Rocky Horror Show

Sisters on the Mic

10 December 10 words: Glen Parver
Two sisters from Nottingham do battle in the UK Open Mic Championships this weekend
Stephanie (left) and Elena (right) Hargreaves
Stephanie (left) and Elena (right) Hargreaves

Elena and Steph Hargreaves are two sisters from Nottingham who both like singing. In fact they like it so much that they both entered the UK Open Mic Championships and are set for a regional showdown this weekend as they compete head to head in the area finals, for a chance to win a record deal worth £50,000. Glen Parver put a few questions to them about this sibling rivalry...

So when did you know you had a talent for singing?
Elena: I guess I never knew if I could sing until I bravely set upon a church stage for a singing concert my singing teacher at the time set up in Nottingham. I was taking singing lessons at the time, as I genuinely had a fear of singing in public that I wanted to overcome! I sang Out Here on My Own from the original Fame movie. I was 17 years old. And very scared of singing in front of anyone, let alone an audience! I remember it was those tiny moments I had in a church hall after a little singing concert that made me want to keep doing it. I guess I never thought I would have strangers come up to me and encourage me to sing more and take it further. This really built my confidence up!
Steph: When I was eleven years old I used to go food shopping every Saturday with my dad at Asda and one day there was a singing competition on and my dad pushed me forward to sing, which I was hesitant to do. That was the first time I sang in front of other people that weren’t family. So in a similar way to Elena the feedback I got about my voice really encouraged me to sing more...

Elena - competing in the last round of the championships
Elena - competing in the last
round of the championships

 

Describe your sister’s style in a five words…
Elena: truthful, rooted, powerful, Soulful, provocative
Steph: Organic, folk, honest and beautiful lyrics, passionate

How does singing compare to acting?
Elena: That’s a hard question to answer as I see acting as one type of performance style, and singing as another. The only difference for me personally is that when I sing my own stuff…I find it the scariest and most exposing thing! At least with characters you can mask yourself behind the person you believe you are for those moments you’re in a scene on stage... But I guess both are the same, your telling a story.
Steph: I agree, I believe when I sing it’s from an honest approach and I can’t hide but I guess in acting you can hide behind a character.

What’s on your stereo at the moment?
Elena: I’m listening a lot to Jason Miraz, I do really love his music and voice…and
him!
Steph: I’m listening to Eminem's Love the way you lie, Rhianna, Jill Scott…lots of
old school stuff and Motown.

What are the other contestants in the Open Mic championships like? Reckon you can
beat them all and have a sister-on-sister face off in the final?

Elena: The last regional finals were tough, the talent was high and I was nervous! But they were a nice bunch of aspiring musicians. I guess you have to be yourself and hope that brings you luck on getting through…whoever goes through to the O2 Arena I’m sure will deserve it. If we both made it through, then that would be an amazing experience to share...it already has been so nice to share the experience at each round going through.
Steph: Whoever makes it must be talented, if we both get through then that would be amazing but if one doesn’t or we both don’t... I don’t think it will be a rivalry thing as we are so close, were best mates.

When you first entered did you think you’d get this far?
Elena: Absolutely not! Steph originally asked me to do her backing vocals which I did. While practising...I was as curious as to whether I could enter and Steph kept saying, why don’t you just do it? So to scare myself, I did. I wanted to test myself; this was going to be the scariest audition ever for me. So I went for it.
Steph: I did the audition on the off chance; as I thought why not give it a go. I had nothing to lose and it’s what I want to do for a career.

Steph - competing in the last round of the championships
Steph - competing in the last
round of the championships

 

What do your parents think to you both competing? Divided loyalties or what..?
Elena: No way! My parents are so supportive of us both, we never really thought about the dilemma if one went through and not the other. In fact on the day of the regional finals they called my name out first and I was told to run on stage, but I stopped and turned to find Steph...Instinctively I couldn’t go without her! And then I really got shouted at as the audience and judges were waiting! My mum said she was so happy for me but couldn’t actually breathe until she heard Steph’s name and they saved that till last!!! I was up there whispering Steph’s name, hoping somehow that would make the announcer say it!!! And when he did, I screamed...quite embarrassingly loud. I literally caved over as if I had won again! I was just so happy she had got through!
Steph: There’s no divided loyalties in our family it’s all equal love! I was so happy for Elena when she was called out first that I forgot about myself briefly. Then everyone around me started whispering and I could hear them saying things like “ooh no, their sisters aren’t they? how awkward!” I just prayed to go through as well...and thank goodness they called my name!

What’s the worst thing your sister has ever done to you?
Steph: Elena when we were little once, told me that I had won a singing competition to be a singing superstar, apparently I had to go outside and then she pushed me out the house and closed the front door ....so I cried!
Elena: I can only just remember that! How awful...why did I do that?! We were all playing tricks on each other when we were younger! I can’t remember anytime Steph has been awful. Were normal sisters who argue and fall out every now and then!

What’s the best thing she did for you?
Steph: Elena has always been there for me when I needed her. And I just remember as I was growing up, she was really great with advice. And always a shoulder to cry on. She still is!
Elena: It’s so hard to think of a specific thing! Stephanie even at a young age has always been there for me. I do feel like I’m stronger with her, it’s an odd feeling. Whenever I’m feeling down, all I have to do is talk to Staph, and some how after that conversation I’m ok. I love the way she is so honest. If I want an honest opinion, she is who I turn to.

What’s your ideal night out in Nottingham?
Elena: I like going for nice meals, recently I went to a place called French Living, just up from the square. It was so good!! Meals and drinks are an ideal night out for me! I don’t go out as much as I used to!
Steph: I don’t go out as much either! But I do love having a good steak at Frankie and Bennie’s then going to the cinema.

Tell us something about yourself that you’ve never told strangers before…
Steph: I have a rabbit called bubs....
Elena: There would be a reason I haven’t told strangers a secret. I’m too private a person to reveal secrets!!

Anything else you want to say to LeftLion readers?
Elena: Thanks for taking the time to read this, as if you’re reading this now...you’ve read the whole thing! We both hope to do well and make Nottingham proud!
Steph: We appreciate all the support given to us so far, with Nottingham Evening post giving us a mention, and West Bradford Local news and of course the lovely Richard Spurs who recently had us on his BBC Radio Nottingham show singing our own music live! Please do keep rooting for us and we hope to make Nottingham proud! 

UK Open Mic Competition website