What makes Sonique so unique as a DJ is that she has blended her excellent powerful and emotive singing abilities with a natural mixing talent to create a unique club atmosphere. As soon as she steps up to the decks she picks up the microphone and introduces herself, instantly connecting with the crowd and setting up the atmosphere for an unforgettable night. Right at the peak of the best tunes comes the perfect crescendo of smooth vocals just made up on the spot yet somehow sounding like they are meant to be there. This talent is unique to Sonique!
She was the resident DJ at the infamous Ibiza club Manumission for three years and has since toured the world playing in over 40 countries.
The other leg of her career is to write, record and remix songs, mainly dance-orientated and soulful with a high potential to go on top of the club charts as well as the pop charts.
Sonique shot to fame as lead vocalist of 1980s electronic dance band S Express, racking up a series of top 40 hits before embarking upon a highly successful solo career. In 2001 Sonique scooped a series of prestigious awards including Best British Female at the 2001 Brit Awards ceremony, fighting off fierce competition from Dido, PJ Harvey & Sade. At the 46th Ivor Novello Awards that same year, Sonique also won the International Hit of the Year for her single It Feels So Good, from the number 1 album Hear My Cry, which also featured the hits I Put A Spell on You and Sky.
She has recorded four solo albums, has released more than 13 singles and can point to a long list of collaborations with other artists’ projects from William Orbit to Josh Wink to Tomcraft.
Born as Sonia Clarke in North London’s Crouch End, England and also raised there. Sonique’s formative years were infused with the sounds of her mums’ record collection. Every Sunday the house would be filled with the sounds of Marvin Gaye, Roberta Flack, Gladys Knight, Otis Redding and Denice Williams.
But had things been different one defining day during Sonique’s teenage years, we may never have heard her own music at all. From the age of six, little Sonia had serious designs on the world of professional athletics. Still in possession of a superfit physique, Sonique explains: “I dreamed of being the world’s best pentathlete. Trained every single day. I guess I was pretty obsessed.” But, at the age of 15, all that came to an abrupt halt: “I came second in a race”, she says matter-of-factly. “Wasn’t used to losing.” Which pretty much sums up Sonique’s life philosophy: Be the best or don’t bother. With her music career, she’s certainly put that theory into practice. First Experiences as a Recording Artist
Sonique’s career as a recording artist began when she was signed to Cooltempo determination to making music instead. She had joined a reggae band called Fari which did more than hone her singing skills and she embarked on a crash course in song-writing.
Her first records while still a teenager was «Let Me Hold You” which became an immediate club hit and entered the top 25 in the UK dance charts without any promotion.
It was Ernie McKone, an old school-friend with connections to the music industry, who offered to write with her this song. Later, on Bass-O-Matic’s debut album Sonique earned a credit for the track «Zombie Mantra». She began writing more songs and was put in touch with Tim Simenon (Bomb The Bass). They recorded some tracks together but, before they could even be released, his mate, a certain Mark Moore, poached her for his own project.
However, it was both as the singer and a songwriter for Mark Moore’s S’Express that Sonique first entered the limelight, featuring on the minor hits «Nothing to lose» and «Find ’em, Fool ’em, Forget ’em» in 1990 and 1992, respectively.
“S´Express needed a singer and a songwriter, so I was asked to collaborate on the album «Intercourse», and I created my own style and identity,” she says. “I didn’t realize what was happening, but I was proving myself. S’Express taught me I could command a stage and from Mark I really learned how to write – he’s a very clever songwriter.” But, after finishing this project, Sonique decided to go it alone. “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, I just knew I wanted people to look at me, listen to me, feel me, relate to what I was doing – everything.” It was Mark Moore who gave her the first turntables and a mixer too.
Starting a DJ Career
“It was about taking control of my life. A lot people wanted me to sing for them but I wanted to do my own thing and when I saw Mark DJing, I thought it looked so cool and decided, ‘I want some of that.’
Singing and DJ-ing and being a woman was quite a sensation at the time. “I knew once they’d heard and seen me, they’d want more.” And she was right and she trained for three years before spinning in public. The time was well-spent.
Sonique has since made her mark as a DJ, partly helped by her unique improvised singing.
Playing regular sets at clubs such as Cream & Gatecrasher and Manumission in Ibiza (where she was a resident DJ for two years), but also in Germany, USA, Singapore, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Australia, Italy and Norway – she now spins all over the world at club nights, festivals and private events.
This connection with global music fans strengthened her understanding of what people like and how it affects them. “In England the pop records start at the clubs,” she explains. “You hear the mix in the clubs first. Being a DJ helps me to see what people want when they go out partying.”
Sonique’s unique skills are showcased on a number of UK compilations, including “Introspective of House”, “Third Dimension”, “Fantazia British Anthems & Summertime” and the Serious/Virgin release entitled “Serious Sounds of Sonique”
The Hit Records
In the meantime Sonique enjoyed two club and dance music chart hits with “I Put a Spell on You” and “It Feels So Good” on Manifesto Records.
“Spell” was originally released in the UK in June 1998 and peaked at #36 in the official single charts while “It Feels So Good”, charted in December the same year, climbed up to #24.
The track has grown to a mainstream hit in the US, breaking into the national Top 10, and belatedly gave her a UK chart-topper in May 2000.
In the US a club DJ in Tampa, Florida began spinning her song from an import 12″ before several other clubs in the US joined in. This led to explosive requests for the song at radio and retail, so Republic Records jumped in and signed Sonique right away. Pushed by the tremendous success of this single she finished her debut solo album “Hear my cry” in 2000, which spawned the next single release “Sky” – another excellent example of Sonique’s talent for writing crowd-pleasing anthems.
The record debuted at #2 in the UK single charts in September, followed by the re-release of “I Put a Spell on You” which reached #8 in November 2000.
Her debut album has now sold over a million albums in the UK alone. Furthermore Sonique was recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the first female solo artist to be #1 for 3 consecutive weeks – the first in 22 years since Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” in 1978.
With these successful single releases and a UK top ten album in her hand, Sonique topped other respectable nominees like Dido, Jamelia, PJ Harvey and Sade at the Brit Awards 2001 and received the honour as Best British Female Solo Artist. At the 46th Ivor Novello Awards that same year, Sonique also won the International Hit of the Year for her single It Feels So Good, from the number 1 album Hear My Cry.