By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
Don't get me wrong. I'll be the first one to say that 41 shots at an unarmed man deserves a few fuck you's.
Right, but you know it was something that happened that now has gotten national -- worldwide -- attention, and that one incident speaks of a larger problem that needs to be addressed.
You seem to work mostly with U.S. artists rather that U.K. artists. I know you've worked with Ben Watt. And Hype Williams.
Nah. You know we've worked with Ben often. But it's the U.S. artists that come banging on my door. Not like BANGING, but you know they approached me. It's not like anybody in France is banging on my door, or anybody in Germany. It's that U.S. artists want to work with me, and I welcome that. You know, once Zach and I met, we instantly knew we could work in the studio. It was obvious to both of us that we both come from an intense place with our music. We have common ground. It was great. I was recently in the studio with him in New York, and we spent three to four hours playing table tennis, just hanging out, having a grand time. The most expensive game of table tennis ever.
What do you make of the fact that New Forms, an album that you've called "a skeleton of an album, a disc whose sound is incomplete," gained critical acclaim while In the Mode, which is a much more well-rounded album, hasn't gotten much press yet, and hasn't been given much play?
You know, winning that [Mercury] award was like the best thing that happened to us. Not for the award, you know, but because before that award nobody gave a shit who I was. All it took was for twelve people in a room to decide to give it that acclaim, and all of a sudden people knew about us. You know, that record still hasn't sold much. I think it sold a humble 700,000, but it's not ever about selling records and selling out shows. It's about making good music.
What's your opinion of all the labels and subclassifications that electronic music is given, whether it's jungle, 2-step, garage, or drum and bass?
I haven't got a problem with labels. Call it whatever you want. That's what people have to do in order to explain it. I've had people tell me they hate jungle. They hate drum and bass. And I'll play them something of ours, and they say, "But I like that." Well, you like jungle. You like drum and bass then.
What do you say to critics who write that drum and bass is dead, that it's time for 2-step? That that's the next hot thing?
Nobody has said that to me. Here we are making jungle and drum and bass. No one can say that any of this music is dying. It's always changing. That's true for music always. It's always been changing and evolving.
MJ Cole fills his CD Sincere with soulful jazz and R&B riffs, while keeping true to the big beat sound. What does he have to say now that 2-step has been crowned the next big thing -- and he's the king?
New Times: When did you start with classical music?
MJ Cole: I started playing the piano when I was about six. I come from a very musical house. My mom and dad play the piano, and my dad is a singer, so there was always music around the house. That was all classical music, and I did a lot of performances and won some awards, so I got into doing competitions and started the oboe when I was ten. I got a lot of music at school and went to the Royal College of Music every Saturday. Really I was a pianist. I don't play the oboe anymore because it is a classical instrument, but my piano skills I use every day in the studio. Anything with black-and-white keys, I'm there.
So at some point you jumped from classical music to doing production work?
I didn't really jump. When I was about thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen, I got into drum and bass and started living a sort of double life. I would study at the Royal College all day, and then I'd be home with my Atari computer and a little sample, starting to make tracks in my bedroom. I was doing both all the time. I didn't really get into the studio until university. When I left the university, I went to work as a tea boy at a label called Sour and basically ran around getting everyone tea and such, earning 20 pounds a week. And they soon found out I had quite a bit of studio skills, so I started engineering some tracks. Ed Rush and Trace, Blim, Freak Nasty -- yeah I worked on a lot of different things. That was a good time for me. I learned a lot just keeping my ears open as an engineer. Discovered the way people worked, and I grew myself. And then I started using the studio at night to record my own tracks. Recorded a couple of drum and bass tracks. I got started doing the garage thing quite by accident. Just one day I had to engineer a few garage tracks, and then it just went from there.