The Dagenham Sisters Done Good

"I worked really hard and my dream came true," some broad called Madonna once parped. She's not the only one:

Operating from a council flat in deepest 80s Dagenham, lofty siblings Karen and Shellie Poole aka Alisha's Attic, would begin their own slow but sure trek to Chart-dom. In 1996, by now in their bindi-clad, mid 20s (positively old gaffers, in pop terms) their determination finally paid off with the lil' charmer hit single, I Am I Feel.

But how on earth did they keep going through those lean years of anonymity?

"I worked two days a week in a toy shop and Shell worked two days a week in a nursery school," says Karen (the blonder, more assertive one), "so that brought the money in to pay the rent. The rest of the time we were writing and frantically sending off demo tapes.

We had a list of people in record companies and called them every single day. If you could even get through to the secretary, that was an achievement.

We got loads of offers for the actual songs, but not for the band!" interrupts Shellie (the brunette, slightly less confident of the two), "but eventually that's what we want to do - write for other people - it's a bit like a pension scheme, really".

Aside from various film soundtrack projects, the Pooles have recently been far too embroiled in creating their (less overtly kooky, but toe-tapping-tastic nonetheless) album Illumina to think about the wrinkly future. They reckon this time around it's more about "letting the music speak for itself", and that the album and the new single The Incidentals (with references to having dumped their boyfriends amongst other highly personal themes_ are "tall-all honest". So does this mean no more dipping into the dressing-up box, then?

"It just depends how we feel, sometimes we walk around the house in our Agent Provocateur fluffy slippers and do a complete Bette Davis. Other times we just dress casually. Kaz is really into that Hollywood thing of being dead glamourous" explains Shellie. "I just want to be like Cyd Charisse or Marilyn Monroe!" her sis breezes campily.

This appreciation of star spangled-ness held them in good stead through their two months spent recording in New York, with producer Mark Plati (whose CV includes Deee-Lite, Bowie and Junior Vasquez).

We went to see "High Society" on Broadway and it was soooo crap!" Shellie laughs. "We had seats right at the back and couldn't see a thing - such a waste of $32. Oh! And we saw Benny and Bjorn from Abba in a deli. I did the most cringy tourist thing and made Kaz pretend I was taking her picture, then at the last second she moved and I got one of them looking astonished!"

So, can we assume that life's something of a cabaret for Alisha's Attic? "Our record company asked us to make a video diary in New York", concludes Karen, "but we kept forgetting to take the camera everywhere. In the end we just did one in the hotel room of me doing my Cilla Black impression and Shell doing Toyah!"

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