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WSTRN: The 'unknown trio' who knocked Adele off her top spot

CHART SUCCESS: UK trio WSTRN (L-R) Akelle Charles, Haile and Louis Rei

WHEN THEIR debut single In2 knocked pop star Adele from her No.1 spot in the midweek charts, the world stood still. Then music fans, and writers alike, flocked to Google to find out more about 'unknown trio' WSTRN (The Sun's words, not ours).

With the surprise success of their first foray into the charts, recorded in just one studio session, Akelle Charles, Louis Rei and Haile were thrust into the limelight seemingly overnight.

“I am lost for words for beating Adele for one day or even being in the same company as her. She is such a power and a force,” Louis said following their speedy ascent to the top of the charts.

The track spawned not just one, but three remixes featuring the likes of Wretch 32, Chip and dancehall artist Baby Cham, each giving their own treatment to the infectious anthem.

“I can't really explain, but I do this thing when I'm writing lyrics - I pace up and down the room,” Haile revealed when asked about how he came up with the musical hit.

“[With In2], I eventually got the lyrics in my head, went into the booth and recorded the hook, Akelle did his verse shortly after then Louis and we had one sick song.”

Aged just 20 - the youngest of the group - Haile's signature waist length dreadlocks make him arguably the most recognisable member.

It's a fact, the remaining two members playfully tease him about it when asked who gets the most female attention following their rise to fame.

“I'm not going to lie; I kind of slept on the song - in that week we were making so much music but In2 was the first song,” Haile went on.

Akelle, Haile's 24-year-old cousin, confirmed: “I think we all did, we liked it for that night but never imagined it would turn out like this.”

Crediting BBC Radio 1Xtra's DJ Target for giving the track it's first spin on the airwaves, the song quickly cemented itself as a radio playlist regular and caught the attention of label executives keen to secure the 'next big thing’.

“When the labels started contacting us, it started getting out of hand really. But we saw the flip side as to what they could do for us, so while it's great to be able to do it for ourselves, there's only so much we can accomplish,” Akelle explained.

Though they were courted by many big record labels, the group signed to Atlantic Records and are managed by Jonathan Shalit, the mastermind behind the success of N-Dubz.

“I know that we want to take this worldwide and I think we agreed that we needed a well oiled machine that knows what it's doing and has a history of success with other artists,” 25-year-old Louis said of their decision. “It just got to the point that it was the best decision that we could make in order to reach our goals.”

Formally three solo artists, the coming together of the west London trio and their sound – described as both smooth and street – came about authentically.

“We just clicked, ‘real recognise real’ as they say,” Akelle laughed.

“We have a formula that's working and we kind of want to just ride that wave,” Louis added. “We just make music that feels good, it's crazy to think that what we've come up with, people are just taking to it, it's humbling.”

Crediting a broad spectrum of influences, including The Carpenters, The Fugees, Jay Z, Brandy, and Future, the rap and R&B elements of their sound are just as evident in their take on Young Thug's Best Friend with the help of south London rapper Youngs Teflon.

In what has been a phenomenal year for black British music – with rap duo Krept and Konan making chart history with their debut album The Long Way Home charting at No.2 and south London rapper Stormzy taking the title of highest-charting freestyle when Wicked Skengman 4 reached No.18 – the group is tipped for similar success.

Commenting on the strides made by black music stars this year, Akelle credited camaraderie as being key: “I think its down to the artists themselves, sticking together helps majorly and has an impact. When other artists show support for up and coming artists that's how we win.”

With superstar fans including Drake, who featured In2 on his Beats 1 OVO show, Haile added: “We've had so many artists reach out to us and show their support and that means a lot because of the respect we have for them.”

In addition, all three members are fortunate to have the backing of supportive families and for Akelle, whose older brother is singer and songwriter Angel (the two bare a striking resemblance), he also has the added benefit of gaining valuable industry knowledge.

Strategic about their steps and what they intend to make of their musical journey, their ascension into the mainstream isn't something any of them are taking for granted.

For Louis, it wasn't until the overwhelming reception the group received at BBC 1 Xtra's Live concert in Leeds that the reality of their success became all the more real.

He said: “Until that moment I still had cold feet about this whole music thing, it's such a fickle business that you never really know what's going to happen but I will never forget that moment.”

“It's crazy but very exciting, things have been flying so fast, and we're still taking it in,” Haile added.

The trio maintain that In2 isn't a one-off hit and they have “so much more music waiting”.

Akelle added: “Everything we intend to put out is going to link and make sense and everyone is going to see it as a full story.”

In2 is out now on iTunes and you can keep with WSTRN’s musical journey on twitter @WSTRNmusic

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