“If something’s cool then it’s always cool,” Miguel Campbell states. Well, anyone who’s ever found an Eclipse T-shirt buried at the back of their wardrobe might disagree. As did plenty of DJs who heard the house music Miguel was producing two years ago.
“A lot of people called what I was making ‘elevator music’,” the Leeds-based producer and DJ says. “They were all into techno or said I should be making deep house. But I said, ‘No — I make funk and French house’ and stuck to my guns.”
But whilst the winds of fashion might never change enough to make wearing that T-shirt acceptable again, they’re now firmly blowing in Miguel’s favour. Meaning many of those doubting DJs must be feeling slightly sheepish when they play Miguel’s ‘Something Special’ in their sets, especially since it’s now been named ‘Best Single’ at the Best Of British awards after slaying Ibiza this summer.
“I certainly didn’t expect it to be as big as it is,” Miguel admits. “There is something unique about that record, but I also think it’s the circumstances with people like Soul Clap bringing house back.”
‘Something Special’s palm-rippling melody and supple bassline first really started turning heads at the start of the summer, and by the season’s end whole clubs were united in singing along with the sultry “Something special, sexy, wonderful” vocal. It was the very definition of an end of night anthem, which was exactly as Miguel intended it. For when he and his mates Richy Ahmed and Russ Yallop headed over for their annual stint DJing on the White Isle, they made the express promise to always keep it as the last tune in their sets.
“That made it memorable and it became a lot of people’s favourite song from Ibiza because of that, even though nobody knew what it was,” Miguel believes.
Indeed, many assumed that ‘Something Special’ was the work of a fresh-faced young buck, rather than a man who has been producing music to little acclaim since 2006. “I’ve actually released four albums — two under my own name and two with my mate Matt Hughes as MAM — but no-one’s heard them, because they came out on my own little independent label Outcross,” he reveals.
Things began to change when Jamie Jones was passed a pressing of Miguel’s ‘Baby I Got It’ EP at 2010’s Miami Winter Music Conference, going on to sign Miguel to record an album for Hot Creations. But it was ‘Something Special’ on the flip that really got those who heard it excited, the only exception apparently being Miguel himself.
“I originally made it in 2008 as a French house track with horns and keyboards, and then re-recorded it with a female vocal when I knew I was doing an album for Hot Creations,” he explains. “But I was umming and ahhing about putting it out, because I wasn’t that sure I was into it personally. But all my mates were like, ‘That’s my favourite — it’s got to come out’.’’
If his mates knew what they were talking about, then the dancefloor reactions also spoke for themselves, as does the fact that Miguel now has the likes of Deadmau5 knocking at his door for remix work. Plus, whereas his DJ career — with the exception of the odd gig in Ibiza playing small bars “…normally for free” — had previously taken him no further than Middlesbrough before this year, the unassuming Yorkshireman now regularly finds himself DJing in Paris or Mexico City “…in front of people who expect so much of you. It makes you a much better DJ because you’ve really got to deliver.”
And anticipation is running equally high for when Miguel’s album finally drops on Hot Creations in a few months.
“I’ve tried to fuse the French touch with deep house and the Hot Creations sound,” he elaborates. “The whole minimal thing nearly killed dance music for me, because I got absolutely no emotions listening to that kind of deep techno. I’m bringing the love back — because what got me into dance music was the ‘What’s your name and where you from?’ vibe.”
Not that he’s likely to get asked that much anymore, now that ‘Something Special’ has made Miguel from Leeds everybody’s best friend.
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