'We don't regret quitting X Factor, say Leicester sisters aka Mia and the Moon
When singing is your dream, it takes guts to walk away from the biggest music show on the planet. But sisters Mary-Anne and Laura Ratcliffe, who go by the name Mia and the Moon, are sure they made the right decision when they walked off the X Factor set.
The Leicester duo made it through to boot camp, but said they got sick of being told what to do and having decisions made for them.
They said the final straw came when they were asked to "fight for the camera".
Since leaving the show, the pair have recorded a Christmas single, which they hope will rival the polished perfection of the eventual X Factor winner, and there's the possibility of joining other ex-contestants in a countrywide tour next year.
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It's a far cry from where the girls could be now, performing on the live shows with the likes of finalists Ella Henderson, James Arthur and Rylan Clark.
But the sisters say they do not regret their dramatic departure from Simon Cowell's multi-million pound programme for a second.
"When we decided we'd had enough, we were literally seconds away from finding out who was going through to the next round," said 25-year-old Laura.
"The producers were chasing us down the street and trying to stop us getting into the taxi – they said we were making the biggest mistake of our lives.
"All I could think about while it was going on was that they were right, but it really wasn't for us. I don't regret it at all."
The pair, from Leicester's West End, are both seasoned musicians and performers – but their styles are a world apart.
Laura is a former cruise ship singer who revelled in the glitz and glamour, while 23-year-old Mary-Anne busked in the city centre and toured the pubs and bars of Leicester.
"We really couldn't be more different," says Laura. "But we work so well together."
Mary-Anne said: "It's great that we're different – it's definitely a Ying and Yang thing going on, we each make up for what the other one lacks."
The duo are now preparing a UK tour to promote their new Christmas single, Snow.
"We were going to play it for our audition on the show, but the contract said that anything we played would be owned by the X Factor," said Mary-Anne.
"Looking back, I'm really glad we chose not to use it.
"I wrote it in the car on the way back from the first audition.
"And when I first played it to Laura she jumped up and down shouting 'we're going to be millionaires'."
The song was produced and mastered at Tiny Studios near Highcross before being uploaded to iTunes.
Laura said: "We've done everything ourselves, which is awesome because it means we have total control.
"I realise the X Factor has its advantages, but you don't get a choice about what you do – all the decisions are made for you."
Mary-Anne said: "We've got original material and ideas coming out of our ears. We're also in talks with some of the other acts which didn't make it through X Factor to do a tour of the country next year, which would be amazing."
The girls are also planning on refining their catalogue of songs and recording an album next year. And they say they don't regret their decision to quit X Factor.
"It's not a show about singing, not like The Voice, it's about characters and personalities and drama," says Laura.
"I think we knew it wasn't for us when they were getting us to fight with other for the cameras, which is not what we're about.
"It just felt so wrong. We'd sit there before the auditions and could see exactly who they were prepping to go through even before they'd been in front of the judges. None of it was 'real'."
To download the sisters' single, search for 'Mia and the Moon' on iTunes.