TLC blessed fans in the UK on Easter Sunday (April 17, 2022) with an exclusive interview on the Global based radio station Capital XTRA Reloaded to celebrate the stations ‘Legend Sessions’ with a special spotlight on Ludacris and the legendary TLC!
Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas took a trip down memory lane with Mike Panteli to discuss their fashion statements from the early 90’s and how they got started in the group, the biggest-selling US girl group ever, with over 85 million albums sold worldwide!
“I think it was a shock to everybody, especially the way Left Eye was sitting up there [in the “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” video] in that big bright hat in those bright colours”, T-Boz reminisces about their debut single setting new standards for female’s at that time. “I think we really grabbed people’s attention, with our sound, the look and the way we were dressed. I think we hit the scene at the perfect time, in the perfect way. I think we also made it posisble for people who already dressed that way to feel sexy and not feel like outcasts.”
Despite the music scene being heavily dominated by girl groups promoting ‘girl power’ in the late 90’s, Chilli reminds listeners that TLC were indeed the pioneers of girl power from the very beginning. “I think that people knew for sure that we were all about girl power”, Chilli reveals, “and just the way that we hit the scene in the way that we did opened the door for people like Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child“.
T-Boz and Chilli both spoke about their musical upbringing (they both grew up wanting to be stars, but not necessarily in a group), and say that one of the unique thing’s about TLC is how neither of them sound like each other, and they are like three solo artists packaged into one supergroup. “I can sing T-Boz’s parts, but I won’t sound like her”, Chilli laughs. “[T-Boz] can sing my parts, but she won’t sound like me, and we can both rap Lisa’s parts, but we won’t sound like her. So, each girl has her own thing that is so different”.
TLC stand out from the crowd not just because they sing memorable, catchy songs, but because of the unique lead vocals of T-Boz in her deep, raspy tone. “Jermaine Dupri did our first demo and I did background vocals singing deep for Kris Kross“, T-Boz reveals. “He already knew the swag, but what he did do was tell me that I should keep that as my style. He was like, ‘you have a different style, you should do that as your thing’. I sang deep for my audition for my manager at the time, Ian Burke, that’s how he knew I could sing deep”.
The success of TLC went from strength to strength after the debut album. Chilli said she was relieved that they didn’t suffer from the ‘sophomore jinx’ when they released their second album, ‘CrazySexyCool‘ in 1994, which went on to sell over 12 million copies in the US alone and solidified the ladies as a serious group with huge longevity.
“Once the music video to “Waterfalls” was released, that’s when we started really selling [album units]”, Chilli admits. “Because that message [in the music video], people could really relate to it”. Arista boss Clive Davis initially didn’t have faith in releasing “Waterfalls” as a single, but the ladies were able to convince L.A. Reid (TLC’s label boss and owner of LaFace, a subsidiary label to Arista) to take a chance on it and he agreed to commission the multi-million dollar music video, with ground-breaking special effects at the time it was made in 1995.
Panteli dug into the ladies musical archives to find out what their first records were that they bought in their younger days. T-Boz reveals that Michael Jackson‘s “Off The Wall” was her first purchase, whilst Chilli’s selection was more surprising. “The first record that I asked my mom for was Queen “Another One Bites The Dust”, Chilli reveals. ” I wore that thing out! It had scratches on it and everything. She bought me this little record player with psychedelic lights on top when you open it. That was my first record”.
The legendary Prince is another artist that TLC were proudly associated with. T-Boz explains how she was able to work on the cover of his iconic “If I Was Your Girlfriend“. “I was in a nightclub and Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs came up to me and said he has a record that he has for his group Total but he wanted me to have it instead. His producer Chucky Thompson [who recently passed away, Rest in Peace] got together to work on it, and then we finished it off with Dallas [Austin]”.
Prince is notoriously protective of his work and rarely allows permission for artists to cover his work. Howveer, that rule did not apply to TLC! Prince was a huge fan of TLC. “I was so excited”, T-Boz exclaims, “because Prince has been known to say no to everybody, and he said yes to two songs, “Get It Up” (for the Poetic Justice soundtrack) and “If I Was Your Girlfriend”. People still to this day ask us, how did we get Prince to say yes, it’s because he loves us, that’s why!”
TLC have previously stated that they would love to work with Cardi B and Bruno Mars, and that is still applicable to this day. “Right now, I’d still like to have Bruno Mars”, Chilli admits. “I love him. We both love him equally. He is just phenomenal, all across the board”.
So, what’s next in the pipeline for TLC? Well, they have previously teased the production of a Broadway musical, the process has since moved along and made some progress and is closer to becoming a reality. “I’m really excited about the musical”, T-Boz says. “Now, we’re working with a writer and [deciding] on how we want the stage performances to go”.
There is also a chance that there will be some brand new TLC music produced for the project. “I think that we’re going to do some new music for that, mixed with the old”, T-Boz reveals. “I think that it will be something really different and interesting. Even though we have told VH1 stories, behind the scenes, we have just finished an A&E documentary which features stories that we have never told before. We have 30 years of stories to tell, so, why not tell it on Broadway, you know?”.
TLC will arrive in the UK this June as part of their European 2022 tour! Their show in London is now sold out, so get tickets to rest of the tour while you still can!
Tickets available at Livenation.co.uk and Ticketmaster.co.uk
Catch the replay of the Capital XTRA Reloaded TLC special HERE