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Meet No Guidnce, the global R&B superstars in waiting

The brilliantly ambitious UK four-piece discuss their origins and ultimate goal: “How do we beat Drake?”

By Will Richards

No Guidnce press shot, 2023
No Guidnce (Photo: Press)

To become real R&B stars, you have to do your homework. That’s according to Kaci of No Guidnce, a London four-piece that have been students of the genre their whole lives and are emerging in 2023 as its bright new hopes.

“You would struggle to make the music we’re making now if you hadn’t done your research,” he tells Rolling Stone UK, with he and his bandmates citing the likes of Boyz II Men and New Edition as formative inspirations. “You have to grow up on it to really appreciate the roots of it,” bandmate Josh adds.

Though No Guidnce – completed by Zeekay and Ebubé – only released their first song this past March, the four-piece got their start sharing TikTok covers online, attracting fans including Miguel and Boyz II Men, before emerging with debut EP ‘Is It a Crime?’ in June.

As they release new single ‘Let It Rain’, the four-piece discuss their sky-high ambitions, aiming for an unrestricted and global sound, and the pros and cons of being labelled a boyband.

You started off making TikTok videos of covers online – what was the process like transitioning from that into sharing original material?

Zeekay: TikTok was more of a springboard for our development. Our team always say that it’s just like TV – anyone can find it, anyone can watch it, it’s easily accessible, and it’s not just for a specific group of people. If you get some traction on TikTok, you’re hitting everyone at the same time. After that, we made some music behind the scenes for about a year before starting to release it.

Kaci: For the first year when we were only really [publicly] doing TikToks and making music behind the scenes, everyone was saying, ‘Oh you’re the group from TikTok!’. We still get that sometimes now, but we always knew that the quality of our music would allow us to step away from that, and stand out for our music more than our TikToks.

When you started, you took up residence in a central London car park, which has become a feature of your music videos – how did that idea come together?

Ebubé: We just needed somewhere to shoot next to where we were at one very moment, and that car park was just there. And it’s quite incredible that it was… we still haven’t found a better car park yet!

Zeekay: Car parks are universal, right? You can’t pinpoint where someone is, or where they’re from, if they’re standing in a car park. We wanted to keep it feeling international, so everyone feels that they can connect with us.

Do you come from different corners of the R&B world, and what differences between the group do you think define you?

Ebubé: We’ve got an array of different sounds that we’ve experimented with, and all four of us are quite unique in terms of sound and taste. We all have a different idea of what R&B is. In the new material we’re working on, we’ve got some upbeat club songs and then we’ve got some more poppy stuff.

And Zeekay and Kaci found Ebubé and Josh from TikTok and Instagram respectively when starting the group – what kind of things were you posting at that time?

Josh: I was singing a lot of pop stuff, like Justin Bieber, and stuff that was more like The Weeknd.

Ebubé: I was posting soul, R&B and jazz stuff. Ray Charles, Daniel Caesar, Giveon. I was posting on YouTube and TikTok, and they found me!

You’ve been labelled a boyband, a term that can apply to a more varied set of groups than it could in the ‘90s, thanks to the likes of Brockhampton. What does the term mean to you, and do you like the label for yourselves?

Kaci: I think being in a boyband is cool, but we say we’re in a group. But if someone walks around saying that they’re in a boyband, that’s kinda fire.

Zeekay: I like saying I’m in a boyband! When people look at the boyband that I’m in, it breaks down their mental stereotype of what a boyband can look like. We’re a cool ass boyband!

Josh: I definitely think we can change the narrative of what a boyband is. It doesn’t have to be an all-white pop group now. We’re in an age of being authentic and being different.

UK R&B feels in a really strong place at the moment, with FLO also a key part of the resurgence. What are you trying to bring to the genre that’s different from your childhood influences?

Zeekay: There isn’t really a specific blueprint for us anymore, because it’s been so long [since R&B groups were topping the charts]. That means we have the freedom to create this new thing. We’ve got enough eyes on us now to have the chance to potentially start a new renaissance. We don’t focus too much on trying to be like them, but just to do what is right now.

Between starting on TikTok and now selling out shows and streaming millions, has your ambition for No Guidnce changed?

Kaci: The vision is exactly the same.

Ebubé: The same since the beginning. The only thing that’s changed is the path to get there, but the goal is still the same.

Zeekay: Even before we released any music, the meetings and the conversation we were having was: ‘How do we beat Drake?’

Josh: How do we be the biggest act in the world? That was the original goal, and is still what drives the whole project. We want to be out there all over the planet.

‘If Only You Knew’ is available now via NWS 1983