Let’s talk about ex: Lauren Mur­phy peaks to a Su­gababe,

The faces may have changed but the hit-mak­ing brand is still go­ing strong. Su­gababe Amelle Berrabah talks bitch­i­ness, bond­ing and role mod­els with Lauren Mur­phy

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FrontPage -

SU­GABABES? More like Can­derel­babes th­ese days, if you ask us: sort of like the real thing, but not quite the same. If that sounds a smidgen “bitchy”, well, it’s ap­pro­pri­ate for the girl group that has (un­fairly, some would say) gained a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the most cal­lous in Bri­tish pop mu­sic. We’re not say­ing that this band’s his­tory is che­quered, but their re­volv­ing-door pol­icy would give the most lim­ber door­man repet­i­tive strain in­jury.

I’m hang­ing on the tele­phone, wait­ing to speak to Amelle Berrabah about the trio’s most event­ful year yet, and to be per­fectly frank, it’s not bod­ing too well. Su­gababes are prov­ing rather dif­fi­cult to pin down; a touted trip to Lon­don to speak to all three mem­bers soon be­came a phone call to just one, and even that’s prov­ing some­what prob­lem­atic – al­though un­sur­pris­ing, if ru­mours of their “dif­fi­cult” dis­po­si­tion are any­thing to go by.

It comes as some­thing of a sur­prise, then, to even­tu­ally hear a chirpy, apolo­getic and friendly voice on the other end of the line. The 25-year-old Berrabah has taken tem­po­rary refuge in her fam­ily homestead in Alder­shot, a town unof­fi­cially known as “The Home o sur­roun served t to be a p proof ar

“Yeah chuckle. bloody n any­thing thing co day. Yo think: ‘W of me? wrong’. hard, bu to just g def­i­nite per­sona hap­pens peo­ple in bub­ble t mu­sic in just hav with th you love and hop your m will sp for it­sel the en the day.”

She course, about th scan­dal ababes the one mem­ber in 2005 Buena) was app the grou ru­mours this wee claim to

Yet B the reco di Rang the grou nan. She an­swers to all pok­ing and prod­ding about what ac­tu­ally hap­pened be­tween the trio, not even re­spond­ing to me­dia barbs that Su­gababes are more of a busi­ness th­ese days than a pop group. Many dis­con­tented com­men­ta­tors, in­clud­ing Buchanan her­self, even sug­gested that the cur­rent line-up (in­clud­ing new re­cruit Jade Ewen) were brazen to con­tinue op­er­at­ing un­der the Su­gababes name, sul­ly­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of a group who have pro­duced such mod­ern pop clas­sics as Freak Like Me and Push the But­ton.

“Me and Heidi have never lied to the press,” she says, swiftly sidestep­ping the ques­tion of the moniker. “We don’t want to go into de­tail about why the line-up changed. We were out in Los An­ge­les, and we were like ‘No, we can’t carry on the way things are go­ing.’ It was hard, I’m not gonna lie to you, but we still both have the ut­most re­spect for Keisha. She’s a lovely girl and I just al­ways try re­mem­ber the good years we had to­gether.”

So far, so tact­ful. Is it in­evitable, then, that a group like the Su­gababes will have their ev­ery move sen­sa­tion­alised by the tabloids, who seem in­tent on per­pet­u­at­ing the myth of the “bitchy girl group”? Would a male band such as JLS re­ceive the same treat­ment in a pre­con­ceived thoughts, that there’d be a lot of bitch­i­ness. Then when I saw them, I was like ‘I am sooo sorry, I feel re­ally guilty! You’re not re­ally like that at all, are you?’ I’d fallen for the same thing as well. I think it’s just al­ways go­ing to fol­low us, I think it will al­ways fol­low girls, any­way. I think peo­ple find it hard to be­lieve that girls do ac­tu­ally get along – and we gen­er­ally do. Ob­vi­ously, with our last line-up there were some prob­lems there, and that’s why we went our sep­a­rate ways, and that’s why me and Heidi left the band – there were no lies there. We were fine for a long time, then we weren’t fine for about a year. But at the mo­ment, we’re gen­er­ally hav­ing the time of our lives.”

Berrabah, in par­tic­u­lar, felt the strain of the split. Hav­ing pre­vi­ously been sub­jected to more me­dia in­tru­sion into her pri­vate life than any other Su­gababe, she spent time be­ing treated for “ner­vous ex­haus­tion” in a Ger­man clinic for sev­eral weeks in late 2009.

“At times, me and Heidi were very stressed out, and we were like ‘OK, let’s just tell peo­ple the bloody truth about what hap­pened – not even go into de­tail, but we’re be­ing made out as the bad peo­ple here. We’ve done noth­ing wrong, we just left a band that was get­ting too dif­fi­cult to be in’.”

Such ex­pe­ri­ences must make your po­si­tion as a role model to thou­sands of young girls all the more sat­is­fy­ing, I wa­ger. How does she feel about the idea of set­ting an ex­am­ple to a gen­er­a­tion of Su­gababes fans? Berrabah seems hes­i­tantly pleased, if not a lit­tle un­com­fort­able at the sug­ges­tion.

“I def­i­nitely love be­ing in Su­gababes, but I don’t re­ally think of my­self as be­ing a role model; I’m just me.Grow­ing up, I def­i­nitely idolised pop stars like Whit­ney, Mariah Carey, Madonna – re­ally strong, in­de­pen­dent fe­males. Idols, ba­si­cally. At the same time, my mum was so im­por­tant to me. There’s a re­ally good sup­port net­work around me and I’m lucky to have that.” om­ing year, that’s venth Su­gababes ed for release last wen recorded her chanan’s – fi­nally k. It’s their first tion la­bel, and it it sees Su­gababes ker, sex­ier sound US pop mar­ket, utions from the duc­tion team of

and r’n’b star Ne- fur­ther afield ex­tra-sweet fol­heir re­cent trouad­mits, but Ber­raho has also tasted suc­cess as a ra­tor of Tinchy ’s – claims that are nev­er­the­less with their cur­rent fame. iously there’s lot of changes in bes over the past ut we’ve learned a ut each other and

rselves. If peo­ple m and like it, then one, re­ally. So a eah. That sounds on­tin­ued suc­cess with ru­mours of l ’babes – Buchaob­han Don­aghy – to form a ri­val r that the Sug­pera is far from ing’s for sure, the cur­tain does

on their ca­reer, e for one hell of a gra­phy.

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