Todd Edwards, Jill Scott, Goldie, De La Soul, Chase & Status, Toddla T, Danny Byrd and Shy FX are a motley crew held together by one common thread: each of them have been fortunate enough to come under the gentle duress of the remix skills of MJ Cole, aka Matt Coleman. With such an impress résumé, it's no wonder he's the man behind DJmag's Best of British 2010 Best Remix. Nah, that's no curveball triumph. But the winning song might surprise, and it’s something of a personal coup as Matt is the first to point out.
"I knew I'd been nominated, but to win is a real surprise. The remix of Maddslinky’s ‘Special’ is one of my more intricate, textural tracks. It’s not a big-room tune that's been getting rinsed in clubs, so it’s really satisfying to know people are into my more delicate, groove-led remixes too."
With an extensive range in his current output, Matt is a self-diagnosed hydra. "I’ve kinda got three heads on at the moment: the hip-hop/grime stuff like my Wiley tune, then there's this textured stuff, and also the big, knee-deep-in-synth stuff.”
When remixing a track, Matt says there are countless routes it can take but there is always the same point of entry and what goes on outside of the four walls of his studio is just as important as what takes place inside. "It's the vocal that I listen to closest, to try and figure out what kind of swing I'm gonna take. That's always the natural starting point. And I get into a different mood with my music making around the winter months. This remix was done last February and you can hear the cold air, crunchy leaves and empty pavements. It's that kinda vibe opposed to the big basslines of the summer festivals." The winning remix stands worlds apart from his more recent sun-fuelled and synth-filled re-workings of Chase & Status or Shy FX and also his own ‘Riddims’ released earlier this year.
"Those are all jump-up, high adrenalin tunes which I love to make, but there's still a very soulful side to my music."
It’s the simplicity of the stripped-bare beats and back-lit melody that makes ‘Special’ so outstanding. We can rest assured there's more where that came from.
"This is more in the vein of the Todd Edwards and forthcoming Jamie Woon remixes I've done. And it's not dissimilar to the EP I’m finishing at the moment. I'm aiming to get it out on Prolific [his own label] in January. It's quite deep, underground, full of studio ducking and crackling synths flowing in and out."
'Special' rouses memories of the early two-step synonymous with MJ Cole's name. Its beat has a cheeky skip and the melody and vocals add a velvety depth. Combine all of this and process it through the ears of 2010 and it’s evident why it’s titled the ‘Back To the Future Mix’.
It was 1998 when his seminal ‘Sincere’ first surfaced. One of its limited 20 copies was picked up by Pete Tong, and the rest is history. A movement that he pioneered, even when its status dipped, he never lost faith in garage.
"I don't think anything ever comes back in its previous form, but certainly after 2003/4, if you played a two-step record you couldn’t get away with it. But since dubstep started doing really well, a lot of people kinda doffed their caps to garage. Now I'll play a two-step record in the middle of a set and the place goes off. 2010 has not only been a good year for UK music, but especially garage. It was quarantined, but now it’s back. I don't want to call it future garage, but that textural sort of swung music of the moment has a lot in common with two-step... well in my mind, it does. But it's no longer champagne and cheesy vocals; it's deeper and a bit more mature. It's great for me because I'm getting to incorporate it into my sounds again, coming at it from a different angle. It’s brilliant that garage has now become one of the pillars of UK music, which is something I think it always deserved to be."
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The Other Nominees
|Cassius ’99 (Tim Green Remix)’||Bonobo ‘Eyesdown (Floating Points Remix)’||Hot Chip ‘We Have Love (Hot City Remix)’||XX ‘VCR (Four Tet Remix)’|