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SWV on Xscape Drama, ‘Weak’ Turning 30, and Jodeci Tour

SWV on Xscape Drama, ‘Weak’ Turning 30, and Jodeci Tour

SWV on Xscape Drama, 'Weak' Turning 30, and Jodeci Tour

Sisters With Voices, higher often known as SWV are R&B lady group pioneers. Its members, Coko (a.okay.a. Cheryl Gamble), Leelee (Leanne Lyons), and Taj (Tamara Johnson-George) have created a catalog that’s stuffed with melodic gems, however their 1992 debut album, It’s About Time, is top-to-bottom stuffed with hits, together with “I’m So Into You,” “Proper Right here – Human Nature Radio Combine,” “You’re All the time on My Thoughts,” and their most iconic track, “Weak.” “Weak,” which simply turned 30 (!) earlier this month, has introduced SWV accolades similar to being the primary number one track by an R&B lady group of the ’90s to prime the Pop and R&B charts, going platinum thrice, and having 140 million track streams. The track’s music video gives timeless model inspiration, plus, it has the enviable honor of being a with out fail sing-a-long track on celebration playlists with the video itself providing timeless model inspiration.

Rather a lot has occurred within the final 30 years for SWV. The group disbanded in 1998 to pursue particular person initiatives and reunited in 2005 and regardless of their break, they haven’t stopped working since. Most not too long ago, they co-starred with their R&B lady group contemporaries Xscape, on Bravo’s SWV & Xscape: The Queens of R&B, which simply wrapped its first season. The present facilities across the lives of each bands and their members as they attempt to work collectively to plan a joint tour. SWV hopes this might be a possibility to remind the world, and themselves, of their magic. Nevertheless, spoiler alert, because the occasions of The Queens of R&B unfold, this epic tour finally ends up not coming to fruition. There have been some upsides to the present and unrealized tour, although: those that know and love SWV get a possibility to reacquaint themselves with Coko, Leelee, and Taj and see them in a brand new mild, and people who didn’t know the band get to satisfy them and uncover their music. And our ’90s tour desires should not forgotten: SWV introduced that they’re going on tour this summer time—with Jodeci and Dru Hill. (Tickets are on sale now.)

As the women launched into a latest press tour of their hometown of New York Metropolis, they showcased that they’ve preserved their New York cool, round-the-way lady attraction whereas evolving into mature, confident girls. They’ve additionally leveled up their model due to stylist J. Bolin, who has styled the likes of Tyra Banks, Sarah Jakes, and Tabitha Brown, and whose former apprentice was stylist Kollin Carter.


After a jam packed week of interviews, I had the pleasure of sitting down with SWV and J. Bolin (I can not emphasize sufficient how wonderful the ladies appeared in some Norma Kamali silhouettes in gun metallic and snake print that appeared as if they had been made for his or her our bodies) to fangirl and speak about their success, what the video “Weak” may appear like in 2023, and what they need their new followers to learn about them.

I’ve spent the final week listening to It’s About Time on repeat. With hits like “Weak,” “You’re All the time On My Thoughts,” and “Proper Right here,” are you able to please inform me what the lads had been like within the early ’90s that had you singing like this?!

Taj: No good! [Laughs] My ex-boyfriend dogged me out so good I used to be “Weak!” They had been horrible, that’s why they’re prior to now!

Your music has actually withstood the check of time. The 30-year mark, to me, feels so consultant of progress. It was the age the place I lastly felt like “I’m grown now” and that sentiment feels relevant to It’s About Time’s anniversary, and particularly to “Weak.” Any celebration I’ve ever been to, everybody is aware of the phrases. You possibly can play the primary 30 seconds and switch it off and other people would nonetheless be singing alongside. How does this accomplishment, to have such an iconic track and album, resonate with you all individually and as a bunch?

Coko: It’s a blessing to have such an enormous track and for it to nonetheless be large on this day and time 30 years later. It’s a blessing.

Taj: Completely. I really feel the identical means. You’ll be able to’t put a price ticket on one thing like that, you actually can’t.

Leelee: It’s wonderful.

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Taj, you talked about in a latest interview that you just haven’t modified a lot and are nonetheless the “quirky, ‘round-the-way ladies who simply like to have enjoyable and sing.” I liked that a lot. How do you suppose that power has translated to your model and is reflective of who you all are as a bunch?

Taj: I feel it transferred over; it continues. Now what we did do is we grew so far as our model is anxious, compliments of J. Bolin. He mainly got here in and revamped the imaginative and prescient that we had of ourselves. He improved our quirky funness the place we appreciated to be extra snug and he has proven us methods to be snug and trendy.

J. Bolin, there are such a lot of references to tug from SVW’s previous music movies and pink carpet seems through the years. What has been the largest consideration for you when styling these girls, and are there parts of their unique model you wished to maintain intact?

J. Bolin: I actually get pleasure from seeing the actually deep city model, and as a stylist I’ve at all times loved ensuring that our tradition stays entrance ahead as properly. One thing shocked me not too long ago and I assumed that I used to be doing one thing that was so contemporary and so new with them, and I put them in all of those leopard and cheetah prints from head to toe and thought, “That is so dope. That is so contemporary.” After which I lookup and one thing pops up on my social media that exhibits me they’d already achieved it years in the past. It was clearly totally different silhouettes that had been acceptable for that point, however I pulled inspiration from issues they’ve already achieved. They haven’t solely simply been music trendsetters however they really have been style trendsetters whether or not they thought it was style ahead or not it was one thing that was extraordinarily relatable to our tradition.

A hundred percent. I’ll use “Weak” for instance however I watched the video and screenshot a few of the seems and seen that it’s all stuff you’d purchase at this time. The leather-based corsets, the outsized saggy bottoms, the camo, massive gold jewellery are all present traits that derived from Black tradition within the ‘90s. What has it been like seeing your self as pioneers? As a result of these types and traits have come again and also you had been the ladies championing it on the time.

Coko: I noticed an image not too long ago of us and we’re in see-through bodysuits with saggy denims and crop tops and everyone seems to be beginning to put on that once more and I assumed, “Oh, we did this already. How cute!”

swv weak music video

Scenes from the “Weak” music video.

Courtesy of SWV
weak video

Courtesy of SWV

Should you had been capable of do “Weak” in 2023, what would that appear like for you all?

Taj: You already know what, I actually wasn’t excited concerning the styling in “Weak.” Actually I didn’t actually take care of the video for “Weak.”

Coko: We didn’t even perceive it. It didn’t make sense.

Taj: It didn’t match the fantastic thing about the phrases. So I’d in all probability begin from scratch! [Laughs]

Coko: I might have the video a lot softer as a result of it’s such a stupendous tender track and we appeared so hardcore within the video.

J. Bolin: As a inventive trying from the surface in, it felt like what they had been attempting to translate to everybody was that you just guys had a toughness about you and that if anyone was really capable of pierce by means of that and make you weak. Should you had been tender and other people noticed you as weak they’d be like “Oh lady, please, all people’s weak!”

Taj: He’s so analytical. I noticed it as they’d me killing my date.

Coko: I by no means considered it like that.

J. Bolin: You might have the military fatigues on, you’re within the boxing ring, you have got the leather-based shorts on: it seems like robust, attractive ladies. No one can idiot with you from the Bronx.

Leelee: It actually confirmed that half. I like the entire elevator scene as a result of it jogged my memory of being within the initiatives after which the pajama celebration scene within the bed room. I simply didn’t get the boxing scene.

Taj: Or us killing our dates.

The dates needed to go I suppose.

J. Bolin: So I feel it isn’t a couple of change in wardrobe, it’s extra about elevating it to be extra trendy. Clearly their age is totally different now so possibly masking them up a bit, possibly they don’t wish to put on shorts as brief as they did then. Possibly we replace it with some cool leggings or tights beneath. Possibly a thigh boot that covers up the legs. There are such a lot of methods we might elevate it with out essentially altering the texture of it as a result of it’s historic. You’ll be able to’t return and alter one thing that’s historic.


SWV carry out on The Tonight Present with Jay Lenno in 1993.

NBC//Getty Photos

I’m watching Queens of R&B and my favourite a part of the present is that you just convey such a light-hearted power to it, comparatively chatting with Xscape, who’re additionally on the present. You’re all so humorous and the nice power comes by means of so much. I’m hoping you possibly can converse to the way it was totally different again then versus now with the appearance of social media. There are such a lot of issues that we be taught on the present that I feel followers didn’t know earlier than, and I feel you have got struck a contented medium of being weak, but in addition sincere and humorous and we additionally know that you just guys don’t take any shit.

Taj: I feel that we’re actually respectful to individuals which are to us.

Sure after all.

Coko: I don’t suppose they confirmed us sufficient hanging out collectively laughing and having a great time. You get to see only a smidge of it.

You do have some glorious sound bites although.

[Group laughs]

Leelee: I used to be going to say. We undoubtedly have some sound bites.

How has it been being on the present for you as a bunch?

Taj: It’s been cool for us so far as SWV is anxious. We went there with one aim, to placed on a present. That’s what we had been there for and that’s what we tried to do. We did our job.

What has been probably the most shocking final result of being on the present?

Coko: The drama. We didn’t count on that. Not like that.

I too was shocked as a viewer.

Coko: We anticipated there can be some drama. A bit of drama. But it surely simply exploded after which the social media after every episode. I used to be considering, what the hell is that this? That is subsequent stage. That was shocking.

It looks like the targets had been totally different by way of the power you guys had been bringing to being on the present as a result of as you stated you had a aim.

Coko: We got here in peace.

In a lot peace. I’m joyful that you just introduced that peace to create some steadiness.

Leelee: It was simply so exhausting they usually [Xscape] simply stayed there. We couldn’t even get away from it. After we had been alone they introduced that up. We couldn’t escape what was occurring.

No pun meant.

[Group laughs]

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I clearly know and love your work as a bunch however I’m certain there was a brand new fan base of people that watch Bravo and the present. They’re seeing you with new eyes in a way, possibly not having the context of all that you’ve got achieved earlier than. What’s your hope that individuals take away about SWV?

Taj: We undoubtedly admire the truth that individuals see us as mature and targeted. That we come to do our enterprise that we’re right here to carry out and that we’re adults that behave like adults and are about doing what we like to do, which is sing and carry out. That’s the factor I actually would love for individuals to remove. I don’t need them to have a look at all of the drama, I would like them to have a look at SWV and say, “I wanna see them carry out reside.”

Leelee: And that we don’t hate lady teams.

Coko: I would like them to see that we are able to disagree however we nonetheless love on one another. We’re not going to disrespect one another.

Taj: We’re by no means going to agree on the whole lot.

Coko: Ever. And also you don’t need to get on right here and make an ass of your self.

Leelee: We’ve had our moments however we all know methods to deal with ourselves now. We all know one another too properly.

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You’ll be able to really feel the sisterhood.

Leelee: The motherhood as a result of they mom me.

Taj: Shut up!

Leelee: There you go!


In Chicgao circa 1996.

Raymond Boyd//Getty Photos

What’s subsequent for the Sisters with Voices?

Coko: We’re occurring tour in July with Jodeci.

Oh my God.

Coko: There’s a lot occurring. There’s a lot coming at us due to the present. Good issues!

Leelee: It’s good. We’re shifting fairly quick proper. now. A quick tempo at this age so it’s a blessing.

What’s the model vibe for this upcoming tour?

J. Bolin: That’s humorous you requested as a result of we simply had been chatting earlier about what textures we wish to strive. Can we wish to do sequins? Can we wish to do stones and studs? They stated, “We would like all of it!’ I stated we are able to’t do all of it they usually stated, “Sure we are able to. We are able to do all of it.” So that they actually desire a selection. Once they come out on stage, we actually wish to have that wow issue. When the curtains open up, we would like that actual star attraction that the clothes is simply wow with out them even opening up their mouths. The glitz and the glam. Like again within the day, once you went to concert events and the particular person walked on stage. That’s what we would like. We’re going to be vetting totally different designers from the world over and [having them] ship in sketches for various seems to actually see what silhouettes work for every one and what’s purposeful. On the finish of the day what’s purposeful for them issues. I’ve been attempting to get them in 2 or 3 inch heels.

Taj: Oh no. [Ladies laugh]


SWV in 2023.

Salvatore Demaio

I’m joyful we’re having this dialog now as a result of it’s giving, “No.”

J.Bolin: [Laughs] It’s giving no.

Coko: The way in which Run DMC had “My Adidas” and the individuals got here in there with Adidas, the individuals are gunna are available in there [the tour] with their fight boots [their signature look in the ’90s].

Coko: As a result of they made such a giant deal over it. I’m telling you!

Leelee: The fight boot tour.

J. Bolin: Possibly you have got a fight boot stand on the tour

Leelee: A meet and greet!

Coko: Nah, we have to put on some flats. We do dance. We dance and we’ve got dance steps that we simply can’t do in heels. That’s simply not our present.

J. Bolin: Okay so, creating wonderful seems that look nice with decrease footwear on. In order that’s going to be the actual enjoyable factor. It’s going to be fascinating as a result of it’s totally different to model on stage like that. These girls are going to be nice, so I am considering nice construction and plenty of shine.

This interview was edited and condensed for readability.

Headshot of Marquia Walton

Marquia Walton is a author and digital producer primarily based in Bedstuy, Brooklyn. Additional pursuits, in no specific order, embrace: cooking, pure wine, racial justice, sustainable meals techniques, common healthcare and telling it like it’s.

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