In May 2000 «It feels so good» crushed into #1 in the UK singles charts.
But Sonique won't sacrifice the turntables for a career as a pop star:
Sonique Stays True To Club Roots
Long before her single «It feels so good» began making its mark on the pop charts, Sonique was an acclaimed DJ in international dance music.
Now that she's in the limelight, the British performer says her new pop star title doesn't mean she's pushing her turntables aside.
"People assume that this is stepping up from DJing, and I'm like, 'Wait a minute!'" Sonique said recently.
"I have two jobs, so they both have to sit right with each other."
And Sonique makes sure they do: During her live shows, she stays close to her club roots by alternating from the spotlight to behind the booth.
"When you see her at a club spinning records and then step out to sing it live and just nail it, it's a really cool dynamic,"
said Avery Lipman, senior vice president at her current label Republic/Universal Records.
Sonique started out as a singer, recording her first song when she was still a teenager. In 1990 she was credited for the "transcendental
loop-groove" on a track called «Zombie Mantra» on the album «Set the Controls for the Heart of the Bass»
(see left), the debut record of William Orbit's hottest project Bass-O-Matic at that time before teaming with DJ Mark Moore in S'Express
a year later. The dance-pop duo charted in the UK with such singles as «Nothing to Lose» - which Sonique
co-wrote and sang on - but never broke wide in the U.S. She then turned her attention toward DJing, training for three years before
making her live debut. Not long after she did, she developed followings in Europe, Hong Kong and the U.S.
Still, Sonique kept one foot in singing, contributing vocals to tracks by veteran techno producer / DJ Josh Wink
(«Higher State of Consciousness») and obscure acts such as Gusto («Disco's Revenge»), Helicopter
(«On Ya Way») or Kendoh («Nagasaki»). Sonique has done the cover artwork for the 1998 album «Waves»
by Electronic Universe (see left).
Sonique was the first artist signed to Jimmy and Doug's Farmclub, the Universal Music online imprint started by industry veterans Jimmy Iovine
and Doug Morris. So she is also one of the first musical success stories originating from the Internet. When Iovine and Morris heard a cut from
her album, they decided to make her album «Hear Me Cry» the debut release of their Internet label, Farmclub.com. The
subsequent success of Farmclub's late-night TV show and extensive press coverage carried Sonique along for the ride.
On Valentine's Day 2000, she released her album «Hear My Cry», featuring «It Feels So Good».
The song now [May 01, 2000] is at #10 after 15 weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (later it will peak at #8 there).
Sonique admits to being a bit shocked by its success. "I'm quite surprised, to be honest, that it's happened here [in the U.S.] for me,"
she said. "I'm in the whirlwind of it all."
The singer wrote the tune four years ago and released it as a single in the UK two years later [in 1998]. Though it charted, Sonique hadn't bothered to
save the DAT of the backing track, so when the time came to play the song live, she had to go back into the studio to re-record it. "That's
how much I didn't expect anything to happen with this record," she said. "As far as I was concerned, that was it."
'One Of Those Brilliant Accidents'
But that was far from it. The record, originally out in November 1998 in the UK, actually became a success story in America accidentally
after a UK import of 10,000 copies of the record. After a DJ in Tampa, Florida, gave «It Feels So Good» heavy play in a club, radio stations in Florida began
following suit in late 1999. Among them was KPOW-FM in Miami, which claims to be the first station to have added the tune into regular
rotation. Programming director Kid Curry said he decided to "beat the hell" out of «It Feels So Good» because he
thought it would ease listeners into trance music, which he said he believed was about to burst from the underground.
"The particular sound of this song meant something different," he said. "It was the one sort of mass-appeal trance song I
could play that wouldn't offend anybody. It was a big enough
hit that no one was going to label it as a trance song - it was just a big damn hit record."
A spokesman for Sonique's label Serious said, "Everyone wants to support a British artist that has broken the US charts. It gives the UK a
chance to define the US dance scene." Her success in the US has helped the record to get playlisted by Radio One, Kiss and Capital in the
UK before its release later this month [May 2000].
The album's second single, «Sky» is already receiving about 60 spins a week at KPOW, Curry said. The song won't be released
officially to radio until June 20, but Sonique is planning to shoot a video for it as well.
Sonique, whose earliest musical influences were classic soul artists, such as Roberta Flack and Otis Redding, and disco, said that
«Hear My Cry» reflects her eclectic musical tastes. "It's quite a diverse album," she said. "It's got ballads
and really up tunes, it's got stuff that sounds a bit like Portishead, it's got stuff that's quite R&B. But it's very dance-orientated."
Lipman said Sonique had built a career out of talent, passion and years of hard work but attributed her sudden pop success to "one of
those brilliant accidents."
"It's been a long road - it's funny these overnight successes that usually take 10 years," he said. "This is a woman
who is passionate about music and lives and breathes music. She worked up to the point where she was ready for the next level, and she made
the transition beautifully."
Sonique is now catching fire as a pop star in the UK, Holland, Sweden and Canada, Lipman said, adding that she's "going in reverse,"
as British artists usually break overseas before being noticed in the U.S.
Teri van Horn, modified [May 01, 2000]
DJ superstar feeling so good - an article from SKY magazine
Oasis must be gutted. While they've been slogging away for half a decade trying to make it stateside, a little-known Brit DJ/singer re-jigs
a track she first recorded four years ago. As it happens, Londoner Sonique is far from an overnight sensation. A former pentathlete, her
introduction into showbiz came in 1990 when she joined dance chancers S'Express. A couple of years later she launched a career behind
the decks, culminating with a residency at Ibiza's Manumission. "Ibiza had a big impact to my life,"
says Sonique wistfully. "It was big, it was beautiful, it was free."
Sonique admits to having lived the White Island madness to the max in the past but now feels ready to knuckle down:
"I've done the whole rock'n'roll superstar DJ lifestyle, hanging off the chandeliers. It's now time to be
focused." Sadly, being focused also entails being single, though she adds cheekily: "I'm still
reading the menue, even if I'm not ordering."
So, as Sonique prepares for a UK and US tour, does she have a message for Oasis? "No," she
laughs. "But I'm sure they've got one for me."
Damon Syson, for SKY magazine #167 / July 2000
(shortened). Photography by Sean Cook.
A mate since school days
During the late 90ies and early 2000 years Sonique was signed to Sam O'Riordan's (brother of famous DJ Judge Jules) and
Simon Belofsky's influential record label and management company,
Serious. Judge Jules about Sonique:
"I'm biased because we went to school together, but I think if you plotted a graph of popularity against
time, she's the fastest-rising DJ star there's ever been. She came to gigs with me for three years and
studied the crowds and then ... the lunatic took over the asylum! I think she's one female DJ who can cut
it over and above the blokes. There's no tokenism because she's a woman: even if she didn't sing, she'd still cut it."