In an exclusive interview after their elimination from the X Factor, Croydon’s Rough Copy spoke to EastLondonLines about the competition, their hometown and following dreams.
Rough Copy came together five years ago when bandmates Joey Thomas, Kazeem Ajobe and Sterling Ramsey met by “fate” at separate talent competitions.
Since then, they have applied for the X Factor twice and made it all the way to the semi-finals this year before being eliminated in a sing-off with Luke Friend. However they maintain: “We did it differently from other acts on the X Factor.”
Rough Copy spoke of their X Factor journey including highs and lows. The band faced adversity in the early part of the competition when they were forced to become a duo because band member Ajobe had visa issues. He later returned in time for the live shows, much to the happiness of his bandmates.
Croydon residents and proudly so, the band said: “Croydon is a great place to be.” They added that the local public really got behind them and showed great support.
How would you describe your X Factor journey and experience?
Kazeem: It was the music and entertainment industry boot camp. They put you through your paces: learning songs in two days, learning a performance in a day… You learn how to be a professional and an artist in a week. When you come out, you know how to carry yourself and what kind of artist you want to be.
Joey: It was an amazing experience… It’s really hard to explain what it feels like.
How did it feel to be eliminated?
Joey: It’s disappointing. We were so close, one step away from the final. When we watch the best bits back, we remember how hard it was and the struggles we went through. We’re just happy we were there, it was an honour. And we did it differently from other acts on the X-Factor.
What was your best memory of the X Factor?
Joey: When they brought back Kaz – that was the dream. Gary said he was gonna do everything he could to get Kaz back in the group. It wasn’t right not to have [him] there. We were just hoping and praying.
What was it like to work with Gary Barlow?
Joey: To work with Gary is an honour. He has accomplished amazing things. He is a real genuine guy, and most of all he’s fun. But he knows how to knuckle down and get to business. He understood us and what we were reaching for – I think he saw a little of himself in us.
What are your plans for the future?
Kazeem: We’ve got the X Factor tour in February, and before that just gigging. We’re going to solidify our sound, work on our thing and put our single out. We’re gonna take the industry by the horns and ride it.
Who are your music idols?
Joey: Michael Jackson. He accomplished so much, he’s done it all.
What was it like growing up in Croydon?
Kazeem: Every single area has its good and bad parts. As you’ve seen, a lot of talent has come out of Croydon and it’s about shining the light on the talent.
Did Croydon impact upon your music?
Kazeem: Life experiences impacted upon our sound: where we’ve been, the individual journey’s we’ve gone through. And being in a band, we’ve shared each other’s pain. Life influences our sound.
What advice would you give to young people in Croydon who want to make it in the music industry?
Joey: Know what you wanna do. Put your mind to it – you’ll succeed if your heart is in it. Reach out and work hard – it won’t fall into your lap. You’ve got to fight for your opportunities.