MarkMeets has the low-down new girlband VANQUISH who reveal their amazing new ‘DAMN’ lyric video! The four piece, made-up of Becky, Lisa, Sophia and Lucy.
Within a month of forming at the start of last summer, Vanquish had played their first show – in front of a crowd of 20,000 in Bristol, supporting Blue. By early autumn, they were gig veterans who had won over school kids and college students across the country, performed at a concert at Sheffield’s Don Valley arena and caused such a stir with their debut show in Derby that they were invited back to play for 1000 people less than a week later.
Meanwhile, on YouTube, views were piling up for their pop covers – well over 100,000 each for their covers of Demi Lovato’s ‘Don’t Really Care’, Miley Cyrus’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ and Demi Lovato’s ‘Made in the USA’ and over 200,000 for their glorious, acoustic rendition of Katy Perry’s Roar, which found a fan in Ryan Seacrest. The American Idol host shortlisted the girls’ cover on an online competition he was running on his hugely popular website.
At a studio in Kent, original songs were being written and routines being rehearsed. ‘Damn’, Vanquish’s debut single, due out in March, sums up the group’s sophisticated sound. Smart, sharp, sugar-rush pop, ‘Damn’ switches nimbly between scattergun rap, soulful R&B and a boisterous blast of a chorus set to swooping synths. It’s a song with both swagger and a melancholy side, reflected in bubbly beats and a recurring acoustic guitar motif. Lyrically, it’s about falling head over heels in love but, crucially, still harbouring doubts. In girl group terms, ‘Damn’ is Salt’n’Pepa-meets-early Sugababes, with a side serving of Girls Aloud at their adventurous best.
A four-piece who formed the old-fashioned way – by answering adverts, spending days at auditions and proving their talent by singing and dancing, not through a TV show – Vanquish are on a mission to make pop that is as smart as it is sassy and as musically bold as it is instantly addictive.
All four members have distinctive voices that stand out on solos and blend beautifully. The music may be fun pop, but it’s made by people who take pop seriously – in ‘Damn’s’ case, some Swedes were involved.
WATCH DAMN lyric video[embedplusvideo height=”400″ width=”620″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1ft5blY” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/_7b6tPaKexY?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=_7b6tPaKexY&width=620&height=400&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=¬es=” id=”ep9486″ /] The bolt-from-the-blocks start to Vanquish’s career was always part of the plan. Becky, Lisa, Sophia and Lucy aren’t girls who have it in them to hang around waiting for something to happen, for someone to notice their striking looks and exceptional voices, or the fact that all four can dance, or the amount of fun they have on stage and how infectious that is to an audience.Before they turned up to auditions in June, two of the girls were making their own way in entertainment. Just a year out of college, Nottingham-born Becky had already appeared in musical theatre and at pop shows, including The Brit Awards, where she was a backing dancer for Olly Murs.
Lisa, from Stoke-on-Trent, has been singing professionally for three years, fronting Christmas shows and touring holiday parks as a Lady Gaga and Katy Perry impersonator, with a band and dancers behind her.
The other half of Vanquish were still full-time students. Half-English, half-Balinese, London-raised teenager Sophia had only just finished her A-levels, although she had grown up attending performing arts schools and studying music. Lucy, from Preston, had completed a one year course in vocals and was midway through a songwriting degree at a music college in London.
All four had dreamt of being in a band, of having the chance to write their own songs, if the opportunity arose, but mostly just wanting to perform in front of as many people as possible. None had met before their auditions in May; none had been in bands before. But their careful selection and desire to succeed saw the quartet bond instantly.
Next came songs written by well-known names – among them double Ivor Novello award winner Jorgen Elofsson (Britney, Kelly Clarkson, Westlife), Ivor Novello and Grammy Award-winner Rob Davis (Kylie, Mika, Dannii Minogue) and a multi-award winner with 30 No1 songs to his credit, Wayne Hector (JLS, The Wanted, One Direction).
“All of us had a hand in adapting the feel of songs to suit our voices,” says Becky. “We took our time to play around with them and work out who sounded better where. To the interpretation of the
lyrics, I suppose we brought our experience of being young.” Other songs came entirely from Vanquish themselves, somewhat to the girls’ surprise. They were all encouraged to write, but only when they wrote one of their first songs, ‘Rise’, did they realise of what they were capable.
‘Rise’ was inspired by eating disorder awareness charity Beat (supported by clothing giant ASOS and the Amy Winehouse Foundation), which Vanquish were asked to front a school campaign. Lyrically, it is about accepting people for who they are. Sonically, it’s a daring, ridiculously-accomplished song set to sleek beats that borrow from R&B and drum’n’bass, with gorgeous verses backed by wistful piano and a triumphant chorus that sounds like both a statement of intent and the start of a party.
“Beat is concerned with eating disorders and how to beat them by promoting self-empowerment
and body image,” explains Sophia. “We promote Beat on our schools tour, where we perform some of our own songs and a few covers, but also take time to talk to the kids about confidence and accepting themselves. The brief for the lyrics for the song were basically ‘This is who I am, get over it, don’t push me around’. I know kids don’t want to hear that in a ballad, so we kept our signature upbeat sound, but just made it a bit less dancey.”
The tour of secondary schools continues. Already Vanquish have played big bonfire parties – to 20,000 in Harlow in Essex and even more than that in Sheffield – and turned on Christmas lights, including in Preston, where Lucy’s delighted family was among the crowd. They became favourites at Freshers’ weeks at unis across the country and went down a storm at several Gay Prides, including that first gig in Bristol.
“I’ve lost count of how many dozens of shows we’ve played since then,” laughs Lucy. “One of our favourites was probably Middlesbrough Pride, where people went insane. I’ll never forget the feeling of standing on stage, watching everyone buzzing and singing along. That was the first time that had happened and it made us all even more committed, because we want that reaction at every performance.”
There have been endless early mornings and lots of late nights. There have been dozens of great gigs and probably too many giggling fits. There have been routines polished, songs written, online covers given the signature Vanquish spin and talents discovered that the girls didn’t even know they possessed.
A second single has already been chosen – it’s a corker called Let’s Get Away, which was pinched from under the noses of Syco thanks to a chance meeting in a car park and the writers (Chelcee Grimes and Nari Man) being so impressed by the band that they insisted they have it. But first, there is a debut single to release. Damn will be Vanquish’s calling card and the girls can’t wait to get going.
Vanquish are currently supporting M.A.D. on their UK tour. ‘Damn’ is released on 23rd March.