Do you guys remember the cute British girlband Cleopatra who captured our hearts in the 90s with hot joints like "Cleopatra's Theme", "Life Ain't Easy", a cover of Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" and "Come and Get Me"? Well, after several years out of the spotlight, lead singer Cleo is coming back stronger than ever with her solo debut album. I caught up with the lovely Ms. Higgins to talk about the album, her collaborations wishlist, Cleopatra's last album "Steppin' Out", as well as the perks of being solo and being part of a girlband.
Rumor has it that you've been recording a new album, is that true?
I have indeed been busy recording a new album.
How's the process of recording your debut album been going so far? And have you signed with a label yet?
It's been going really well. I've been writing different types of songs from R&B, Pop, Rock and even a bit Indie.
I've signed to an independent label called Eastside. The plan is to release the debut single between Feb/March 2007.
Whom have you collaborated with on this album in terms of producers/artists/songwriters?
I mainly write the majority of my material, I find I can portray how I'm feeling, my frame of mind and make my songs a lot more personal. I've always wrote my own songs since I was about 9.
I've done a lot of work with Murlyn, who worked with the likes of Britney Spears and Madonna. Stuart Roslyn, Paul Waller (Spice Girls) Octave (All Saints), Davinche (Kano, Ms Dynamite), Herbie Crichlow (3T, Backstreet Boys), along with some up and coming producers.
As part of Cleopatra, you've worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry including Stargate, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and James Poyser. Have you tried contacting them regarding your new material? And what do you think of Stargate's recent success in the United States?
I haven't tried contacting any of them though I may be going in with Stargate once they're back from the U.S. I am over the moon with their recent success. They completely deserve it. I love those guys.
I bought Cleopatra's "Steppin' Out" in late 2005, and I gotta admit that I still love listening to it! I'll ask you about my favorite songs, and you answer me with liner notes about how that song came about or some of the beautiful moments that connect with it:
Awww, thank you! It was a lot of fun writing/recording the album. Glad you enjoyed it!
U Got It
It was offered to us by producers Stargate, and it was an instant hit with us when we heard it. It was also the first single in the U.S off of the second album "Steppin Out".
This song was written by Darryl Simmons (Toni Braxton, Destiny's Child). We chose "Sweat Me" out of a bunch of songs he gave us to listen to and it jumped out at us. I was nervous working with him because of the people he had worked with.
Who's Your Woman?
We wrote and recorded this song with producer Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis at Flyte Tyme studios in Minneapolis. Crazy enough I wasn't nervous at all because I had geared myself up to work with them for a long time. We wrote the song from scratch and it was a great experience.
I spoke to Janet while I was there and quizzed her about her nephew TJ
Mariah casually interrupted my recording session, ha ha, which was fine because she is one of my idols!!! The girls also had the pleasure of helping Mariah choose her album cover for Rainbow and apparently she went with the picture they liked the most.
We recorded this song with Debra Killings, who is a well known backing vocalist for some of my fave artists. The song was recorded at DARP Studios. This is the only song we recorded with a female producer! Go Debra!!! This song is up on my Myspace ;)
Questions And Jealousy
Somewhere along the lines the title of this song was changed by accident. It's actually called 'Questioning Jealousy'. The song's about people who like to hate on people who succeed. On the original we sampled Method Man for the talking at the beginning but couldn't get clearance in time for when the album went to press.
Come and Get Me
We wrote this song with production team Cutfather & Joe, and it was the first single in the U.K. At the time when we were supposed to be promoting the single, we was in the U.S and Japan. The single didn't do as well as anybody expected which is a shame. I personally felt this was the wrong choice for the first single.
This is the only song on the second album that made it from the producers from our debut, and it was the only ballad. I was very ill on the day we recorded this to the point that I could barely talk never mind sing ... Very personal song to me! It was written with the intention of helping others in their time of need. I had a god cry listening back to the song for the first time.
You Can't Be In My Life
Another song we did with Stargate and one of my faves.
You were also signed to Madonna's Maverick label? What did you think of her managerial skills? And do you think she was fair while handling Cleopatra's musical career?
I can't really comment on this subject as I don't know the facts to do so. Maverick didn't have 100% control of our career and a lot of things had to be Ok'd with our UK label first.
Which artists you like listening to @ the moment? And what are some of your current favorite songs?
I'm listening to all the new stuff and I still love all my old stuff so it's a complete mix. Ciara's "The Evolution", love this album. Jojo's "The High Road", I'm in love with this album too. Beyonce's "B'Day", another great album I love to jam to. Fantasia, that's my girl!!! Tamia, Mariah the list goes on!
How are your sisters Zainam and Yonah doing? And is any one of them planning to pursue a solo career as well?
They're doing really well. They are both concentrating with their own projects and all seems to be well
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being in a girl group?
Advantages are you always have a shoulder to cry on, someone to finish your sentence when you're stuck and someone to have a good giggle with! Disadvantages would be like any other group of girls. Arguing about who wears what and because we're sisters we have other things we can nit pick at.
If you got the opportunity to join a successful girl group, would you take it or insist on pursuing a solo career?
It's a bit of both to be honest. I love being in a band! Working as a team, always having back up there, someone to talk to, harmonizing, writing etc …
The perks of being solo is I do me!!! I write what I want to, wear what I want to.
Which producers/songwriters are in your wish list of future collaborators?
I would love to work with Stargate again, Jam & Lewis, the list is long!!! I prefer to write with someone who hasn't got the biggest catalog book because they're more hungry to produce/write something you want.
Last but not the least, is there any message you'd like to give to your fans who are awaiting your return to the music scene (me included, hee hee)?
Thanks for being patient and supportive over the years and sticking with me while I grew from a young girl to a young woman. Hope you guys enjoy my work and feel free to message me anytime :o) Love always Cleo xXx
Visit Cleo @ MySpace