In 2000, Giant Records, a mainly dance music label, sought to create a girl group to rival other such groups of the time, such as Dream, 3LW, and Eden's Crush. The label's hook for this new group would be that its members were international to appeal to a larger fan base. Auditions were held, and the five members selected represented five distinct nationalities.
Kate Macalino, from the Philippines, had worked as a model in her home country. Tal B. Hajek, from Israel, was a devout Jew who moved to the USA in 1997 and admired rock singers. Christina Rumbley, from the United States, had moved from Florida to Los Angeles to pursue a music career. Andi Murphy M. was from the UK and had a passion for dancing. Gaby Equiz, from Mexico, dreamed of fame. Together, these girls became the International 5, more commonly referred to as I5.
In the spring of 2000, I5 was featured on the soundtrack to the dance film Center stage with their song, "First Kiss." By the summer of 2000, the girls had almost completed their debut album and began touring with Nickelodeon's All That Music and More tour. On this tour, I5 promoted its single, "Distracted," which was written by Steve Kipner, who had previously written hits for Christina Aguilera ("Genie in a Bottle") and Dream ("He Loves U Not").
On September 12th, 2000, Giant Records released I5's self-titled CD. However, the label was not able to release any more singles or significantly promote the album due to its imminent folding. Once Giant Records folded, Warner Bros. Records, its parent, absorbed it, and I5 no longer had a label.
Though the members of i5 initially sought a new record label, they failed to find one, and Tal, Gaby, Christina, Kate, and Andi parted ways in 2001.
After the 2001 disbanding of I5:
- Kate is pursing acting, songwriting, and dance while attending college, and is currently working for a video game company. She has been doing lots of acting from stage to film, mostly musical theater, including the shows A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Godspell, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Pirates of Penzance, some student plays and films, and some dance concerts. In music, she has been writing some songs and collaborating with other songwriters, for future projects as well as her own solo project.
- Tal, along with her husband and guitarist Vee Vaknin, drummer Eran Cohen, and bassist Pascual Romero, formed a rock band called Public Recipe, which performed around Los Angeles in the early 2000s and disbanded in 2004. Since then, Tal has worked on solo material, including a fusion of her native Israeli and Hebrew music with rock music. She also had a stint as a VJ and TV host.
- Christina eloped in 2000 when i5 served as the opening act for boy band NSYNC. She has since had a daughter and a career in songwriting and voice-overs. Most notably, she is credited for writing LeAnn Rimes's hit "Tic Toc." Since then, she has left the LA scene and moved to Asheville, NC, where she owns and operates a day spa called Spa Theology.
- Andi owns a dance studio in Los Angeles called Penny Lane Dance Academy and is developing a children's television program.
- Gaby had a stint as a television host in California for such programs as TMT and U4Ria. Though Gaby had previously been romantically connected to Ricky of boy band No Authority, they have since broken up. As of 2005, Gaby now lives in Mexico. She currently owns her own dance studio, Alma Latina, and is a professional salsa dancer. She recently won the San Diego Salsa Competition of 2006.
Some other fun facts:
- Some of i5's songs have been covered by other artists. "Cinderella" was covered by Swedish girl group Play on its 2002 self-titled debut album. Later, the song was covered by Disney's the Cheetah Girls, and also by Thai Pop Singer Tata Young.
- "First Kiss" was covered by Philippine singer Nina Girado.
- "If I Ever See Heaven Again" was covered by American Idol season-three finalist Jasmine Trias on her debut album.
- I5's song "Ladidi Ladida" was released previously on girl group S.O.A.P.'s 1998 album.
- Gaby co-wrote two songs that appeared on i5's debut: "Sweet N Sassy" and "Scream Shout."