ZENA SHEDS MIS-TEEQ, SINGS A NEW TUNE

Zena, former-Mis-Teeq beauty, was recently in Dubai as part of Celebrity Nights, a monthly event at Trilogy, Madinat Jumeirah. With ironclad grit, and major deals and collaborations in the US, she has proved beyond a shadow of doubt that her leaving Mis-Teeq wasn't a mistake.

By Vikram Singh (Contributor)

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Published: Mon 27 Dec 2004, 3:09 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:33 AM

Her ravishing looks, effervescence and disarming smile betrayed no signs of jetlag and lack of sleep for almost two days, as she chatted to CT at a swish cafe in Madinat Jumeirah.

Been to Dubai before?

Yes and no. I was here to catch a connecting flight on the way to Brunei. But I stayed at the airport. So I have kind of been here.

Tell us something about your gig in Dubai.

I have come from London to perform and promote a track from my debut album, to make people aware of my work and to connect with the crowd before the release of my album early next year. And, of course, to have a good time while I am here.

What have you been up to recently?

A lot. I just got back from Japan where I was promoting my album, which releases there in Jan 2005. I have also been doing photo shoots, TV and radio interviews and basically showcasing my songs through gigs in different countries. So promotion is playing a big part in what I have been doing these days.

How did Mis-Teeq happen to you?

I am originally from Birmingham and I obviously knew I wanted to pursue a career in singing as a performer. All the opportunities at the time existed in London so I moved my base to London. One of the auditions I went for in London was for a singer for this production company. They took me on and told me they had a group they were trying to put together. I agreed and that's how Mis-Teeq was born.

What made you leave Mis-Teeq. Especially at a time when you were so close to hitting the big time?

I get asked this question all the time. No I don't regret my decision of quitting Mis-Teeq. Well, you see, when I moved to London, I wanted to work on a solo career, but since Mis-Teeq was the first opportunity that came my way I grabbed it, me being young, naive and raring to go, I didn't want to miss any opportunities. However, later on I was to realise that it wasn't turning out to be a fulfilling experience. I didn't feel like a part of the group. Musically, the direction in which the group was headed wasn't where I wanted to go. It was doing a lot of garage music and I didnít think I was cut out to do that, as my heart lay in R&B. Personally, I wasn't happy doing that and I didn't want to do it just to be on TV and in the magazines. I mean, don't get me wrong, all that attention is important and fun, but I just wasn't happy about the musical, the creative aspect, of it. So I just decided to bail out. I am, nevertheless, not gonna lie and say it wasn't a difficult decision to make. If you are in this business, you instinctively know when you are about to take off. And the group was about to hit the big time. So yeah, it wasn't a decision I made overnight. But I believed in myself and my abilities and I went ahead and made it.

Knowing that today Mis-Teeq is doing quite well, you feel sure that you made the right choice?

Yes, of course. I have no regrets at all. Like I said a lot of thinking and consideration had gone into reaching that decision.

You did a video, Thug Lovin', with Bobby Brown and Ja Rule. What was the experience like? Considering you must have grown up listening to Bobby Brown.

The whole thing was surreal. My getting a record deal from America and going to America was like a whirlwind. Everything that was happening to me was like a dream sequence, despite my being there hoping I'd be successful. So there I was recording in the studio when someone who knew Bobby came in. Next thing I know I went to Bobby's hotel, met him and chatted to him while chilling at the bar. The same night Bobby went he wanted to record with me. So off we went to the studio at two in the morning. That's when we did the collaboration on Been Around The World. Two weeks later he asked me to be in one of his videos and flew me on his private jet to LA. I'll never forget that moment. That was a blast.

You were also going to do a sitcom, which was to be filmed in Canada.

Well, I didn't actually get to do it unfortunately. What happened was that we were in LA doing a video with Ja Rule. Bobby was there too and was introducing me to a lot of big names there, which made me feel really important. Bobby was soon to leave for Canada and told me he could get me a part in the sitcom he was doing there. But since I had some recording commitments in the States I couldn't run off to Canada and do a sitcom.

So are you still seriously considering acting?

Yes I am. I wanna do some TV work. Of course, you are acting when you are doing videos, but you are just being yourself there. Acting will provide me the opportunity to do different portrayals. Acting is both fun and challenging. You get to be someone you are not and that is not very easy to do. So I would like to do that. Having said that, music is my first love and my focus will be on doing music, but I'd love for acting to happen naturally.

How did it feel when Whitney personally met you and told you that you would be a star?

When we were recording Been Around The World, Bobby told me he had Whitney listen to the track and that she liked it. I thought he was only saying it to make me feel good. But one night Whitney finished recoding at her studio and drove to where I was recording to kinda meet me. That's when we met and chatted. Not much on the personal front, but we just spoke about the industry and stuff. And since she has been around for so long, she was sort of sharing tips on the dos and don'ts of the music industry. I was so gobsmacked, I didn't say much except that you look so beautiful in real life, which was kinda corny, but that's all I could manage.

Your single Been Around The World features Beanie Man. What was it like working with him?

The kind of impression I had of Beanie Man before I met was totally different from what he is in real life. He is very articulate, he has been around the world and he can tell you a lot about the history of the places he has been to. When I was in Japan with him I realised he knew more about the country that I would in my whole life. He is so well travelled and has been in the industry for over ten years. So when he agreed to feature on one of my tracks, it was an honour.

What are your New Year Plans?

I'll be off to Jamaica for the recording of my next album and to explore the reggae scene there. So it's work, work and more work for me for now.



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