What’s On pals Hype preview MJ Cole at Level 41, Media One for the Superheroes party, one of the best club nights in Dubai. Watch Sincere.
Sincere began life in 1998 as twenty vinyl test pressings, report our pals Hype. One test pressing found the ear of dance music’s gatekeeper, Pete Tong. Tong played the track on his BBC Radio 1 show and the cogs of the music industry began to turn until, two years later on a major label, MJ Cole released his critically and commercially successful debut album.
This once familiar cycle is now all but gone. The London DJ-producer releases music in an industry almost unrecognisable to the one in which he found fame. Electronic music in album form is, if not dead, certainly dying. But Cole is in no mood to mourn.
“The dance-music album, yes, it’s definitely on the decline. And it’s a shame. For me, there’s still something golden about the format. It takes more effort, determination and confidence to achieve and tends to stick in people’s minds for longer than some of the more disposable standalone tracks.
“But it’s due to the way people listen to music now. It’s rare that an album gets a listen from start to finish when we have the ability to shuffle, and create personal playlists.”
The older model, at least in theory, Cole says, ensured certain standards. His response to its decline has been to take the kind of quality control it offered and apply it to music in the digital age, where releasing music regularly is a necessity.
“I think it’s always good to maintain a presence in the music world, but not at the expense of quality. There’s something admirable about artists who hold back and then release something very special. For the younger producer, just starting out, I guess it’s important to be seen to pushing forwards gradually and consistently. I do sometimes feel, though, people release tracks a little too easily. There’s a lot to be said for the older model where a label had to invest in vinyl mastering and so for a track to be released it really had to be good to get into the system.”
Matthew James Firth Coleman was always that little bit different compared to his peers. The classically trained musician, Royal College Of Music attendee and BBC Television’s Young Musician Of The Year performer, took what he learned in the classroom and applied it to the music he danced to at weekends.
His second album, however, was received less favourably than his Mercury Prized-nominated first, and he admits to some darker years following 2003’s Cut To The Chase. But a new generation of DJ-producers – those who led genres such as UK funky and dubstep and the more recent house music revival – grew up listening to Cole. He, in turn, takes inspiration from them.
As in demand as ever as a DJ – this month he plays the Superheroes XXXL party alongside Stanton Warriors – he also has recent remix and production credits for Lana Del Rey and Example and is currently in the studio with Mr Hudson. But it’s in continuing to bring through new artists on his label, Prolific Recordings, that MJ Cole sees his future.
“The net has certainly made it easier for people to collaborate. But there’s still no substitute for sitting in a room together to catch a unified vibe – when there’s a couple of people throwing ideas around and messing around with synths and instruments, the creative journey is fun.”
Level 41, Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City, Dubai, 9pm to 3am, Dhs120. Tel: (04) 4271000. Metro: Nakheel. mediaonehotel.com