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Bond conquers classical crossover charts

Bond's first single off "Shine" was shot in Spain and is called "Fuego."

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(CNN) -- Forget 007. The only number on Bond's mind at the moment is the number one. Why? That's what position "Shine," the all-girl string quartet's latest album, debuted at last week on the classical crossover charts.

Not a bad feat for the ladies, who since forming the group in London, England, in 2000, have been dubbed classical music's answer to the Spice Girls.

With long flowing hair, skimpy outfits and demure glances, the classically trained musicians took the world by storm with their debut album "Born." Not only did the album sell over two and a half million copies worldwide, it also led to the group performing at high-profile events like the "Pavarotti with Friends" concert in Italy, the MTV Awards in the United States and Singapore, and at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

On "Shine," the girls' original blend of classical melodies and dance beats takes on various ethnic influences, drawing on sounds from India, the Middle East and Spain.

TMR caught up with Bond -- Australians Haylie Ecker and Tania Davis, and Britons Eos Chater and Gay-Yee Westerhoff -- to get the scoop on the new album.

TMR: How does "Shine" differ from "Born"?

Haylie Ecker is Bond's first violinist.

Haylie: "Shine" has evolved from "Born" quite naturally actually. We've been on the road together for about two years now and I think with four people in such close situations you do grow together. So I think there's more of a unified sound on this album and the production is of a better quality. Also, I think we've used slightly more ethnic undertones. We've taken the good things from the first album "Born", which is sort of this eclectic mix of music, but there is a little more ethnic stuff on Shine.

TMR: What kind of ethnic sounds?

Gay-Yee: We did a track that was slightly Bollywood-influenced because we really liked all those Bollywood strings -- those crazy strings! And there's kind of Arabic influences. We did a cover of "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin. The original has got some Arabic tones in it which we copied in our own way.

Eos: We did something on this album that we did on the first one. We sat down together and went through a list of the kind of styles we wanted. And we always wanted to do a Bollywood one because it's really up and happy and it's very string-oriented and it's good visually... and we were hoping to get a free trip to India, but we didn't!

Tania Davis: Viola

TMR: How did you go about making the music video for "Shine"?

Tania: Actually that was a fun video to do. We've made two videos for this album so far. But "Shine" was really fun. We collaborated really closely with the director and talked to him about all his ideas. He's really into Bollywood films.

It was filmed in a studio in London and they did it like a Bollywood film set. We had some great Indian dancers who showed us how to do some dance moves, which was funny. But it was a pretty exhausting day. We started at about 6 am and finished after midnight.

TMR: How did you end up with the name Bond?

Haylie: There's a story behind it. When we were rehearsing for one of our shows we were actually trying to come up with a name because we didn't have one. And there happened to be this movie, "Dr. No," and we were talking about maybe the possibility of doing a John Barry-esk type track. And the name Bond just came out of that. It's just this great word and it has so many different meanings. But we like to play on it like the friendship and musical 'bond' between us.

Eos Chater: Second violin

It also has the added advantage that it's internationally recognized. When we're travelling to places as obscure as Colombia and Japan -- places where English isn't the first language -- people just pronounce it straight off the bat.

TMR: How involved are you in the arrangements?

Eos: We're very involved. We all wrote individual tracks on the album and arranged them ourselves. There are a couple of tracks on the last album that we arranged ourselves as well. We used a couple of different arrangers this time, because different producers tend to use different arrangers.

TMR: Were you surprised when you discovered "Born" sold more than 2.5 million copies?

Gay-Yee Westerhoff: Cello

Eos: We were really surprised by the popularity of the first album, although obviously we were proud of it. I think because it's instrumental music, you don't think it's going to sell that much because everything these days is geared towards vocal music, especially in America.

Everywhere we went we went down really well. Asia is probably our biggest market (for us) because they have more of a history with instrumental music there -- ancient stuff. And although our music isn't classical in the sense that it has a long history, it does have a relation and they just tune into it easier than some other countries.

Back to The Music Room main page.

TMR's Brian Streicher contributed to this report.

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