Before the universe brought them together, Mvngo X Lashes individually both lived and breathed music from a very young age. This East London duo met in college six years ago, and it was then that their solo music dreams became a joint one. They spent all their evenings after college rehearsing songs together. They would song-write and rehearse each project to perfection, until it was at a level that they could present it to an audience. The moment they were given an opportunity to be on stage, they blew everyone away, and it was at that moment that they promised each other to dedicate their careers to music.
These soulful, hip-hop and R&B influenced ladies have a lot to offer the music industry with their unique, ‘old skool meets new skool’ sound, and they’re completely dedicated to work smart and hard until they reach the top. They believe in music that teaches people something, and music that people can vibe to, and their biggest goal is to spread these messages together, all over the world. So far, the girls packed out a headline show in 2016, as well as being recognised by BBC Introducing as Artists to watch.
As they gear up to play at the Roundhouse Rising festival, we catch up with them to find out more!
You’ve kicked off 2018 in a huge way – you recently were featured in the BBC’s Music Introducing showcase (the one at Havering College). Let’s start from the top: tell us about your music and your sound!
A lot of the songs we write are very heartfelt, reflecting on real life situations and its normally situations to do with myself or people around me. I find as a songwriter, naturally I’m very observant which subconsciously comes into my writing. Our sound is very R&B soul with a hint of old school because we’re inspired by the likes of Lauryn Hill, 2Pac, Biggie etc we’re inspired by old school music and artists and music, which played a major role in my life and in my youth growing up.
Havering was really good and a nice experience, all the students were super talented and they have a lovely set up down there. Our sound is very different – we’re on our own road doing our own thing, it’s vibrant, it’s heartfelt, it’s emotional and it’s real – definitely real.
Last year you released two EP’s, Soulution and Disorientated. What was your approach to each of these projects?
People don’t know who we are, so we thought it was very important to give a piece of ourselves to the audience with both EP’s. We wanted them to be something for people to get to know us. I have definitely struggled with sharing my vulnerability in the past, but as time goes by I find it very important to express a piece myself in the music because that’s art, and this is all about art, and that is why we have these two EP’s. There are some things that I haven’t even sat down to speak with my friends about, that is now in my music, and I think that is very interesting because that shows how personal it is.
We’ve got these tracks, they’re real, they’re authentic, they’re different, they’re Mvngo X Lashes, let’s get them out there, let’s introduce ourselves and let’s do it, let’s stop holding back and let’s just get it!
Who are your main musical influences?
Mvngo: Main influences are Aliyah, missy Elliot, J Lo, Beyonce, Destiny’s Child, Mary J Blidge, 2pac, Biggie, Lauryn Hill, foxy brown – so much, but those are the main ones.
Lashes: I would say, Erykah badu, SWV, Floetry. All of these artists are people that speak the truth through their music, that’s what they all have in common, and that’s what we have in common with them. You can relate to what they’re speaking, and if you haven’t been through it, someone around you has. Most of the female artists that we’ve mentioned are all influential, hard working strong women who when they want something they go and get it. My Mum influenced me a lot with that also – just bobbing along in the car with my mum, listening to garage, rapping and singing along to all the tracks she used to play, knowing all the words. Spice Girls, because whatever type of women you are out there, you could relate to at least one spice girl. I was scary spice – love scary spice haha they’re all influential women going out there and chasing their dreams, so to me, they were super influential growing up. Also, influences from the UK scene for me are Craig David and Miss Dynamite – they’re legends!
The lyrical content in your songs is really pronounced. You sing and rap about providing for your family, dealing with trust issues, and staying positive amongst other things. Do you feel it’s important to get a specific message out with your music?
Mvngo: It’s definitely important to get your message out there, I think the most important thing for me is to tell your truth and be as authentic as possible. Music is spiritual and sometimes there are things you’re going through and you might not want to talk about it but the beauty is there is someone else going through that and if you can speak up about it through music and someone else has been through something similar, you automatically relate and you think “oh my gosh, someone felt that, I felt it too”. It’s something that can bring us closer together. As human beings, we all think we’re vastly different from each other or we think something we’re experiencing, nobody else has experienced but I find that the more people speak up about things, and situations that have happened to them, there are more people out there that have been through similar situations, and it just shows us how similar we are and brings us closer together. It’s a closeness in humanity I wish to achieve with our music.
Lashes: Definitely getting your message out there, but most importantly, tell the truth.
Mvngo X Lashes are very interesting names! Is there a meaning behind them?
Mvngo: Funny story! My identity that I had for music a few years ago was just stupid, the name that I had was Coco Darls, and when I was questioned about the name, I didn’t know how to explain why the name meant anything to me or why it described me. It didn’t really have a meaning for me – Coco because I’m dark skinned, and darlin’ because, well, just because lol anyway, so one day I was walking home and I was thinking about a new name that would actually mean something to me. So I asked myself, if I had to be a fruit and fruits represented personalities, what fruit would I be? And Mango came straight to my head, so I’m going to be called mango (but replace the a with a v because I don’t want people to mistake me for the clothing brand lol). I remember thinking “Mvngo is a nuts name”, but it works. And at the time, I used to eat mangos so much, and I was like “how have I never thought to call myself that before?”. I’ve got a personal attachment to Mango’s. When I see one or eat one, I’m like “yeah, that’s my G”. lol.
Lashes: Haha it’s so funny we always get asked this question! People are so intrigued to know where these names came from – it’s deffo our most asked question. I am Lashes because I used to do eyelashes for my friends, and I constantly always wear them – I am a lashes queen. I love Lashes.
You both have impressive acting and drama resumes. Mvngo, you’ve appeared in EastEnders and Hollyoaks, and Lashes you’ve written and directed a YouTube series. Are you involved in any other creative endeavors at the moment?
Mvngo: Yes I’ve deffo had a journey. Apart from that, I’m doing music full time now, songwriting, and I’ve started to actually release some solo projects, so watch out for that!
Lashes: Acting, drama, love it with a passion, I always have and always will. That’s where it all began for me, drama was something that I clicked with when I was very young, I loved it and still do. I am promising, that you’re going to see us acting with our music real soon, because we’re going to have videos for you soon – and we’re going to be acting in those videos.
You’ve been working with each other since college days. What’s the creative process like between you? Does one person lead on the songwriting or is it dual approach?
Mvngo: The process is normally me come up with a concept, or I’m already in a creative mood, so I would have written a song and present it to Lash, and then we find a beat or a producer and we jump on it. Or sometimes I come up with a concept, and I write the chorus and my verse and then lashes writes her own verse. But yeah, most of the time as far as creative direction on a song, I’m normally in charge of that.
Tell us a bit about what we can expect from your performance at the Roundhouse Rising festival?
Mvngo: We’re such free spirits. A lot of energy, emotion – it’d going to be a rollercoaster. That’s it in a nutshell.
Lashes: All I can really say for this one is, work is work, play is play, we don’t mix the two. We’re not playing, put it that way!
What is on the horizon for 2018?
Mvngo: This year we have some singles coming out this year that we’re really, really excited about. Very grown and mature sounds. As we’re getting older, I think we’re forming into a nice shape musically, and we’re excited for you guys to hear the new stuff.
Catch Mvngo X Lashes at Roundhouse Rising on Wednesday 28th February. For tickets and further details check out: www.roundhouse.org.uk