London hip-hop trio N Dubz were named best UK newcomers at last month's Mobo Awards after building a huge following among young fans. With a major label deal, they now are tipped for mainstream success.
N Dubz beat Mutya Buena to the Mobo best newcomer award
Frontman Dappy - real name Costas Dinos Contostavlos - talks about his band's growing fame, his family link to 1970s rockers Mungo Jerry and his love for Phil Collins.
Who are N Dubz?
We're all from Camden Town and we went to the same school. It is nowhere near a manufactured band, we've all been through some crazy lives back where we live.
My dad and our manager [Byron Contostavlos] helped us from day one and he died on 12 April. He's the one who put us in studios. He was in a band called Mungo Jerry, he played the bass, so we are very musically influenced. He put us on the right path, he stopped us doing bad things, and here we are eight years down the line.
And you won the Mobo Award, beating artists like Mutya Buena...
Now we carry a big responsibility on our shoulders. Now we have to deliver and we won't let them down. We have to prove to everyone that we are the UK's best newcomers. It was voted for by fans and it was the biggest margin ever for the best UK newcomer award - we won by miles.
Dappy has become known for his outlandish headgear
What kind of following have you got?
Up and down the country - Scotland down to Cornwall - every teenager [knows us]. We're doing a schools tour at the moment, we've been doing primary schools, and every single kid knows the words. If you don't have N Dubz on your phone, or you don't have an N Dubz Dappy hat, you're not cool.
In your Feva Las Vegas video, a record industry man offers you a briefcase full of cash - is that what happened?
This is all true stuff - someone tried to offer us £80,000 for our publishing and we said no.
In a briefcase?
Not exactly. The reason we put the briefcase in was because the way he said it to us was blunt, straightforward: 'I've got £80,000, publishing, right now.' We was like: 'No, na na nah, ha ha. We are worth much more than £80,000.'
The video for Love For My Slum showed you punching a "rich kid". The Independent newspaper said you could "encourage their viewers to indulge in criminality". Are they right?
They are completely utterly wrong. There's a lot of kids from a very good background, they come down to where we live and all they want to do is fit in with people like us that haven't really had a good start in life. I'm trying to say to them there is no need to do that. You're in a great position.
N Dubz are Dappy (left), Tulisa (centre) and Fazer
Dappy and Tulisa are cousins
The group started making music aged 11
All three had roles in Channel 4's Dubplate Drama
Their song I Swear was number one on the Channel U chart for six months
[Reciting the song's lyrics] "How can you be ghetto if my whole freakin' flat is smaller than your kitchen? You wouldn't last a minute where I'm from, you'd go missing. So appreciate what you've got because for that I'm still wishing."
What you've got I'm wishing for, and what I've got they're wishing for, and that there really hurts me inside.
Not many British urban artists have broken though to the big time - why is that and why will you be different?
The majority of urban artists are stuck in a car park. They are afraid to expand their degrees of knowledge in music. You have to know about a verse leading into the bridge, crescendo into the chorus, back out into a verse, bridge, chorus, middle eight. Even if you want to do garage, grime, all that funny fast stuff, you have to know how to make a song, how to keep people interested.
In my spare time, I listen to [London pop radio station] Magic 105.4, due to the fact that the vocal arrangements are how a song should be. George Michael, Phil Collins, Roachford, The Police - these are all very big inspirations to us and we take that back to our little laboratory in Finsbury Park and come up with our smashers that every single teenager in the UK is raving about at the moment.
Where have your hats come from?
This is just us, Camden Town. I felt very comfortable with those hats from a baby, with the two strings, I like to have things hanging from the side of my head so I'm very noticeable.
If I walk on any high street, anywhere I go, there will be hands and there will be screams and I don't know how I've done it.
N Dubz's single You Better Not Waste My Time is out in the UK on Monday.