The Sugababes name saw many changes and variations to the line-up during their long chart-topping career in the early 2000s, but the original trio – Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan and Siobhán Donaghy, or MKS, as they performed under briefly – have taken the name back as their own and return to us better than ever.
Reuniting initially in 2012 as MKS, the Sugababes faced a long legal battle to reclaim the moniker in 2019 and have been nothing but busy since. Their latest album, The Lost Tapes, dropped 24th December 2022, formally releasing songs the trio wrote with work dating all the way back to 2011. In spite of the unfortunate delay of the release, the album has quickly become a fan favourite, climbing the charts, and tracks have since become a true highlight of their live performances. Recently in September 2023, they released their single, When The Rain Comes, in celebration of their sold-out show at London’s O2 arena, climbing the charts yet again and reclaiming their spot as music icons. With their return and new music, the trio are setting themselves apart from nostalgic reunion tours, and instead reclaiming what’s theirs, as grown women now with a story still to tell, some unfinished business, and all the talent that we fell in love with them for the first time around.
Their live performances since reforming have wowed crowds across Europe; the group shut down the Avalon stage at Glastonbury during their performance at the English festival in 2022 upon their return. Hinting at new music, and with a significant touring schedule this summer, making a stop at Germany’s highly anticipated Melt festival, the Sugababes spoke to METAL about their return as a group and what comes next.
First of all, it is so good to see you back, and with new music! How does it feel to be back as a trio?
Mutya: I love being with ladies, it feels good singing and spending time with them - we’re like sisters.
Going right back to the start, you were very successful at such a young age. What was it like being in the limelight as teenagers?
Keisha: I absolutely loved the creative process. From very early on, we were very fortunate to be surrounded by people who encouraged us to write, vocal produce our harmonies, and put our own identities into the music. I think that really helped us to develop authenticity and the Sugababes sound. I had always dreamed of being a singer and there I was, living out my dreams!
The flip side of that was adjusting to fame and school life. Things changed so fast, and it was hard to juggle. We spent a lot of time away from our family and friends and by the time we caught up, so much had changed which created a disconnect which was heartbreaking.
I also struggled a lot with the media side because most things about me were either assumed or made up. At that time, we were also surrounded by a lot of people who didn’t encourage us to come together it was very divide and conquer so really it was my faith and music that got me through it all.
A lot has changed over the years to the Sugababes name and in your own lives as individuals, but it’s refreshing to see such striking similarities still. Who do you think has changed the most over the years?
Mutya: I don’t know about who has changed the most, because we have all had things change in our lives and have all been in different situations.
You’ve had such a mental few years back with the original Sugababes name, are there any personal highlights you can share with us?
Siobhán: Our Australian tour was so much fun.  We did the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk and swam in all the rock pools along the way. Visited a Koala sanctuary, did whole crew dinners and drinks with our amazing team.  It really is a family on the road. We’re all in the same boat, away from our own families, so we make sure we make special memories together to stop you missing home.
The story of The Lost Tapes doesn’t detract from just how great the album is in my opinion, how did it feel to finally get to share these tracks and receive so much love on the songs?
Keisha: Thank you! It felt like a relief and honestly, we didn’t expect it to even chart! This was a gift back to our fans and it exceeded our expectations for sure.
You’ve been hinting at releasing another album, do you have any teasers for that that you can share with us?
Siobhán: We’re in a really incredible position.  We have total creative freedom and I feel can always go in any direction genre-wise.  This magical thing always happens at the end of the writing process, and it just feels like a Sugababes song.  We just instinctively know who needs to sing which bits, where feels like it needs a harmony or two.  It’s some kind of secret formula but even we don’t know how it works.  It just does.
We have to talk about Glastonbury 2022; you guys were amazing, so much that you shut down the Avalon field! Were you expecting that kind of reception? What did that mean to you?
Mutya:  To be honest, I didn’t even think there was anyone out there until I heard they shut the field off and then I asked for who. Every time I think about that show, it makes me really proud of us, we’ve come so far and it’s just beautiful to watch.
Speaking of festival season, you’ve got a busy summer touring ahead of you, making a stop at Melt festival in Germany. How does it feel to be performing again at shows like this during peak festival season across Europe, especially now knowing the reception awaiting you?
Siobhán: It really isn’t lost on us at all how incredibly the feedback has been from every audience.  We count our blessings every day and each show turn up with the same energy!
The line-up especially for Melt this year has some real heavy hitters, are there any shows or performers you’re hoping to hear or chat to?
Keisha: There are some really cool DJs on the line up! Hopefully I can see them all. I recently came across Bambii and I thinks she’s fire!
With such an amazing catalogue of songs, dating from the early days to the recent The Lost Tapes, which songs are you most excited to perform live?
Siobhán: We’ve switched up the setlist and have an epic intro into Freak  [Like Me] which I love. It really is banger after banger and a real joy to perform.
Is there anything you would tell your younger selves now, knowing everything you do, and the way things have worked out?
Keisha: Remember to maintain your identity! It’s so important to remember the core of who you are, what you value and what your beliefs are. When you know those things, no one will ever be able to tell you any different.