SWV Essence Festival 2013-1

SWV was one of the most successful and talented r&b groups coming out of the 90’s, and when they made their return in the early 2010’s, they picked up right where they left off. With the release of their comeback album “I Missed Us” and reality show, the world got an up close view on the challenges of staying together as a group. The quality of the music didn’t suffer one bit though, and that’s also true on their latest album “Still”. With the new album, the group has further solidified themselves among the top r&b groups of all time. YouKnowIGotSoul caught up with SWV for an interview to discuss the creation of the new album, their process working together, having love for the genre of r&b, what their legacy means to them, and more.

YouKnowIGotSoul: The new album “Still” is out now. We reviewed the album and thought it was great. We noticed you kept your signature 90’s vibe intact while also mixing in some progressive sounds. Talk about what you tried to do with the creation.

SWV (Taj): We just tried to put together the best album that we could possibly put together. We recorded that album in a week! We were just looking to put together great songs that moved us and would move anybody that would listen to it. We stuck to things we knew were true to what we usually do. We were just looking for things that sound great quality and stuck to the vibe of SWV and had a little uptempo sound. Pretty much the vibe that SWV has.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk to us about what that one week was like that the album was recorded in. It sounds pretty intense.

SWV (Coko): Yea, that was a tough one.

SWV (Lelee): We kinda had an idea of what lied ahead of us, but it was a tough week. We got it done and had a lot of help. We had a chef and a nice pool, we recorded the album in Miami, so I think that kinda helped a lot too. *Laughs* It was a lot of hard work.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Did you guys look back on the “I Missed Us” album you released a few years back and learn anything from the release of it?

SWV (Taj): No not really. Our process is pretty much the same all of the time. I just wish people would have applauded that album a lot more. That’s what we learned, that people don’t support music anymore.

SWV (Coko): Once you reach a certain again, they stop supporting you.

YouKnowIGotSoul: That is true, especially in r&b. With that being known, how do you find the motivation to keep making good music?

SWV (Taj): Because it’s in our hearts to do it and we still believe in ourselves. The funny thing is they are pushing our music to the Adult Contemporary stations, but we don’t feel that way in our hearts. We still feel young and vibrant. We can’t understand why we’re being quarantined to this one section when we feel we relate to everybody!

SWV (Coko): We have so many young fans that listen to our music and come out to support us.

SWV (Lelee): But they don’t put everybody in that category. There are some artists that they play on mainstream radio. I just think it’s us. Jamie Foxx came out with “Blame it on the Alcohol” and that song did really well. I think people pick and choose. We are always going to stay true to the culture of r&b music. That’s who we are, that how’s we started.

YouKnowIGotSoul: We love that, and that’s definitely noticeable on the new album “Still” so we’re so happy you went in that direction. One song that stood out was “Love Song”, we noticed it has a bit more of a trendy vibe. Did you try something different on that one?

SWV (Coko): Yea , it’s more of something you’d hear the new kids doing. We just wanted to show that new school, old school, whatever it is, we can sing it, we’re still relevant.

YouKnowIGotSoul: With you guys being successful for so many years, what’s your favorite aspect of being an artist? Recording, creating music, or performing?

SWV (Coko): Performing. When the crowd has high energy, that gives us energy, and we just have a good time on stage.

SWV (Lelee): The fact that they are there and even come out to support us, we get a high from that alone!

YouKnowIGotSoul: Looking back at the reality show you guys had recently, how did you feel it helped boost your careers?

SWV (Lelee): I don’t think it boosted our careers. We had a career before the reality show. It helped other people’s careers, but we were here and established for 20 years. Some people liked it, some people didn’t. We as a group definitely had our challenges as far as doing something new. Will we ever revisit it again? I don’t know.

SWV (Coko): It was sort of like a blessing and a curse. We were on TV so everybody got to see we were still doing things. On the flip side, they saw the show and they think of us as one way. That’s just now who we are everyday all day.

SWV (Taj): Once you do a reality show, you have to live with the story lines good or bad. Unfortunately they follow you long after the show is over.

YouKnowIGotSoul: As you mentioned, the reality show helped but you were already established doing this for 20 years. We recently looked back at some of the 90’s female r&b groups and noted how SWV is still to this day one of the most successful and have influenced so many artists. How do you view your legacy as a group?

SWV (Taj): After almost 25 years to say that we have a legacy is a blessing, and to say that people are still singing those songs, it makes you blush because everybody doesn’t have that opportunity to even speak those words. It feels good to be able to say we can do that. Words can’t describe it.

YouKnowIGotSoul: We discovered that many of the other 90’s female r&b groups have broken up or have had lineup changes. You guys are still here and we got to see some of your struggles during the show. What is the biggest compromise of being a successful group?

SWV (Lelee): Probably our families. We live in three different states, we have lives. This is just one part of us that the world knows about. We have three different lives outside of music. I’m a grandmother and I have two kids, Coko has two kids, Taj has two boys. Live is different. They’re wives. Our agenda changes drastically. It’s not over once we land in our home states, another chapter begins. I think that’s a huge compromise. It’s important for us to make every day count. Every day on the road we have a good time. We chose to do this and we want to make it count.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Anything you’d like to add?

SWV (Coko): I want to say thank you for such a good interview. *Laughs*

SWV (Lelee): I appreciate you for not asking us how we got started! If somebody else asks us that question, I’m going to kill myself! *Laughs*

YouKnowIGotSoul: *Laughs* We love you guys and we know SWV so well and what you’ve meant to R&B so we’re just happy to have the opportunity to support.

SWV: Thank you so much!