- Words Rosie Byers
- Photography Melanie Lehmann
- Art Department Shania-mae Wright
- Art Department Assistant Davinia Clarke
- Fashion Alizedemange
- Fashion Assistant Chaniel Abwola
- Fashion Assistant Jaka Karoma
- Makup Saba Khan (Jorja) Lake Sanu (Stella) India Rawlings (Renee)
- Hair Naarah Santos (Jorja) Aliya Willoughby-haynes (Stella) K Lacey (Renée)
- Production Sunayah Arshad
- Location Studio Notion
FLO are getting their flowers.
UK girl bands don’t just make hits, they define eras. From the Spice Girls to the Sugababes, All Saints to Girls Aloud, Mis-Teeq to Little Mix, to be a part of lasting girl group history is to be crowned an icon.
For all The X Factor’s best efforts, the past decade had yet to see a new group hold our attention with the power of those that soundtracked our teenage years. But with their MNEK-produced debut single, “Cardboard Box”, 2022 saw FLO step up and claim the space. With love from the likes of Missy Elliott, SZA and the recently reunited Sugababes, Jorja Douglas, Renée Downer and Stella Quaresma are getting their well-deserved flowers after years of hard work refining their craft.
Honouring early 00s R&B with dreamy harmonies and slick choreo (see: their hair-raising acoustic performance of “Cardboard Box” on Later with Jools Holland and their high-drama video for summer release “Immature”), FLO are blending nostalgia with their own fresh sound and assertive lyrics. All raised by single mothers, their music stands for friendship, independence, ambition and defiant self-love. Both untouchably glossy and endearingly relatable, they’ve tapped into the true power of the girl band — you don’t just love their music, you want to be their mate. Soundtracking everything from feeling themselves to finding moments of clarity in bad relationships, their debut EP ‘The Lead’ feels like a pep talk from your best friend, with tracks to listen to all the way from getting dressed up for a night out to ubering home after leaving a shitty boyfriend at the club.
Having recently flown to Hollywood to perform on Jimmy Kimmel and sung live for the likes of Cynthia Erivo, Munroe Bergdorf and Kim Cattrall at the GLAMOUR Women of the Year Awards, the past couple of months have seen FLO step into an even brighter spotlight with the talent and tenacity to make it their own. Checking in before ticking off a whirlwind year, Jorja, Renée and Stella filled us in on their journey together so far and how they’ve perfected their alchemy of earth, wind and fire.
Take us back to the beginning…
R: Stella and I met at music school and knew Jorja from IG, but we all came together as FLO after an audition. We knew as soon as we started singing together the connection was there.
Our official introduction to FLO came in the perfectly packaged “Cardboard Box” — how did the debut track come about and how has it changed your day-to-day lives this year?
S: The track came about in one of our first sessions with the amazing MNEK, so it holds a special place in our hearts.
J: Our lives have changed so much. We sleep less as there are more early starts and less personal time, and we spend a lot of time in hotel rooms with food on the go.
Can you tell us a BTS story from of your iconic Jools Holland performance?
We had just landed back from LA the day after our Jimmy Kimmel performance! What an honour to be asked to perform and an amazing introduction to UK TV. We met Rita Wilson backstage and she is an icon.
One memory that means a lot to you all?
Our first writing camp was so special — we made so many lifelong friends there and it was the first time we felt like true writers and artists.
The biggest pinch me moment of your career so far?
Being recognised at Wireless in the summer was crazy. We walked through the crowd and people started calling our name.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
Warming up with our vocal tubes and pep talks with our vocal coach and godfather, Joshua Alamu.
What do you take with you everywhere?
Vocal tubes, lip gloss, edge control, deodorant, gum.
What are your star signs? Are they compatible?
Renée is a Libra, Stella is a Sagittarius and Jorja is a Capricorn. Earth, wind and fire.
What are you manifesting for 2023?
MONEY. Bigger recognition in the music industry, growing fans and more bangers.
WHO WOULD BE WHO
Who’s on the aux?
We’re all on our FLO FAVES playlist (check it out on Spotify).
Who texts OMW whilst still getting ready?
We’re all very honest about how late we are…
Who’s most likely to go on reality TV?
Jorja, Queen of the Jungle one day.
What are your love languages?
R: Quality time.
S: Quality time and physical touch.
What other girl band in pop culture history would you each fit into?
Destiny’s Child for all of us, obvz.
What’s your favourite quality about each other and how do you look after each other on the longer days?
We love Stella’s calmness and humour, Jorja’s weirdness, humour and how caringshe is (in her own way), and Renée’s organisation — we wouldn’t be where we are without her! We make sure we’re all well fed and give each other words of encouragement to get through the day.
HE SAID SHE SAID
Best piece of feedback you’ve had or heard about from another artist?
We wish we’d have listened to MNEK’s advice he gave to us at the start, saying don’t read the comments.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
Stella’s grandad said find what you want to do in life and get someone to pay you for it.
Best message you’ve received from a fan?
A letter from a special fan, who said that our music brought her out of a dark place and helped change her life.
Madison Square Garden baby!
Megan Thee Stallion, Justin Bieber, Brandy… There’s too many.
Lemon and ginger tea is key.
Song you’re most proud of:
J & S: “Feature Me”
R: “Cardboard Box” — I’m so proud of how well it’s done as it’s our first ever song.
Song you’d send your younger selves:
“Not My Job”
Song that sums up your friendship:
Song you’ll be celebrating to in 2023:
You’ll have to wait and see…