Divine Unity are an up and coming girl band with a strong, unique sound which mixes pop, soul and inspirational music. Currently performing at Charlotte Street Blues, Amardeep Sohi catches up with Sasha, Martina and Sharlene to talk about their influences, the X-factor and what’s missing from the music industry.
Tell me about how Divine Unity formed?
Sasha: We fell into it from an early age. We started off singing in church and then started singing together at around the age of 11. As things progressed naturally, we formed the group.
How would you describe your sound?
Martina: I would say the Divine Unity sound is pop but because we were raised in church we have our soulful voices. So I’d say pop with soul.
Sharlene: Just to add to what Tina said, if you come to our gigs you hear the different styles and different genres but it is definitely pop soul.
Does this mix reflect your individual personalities?
Sasha: Definitely, we’re vibrant and that reflects in our music. I’ve always enjoyed pop music and have grown up listening to Capital FM and so a lot of songs that I write have got that pop feel to it with a bit of rockiness.
Sharlene: For me, I do love all of that pop but I was raised on traditional gospel, however, it doesn’t really come out in the songs I write. For examples, Eagles has a very pop sound and I love it. I do love pop. It all just comes out, it’s the DU sound!
You all describe yourselves as songwriters. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Sasha: Real life. Our songs are just based on real life. Whatever is going on, on a day to day basis. What we’re thinking about at that time, whatever is inspiring us at that moment comes out in our music. Again, our Christian background is reflected in our music. Our songs are maybe not overtly Christian or religious but there’s a message to hopefully inspire other people.
Sharlene: Sometimes we meet for song writing days. One of us will have an idea, we’ll get together and a song will be produced.
Who are your musical influences?
Sasha: That’s really hard. I really love 80s and 90s pop so people like Madness, Kylie Minogue and 80s pop in general influences me.
Sharlene: I actually like people like Coldplay. I love, love Lauryn Hill. I do love my traditional gospel music too and I love Gary Barlow. I think he’s a great songwriter. I do enjoy my Take That.
Martina: I was raised on so much, from motown through to swing and those kind of things. So in terms of what my influences are, it’s very hard to grasp where they come from because there are so many genres that I draw on. But in terms of song writing it would be people who talk about real life and real issues. They always captivate me.
If you could work with anyone in the industry who would it be?
Sharlene: Gary Barlow! I hope one day he’ll read these interviews and say “I would like to work with these girls”.
Would you ever consider taking part in a competition like X factor as a step into the mainstream?
Sasha: That’s a question! We’ve got mixed feelings about it. On one hand it would be fantastic because of all of the exposure and everything that comes from it. But then I look at the other hand, we’re our own group and we don’t want to be told how to dress or how to look or how our music sounds. We don’t want other people writing our songs for us. We’ve been building up our brand for so many years and we feel we’ve got something unique to offer. So on one hand, yes. It would be fantastic because of the exposure but not if we’re going to be boxed in to reach a specific market.
You’ve recently signed up to Body Gossip which is a campaign that celebrates real bodies. How did you get involved?
Sharlene: Natasha Devon who is a journalist, came to our press performance at Charlotte Street Blues and really liked our energy and our songs. She put us in touch with Ruth Rogers who started the campaign. It’s an issue that we all relate to. Body image is something we all dealt with when we were younger and so to be a part of this campaign, I honestly can’t find the words, it’s like a dream. It’s what we’re all about. We want to be mentors to young girls and young guys. We want to be examples. We love fashion. It doesn’t always have to be bra and knickers. You can look good but you can be modest in it and that’s what we’re about. We’re really excited about it. We can’t wait to get started. In June we’ll be recording a poem for them and we’re really looking forward to it.
So will you be mentors?
Sasha: As opportunities come up we will but one thing that happens is that when you are putting yourself out there as an artist people automatically start to watch you. It’s something we’re very aware of and we want to make sure that the image we put out is positive and we are inspiring young girls to respect themselves and be proud of who they are. To carry themselves with dignity and integrity and not necessarily conform when society says you have to have your boobs out or you have to have a guy on your arm to show you are worth something. We want our music, whether that’s the lyrics or the way we present ourselves on stage to reflect that positive image.
Do you think that outlook and attitude is something that’s missing from the music industry?
Sharlene: I do think sometimes it’s missing. A lot of what artists wear is quite revealing. I think it’s not just the artist, it’s about the way the media portray them but I definitely think it’s something that’s missing from the industry.
Sasha: And I think a lot of the time, some of the songs that are put out there are about needing to have a guy to affirm you as a person and life isn’t necessarily like that. Sometimes you want to have a guy by your side and it’s good to be honest about how you feel, but at the same time it’s really important to show people you’re ok as you are. That who you are as a person is fantastic and there’s something special about you and you don’t have to have somebody else in your life to affirm you.
Your run at Charlotte Street Blues ends at the end of March. What’s next for Divine Unity?
Sasha: Obviously we have this campaign now which we’ll be doing in June, we’re recording poems. Also we’ll be auditioning for festivals, and getting our EP out at the end of summer hopefully. We’re in the studio at the moment and trying to get some mainstream gigs.
To find out more about Body Gossip please visit the website: www.bodygossip.org
Divine Unity have entered The Cordless Show People’ Vote. To vote for the girls to win a featured spot on the next Cordless Show please visit their website.