Singing sister act Siham and Iman are ready to take the music world by storm. As Sweet Rush, the siblings – who were born in Somalia, raised in Canada and live in Atlanta – are eager to pick up where the Spice Girls left off. With their brand of fun, fearless pop and in-your-face attitude, the dynamic duo are breaking down barriers and representing a new kind of Somali woman to the world. Like their fellow Somali-Canadian K’naan, Sweet Rush is unique in that there are very few high-profile people from their corner of Africa in the international entertainment industry, male or female. “This is definitely something new for our culture”, the girls say. Signed to Universal Motown, Sweet Rush have already collaborated with some of the biggest names in music supplying vocals on Akon’s track Troublemaker and working with big name producers. Clutch caught up with the busy sisters to find out what’s going on in Sweet Rush World.
Clutch: Tell me a bit about yourself.
Sweet Rush: We’re sisters and we were born in Somalia. After the war broke out we moved to Canada with our family and we’ve been living there most of our lives.
Clutch: How did you get in to the music biz?
Sweet Rush: We moved to Atlanta two years ago, not even knowing how hot the music scene was. It was a bit of a struggle in the beginning, finding people to work with us, producers and writers etc. By the time we met up with our producer, Jai, we worked with him for six months straight and we ended up getting a lot of offers from different record companies. It was very exciting and we eventually ended up going to Universal Motown. We’re working on our debut album right now.
Clutch: Did you come from a musical family? What did your parents think?
Sweet Rush: Our dad was very African and not very supportive of music. We used to sing around the house and listen to music and it was hard for him to accept at first. When we first came up to Atlanta, we had to tell him we were visiting our aunt, we couldn’t tell him what our real motives were. And when he found out he was very upset. He kept giving us deadlines. It’s kind of like a taboo thing in our culture to be doing what we’re doing. It makes us the first females from our country to get a major record deal.
Clutch: Do you feel the pressure of representing Somalia being the first female international pop acts?
Sweet Rush: It’s not so much a pressure. We want to do it. We want to represent our country. This is definitely something new for our culture. What the world thinks about Somalia is the war, that people over there are fighting… But then Somalian people are really our fans right now because we are the first. There’s a little bit of a pressure because it is new for our culture and it is taboo so they watch us closely and it is actually a lot of pressure. I guess we have to make our country proud.
Clutch: How would you describe your music?
Sweet Rush: We have music everyone can relate to. Our music is really fun, colorful, high energy and happy. We also have songs that are good for when you’re feeling down and you just wanna listen to something that makes you happy, something you can connect with.
Clutch: Who are your musical influences?
Sweet Rush: Definitely Michael Jackson, that’s what we grew up on. Mariah Carey. Right now I really like Mika, an artist from the UK. We love the Spice Girls. We aspire to have their success. When people look at us we remind them of the Spice Girls because we’re fun and happy and on stage we’re energetic, that’s who we are. So we definitely love the Spice Girls.
Clutch: What’s the concept of the album?
Sweet Rush: Originally, the album was gonna be called Sweet and Spicy, which was a good definition of everything but we ended up self-titling it so the album’s called Sweet Rush now. That pretty much defines the album because, if you think about our name, we’re sweet and our music definitely has a rush. It’s very energetic, happy and sweet. Our first album definitely represents our personality. It’s about what girls go through and about us being us. It’s what we do on a regular basis – having fun, what we go through as females. And Girl Power!
Clutch: Who are you working with on the album? Any collabos?
Sweet Rush: We’re on Akon’s new album and he’s definitely gonna be on our album. We’re gonna do a song together. He might produce or sing. We have Rock City, they’re also signed to Akon, they’re a duo, two males, they’re awesome, they’ve written all kinds of songs. They’re probably gonna be on one of the singles. As far as big names, that’s it. We’re not really gonna have too many huge features unless they wanna get on the remix or something.
Clutch: What was it like working with Akon? How did that come about?
Sweet Rush: We’ve known Akon for a while and, at one point, he wanted to sign us before we got signed to Motown. After we signed with Motown we were always like, “Why don’t we do a song together?” But he’s always so busy and flying all over the world. So one day we were at a studio recording and we were leaving and we accidentally bumped in to him and he was like, “Hey, girls, I’m glad I bumped in to you guys, I actually want you on one of my songs”. And we just went right back in to the studio and it happened like that. It was pretty exciting. We didn’t know it was going to be on the album. We just did it.
Clutch: Is it hard working so closely with your sister?
Sweet Rush: It’s great. We’d be pretty bored if we didn’t have each other around. We sometimes write together, we collaborate very well together and our personalities are a really good match. People sometimes ask if we’re sisters or friends because they don’t believe that we don’t wanna kill each other sometimes. It’s actually really cool working together.
Clutch: What do you like to do in your downtime, when you’re not doing music?
Sweet Rush: We like to play sports, we play basketball, we do swimming, walk the dog. We love animals a lot. We go to the shelter sometimes and volunteer. There are a lot of animal shelters in Atlanta, where we live. You just go there, sign up, walk the dogs, play with cats and stuff. It’s really fun.
Clutch: Finally, you’re heading out for a big night. What three items do you take in your clutch?
Sweet Rush: Cell phone, lipgloss and money.