June 25, 2019 Interview – Cindy Herron of En Vogue
Selling more than 20 million records worldwide, winning 7 MTV Video Music Awards, 3 Soul Train Awards, 2 American Music Awards, and received 7 Grammy nominations, En Vogue are undeniably a powerhouse R&B group. One of the best female vocal groups of all time, and certainly one of the most successful, En Vogue blasted onto the scene as a group of ladies that not only could sing their hearts out, presenting the music with harmonies second to none, but also permeated an attitude that let you know these ladies demand respect.
Topping charts with single after single during the 1990s, En Vogue remain a force to be reckoned with in the new millennium, most recently releasing their seventh studio album, Electric Café, in 2018 and continued touring around the globe. Taking part in their own big, headlining tours in recent years, the trio recently teamed up with MC Hammer for some shows apart of his Hammer House Party Tour and gear up for more shows well through the summer. Excited to get out and perform, founding lady Cindy Herron-Braggs took the time to talk the history of En Vogue, their new album Electric Café, plans for the future, plus so much more.
Cryptic Rock – Coming together three decades ago, En Vogue are one of the most successful female vocal groups of all-time. Attaining awards and platinum-selling records, how would you describe the incredible journey of the group?
Cindy Herron – It’s been a great journey, overall, and it has succeeded my exceptions of the brand of the group. We’ve had our ups and down along the way, but overall it’s been a great journey.
Cryptic Rock – It certainly has been one with a lot of great success. Looking back, it would be 1990’s “Hold On” that would first launch En Vogue to the top of the charts in a big way. Having that success with your debut record, 1992’s Funky Divas would reach even great heights. What was that time like for En Vogue?
Cindy Herron – It was exciting and a great learning experience, because that first album and single took off far more than we expected. We hoped it would do great, but we weren’t sure if it really would. The first single took off so fast that first year we were playing catch up. We were catching up and kind of had a lot of growing up to do in terms of performing live on stage, performing on television, and handling our business as it pertained to En Vogue. It was really a big learning experience for all of us; we grew up, that is when we really started growing up.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it was an exciting and busy time. Speaking of keeping busy, En Vogue has been touring a lot in recent years, and returned in 2018 with the brand-new album Electric Café. What was the writing and recording like for this record?
Cindy Herron – The process took us a total of about 2 1/2 years to get it written and recorded. It was off and on; we started, took a break, and then we would come back together. We initially had a vision of one particular direction, but as time went by that vision sort of started to evolve and change. Then when we thought we were finished with the album, we decided we weren’t finished. (Laughs) We wanted to go back in and add a few more songs. So, it was the most lengthy process out of all the times we recorded.
Also, a bulk of the album we did not record in a studio. Because of the way recording music has changed, you don’t have to necessarily go to a recording studio anymore. A lot of it we did in one of the rooms in Denzil Foster’s house with his computer and just some equipment. A bulk of that happens that way, but there were a few of the songs we did go to a studio for. It was definitely different than how we’ve done it in the past.
Cryptic Rock – What really stands out about Electric Café is it is En Vogue stylistically, but also retains a modern vibe. Was that important to you when making the album?
Cindy Herron – It’s always important, we always want to maintain the signature En Vogue sound in terms of the harmony. It’s also important to not try and do exactly what we started out doing, because music evolves too. I think the music is a reflection of who we are, not just lyrically, but with the music, as well, because we listen to a lot of different styles of music. I think all of us, including the Producers Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy, are all influenced by the evolution of music. I think we all bring that into the writing and creative process of it. That’s definitely important for us to have our signature sound, but something that is musically current sound wise.
Cryptic Rock – Electric Café certainly accomplished that. Speaking of touring, you will in fact be out on the road again this summer, and you just wrapped up some shows as part of the Hammer’s House Party Tour. How exciting was it to be a part of this special run of shows?
Cindy Herron – It was very exciting, especially going back to the San Francisco Bay area. Coming back to the Bay area is always important, because that is where we got our start. It was also a big thing for us because Hammer was really essential in the beginning of our career. We’ve come full circle and here we are back doing a show with Hammer.
Cryptic Rock – That is really cool to hear and the Hammer House Party Tour has a killer list of acts shifting rotations through the summer. En Vogue has always been known for powerful live performances where the music comes to life in an even more profound fashion. What is like for you on stage?
Cindy Braggs – Now it’s pretty easy. We’re much more comfortable on stage; we’ve been doing it for so many years now. It’s a lot fun because the people who come to our shows know our music, sing along, they party, and that feels good. They are giving us that good energy and that love, and I think it energizes us to give it right back to them. It’s always a lot of fun and I would say I don’t get nervous much anymore, but Terry (Ellis) would say different – she would say she definitely still gets nervous. We are definitely more settled in what we do, we are more comfortable, and still enjoying it very much.
Cryptic Rock – That comfort shows in your performances. Beyond being a part of Hammer’s House Party Tour, and your other summer shows, can we expect some more headlining shows at some point in 2019?
Cindy Herron – Definitely. We are always out on the road doing our thing, so when we are not opening for an act like Hammer, we are headlining and doing our own show. Our show is about 75-90 minutes, so you get a lot of our hits and a lot of our new stuff. That is going on all year long, so we will definitely continue to be out there doing that. It’s exciting and fun for us to be out there and be able to perform the new stuff. It has that newness to add to our lineup of songs.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, it is great to have that new material to your endless list of classic tunes. Funky Divas actually celebrated a special 25th anniversary back in 2017. An album laden with so many great songs, let’s focus for a moment on “Free Your Mind.” An edgy and powerful song, it was so profound back then, but sadly the context is still relevant today.
Cindy Herron – Yes, I think back then when we wrote that song, we would have never thought that this many years later that the subject matter of the song would still be relevant and that people could still relate to it. I would have thought we would have been so past various prejudices and we would be have been more of a unified society on many levels. It’s kind of mind-blowing because a lot of people tell us that very thing – that this song is still relevant and meaning for people in their life today. That is one of the favorite songs of the show: everybody just gets up and sings. We almost don’t have to sing, because everybody is singing. But yes, it is mind blowing it is still has such relevance.
Cryptic Rock – It is quite true. Beyond music and En Vogue, you have also done acting. Is that something you may do more of in the future?
Cindy Herron – I definitely would like to. The reason that I don’t is it is hard to be able to go out for a lot of auditions. Often times my agent will call and either the thing she wants to put me up for, the audition happens when I’m traveling, or the actual shoot date happens when I’m traveling. It just doesn’t quite work out, but I definitely would love to get back to acting. I particularly love theater acting and musicals; that is really where I got my start. I would love to go back to theater, especially musical theater, but I would do television too if my schedule would permit.
Cryptic Rock – That is something to look out for. Speaking of movies, if you are a fan of Horror and Sci-Fi films, do you have any favorites?
Cindy Herron – I’m not a big Horror movie fan anymore. I used to be such a huge Stephen King fan. For Science Fiction, I can’t say there is a Sci-Fi film that is a big favorite of mine.