Named collectively after the first letter of each of their four vital individual components; Chloe, Lynsey, Emma and Aimee, or Clea as you soon will know them, already look set to make a massive dent on the UK pop charts. To say ‘pop’ would probably be depriving them of some of their dues, as their songs transcend the barriers of purely sugar coated tunes with a new wide-screen sound that belittles their tender years…Clea are four contrasting voices, four personalities, four different family backgrounds and sets of influences, but with one collective bond and friendship that makes them altogether more real!
First some brief history: It all began when the girls met and bonded last year amidst the madness of Popstars: The Rivals, whilst co-habiting during the shows latter stages. OK…so some of you might scoff, but for the girls, one of whom had never even auditioned for anything before, it was a chance for them to showcase their talents in the only way they knew, and intrinsically it has paid off… Here we are seven months later, with something special building in our midst.
Frankly with only Lynsey outside her teens at just 20, Chloe and Emma 19, and the youngest Aimee only 17, these girls from towns (Manchester, Chelmsford, Northampton and Southport respectively) across UK are testament to just how far talent and self-belief can take you. It takes a certain type of courage and conviction to put yourself into such a huge media spotlight, and that should be heralded, not castigated.
“People may remember us from that show, but it takes a lot of bottle to throw yourself out there. Now with Clea we just want to do something that represents us individually and musically, and show that we can do it,” says Chloe. “I’ve done a lot of growing up over the last year. I never thought I’d be leaving home at 17 and living with three other girls, let alone with a record deal,” says Aimee. “I’d be starting at university if none of this had happened, a year ago this was all a dream world,” adds Lynsey.
“We want success, but most of all we want to be respected. I’ve always taken life one step at a time but you’ve got to set your goals high,” quips Chloe. “I hope we can be an influence on other young girls. If you want something enough, anything is possible,” adds Aimee. “Since the show, people’s perceptions of us have changed but we’re the same people! We’ve basically broken away from school-life,” says Emma.
The first thing that you will notice about the girls is their last gang in town mentality; each bringing their own characteristics and personality to the melting pot, and a role to their tight-knit family dynamic… Chloe, who comes from a stage school background, is extroverted, driven, headstrong and a little bit wild. Lynsey, the self appointed mum of their household, is both sensible, caring and wise or alternatively the fun loving opposite end of the spectrum, dependent on her moods or outfit. She also has a predilection for shopping and shoes.
Emma, now back to her natural dark haired roots, is diplomatic, contemplative, protective, and giggly, with a streak of lethargy when it comes to the cooking. Whilst the baby blonde Aimee, the youngest of the group, is sensitive, a touch mad, good at keeping the peace, mature for her age but not “boring” at it, and doubles occasionally as a human synthesiser. Melded together they are sexy, funny, smart, sassy, and everything you’d expect from stars in the making.
Following the show, each member was individually bombarded with offers of work in TV and music. As we all know, only fools rush in, and thankfully whilst weighing their own offers up, each concluded that they still wanted to be part of a group. Luckily for us, destiny would have it that the girls remained in touch. One night during a slumber party chez Chloe, their collective path was set in stone; and most importantly it was done without the help of any record labels, PR Gurus or management Svengalis.
“If you want to be a solo singer, then be a solo singer, but that’s not what any of us wanted,” says Chloe. “We wanted to be a band, we all got on, we liked the same things and most importantly we just bounced off each other. We weren’t forced to do this together… It just seemed like the right and only thing to do,” adds Lynsey.
With their initial vision intact, Clea quickly landed a record deal with 1967 Ltd and immediately moved back in together and set out to create the Clea sound. Enough history for now though, with their debut album already crafted, recorded and dusted there is plenty, just waiting to be written.
Their debut single ‘Download It,’ is a breath of fresh air; all grandiose sweeping strings, coupled with dramatic musical changes and seductive vocal melodies. It was in fact the first song they recorded and the natural choice for single numero uno. “It’s a defining statement from us. It says we’re here, and we want to be around for a long time,” states Emma,” It’s catchy but quite epic at the same time,” “The first time I heard it, it blew me away,“ adds Chloe, “It’s so addictive.” An alternative club mix has found favour with Pete Tong, who has already given support to the Cicada remix on the Essential Selection on Radio 1.
“We want people to know that while we are a girl band, it’s not just one of us up there singing, with the others dancing behind. The album is reflective of all of us,” says Lynsey, “we’ve put our experiences into the words of the songs and become close friends as well as band and flatmates,” adds Emma.
Ask them individually about their musical influences whilst growing up, and you’ll get mutual citings of Madonna and Michael Jackson – this generations pop idols of choice – alongside the likes of Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye, Shania Twain, Stevie Wonder and Lionel Ritchie. When quizzed about their favourite sounds of today the girls will reveal a thoroughly mixed bunch including Christina Aguilera, Jay Z, Missy, Pink, Coldplay, Destiny’s Child, Donnell Jones, Joe, Busted and Justin T.
Clea in fact sound like none of the above, instead they make music that has digested the grandness of their different mix of interests combined with their individual vocal dynamics, and have channelled them all into something sexy, thoroughly individual and new for 2003. Comparisons will always be inevitable – the closest being Clea filling the gap left when All Saints went to girl band heaven. But here there is no deliberate formula…no sprinkling of R’n’B, no pinch of pop, or touch of electronics to create an identikit sound. Instead what you hear is Clea, the most exciting new act to come along in years, a band who will sit comfortably in the charts, in your living room, in clubs or happily just running through your head.
Their debut album, which you will hear more about very soon, was recorded with the assistance of a variety of producers and writers from around the world, from Los Angeles to Russia, giving it a truly international flavour, from Sergio Galliano (the producer and composer of Tatu’s big hits) to Sylvia Bennett (Destiny’s Child) and more importantly, tracks penned by the girls themselves. It is something the CLEA girls are immensely proud of. Since completing the album, the girls have penned several new songs for future release and hope to be performing live across the world as soon as is humanly possible.
Whilst the girls are adjusting to their new lifestyle, their ambition remains resolute, and they realise that there is a long road ahead. Emma sums it up for them all, “We want to work hard and enjoy it, and we’re planning on being around for a long time to come.”