the voice of S-Express !!!
“It doesn’t matter how bad life is, put on a record and your foot will tap. And if you have no problems, you still have to celebrate life.” Sonique
Had things been different one defining day during Sonique’s teenage years, we may never have heard her music at all.
From the age of six, the singer/DJ had serious designs on the world of professional athletics. Still in possession of a superfit physique, she explains: “I dreamed of being the world’s best pentathlete. Trained every single day. I guess I was pretty obsessed.” But, at the age of 15, all that came to an abrupt halt: “I came second in a race,” she says matter-of-factly. “Wasn’t used to losing.” Which pretty much sums up Sonique’s life philosophy: be the best or don’t bother.
With her music career, she’s certainly put that theory into practice.
In 2000 Sonique’s debut album ‘Hear my Cry’, went platinum in the UK, following her #1 selling single ‘It Feels So Good’ which also notched up 4 times platinum sales in the UK. In 2001 she won Best Female Award at the Brits, and was nominated for Best Dance Act, Best Dance Newcomer, Best Single and Best Video. She also won an Ivor Novello Award for International Hit of The Year for ‘It Feels So Good’. Men’s magazine Maxim awarded her Best Singer Award in their 2001 Women of The Year Awards, and MTV nominated her in 4 categories in their Awards. In addition she was recognised by the Guinness Book Of Records as the first female solo artist to be #1 for 3 consecutive weeks – the first in 22 years since Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ in 1978.
Born and raised in North London’s Crouch End, Sonique’s early influences fortunately went beyond athletics. Her formative years were also infused with the sounds of her mum’s record collection. Every Sunday the house would be filled with the sounds of Marvin Gaye, Roberta Flack, Gladys Knight, Otis Redding and Denise Williams.
“That was the day for loud music, cleaning and nice-smelling food being cooked,” she recalls fondly.
So when, at the age of 17, a youth-worker told her she had a beautiful voice, it was natural to apply her characteristic determination to making music instead. And, Fari, the reggae band she joined did more than hone her singing skills. “I thought they’d already have some tunes for me to sing,” she laughs at the memory, “but, when I turned up the first day, the rest of the band were like, ‘So – brought some songs?’ They hadn’t written a note between them!” Cue a crash course for Sonique in songwriting.
The band was also what kept her going through what was to turn into one of the toughest periods of Sonique’s life. Her mum had just returned to her native Trinidad to re-marry. Being the eldest of three with no father figure around, Sonique thought she’d already learned to look after herself and insisted on staying behind. A few months later, circumstances conspired against her and she wound up homeless, surviving on crisps and sleeping on mates’ floors and – when those ran out – the streets. “That made me realise life wasn’t a joke – I could have died on the street.” She figured it was time to take things more seriously and, with Fari disbanded, promptly went about getting herself a record deal.
Ernie, an old school-friend with music industry connections, offered to write a tune with her called ‘Let Me Hold You’. Chrysalis snapped it up and it became her first club hit. She began writing more songs and was put in touch with Tim Simenon (Bomb The Bass). They recorded some tracks together but, before they could even be released, his mate, a certain Mark Moore, poached her for his own project – S Express. “S Express taught me I could command a stage,” she says, “and from Mark I really learned how to write – he’s a very clever songwriter.” But, after singing on his first undergound album, ‘Intercourse’, she decided to go it alone. “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, I just knew I wanted people to look at me, listen to me, feel me, relate to what I was doing – everything.”
And so began an illustrious DJ-ing career. “It was about taking control of my life. A lot people wanted me to sing for them but I wanted to do my own thing and when I saw Mark Dj-ing, I thought it looked so cool and decided, ‘I want some of that.’ And you know what? I was DREADFUL!” But, in true Sonique style, that was no deterrent. “I’d seen him do it so I knew it was physically possible,” she grins.
To get work in the highly competitive DJ world, she’d tell bookers about her singing ability. Singing and Dj-ing and being a woman was quite a sensation at the time. “I knew once they’d heard and seen me, they’d want more.” And she was right. In 1997 Sonique began her three-year residency at Ibiza’s infamous kinky superclub, Manumission.
There she met a couple of friends starting a record label and volunteered herself to provide their first release, ‘Put a Spell on You’. To the trio’s delight, it got to number 20 in the dance chart but then they panicked. “They were like, ‘wicked’, let’s put out another. And they were looking at me…” At the height of her DJ career, Sonique only had time to dig out a song she’d written three years earlier – ‘It Feels So Good.’
Before the now legendary tune reached British consciousness, it was licensed in the States, where 10,000 copies disappeared instantly. Breaking the notoriously hard-to-crack US market BEFORE making it at home was no mean feat. “We couldn’t believe it - this guy in Tampa had got hold of it and completely caned it – suddenly everyone wanted to know where they could get hold of it.” Word reached the UK and ‘It Feels So Good’ became one of the fastest-selling dance-anthems in history.
But the success was laced with personal tragedy. As the single blew up and an album deal with Serious was brokered, Sonique lost the baby she’d been carrying at eight months. “The worst, most devastating, awful thing that’s ever happened in my life.”
As the grieving singer tried to cope with her loss, she was told she had 40 days to start and finish the album. Somehow she managed it, producing what is now one of the most successful dance albums ever: testament indeed to Sonique’s talent and determination.
‘It Feels So Good’ was that year’s third biggest-selling single and subsequent singles, ‘Sky’ – an ode to her lost baby boy effortlessly charted at #2, and the re-released ‘I Put A Spell On You’, nestled into the top ten. The album came out on February 14, 2001 and went platinum in the UK and Ireland, and gold in Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.
Sonique released her second critically acclaimed album “Born to be Free”, in 2003. Featuring production by Graham Pleeth who has produced the likes of Peter Gabriel, Billy Ocean, Kim Wilde, and Appleton, and Robin Barter who has worked with Freddie Mercury, Kylie Minogue, and Norman Jay, the new album shows a more grown up side to Sonique. Seriously song-orientated, it blends Sonique’s diverse influences whilst cohering seamlessly as a whole.
The first single “Can’t Make Up My Mind”, charted in the UK Pop top 20 and topped the UK dance Chart for two consecutive weeks. It also went in at Number 1 in Germany, Spain and Scandinavia respectively, becoming one of the Europe’s most played dance songs of 2003.
The follow-up single, “Alive”, was only to repeat the success of “Can’t make up my Mind”, it was A-listed at MTV-Dance and went on to top the UK Upfront Club Chart. More testaments to Sonique’s staying power and her return to her original dance roots.
In the last two years, Sonique has alternated international DJ gigs with writing. She has guested on tracks with Mogwai and Novy producing some of what have been described as the best underground dance songs of 2003.
She is currently locked in the studio with number 1 German Dance DJ and producer, Tomcraft working on new material for an album release late in 2004. The buzz is already growing and the first single will be released in the autum.
Deejaybooking.com provides you Sonique in conjunction with her management.
Not even listing her rich past in the Dance movement since the 80's, the solo discography of Sonique is:
- Let Me Hold You (EP) - Cooltempo rec
- I Put A Spell On You (EP) - Jive rec
- I Put A Spell On You (CD) - Serious rec
- It Feels So Good (CD) - Colossal rec
- It Feels So Good (EP) - Universal
- Hear My Cry (CD) - Serious
- I Put A Spell On You (CD) - Serious
- I Put A Spell On You (EP) - Serious
- It Feel's So Good (EP) - Serious
- It Feels So Good (CD) - Serious
- Sky (EP) - Universal
- Sky (EP) - Universal
- Alive (EP) - Urban
- Alive (CD) - Serious
- Born To Be Free (CD) - Mercury
- Can't Make Up My Mind (CD) - Serious
- Can't Make Up My Mind (EP) - Serious