Two letters separated by a dot: M.O stands for ‘modus operandi’ (“a particular way of doing something,” according to the trusty Oxford). Annie, Frankee and Nadine might be able to bust out a slick line of choreography on cue, but they’re not your average, dime-a-dozen girl band.
“When you’re young you think, ‘I wanna be a singer’,” starts Annie. “You think it’s gonna be glam. But we learnt that it doesn’t fall at your feet.”
“What’s that saying?” asks Nadine. “‘Hard work beats talent, if talent doesn’t work hard!’”
The girls are on good form when Clash meets them, despite having rolled in from a studio session last night. “We always need to be there in the studio,” Nadine stresses – the girls pen all the songs themselves. “One hundred percent.”
But M.O have a certain USP in the unique crop of underground producers who’ve offered them beats. The list reads like an East London club line-up: blisteringly good grime producer Preditah, Woz from the Black Butter camp, Wiley’s favoured Bless Beats, and many more bass-ploughing beatmakers including Two Inch Punch, Loadstar and RacknRuin.
That said, hip-shaking rhythms and expertly harmonised choruses are M.O’s yield. “You can’t beat pop,” admits Annie, “but we wanna have that cool edge.” Last night they’d been working with Last Japan, a relatively new purveyor of jungle and dark bass. “It was good,” beams Frankee excitedly. “We just finished a track that’s proper TLC!”
The sound of the ’90s courses at full speed through their tracks, bubbling to the surface as garage-inflected R&B. “We all loved Destiny’s Child, didn’t we,” remembers Nadine. “It was J-Lo, old school J-Lo... and Lauryn Hill. Aaliyah.”
As well as the aforementioned musical talent, that decade was responsible for bringing us girl power, and fittingly M.O’s tracks glitter with positive, empowering messages for women. “The [music] industry is so male dominated. If you’re a girl band you get looked at as that – just a girl band,” says Frankee. “But we wanna be taken seriously. We’re not manufactured at all – we’re organic.”
The heels have been ditched in favour of trainers, and the girls chat excitedly about their upcoming album and tour dates. And with that LP soon to materialise, it’s time to get back to the M.O-shaped grindstone.
- - -
- - -
WHAT: ’90s-inspired R&B-pop with an underground edge
GET 3 SONGS: ‘For A Minute’ (video above), ‘Ain't Got Time’, ‘HOT’
FACT: Prior to M.O, Nadine and Annie were in a group called Duchess, while Frankee was one-half of Mini Viva.
- - -
Words: Felicity Martin