Rak-Su interview: The X Factor winners sloping to out-sell One …
December 8, 2017 - one direction
“Your cup’s not on a coaster,” says Myles Stephenson, who is wearing a blue-and-white tracksuit by KTZ (Rak-Su is brief for “tracks and suits”) and stretches out on a lounge underneath a hulk mural of Cowell that dominates a room. “He’s going to remove his head. I’m going to grass.” Right now, though, all eyes are on Rak-Su.
If you’re not one of a 4.4 million people who tuned into The X Factor final, here’s a catch-up. It’s dual days given Stephenson and his bandmates, Jamaal Shurland, Mustafa Rahimtulla and Ashley Fongho — aged 26, 25, 26 and 25 respectively — and childhood friends from Watford kick Lancashire-born thespian Grace Davies, aged 20, in a final. Cowell has already sloping them to outperform another party of his impertinent chappies, £200 million-rated heart-throbs-on-hiatus One Direction. This week alone, Rak-Su have hold down No 1, No 3, No 4, No 5 and No 6 in a iTunes charts. They’re all single, that is unequivocally bankable.
They have large boots to fill. “It’s The X Factor, it’s your universe for 6 weeks nonetheless unexpected it’s not a be-all and end-all,” says Stephenson. “We need to work a lot harder than we ever did to means ourselves. The tough work starts now.”
Rak-Su are 2017’s good news story. They write a lyrics to their possess songs: catchy, upbeat numbers such as Feeling Good and Mamacita that they’d played during pubs around Watford before a programme, and that were expelled as singles during a show.
“Mamacita took us 45 mins to write, nonetheless afterwards it took us a month to go behind and supplement a fajita rhyme,” says Fongho. “That finished a difference.”
Their coach Cowell told them “to be that certain light in a world”. “I don’t consider we entirely accepted what that meant during a time,” says Shurland, a lead singer. “Positivity is something that’s so scarce. Everything intoxicated around a news media during a impulse is negative. There’s not adequate shine. we feel unequivocally blissful to be partial of a routine peaceful to foster positivity.”
They’re still reacclimatising to a genuine universe after The X Factor bubble. The Harvey Weinstein liaison upheld them by, as did a #MeToo transformation that followed.
“I’m literally usually Googling it,” says Stephenson. “Yup, we are opposite passionate nuisance and passionate assault… we are unequivocally opposite it … usually in box there was any doubt. Do we know what? Because song has been a concentration for a past 7 weeks, divided during judges’ houses, all has been about essay song — it’s good to be asked about a outward world. All we’ve listened is X Factor gossip.”
“Anything that highlights an emanate that would have been pushed aside many years ago is something that needs to be oral about,” adds Shurland, who changed to a UK from Barbados aged 14. “Change is exciting, and highlighting that change is good.”
The boys are happy to be an remedy to negativity. “There aren’t adequate opportunities for people to usually smile,” says Fongho. “For each bad thing function in a world, there’s unequivocally something good function as well. Tell me some happy stuff!” The stately marriage maybe? Is Meghan Markle, a initial mixed-race stately sparkling for twentysomething X Factor winners? “No! To me she could be blue for all we care,” says Stephenson. “I don’t get how people make stories out of that. It doesn’t matter if they’re orange.”
“Sometimes, people from civic areas, a song they make, it’s a thoughtfulness of where they live,” says Fongho, who says he used to be into soil song when he was a teenager, before relocating onto “more fun stuff”.
There are “negatives for people to be trapped in”. “It’s everywhere we go,” says Stephenson. Do they see themselves as being purpose models in a capillary of Stormzy? “We’ve all left by it. You spin on a TV and, if you’re a immature black masculine nonetheless a clever purpose indication in your life, a usually purpose models that you’ll see around song are, sometimes, negative. There’s infrequently a classify that is bearing on we before you’ve finished anything, usually given of a approach we look. You can finish adult perplexing to live adult to that.”
Fongho says their sound developed organically from swat to something some-more melodic. “We wish to do a kind of things where we can grin while singing.” Indeed, if Rak-Su are usually a latest manicured, done rope off a X Factor prolongation line, during slightest they have substance. Stephenson and Fongho have been best friends given they were 11 and played on a same football group during Hendon Secondary School. They write and furnish together. Rahimtulla, also famous as “Pharoahcious” was a kick fighter and dancer, who Fongho rapped with, while Shurland achieved during a propagandize talent competition with Rahimtulla.
They all still live with their mums in Watford: now famous as “Mum-su”, who garnered their possess following during a band’s run to a final. “They’re bigger than we are,” says Rahimtulla. All are outrageous influences: Stephenson’s relatives distant when he was two, Shurland’s father lives in Barbados, Fongho was lifted by his mum. “Mus is a prince, he gets fed grapes [by his mum],” says Shurland. “Yeah she does some-more or reduction everything,” says Rahimtulla. Before The X Factor they all had jobs: Stephenson was a customer manager for Concept Care Solutions; Shurland worked during Comet and as a physiotherapy assistant; Rahimtulla was a travel dance teacher; Fongho a business manager. “We were in a proviso where we were all going to work, we enjoyed a jobs nonetheless knew it wasn’t a passion — how do we do that during a same time? The judgment of marks vs suits was that if we had a approach we’d be wearing tracksuits and doing what we want, nonetheless we have to go to work and wear suits.”
Family is “everything” to them. Unbeknownst to Shurland, a others personally flew his father from St Michael, Barbados, for a final. It was a initial time he’s seen him perform. “That was Christmas come early. It was so good — he’s never been means to support from so close, it’s always been from afar. To have him here was a whole cake, a cherry, everything.” Stephenson jokes: “We usually did it to make him cry.”
They will recover entrance singular Dimelo, one of their strange tracks, with Beyoncé and Sam Smith associate Naughty Boy — who was in a years above them during Hendon Secondary School — and Wyclef Jean after behaving it with them on a show. “They’re family too,” says Shurland. “Obviously Wyclef, we’re his nephews now. He pronounced he’s a uncle.” They played Mario Kart and had takeout pizza with Naughty Boy. “He had a frightful volume of faith in us. Seriously, it was scary. The whole night he’d evangelise that we were going to win it,” says Stephenson.
Fame comes during we fast, though. Stephenson wants to buy his possess residence “ASAP” so that a paparazzi stop “doorstepping” his mum. Having had a blink of an eye to contemplate on a inlet of fame, they haven’t nonetheless worked out what a supplement is (“So we can ask for my possess towel?” asks Fongho.)
Despite flourishing adult with a internet — and therefore carrying a digital footprint for inspired hacks to collect over for past misdemeanours — Fongho says they won’t be scrubbing out their past. “I wish we haven’t pronounced anything too controversial. We’re usually humans, and if we have finished mistakes we’d be discerning to possess adult and contend sorry. People grow.”
Instead, he says their code is all about compelling non-conformity. “Crying in front of people [on The X Factor], observant accurately how we feel, essay songs about relationships, we’re OK with that. If we were going to be purpose models for anything, I’d like it to be that. Everyone’s got their possess story and trail to walk. We’ve walked ours a somewhat opposite approach — and if people wish to follow a footsteps by doing what they want, how they want, that would be good too.”