Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Mutya Buena
Mutya Buena Mutya Buena

When Mutya Buena decided to bounce from the Sugababes after 9 years, it wasn’t because the original member’s musical tastes indicated she was really an R&B chick at heart and could no longer stomach the saccharine offerings they churned out so consistently.

As any good reader of our nation’s quality tabloid fodder will attest, the tumultuous nature of that trio had all the markings of Destiny’s Child drama with some of the Spice Girls issues thrown in and some good ol’ bitchiness to make it all the more bitter. In this case, Mutya’s birth to daughter Tahlia in 2005 put a strain on the award-winning group – especially as she was later diagnosed with post-natal depression and could no longer continue as a member. “Everyone was trying to say, oh well everything’s going to be fine,” admits the cute singer. “And me trying to explain to someone, ‘no, it’s not going to be fine’, because I’m not feeling right within myself.”

Despite her insistence that she didn’t use her daughter to leave the ‘Babes (“My daughter was one of the reasons why I left, yes, because I wanted to spend more time with her”), it’s clear Mutya is a happier bunny for it – for starters, she’s replaced her trademark scowl with a gorgeous smile. “I’m far from moody,” she explains of her infamous reputation. “It’s just something as a teenager I dragged on TV with me. It was me saying ‘I don’t care’” But with her collection of tattoos, diamond lip stud, gold tooth, and her no-nonsense attitude giving the impression she’d ride or die for her North Weezy manor like a teenage Mary J, is she really a ghetto girl at heart? “To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t say I’m ‘ghetto’,” she smiles. “It’s just that the people I’ve grown up with, they’re not your bog-standard, like industry people. Half of a lot of my friends don’t work, some of them got children and don’t work, and some of them do work nine –to-five. I don’t have celebrity friends and I think that’s what’s kept me nice and grounded.”

Musically, the 21-year-old has created an album which is more faithful to the roots of a girl who grew up listening to hip-hop, garage and soul. However, she does admit that this debut was only the tip of the iceberg. “I knew that obviously I kind of wanted to go the more soulful way,” she explains, “but I also didn’t want to make it too R&B because I know that living in England, it’s a very hard place to put out what you really want to do.” But even with the inclusion of Groove Armada on the electro-pumping ‘Out of Control’, ‘Real Girl’ will be a pleasant surprise to her previous fans and urban junkies. “I just made sure that this album was something I felt comfortable going on stage with, and I won’t feel embarrassed about, like ‘I just want to get off the stage’,” she says, in a veiled reference to her Sugababes days. “It was fun doing the album though.”

It’s just a shame she won’t be celebrating her newfound independence with former bandmates Keisha Buchanan and Heidi Range, as things haven’t been too cool since she left the group two years ago and was replaced by Amelle Berrabah. But she’s not sweating it. “I had great times with the Sugababes, I’m not even gonna deny that. But I just think if we were meant to be that close…” she trails off. “To tell you the truth, we’re going to be bumping into each other – so I don’t want no hard feelings!”

The album 'Real Girl' is out now through Universal Records.
Words Matilda Egere-Cooper

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