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A Sit Down With Reggie N Bollie

X Factor duo Reggie N Bollie discuss music, fame, loss and triumph.

23rd Oct 2017

Image Credit: Shropshire Star

Afrobeats / Dancehall duo Reggie N Bollie (RnB) rose to fame after their appearance on the X Factor back in 2015. The Ghanian born artists were 1st runners up in the competition, bettered only by Louisa Johnson. Their instant popularity with audiences allowed them to launch a career in the UK.

Among their fans was their X Factor mentor Cheryl, who continued to support them in the months after the show. Both Reggie Zippy and Bollie Babeface moved to the UK from Ghana back in 2010. Their energetic performances and infectious style convinced Simon Cowell to sign them to Syco, since they displayed great potential. The group was formed in 2012 and is best known for finishing as runners up on the 12th UK series of the X Factor. They’re 33 and 31 years old. Bollie means “Best of Lyrical Lines in Entertainment”. During the final they did a duet with Fuse ODG and Craig David. Then they signed to Syco in January 2016 and released “New Girl” on May 13th. Reggie N Bollie have now parted ways and set up their own independent record label, called F.R.O.D Music.

Charlie Sloth premiered Reggie N Bollie’s “This Is The Life” on BBC 1Xtra. It was a hell of a comeback after “Link Up” which failed to chart. Their uplifting and positive energy radiates through their music. “This Is The Life” is feel good to the core. It’s a pre-summer banger.

With an impressive online following, Reggie N Bollie have gained over 8 million streams on Spotify and over 5 million views on YouTube with “New Girl”. RnB have teased that they are going to release a new single with Che Chesterman who was also on the X-Factor. They’ve been teasing the release via their social media.

Be at the edge, that’s where life really is.

Why did you move from Ghana to the UK back in 2010s?

Reggie: Coming from Ghana was for family reasons because I had my family and kids here and I was always doing the back and forth. So as a father I said “no, it’s time to relocate and join the family”, so that’s what made me come here. In Ghana we were both singing but when you relocate to another country and your not a global artist you can’t still do music so we had to start again from scratch. We had to relegate music and try to go about everyday life, find a job and try to take care of the family. That was what it was for a long time. In between we were still trying to get back to music but it wasn’t easy because when you’re not big in a place nobody cares. So that was where we started talking. Then we decided to come together as a duo. 

Bollie: We were friends back in Ghana. I moved here first and then Reggie moved to the UK too. We used to be solo artists and when he came we were talking and we would talk about family and music. Music would take 45 mins of the hour. So we thought, instead of talking about what we used to do in Ghana. We know where we are and we believe in ourselves. We can do this here and on an international level. Why not join forces and do this dream together.

What was it like being on the X Factor week in, week out and the national coverage?

Reggie: That’s crazy. For us, we felt so grateful for the opportunity. If we had to pay for the amount of exposure we had, that would have been millions for promo so we’re always grateful for the organisers of the X-Factor for that because it was great to see that people are excited to see you. It was like “wow”, this is the time of our lives. Let’s enjoy it.

What was it like to perform with Craig David?

Bollie: For us, we couldn’t believe it was happening, but we were in the zone where we had to go with the flow. We appreciated every second of what was happening to us but we wanted to excel as well and not get carried away by what’s happening and lose focus of why we were there in the first place. When we finished the show that’s when we were able to sit down and think about what had happened to us. But it was a blessing. 

Reggie: Performing with Craig David was a massive highlight. And we told him, growing up in Ghana his music was huge so it was an incredible moment for us. When you invite the girls around and you want to be cool you used Craig David. So we were very thankful for that. I remember the masterclass with Lionel Richie and this man is like “boys, I love what you do”. And you’re like - wow, life can just change in a split second. 

How did you have your energy?

It was a combination of our culture as Ghanians and how grateful we were to be given that opportunity. You know when you’ve done something to a point where you’ve won awards in your country and you travel and now nobody recognises you. You try to put out music and the people who used to say “you’re amazing”, nobody cares. And you feel like “wow, this is how my life is?” DJs who used to play Bollie’s song or my song said “sorry but you guys are not going to perform”, and it was for a Ghanian community. We stood there looking at another artist who used to look up to us back in the day kill it and we were like “we can do this you know”. So we left that day very sad and broken and the question was “are we going to allow this to be our end, or are we going to rise out of this. Imagine seeing all these people come out of it and say “this is going to be our end”. That was the situation because when you touch rock bottom, that’s when the hunger and drive comes. The whole energy is like “oh my God, we’re finally free”. For some reason it connected with people - and we were like thank God.

How do you deal with fame after the show?

Bollie: When we were on the show I don’t think we realised the impact we were having on people. So we came off the show thinking “yes, we’re the same Reggie and Bollie as always”, and then you come and you realise “no, things have changed”. Because when you move from one place to the next people look up to you and see what you do and you need to be conscious of that. Things take a 360 turn. When we were on the show we weren’t hassled on the street. But after people want pictures.

Reggie: It’s part of the package. It’s just nice. 

Speaking of famous people - Cheryl is one of the top personalities in the country.

Reggie: We’re still in touch with her. We congratulated her with the baby and we had dinner with her on one or two occasions. She is a very important person in our lives and we always make her aware. Sometimes we’re having dinner with her and we’re talking and it all gets fun. We still find that moment to say look: you really rescued us and our families, and we are forever indebted to you and she says “come on boys you did it”, but she made it happen. She was the one who believed in us and said “I will give you a shot at your dream”, and made it happen.

Bollie: She’s an angel sent from above; a life changer.

Have you learned anything from her?

Bollie: One thing we learned is that she never lets negativity control her. She only lets positivity control her. She taught us that in life you have to stay positive. You get people who come with negativity, but brush that off and only look at the bright side of life.

Reggie: Also, she’s so down to earth it’s unbelievable. If you walked in and saw her you’d be like “oh it’s Cheryl. But she’ll say - hey how are you. You’ll be waiting for her to be like ‘yeah, I’m the famous..’ but you don’t get it. The very successful people are really down to earth. I think because they’ve got a very good grip on life. They don’t need to show that they’re successful. You learn from people like that.

Reggie N Bollie - New Girl

How did New Girl come about?

We came off the show and it was going to be our first single. We wanted it to be a song that we could represent. It had the pop vibe but you could also feel the street vibe in there a bit, because that’s what we brought to the performances on the show that people were crazy about. That was written by a team of 12 people. About 6 different producers and then different camps. It was a good experience making a song that you knew was going to be sold worldwide via Syco. 

Then there’s link up, which is the first single after Syco. From your perspective it’s good because it lead to F.R.O.D. (Fearlessly Ruling Our Destinies). But I will run it my way. We are into these successful people. Bill Gates, Zuckerberg etc. all had moments were they could have just been ordinary men going about their daily lives. But they chose to risk it, and it paid off.

Same for us. We had the support of Syco. Big machinery and all that. And you can choose to be comfortable. Release records that you don’t really influence that much, but if you’re a writer, any song that you write is your message to the world. So when I’m writing about feeling low - that’s how I feel when I write. So then you want to take things into your life. If I want my fans to know that I’m happy, I can tell them that I’m happy. I want them to know at a point “this is how I felt”. That's why we launched our own label. It’s a challenge but there’s also a part of it that makes you feel like yeah, I’ve seen this before. I’m definitely jumping this hurdle - it’s just a matter of time. Be at the edge, that’s where life really is.

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