The Sugababes, consisting of Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan and Siobhan Donaghy, got off to a flying start when they hit the music scene in 2000, with their debut single Overload hitting the top ten and being nominated for a Brit Award.
But from then on, their story veered away from the traditional pop group tale – with reports of in-fighting, an ever-changing lineup, and management ownership of the group’s name, which ultimately forced the original trio to perform under a different nickname.
It wasn’t until 2019 that they fully recovered the sugababes name, and now after a successful return to the stage at the Mighty Hoopla festival, the band have announced a UK tour – their first in over two decades.
While their experiences are certainly not common, they reflect a recent theme that female musicians do not have full control over their careers.
Last summer, singer Raye quit her Polydor label after claiming they had stopped her from releasing her debut album for years, while earlier this month Halsey claimed they had been told that they couldn’t release a song unless it went viral on Tik Tok.
But while the Sugababes may have faced their fair share of difficulties trying to regain control, they told Sky News they are finally at a stage where they can enjoy their careers.
“I personally think right now we’re so grown up, we just want to have fun, we want to enjoy every moment that we’re doing right now,” Buena said.
“We can’t control what’s going on around us, we just have to be able to do our best to handle those things,” Buchanan added.
“Some of the hurdles we had to overcome weren’t the best ones to overcome, and it was really tough, and of course it’s hard to stay motivated, I know that personally, but as Mutya said, it it’s about taking advantage of it.
“And, you know, who’s to say what curve balls will be thrown next, but again, how we handle that is key.”
Read more: Keisha Buchanan speaks out against allegations of bullying and racism during her time in the Sugababes
Over two decades since its debut, the music industry has undoubtedly seen changes.
Buchanan says they are reaping the rewards of this progress, admitting it was much more difficult when they arrived on the scene.
“The industry is completely different from when we started and it was grueling,” she said.
“It’s like half the work we used to do in terms of promo and things like that and even just prep – the rehearsals were a lot longer because we were trying to get the sound right and we would have speakers on stage hearing us, and now we’re all collectively wearing In-Ears [monitors that allow singers to hear].”
“We know what we’re expecting, we’ve got an amazing new band and we’ve got all the creative input we want, and I think, you know, that’s really the dream,” Donaghy added.
In over 20 years in different iterations of the band or as solo artists or even taking a total break from the business, the singers have gained a wealth of experience and a lot of perspective.
They admit that if they knew in the beginning what they know now, things would of course have turned out differently.
“I think naturally you would do things differently, but I think the good thing about it is that we’ve learned from a lot of mistakes and a lot of things that we’ve been through in the past,” Buena said.
“And now it’s like going out and having fun and bouncing on each other.”
“Yeah, that’s the school of life,” Buchanan agreed.
Older and wiser
“It’s a universal thing – everyone compares how you were when you were 16, the things you would think about and you just look back.
“And I think that’s the most important thing that you look back and then try to make better decisions.”
Older and wiser is probably a good way to sum up the band now – Buchanan ditched the ’20 cans of Red Bull’ she used to drink before a show and Donaghy says she’s not either. more bound by pre-show rituals that maybe weren’t really helping.
But despite their decades collectively in the music industry, Buchanan says they’ll never fully get used to it.
“I don’t think anyone should go on stage or put a camera in their face. [gets used to it] – it’s not normal, is it, this way of life,” she said.
“But yeah, I think it’s best that we get a little more experienced with it I guess, and now is the right time.”
“No obstacles” at this stage of their career
And Donaghy says their experience brings resilience.
“There aren’t really any surprises — but I mean in a good way, you know,” she said.
“If there’s any curveballs or anything, it’s like water off a duck’s back at this point.”
At the moment, the focus is on the upcoming tour, with the band saying they currently don’t find the time to hit the studio to make new music.
But 22 years after their debut single, the band have faced their fair share of challenges and say they don’t see anything on the horizon to disrupt this stage of their career.
“There are no obstacles at the moment,” Donaghy said.
“We control what we do at the moment and it’s up to us and so we can just go out there and enjoy it.”
Tickets for The Sugababes UK Tour go on sale today.
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