having to be ‘in the centre’ was rubbished when they happily moved into various set-ups in front of the camera. And after tucking into steak and chips (Amelle and Jade), and a grilled chicken salad (Heidi) the girls honestly and sometimes tearfully reveal in a Celebs On Sunday exclusive what really happened when Keisha left the band, if there was any truth behind those rehab rumours, and why they’re now stronger, sexier and more confident than ever before...

So it’s an all-new Sugababes we see before us! How’s it working out, ladies?

Amelle: Amazing – it’s great enjoying going to work. Everyone’s happy and we all have the
same dream.

Heidi: We’ve done a few performances that have had a great reaction. Obviously we’ve been through a big change, but the fans have been great and I can’t wait to put the album out.

Ah, ‘the change’. Are you ready to talk about what happened?

A: We’ve always had ups and downs and there were many brilliant things we all did [welling up, she wipes away a tear]. Sorry, what am I like? But towards the beginning of last year it got harder and harder.

H: We have a lot of respect for Keisha but last year things changed for everyone. I wasn’t treated very well, I was paranoid and we were treading on egg shells. Bullying is a strong word because I’m a grown woman, but I’m human at the end of the day.

HEIDI WEARS: Top, £38, Topshop; knickers, £18, Monsoon; tights, £11.95, Emilio Cavallini at; boots, Heidi’s own

Is it true it was Amelle who originally left the band?

H: It was harder for Amelle. It came to a head when we were in LA, the day before we were due to shoot the [About A Girl] video.

A: That is true. I couldn’t cope, so I quit. There is a line at how you allow people to treat you and the line was crossed for me. I was already in LA and, when Heidi arrived the next day, she left [the band]. After we both left there wasn’t really a band.

Did you try to make it work?

A: We really tried. There were things in the papers – nasty things saying Heidi and me conspired to push Keisha out, but that’s not true.

So how did Jade end up in the band?

Jade: I was looking for a manager because I already had a record deal. The Sugababes management were on my shortlist, so we met up. Anyway, I was told there was an opening in the band and if I wanted to go, they could put me on the plane to meet the girls the next day. So, I agreed, and packed my case. But then the manager called to say the girls wanted to give it one more shot together. So I went to sleep that night and woke up at 5am with someone from management shouting through my letter box. There’d been a change of plan and I had to get the plane. Luckily, I hadn’t unpacked my case.

How was your first meeting?

J: I’d read in the papers that Amelle had left the band, so I really didn’t know what was going on. We met in my hotel room and I was only given five minutes’ warning, so I was trying to tidy up my messy room. But then we all sat down together and had pancakes and it was all cool.

H: When the label told us about getting a new person, I was scared and against it. We couldn’t just meet someone and expect to click. But when they said it was Jade, we were like, ‘Oh yes!’

J: Heidi was wearing sunglasses and I wondered why, but she told me later it was because she got emotional and didn’t want me to see her tears.

H: My nickname was Tiny Tears because everywhere we went, I kept crying.

AMELLE WEARS: Dress, £230, Olivia Rubin; belt, £12, New Look

How is it different with Jade on board?

A: All of us have stepped up our game and Jade has worked so hard to be here – she is positive, humble and brings a new energy to the band.

But when things started to look up, you took some time out Amelle, why was that?

A: The whole thing drained the life out of me because it had been going on for so long. I felt the lowest of all lows. I was going out a lot more, – normally I don’t drink but it was like I’d been going through the motions. I went to a retreat in Austria for a few weeks and it gave me a bird’s eye view on a few things. There was a life coach there, relaxation classes and it helped sort out issues that had been bugging me.

Jade, were you worried about stepping into Keisha’s shoes?

J: There was a lot of stuff in the media making me feel wrong for taking the opportunity, but I had nothing to do with her leaving the band. I’ve never met her, but it was printed that we were friends.

You seem to have fitted in with the girls really naturally – but are you responsible for the new raunchy image?

H: We’ve always changed our style – musically and with clothes.

A: We are showing a lot more flesh, but it’s because all of us are feeling a lot more confident.

J: I’m not used to people calling me sexy. I was always the skinny lanky one.

The Get Sexy video was very provocative – where do you find inspiration?

A: I’ve only been to one strip club in my life and it was in Glasgow when we were on tour. It wasn’t planned, we’d been out for a Sunday roast and we went into a gay bar next door and they took us upstairs for a dance lesson.

Do the skimpy outfits make you feel sexier?

A: I used to be really skinny but, a couple of months ago, I put on a stone and a half. I used to want bigger boobs and was worried you could see my bones, so I never wore low-cut tops. Now I’ve put on loads of weight, I feel more womanly. I have boobs and feel sexier. My sister said, ‘This is the biggest I’ve seen you’. and I was like, ‘Thank you’. But on the other hand, Heidi has lost a lot of weight sensibly and feels great too. I’m proud of her dedication.

H: I try and do two or three spin classes a week – or ‘bums and tums’ or body combat. I’ve always watched what I eat because I put weight on easily. The thing is, I’ve been with Dave [TV presenter Dave Berry] when I was over a stone and a half heavier than I am now and he likes me whatever. Everyone is different – Jade doesn’t have one little dimple, but it’s a waste of time comparing all your bits.

Jade, you were spotted with Aston from JLS. Any romance there?

J: No, I’m seeing someone, but it’s too early to say. Marvin’s actually cousins with one of my friends, and me and Aston used to do auditions together. Ages ago he told me about the boys at an audition and asked if I knew anyone to pass their demo onto. Not sure what happened to it, but the next thing I knew, they were on X Factor! It’s funny – neither me or Aston got through that audition, so I guess everything happens for a reason...

JADE WEARS: Top, £29.99,; skirt, £75, Topshop


‘I’ve never done Tarot cards,’ says Jade, ‘but a week before I went to LA my friend and I had a tea leaf reading. I don’t usually believe all that but the woman read that I was a performer in the spotlight. She said, “You’re going to work hard and get bigger and bigger, then you’ll lose something career-wise. You’ll be devastated but in the end it will work out.” Then, even weirder, she said I was going to make loads of money and meet two girls and we’d be like a family. I keep a diary and it was only when I was in the hotel in LA that I looked back and went, “My God – this is what the woman was talking about!”'

The new single Wear My Kiss will be released on 22 February. The album Sweet 7 is out on 8 March.

Fashion: Annabel Kerman, assisted by Carly Stevens. Photography: David Venni at Red Represents. Hair: Percy at Percy & Reed London using Shu Umera. Make-up: Karin Darnell at One using MAC. Set constructed by Helen Macintyre; 142 951

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