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Interviews with the stars at Cheshire Oaks

Ben Patey meets the singing supernova, Mr Hudson and Lynda Moyo says TFI Friday after meeting the Saturdays

Written by . Published on November 18th 2009.

Interviews with the stars at Cheshire Oaks

The Urban Gentleman

As the rain lashes down on a fervent crowd outside, a coughing noise can be heard from inside a small trailer.

Ben Hudson – ‘Mr Hudson’ as he is professionally known - is at Cheshire Oaks to perform and switch on the Christmas lights. But as he pops a cough sweet in his mouth, takes a blast from a Vicks Vapor Inhaler and then sneezes, it’s fairly apparent he’s a little under the weather...

“I’ve been keeping Boots in business”, he jokes.

Mr Hudson used to be Mr Hudson and The Library. A performance on Later... with Jools Holland brought him and his band and their energetic performances to prominence. They soon developed a dedicated fan base.

Somehow Kanye West had got hold of their debut album, A Tale of Two Cities and proceeded in signing Mr Hudson to his label. He then got him to sing on and help produce his latest record 808s & Heartbreaks and then produced Hudson’s first solo album Straight, No Chaser, on which he also performs. Next thing, the lad from Birmingham’s singing on Jay Z’s latest album and hanging out with the likes of Rihanna and Beyonce in the LA sunshine.

“I still have to pinch myself”, says Hudson. "She (Beyonce) is on another level and so is Jay-Z. He's really chilled and doesn't say much. I look forward to one day sitting down with him and talking nonsense."

Mr Hudson always was the English gentleman with a twist. Baggy jeans with a trilby. Nike hi-tops and a blazer. Strings with a heavy bass line. He once collaborated with a London graffiti artist to create a new cover for George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

He once said that he prides himself on being good company whether he is talking to a Big Issue seller or taking tea with the Queen- equally at home with the destitute or royalty.

The kettle boils in the background.

The ensuing interchange in his trailer is an oscillation between Mr Hudson – the distinguished English gentleman and a slightly more ‘street’ version.

‘What are you currently listening to on your ipod?’

‘The new Q Tip record’

‘What’s your favourite book?’

‘The dictionary’

‘What one record inspired you as an up and coming musician?’

‘Original Pirate Material’ by The Streets.

‘Favourite song?’

‘My Funny Valentine...’

At this point, Hudson becomes animated.

“Go and buy Chet Baker Sings. You can get pick it up for about £4. I’ll give you the money back if you don’t like it. It’s the perfect rainy day record.”

Baker is someone who Hudson has regularly referred to as ‘a crucial vocal inspiration’.

When asked which song he wished he’d written it’s the latter that’s cited.

“Anything by Bowie. Although, if I was thinking financially I would say ‘Yesterday’ with the amount of airplay that it’s had.”

West has undoubtedly been a major factor in Hudson’s recent eminence. Perhaps it’s the flu or the paraphrasing of a routine question that slows him momentarily.

“What has Kanye West learnt from Mr Hudson?”

After considering the question for quite some time, it’s the trilby doffing side of his personality that answers,

“What has Kanye learnt from me? I’d have to say how to wear tweed”.

West, never one for an understatement, recently compared Hudson to Frank Sinatra – a comparison he laughs off.

Sinatra may be one comparison too far but another person he’s been compared to vocally once sang ‘Modesty and propriety can lead to notoriety’.

Sting’s apparently a fan too. Perhaps the reserved Hudson is familiar with the lyrics to ‘Englishman in New York’ although he’d be better off setting up camp in the sunnier climates of LA given that cold. With Rihanna if he’s got any nous.

Mr Hudson stands up to shake hands and smiles politely.

“Nice to meet you. Safe journey home.”

The crowd outside are chanting Mr Hudson’s name.

‘Thanks Mr Hudson. Good luck out there.’

The rain takes a turn for the worse. A coughing noise can be heard from inside a small trailer.

Nothing a cup of tea and a bit of Chet Baker won’t fix.

The little madams

In a bigger trailer and also waiting for their appearance at the Cheshire Oaks’ switch-on, girl band the Saturdays managed to put their make-up brushes down for a moment (they were over an hour late) and have a brief chat with Lynda Moyo...

Although short in numbers (we were joined by three of the fivesome) they weren’t short of a thing or two to say when it came to their claim to fame and those constant Girls Aloud comparisons.

“We’re five different girls. We sing completely different music. They do pop but they never do pop R’n’B. It’s a completely different style. We made a conscious decision not to work with the same producers as Girls Aloud because we want to be the Saturdays. Why have two Girls Aloud when we’ve already got one?” said Rochelle.

Unfortunately it didn’t stop Never Mind the Buzzcocks presenter Jack Whitehall from making jibes about S club Juniors- the group of which Rochelle and Frankie were child stars in, as well as likening the Saturdays to a ‘less catchy’ Girls Aloud. Ouch.

Ever resilient, Rochelle defended: “He was wrong. No one really says any of that stuff anymore. That was just him being a smart arse. We’re on our seventh single now.”

Still, a fair way to go before reaching the girl band heights of their idols the Spice Girls. Perhaps some quirky nicknames might help the public get to know them as it did with Posh, Scary et al?

“Everyone always asks us this but that was their thing. We’re happy with our normal names. We came up with the name the Saturdays because we didn’t want a typical girl band name, it was just a bit different and it’s our favourite day of the week.”

With so much manufacturing in the charts, it’s hard not to think the girls are just a media machine with programmed answers as talk turns to their new endorsement adverts with Impulse.

Straight of the mark, spokeswoman for the group Rochelle said: “Impulse is what we represent. We’re always on the go so it’s good for us- it’s a quick fix. They approached us and it’s always a good sign that you’re doing well when that happens. We were just really honoured to do it.”

Such commercial contracts are what took the Spice Girls from girl band to girl brand but aren’t the Saturdays more concerned with their musical credentials?

Una, the eldest member of the group, proudly points out: “We write our own music. We’ve written a track on our new album called Deeper and we’ve written all the b-sides too...” Rochelle, however, is quick to assert the importance of having the best tracks available, even if they are written by someone else.

Clearly the business brains of the group she says: “We’re not pressured - when we hear songs and think they’re amazing we’re not going to let someone else have it, we’d rather it be ours.”

Despite being in a position envied by girls everywhere, the pop bubble is all too often easily burst and in spite of their lip gloss coated smiles, the Saturdays do seem to know the perils of stardom and more importantly what they need to do to sell records and stay in the game.

X Factor chat lifts the mood as fun-time Frankie happily chants that she wants Olly to win this year. The girls are more at ease when given the go-ahead to talk about the opposite sex and the question of what they like in a man’s physical features results in a very giggly debate.

“I like a man’s man. Real rough and ready. A big man,” asserts Rochelle.

“I really like Marc Jacobs fragrance on a man” adds Una.

“I like Chanel Allure and I like long hair. Curly is perfect,” says Frankie turning to my colleague Ben and his glistening brown goldie locks. Hmmm, perhaps they would have preferred him to have taken this interview...

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OmniscientNovember 18th 2009.

Never heard of 'em!

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