Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

The Revelations: Perfect harmony

The new girl group, The Revelations, sing vintage pop while clicking their fingers gently to the beat. The three girls who sound just a little like Abba already have their own club night every first Sunday of the month at The Notting Hill Arts Club called The Revelations Book of Soul, where fans including The Killers congregate and the British music industry mogul, Alan McGee, who discovered Oasis, takes to the decks as the girls' resident DJ.

The Revelations are the flame-haired Louise Masters, 24, and brunette Sarah Vitorino, 21, from England, and Annika Magnberg, 24, from Sweden. They bring good old fashioned pop sensibility back into fashion. They are signed to their own label, Crazy Dancer Records, with distribution via McGee's Poptones label. Since the band hit the B-list of Radio 2's playlist along with Amy Winehouse with their new single, they have been approached by major record labels. They have a finished album, due out later this year, that is produced by hot shot Ian Grimble who usually works with KT Tunstall, Travis, Texas and Manic Street Preachers.



When I meet them, the three are bubbling with excitement. It turns out that they have just had their latest song played on Radio 2. Masters and Vitorino first met after answering an advert in the NME looking for the 21st-century Ronettes, while Magnberg was dragged from near Gothenburg on the recommendation of the band's manager.



Even the best girl bands often have a svengali behind them. In this case it is Adam Howarth, formerly of the surf rock band Captain Soul. He had a vision to form a classic girl band in the same ilk as The Ronettes, The Supremes and The Shirelles. In his role as an invisible band member, Howarth writes all the music - and the lyrics. Indeed, he dishes them out to the girls, like there is no tomorrow.



There are the pop songs "Baby I Want You To Know", "You're The Loser", "Waiting For You", "Don't Let him Go" - all potential singles - while "I'm A Lover" has a Latin feel, " Last Night" is an edgier rock song and "Here In My Arms" is a love ballad.



"I wanted to resurrect an authentic and organic pop movement similar to the one Phil Spector established with Gold Star, his independent Hollywood recording studio, where he took the best young songwriters and session musicians to work on his acts which he also wrote songs for," says Howarth. "For as long as I can remember, pop music has been distilled to this superficial entity that is devoid of all meaning and resonance. That is why I wanted to re-create a classic girl band."



It was a happy coincidence that producer Grimble was also enthusiastic to form a girl band, and help Howarth. By the time the three girls turned up for the audition at a studio in Harlesden, things started to look up. About 40 girls had been auditioned, although over 100 responses flooded in from the advert. Masters sang "Desperado" by The Eagles at the audition, before being slung together with the other two for a rendition of Howarth's song "The Sound Of Your Heart Breaking" to see how their voices sounded as a whole. Magnberg, who sung Aretha Franklin's "Respect " was tested to see how she could belt out her voice. "I'm always on the top in harmonies," she says.



Quickly they bonded musically, initially taking to performing on stage in black and white, then each wearing a block colour of red (Vitorino), black (Masters) and white (Magnberg) before they settled on casual glitter wear.



Their first gig was at McGee's Death Disco Club. This was followed by the release of a single sampler, "You're The Loser" on Fierce Panda (home to debuts including Keane and Oasis), making them the first girl band to be signed to the label. This led to airplay on Steve Lamacq's Radio 1 and 6 music shows. They played at the O2 Wireless Festival in Hyde Park, as well as at a Radio 2 live broadcast at the Blackpool's Illuminations, where The Zutons carried their bags.



Although for these girls Abba was way before their time, they still grew up on a diet of "Dancing Queen", particularly Magnberg whose Swedish accent evokes the era vividly. All the girls had been to music college when they joined forces. "It gave me the confidence to sing when previously I'd been a shower singer," says Masters who sung "anything and everything" on the club circuit.



Vitorino, who lives with her parents, used to put on live shows in a local park. Magnberg also learnt jazz and ballet at school, although this does not really come in handy as the band don't do full-on routines. It appears that Vitorino, the younger member of the band and a Justin Timberlake fan, could be more eager to dress up on stage like Girls Aloud - "Who knows," she suddenly pipes up. "We are open to change." The other two like Franz Ferdinand, Fleetwood Mac, Jamie Cullum, Abba and Aretha Franklin. " Our look is very modern. We don't wear retro clothes such as tight Sixties dresses and big hair," says Magnberg. Although they have written some of their own songs in private, at the moment the girls are under Howarth's experience and control. "We get given a very basic melody," says Magnberg politely. "Then as a group we arrange all the harmonies together."



"I think our music is great if it brings happiness," says Masters. "That's what music has always done for me, so I'd love to do just do that for other people. That is the nicest thing about becoming really successful."



The Revelations will release 500 signed singles of "If I Called You On The Telephone" on 12 February. The single will also be available to download at www.myspace.com/therevelationsuk

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