STUNNING: Cleo Sol
IT WAS love at first listen. Watching rising star Cleo Sol perform with the confidence of a bonafide veteran on stage at this year's Wireless Festival instantly converted me from a mere onlooker into a fully fledged fan.
However, I quickly discovered that my passion for the British bombshell's music was not as unique as I first thought.
In fact, the 20-year-old singer has become a force to be reckoned with on the underground music scene over the last few years, bagging collaborations with some of the biggest names in British music, including Wretch 32, Tinie Tempah and Angel.
After signing with Island Records and creating a buzz bigger than insects in Texas, the part Serbian, Spanish and Jamaican beauty's soulful vocals and sassy image are sure to see her star rise.
"I have been singing all of my life, it always been like second nature to me. Both my parents were musicians. They still play instruments so I grew up with music in my family. That was the thing that we did whenever we got together," she tells me.
"Singing was always just fun to me, but I realised I could make a career out of it when I turned 15 or 16. I went to a 'normal' secondary school in the sense that it was not music-based. When I went to college I chose to study performing arts. During this time, I was also attending a youth club around the corner from my house and while I was there I was able to make some music and I put it on my MySpace page."
We both laugh at the mention of MySpace - the social networking site that took us through our teenage years before it was unceremoniously replaced by the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
”Yes, MySpace but it was actually really popular at the time," she maintains.
"Through my MySpace page I met UK producer DaVinChe, who I work with now. He contacted me and asked me if I wanted to come to the studio.”
She adds: “At first I didn’t want to go because you don't just meet people online and go to the studio with them. But I did my research on him and found out that he worked on rapper Kano's P's & Q's, so I was like, 'oh he is legit' and we have been working together ever since."
The songstress has come a long way since the days of MySpace, though.
She is currently working on her debut studio album, which is expected to feature some if the UK’s finest talent among a few surprises.
Just a few days prior to our interview the singer was in the studio with north London star, Angel.
Looking at her steady rise, it’s hard to believe that Cleo Sol once suffered from terrible stage fright.
She admits: "A few years ago I could not even talk to a crowd. I was so nervous. I used to shake before performances, but now I am rearing to go and I love speaking to the audience and showing them who I am and finding out who they are."
As the interview comes to a close, Cleo is quick to add that the ‘Sol’ in her moniker is an ode to her Spanish heritage and actually means 'Sun’ in the language. She also wishes to clear up that it is no way a reference to the type of music she makes.
She says: "I don't like to make myself genre specific, I just like to have fun with music and bring light to my performances, so that is why I thought the name represents me."
In fact, Cleo admits that she only likes to indulge in a ballad 'now and then'. However, based on what I am told next, it also appears that Cleo doesn’t need to sing love songs to get hearts racing because she has an ever-expanding base of ‘male groupies’ already – my words, not hers.
She laughs: "It’s funny because you have the ones who come to shows and take pictures and then they tweet me three times. I don't mind when girls do it, I think it is sweet, but when it is guys I think it is funny!"
“They’re like 'would you be my girlfriend?' I don't think I will ever get used to that!"
Never The Right Time is out now through Island Records