Cyprus Today

My mental health struggles in S Club 7

The singer said she suppressed a lot of her emotions Rachel Stevens:

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RACHEL Stevens has spoken about the mental health struggles she faced while in S Club 7, saying: “I spent a lot of years pushing a lot of feelings and a lot of emotions away and not feeling them.”

The singer, who found fame in the 7-piece band formed by Simon Fuller in 1998, said there was “a lot going on behind the scenes”, despite the band’s childfrien­dly image with hits including S Club Party, Reach and Never Had A Dream Come True.

Stevens, 42, said it was difficult to grow up in the spotlight while she was still dealing with the repercussi­ons of her parents separating.

She told ITV’s Loose Women: “In a band like S Club we were marketed at a very young audience and it was very shiny and happy and everyone saw the sort of finished polished product and we were very packaged.

“Underneath all of that I had a lot of my stuff going on and my emotions and my things that were going on.

“As soon as the camera’s on and (you’re) going on and singing Reach, putting a smile on and putting a show on … but there’s a lot obviously going on behind the scenes.”

Stevens, who starred with the band in their own BBC television series, Miami 7, said she has been helped by therapy sessions.

She said: “I actually had personal therapy when I was 18/19. That’s when I first started having therapy and felt like I really needed to talk about all of my stuff that was going on that I really needed to just make sense of.

“I spent a lot of years pushing a lot of feelings and a lot of emotions away and not feeling them – which came from my childhood.

“I grew up in a family where we didn’t talk much about our feelings. I got used to internalis­ing a lot of stuff.

“It’s so important to talk. To get those feelings out. The more they’re inside, they manifest and you internalis­e them and they become much bigger.”

She added: “I have therapy weekly. I need it as that kind of outlet. I think I’m someone who has always been a worrier, someone who thinks a lot, someone who internalis­es a lot and is incredibly emotional and sensitive.

“I think I need that person, I speak to my closest friends obviously, my husband, but other than that, having that person who is not so close just gives me that outlet to be

Rachel Stevens acknowledg­ed and make sense of it all when there’s not that emotional connection, which I think is really important.”

“It’s such a weird thing growing up in an industry where you see pictures of yourself all of the time … constantly seeing images of yourself which I think is really unhealthy.

“I went into S Club feeling quite insecure, not really knowing who I was and growing up publicly. I think all of that stuff plays into everything, really.”

Asked if she was ready for the kind of exposure S Club 7 brought her, Stevens said: “I don’t know. It’s a tricky one. I got into S Club at a time when I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil.

“My family had all broken apart, we’d lost our home, I was kind of just on my own quite a lot and just with my friends and working and kind of internalis­ed all of those things.

“I went into the band and it was so exciting and a total escape from all of that stuff, but at the same time it allowed me to push down all of the stuff even more.

“And then everything was in the spotlight, so I kind of just got so used to doing what I’d always done as a child, but doing it publicly and just pushing everything away, not acknowledg­ing all of these feelings I’d brought into the band with me.

“I would censor myself a lot. Even now, talking about this stuff, I’m not used to talking about this publicly but I think it’s so important to get the message out there.”

“I look at Instagram, look at these women who I think look amazing but actually behind the camera, they’re all real people, with all the same struggles, all the same feelings and all trying to make sense of our own stuff and it takes daily work to become the best person you can be and that’s what I’m trying to do every day.”

GHETTS has not attained the same celebrity status as fellow grime originator­s Skepta and Wiley.

But Conflict Of Interest — his third album proper — may do just that, despite not being as pop crossover as its list of collaborat­ors suggests.

Yes, it features

Ed Sheeran, Stormzy and Emeli Sande and is being released on major label Warner.

But Ghetts manages to illustrate his soul-baring vision of gospel and grime on his own terms, joined by talented newcomers such as Pa Salieu, Backroad Gee and Miraa May.

Each album has seen Ghetts mature his vision a little more and, taken as a whole, Conflict Of Interest portrays an artist at the height of his powers.

The track Autobiogra­phy literally tells his story from the moment he “started out in Nasty crew just after Dizzee Rascal blew” and features a recording of presumably his mother recalling his burgeoning talent as a boy.

Long a critics’ favourite, Ghetts brings his complex wordplay and deft social commentary to issues like colourism, sexism and violence.

He has made a rare thing – an album that offers both mainstream appeal and artistic integrity.

9/10

(Review by Alex Green)

There is also new music from The Hold Steady and David Gray

RICHARD Blackwood had never wanted to reprise his latest role.

He was relieved when he came to the end of the run of the play Typical in 2019, which tells the true story of former paratroope­r Christophe­r Alder, 37, who choked to death while handcuffed and lying on the floor of a police station in Hull in 1998.

But then the coronaviru­s pandemic happened, and the 48year-old TV star was asked to film the play on stage at the Soho Theatre, so people could watch it at home.

“I actually vowed that I would never do it again, because it was so difficult, and so draining,” Blackwood admits as he chats after a long day of filming Hollyoaks, the soap he joined last year.

“At that time I had been doing it day in and day out for just under two-and-a-half months, sometimes two performanc­es a day, so I was like ‘I’m not doing this again.’

“But then they came back and said we have been asked to film it and asked me how I felt.

“And I said I do believe I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t bring it to the masses.

“I thought this is the last time I’m doing it so it’s got to be the best, I owe it to the piece just to give it that final push.”

The inquest jury into Mr Alder’s death returned a verdict of unlawful killing and in 2002 five police officers went on trial. But all the officers were acquitted on the orders of the judge during the proceeding­s.

Blackwood filmed Typical in the summer of 2020 as protests erupted around the world following the death of George Floyd, who was black, under the

understand what was going on.

“But also I was of the age where I remember being a teenager and being scared of the police because of knowing that could easily happen to you, being taken in.

“What you would hear is that person died of a mild heart attack. That was always the excuse that you heard when you heard that someone had passed away in custody.

“We as the black community understood fully what that meant.

“As a teenager at that time in the 80s and early 90s, it wasn’t necessaril­y that you had to be worried about other gangs or other guys out there that could cause trouble, that was never really the issue. It was always the whole concept of being taken by the police; that was always the scary thing.”

Mr Alder’s sister came to see the final show of the run when Blackwood was performing it in the theatre, and the actor was terrified about doing her brother justice.

“I never got to meet the man, and I had to play the scene where he died,” he remembers.

“Nobody wants to see that reenacted, as painful as it is knowing it happened.

“That performanc­e was by far the hardest. I could do the play in my sleep but I felt so on my toes.

“When I finished and she came up to me and hugged me and she said ‘My brother would have been so proud.’

“When everybody else was congratula­ting me, I didn’t hear anybody else, that is all I needed to hear.

“She said ‘You embodied him, that’s what he was like.’ I had never met the man, no video footage of him, there was nothing, so that was the biggest reward.”

He now believes the audience watching the film at home will see it differentl­y following the widespread horror and subsequent protests over the death of Mr Floyd, as well as other unarmed black people including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

“I think they will be more receptive. I think that what this play will do is just bring it home. You think about a situation like this and you place it in a certain time period. You say ‘Yeah that happened back then in the 70s or the 80s, obviously that doesn’t happen now’.

“Then you see a piece and that was 1998, just before the millennium, that just goes to show that this is practicall­y brand new. Anybody that is my age will think it was just yesterday that this happened.

“The sad reality is that it happens a lot and a lot of it is just not documented.

“And now you know that. Now, when you start to hear unfortunat­e situations like George Floyd, even if it still doesn’t affect you, it will resonate with you in some kind of way.

“We want you to feel something and that is really all it is. That is how the change comes.

“I hope people understand this is happening amongst them, and not to turn a blind eye to it, because you can’t un-know something.

“It’s about planting the seed. I’m not expecting people to go out and march and expecting a revolution or anything like that, but sometimes it’s just good to plant a seed.”

Blackwood is hopeful that the legacy of the outrage of last summer will lead to lasting change.

“People knew police were killing people in the black community in America, but when you saw George Floyd it became very real.

“We watched that, it was nine minutes of ‘Oh my god am I watching this person die? Have I just witnessed somebody die who was begging for their life?’

“And that is when everything shifted, you can’t pretend you never saw that.”

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 ??  ?? S Club 7 back in their heyday
S Club 7 back in their heyday
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 ??  ?? Typical will be available from February 24 on Soho Theatre On Demand.
Typical will be available from February 24 on Soho Theatre On Demand.

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