YouKnowIGotSoul had a chance to catch up with veteran r&b group Allure for an interview to talk about how they originally formed as a group, working with Mariah Carey, some of the complication’s they’ve experienced in the industry which have prevented them from meeting their early success, why they decided to join Ron Artest’s label, what they’ve been up to over the past few years, what to expect on their new album, and much more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk to me about what you guys remember about originally meeting and how you decided you wanted to form a group and go into music.
Allure (Akissa): We basically all grew up together since we were very little so it was kinda a natural thing, we were kinda naturally born together in a sense. *Laughs* As far as us becoming a professional group, it wasn’t our option. Once our parents realized that we could sing, they would hear us harmonizing at home and just playing around as kids, they kinda forced us to go to high school together. So three of us went to LaGuardia High School together, we got accepted as vocal majors, and the other member who was with the group went to a different school. From there we pretty much furthered our career by doing rehearsals and stuff. We eventually met Poke from Trackmasters when we were rehearsing in the Bronx one time for a talent show we were going to do and he’s the one that kinda took us and molded us into the group and took it further.
YKIGS: As the first group signed to Mariah Carey’s label back in the day, what do you remember most about working with her?
Allure (Alia): Well we actually had a lot of fun, we did a lot of joking around, and there was a lot of playing around. *Laughs* She really helped us a lot with being comfortable with our vocals because that was our first time actually recording in a studio. It’s really different singing live than in the studio, people don’t know that, but there is a technique to the whole process. So just being comfortable with our voices and learn what was best for us like where we should sing and our keys. Also just becoming writers by watching her because she’s a good writer so she was a big influence on us in terms of learning how to write. So she helped us a whole lot.
YKIGS: The group’s debut album, the self titled album, was a success, it was a gold album. What do you remember most about recording your debut album and what was your goal to accomplish with that album?
Allure (Akissa): I think with us the one thing that we always tried to accomplish was just getting Allure across. Coming out in a time when there were groups before us and also coming behind us, we just wanted to pretty much make a mark and separate ourselves from everyone else. Just in general when it comes to the music industry, even though we did look up to groups like the En Vogues and the Supremes, we wanted to basically have our own individual sound and image as far as the group was concerned. All four of us can definitely sing individually as well as together and we wanted people to know we weren’t just like any other group. We are real singers, we love to sing from the heart, and just put ourselves in a position where we are not pigeon holed where people would say we sound like a group like 702 or Destiny’s Child because we are not. We are just Allure, so we kinda separated ourselves from that.
YKIGS: You released your second album “Sunny Days” in 2001 but it wasn’t as successful as your first album. Why do you feel this was the case?
Allure (Alia): Well actually that whole situation didn’t start off as a great situation. I think at that time with the fourth member that’s no longer part of the group, we were going through that whole turmoil with that trying to hold everything together and it wasn’t really working out. I don’t think us as a group were all together mentally to try and finish this album. The label we were at during that time didn’t really push the album, I don’t think they thought anything was going to come of it, I don’t think they took that project seriously. Especially because we released it during 9/11! They didn’t promote it properly and it was just rushed together and I think it was just a tax write-off honestly. So it just wasn’t a good time for that album.
YKIGS: Following that you guys ended up linking up with Ron Artest and joining his label. Us as fans know him as a basketball player, so what did you guys see in him from the business point of view that made you want to join his label?
Allure (Alia): We get a lot of flack about this, people are always asking us why we did that. What they don’t understand was we were looking at it from a financial standpoint; he needed us and he was willing to invest in the project. We wanted to become more involved in our creative part with doing things the way we would have wanted it to be done. So he was on our side, he wanted to do it, he was going to put forth the money so that we could do it, but then we realized that he also wanted to be an artist too, he wanted to rap. So that kinda created confusion as far as that but also he’s a great guy who really believed in us. He had other people in his ear telling him different things and wanting him to put his money in another place and not wanting to be involved in music, and then his fight in the NBA happened so we were just mixed up in all of this crazy stuff. So that’s what happened with that. Yea, we’ve been through some things. *Laughs*
YKIGS: So following the whole Ron Artist situation, where did you guys go from there?
Allure (Akissa): Well from there we pretty much kinda put ourselves in a position where we just wanted to hit the breaks for awhile. It’s been so much, from Mariah to Columbia, then from Columbia to MCA, it’s always been a situation that kinda took us aback to the point we wondered if we should do it anymore. So at that point we decided to take a break and took some time out for our families and the rest of us had kids, so now we have our children to look to as a reason to go ahead as a reason to try again. So now we are at a point where we are kinda doing it independently to see where that goes and see if we can have more control over the situation creatively and just put our ideas across without having too much nonsense within the mix.
YKIGS: Talk about the project you’re currently working on.
Allure (Alia): Well as Akissa said we are once again not trying to totally do it on our own, we are getting help and there are people involved. But this time we really wanted it to be where people really get to know who we are as a group. I think on the first album people got a taste of it but it was still other people’s vision of what they felt we should be. We just want people to know that we are a singing group first, it’s about singing for us and we want people to have great music and stuff people will listen to years and years and years from now, children’s children will listen to it. We just want people to feel good, we want our music to make people feel good. Our music is personal and what we have to say is very personal, so that’s what we want to bring forth this time around. In the past in our music we’ve done a lot of begging and please stay with me and I’m crying on my knees. *Laughs* We want to show a different side this time around because we’ve been through a lot. When we were signed we were 18 to 20 years old and we’re older now and we have a lot to offer and to say.
YKIGS: As far as releasing a new album, do you see that happening sometime this year?
Allure (Alia): We’re hoping, we’re keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that everything comes together so we can have something out.
Allure (Akissa): In the meantime we’re going to see if we can release some stuff to the DJs to try and keep the buzz going and stay afloat so people don’t say we came out again and disappeared again. We’re going to try and see if we can we do mixtapes and if God provides maybe some soundtracks if it comes in the works. Just concentrating on staying busy and staying productive, that type of thing.
YKIGS: Although you’ve lost a member over the years, the three of you have been together so long. Has it been tough to remain together as a group with all you’ve been through? I know you’ve mentioned the tough times the group has been through and the tough situations.
Allure (Alia): Well not so much as far as being with each other, just dealing with the industry; that has made us sometimes wonder why we are even sticking with this. We just know that there are fans out there, every time we do a show we have fans telling us a song got them through a tough situation or another song moved them in a certain way, so that’s why we keep fighting for our place in the industry.
YKIGS: You mentioned that you guys took some time off and started families and all of that. How hard has it been to try and re-launch your career after taking that time off?
Allure (Alia): I guess it takes some getting used to because we have babies and you don’t want to leave them so you go through the whole emotional thing. *Laughs* But you know that you are doing this for your family, and this is why we are doing what we’re doing, so it makes it all worthwhile. So it’s not too bad once you sit down and really think about it why we’re doing it, so it makes sense.
YKIGS: As veterans of this industry, like you guys have mentioned you’ve learned a lot of important lessons. Is there some advice you could offer to an upcoming artist or group who’s trying to make it?
Allure (Akissa): Well definitely keep God first, that’s one thing that kinda kept us together even through losing a member and dealing with the industry or whatever. We definitely keep prayer as something to keep us strong because God knows the industry can sometimes hit you so hard that you suffer from the blows. So you definitely have to pray, you definitely have to surround yourself with people you can trust, surround yourself with people that you can call your family and at the same time can have business with. Business can sometimes screw things up; you have to really know how to make it through. Being that we have a family bond here, we are basically like sisters, so at the end of the day nobody can come in break us apart because we always keep each other on the same page. Just pretty much surround yourself with a team that’s going to work solely for you and that you have the respect of giving each other the space to breath but at the same time going towards the end goal which is winning, like Charlie Sheen would say. *Laughs* That’s pretty much what you have to do, if you’re working with people you can’t trust it’s not going to work.
Allure (Alia): Really study and hone your craft. We really didn’t know that this was what we wanted to do and we were just pushed into it. But really don’t go in there with your eyes closed and thinking that everything is so glamorous, it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of hard work. Believe me, there are going to be some falls you’re going to have to take so brush yourself off and get back up, it’s going to happen.
YKIGS: Anything you’d like to add?
Allure (Akissa): Just thank you for all your support. If you guys want to follow what we’re doing you can contact us on Facebook at Facebook.com/AllureLive and we also have an official Allure Twitter page at @OfficialAllure. Also our blog site where we pretty much put up videos and pictures from all of our trips and events, that’s at www.allurelive.blogspot.com. So you can pretty much stay up to date on everything that we’re doing.
This was a good interview. Great job Slam!
Thank you! Appreciate it!