The first thing that hits is their energy. M.O has a sound that is raw, infectious and could almost knock you horizontal. The secret to their fierce style and steady ascent is simple: the band members understand each other. In the past year, the trio, comprised of Annie, Frankee and Nadine have dominated the airwaves with their rich, hypnotizing harmonies. “We want to try and bring back a bit of R&B to the UK,” says Frankee.
The group’s distinctive blend of contemporary-pop and nostalgic ’90s R&B arrangements call to the mind both TLC and En Vogue. After backing up artists like Ciara, Rudimental and Disclosure, M.O are now stepping into the spotlight, hoping to soundtrack every premature break-up this summer with their high-pitched, soaring falsettos. The group talked with RESPECT. about how Drake inspired their name, their close musical chemistry, and their rousing, high energy.
RESPECT: What was it like the first time the three of you met?
Frankee: It was actually a very funny day, all we did was laugh. It was all good vibes.
Was there any nervousness when you began working together? Did you have to do any bonding activities?
Frankee: No awkwardness at all. We had all met before we formed M.O so it was all very natural, and as for bonding exercises…no, just no [laughs].
Annie: No nervousness at all. That’s how we knew it was meant to be.
What was your first impression of each other?
Frankee: I remember Nadine being very shy [laughs]. She isn’t shy anymore. I remember the first thing Annie said to me was “Are you northern?” We are both from the north of England so that also made me laugh.
Nadine: It just felt right, like it was meant to be. Me and Annie have known each other for years from being in a previous groups, and we had known Frankee as well from being on the same scene.
Annie: I’ve known Nadine for so long now that I can’t remember first impressions, but I remember just clicking with her. You know those people that are just that same breed as you? [Laughs] And it was exactly the same with Frankee. She’s so sweet. Nobody could not get on with Frankee. We are both Northerns so we bonded over that too.
What are some of the things you‘ve learned that allow you to be more comfortable around each other?
Nadine: We’re lucky to have the relationship that we’ve got, we all understand each other. From day one we learned to be honest with each other, which is key in a group.
How important is looking good to you three as a group?
Frankee: Fashion is so important to us. It gives us a chance to express ourselves as a band. We only go on stage in what we’re comfortable in, which sometimes are boy’s clothes believe it or not.
A lot of people group your sound with bands like TLC, SWV and En Vogue. I even heard someone recently describing you as “the saviour of British R&B.” Would you consider yourself part of a musical movement?
Frankee: The comparisons to those bands mean so much to us as they’re the people we grew up listening to and whose success we aspire to have. A “musical movement” is a strong word but we definitely want to try and bring back a bit of R&B to the UK, as it got lost for a while. We love R&B but we also love pop and hip-hop. If the music makes you move, it’s important.
How personal are the songs you write? The new single “For A Minute” seems quite subjective.
Nadine: The songs are very personal to us. They have to be in order for us to connect and perform them with meaning.
Annie: “For A Minute” is for the guys who move too fast. They need to know that it’s okay to take things slow [laughs].
Are your songs coming from the same place they were when you first started out?
Frankee: Yes, they are and as we develop as a group, we always stay true to our sound and goals that we wanted from the start.
An MO is “a method of operating.” How did you get your name?
Frankee: We actually heard it in Drake’s song “The Motto.” We loved the sound of it, looked into the whole meaning, and thought, “Yes! This is us!”
Twitter-stalking you recently, we saw a tweet about Nadine screaming uncontrollably because she had heard “For A Minute” on TV. Does that happen often?
Nadine: [Laughs] That was actually the first time it happened. It’s been on a few more TV shows since, but yes. Even when we see the video on TV or hear it on the radio, emotions run high.
Annie: We all still get so excited when we hear our songs anywhere. I know as a child it was part of the dream having your song played on TV or radio, so yeah we all still get really excited.
Frankee: And it came as a surprise. We were all settled in for the night with our cups of tea.
When you’re singing together there’s a certain warmness and closeness about your chemistry. How do you make that happen?
Annie: Thank you. We’re glad people get to see that our bond is very real. We all want the same thing, we all trust each other, we really are like sisters, and you have to be.
“Wait Your Turn” is the first song you released together. How connected to that song are you now, as opposed to when you wrote it?
Frankee: Very connected. It’s the first thing we wrote together so it’s special in that way. It’s also the first thing people got to see and hear of us as M.O
The video for “Wait Your Turn” is aggressive and bouncy. What would each of your energies be like, trapped in a bottle?
Frankee: Mine would be radiant energy.
Nadine: I think mine would be creative energy. Wam, bam, shazam!
Annie: Mine would contain lots of sugar. High energy and loud!
What would they taste like?
Frankee: Light and sweet.
Nadine: It would taste like whatever you wanted it to taste, like all down to the imagination [laughs].
Annie: Intense and bubbly.
Whose poster was on your bedroom walls as teenagers?
Frankee: I had Beyoncé, Destiny’s Child and I was obsessed with B2K.
Nadine: I had a Destiny’s Child poster. And I’ll be honest I remember an A1 poster too. [Laughs] Have you been watching Big Reunion? Good show, that. Interesting to watch.
Annie: Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child. I was obsessed with both.
What do you think your fans expect of you?
Annie: Our fans are the best, we call them the M.Obsters. We just want to always keep them happy by entertaining them the best we can, and being the best we possibly can be. They’re amazing to us.
Does your music lend itself to a particular listening experience?
Frankee: I think it varies. We have all sorts of songs for different moods and experiences. The ones that tug on your heart strings, and the high energy, party ones. We hope people generally find our music uplifting and motivating.
You’ve toured with Ciara. What was that like?
Nadine: We were so happy, she is unreal live and unreal in person. Very beautiful. To open for her was a great start to our career.
How old were you when you knew you were different from other girls?
Frankee: I always felt a little bit different at school. I just had issues expressing how it. I finally came out of myself when I was 17. That was the real me.
Nadine: I think everyone’s different, obviously. The moment I entered the world. I’m not crazy, but I can be passionate crazy or creative crazy. If I was an animal I’d be a chameleon. But yeah, like Frankee I was very shy. At times, I felt like an outsider but then you just work out who you are and what you want to become.
Annie: I don’t think we’re different I just think everyone has different goals and aspirations. I think they’re all achievable with enough hard work and focus.
Do you ever think about your life if you weren’t together? Would you be able to live with having regular jobs?
Frankee: If I wasn’t doing this–which I don’t want to think about [laughs]—I would definitely still be doing something creative, maybe in fashion.
Annie: I honestly couldn’t say another job, because wanting to be a singer is all I’ve ever known and all I’ve ever wanted to do. It’s sad to think of a life without M.O and Frankee and Nadine [laughs].
Nadine: Nope. I would keep working until I got my dream. But like Beyoncé says, the aspiration in life is to be happy. It’s true though, as long as you’re happy, that’s what’s important.
You’re in a business where people will essentially sell their integrity for success. What is your staying power?
Frankee: Being true, staying real, staying tight as a band and believing.
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