Miguel Campbell Interview: Big honours and bold albums
Miguel Campbell spoke to Ben Gomori about his steady stream of releases, his work on Etienne De Crecy's 'Super Discount 4' project and Leeds' clubbing scene.
Date published: 16th Mar 2016
It says a lot about Leeds’ Miguel Campbell integrity that he chose not to cash in on the success of his 2012 smash ‘Something Special’ with a slew of chart-chasing follows-ups and formulaic imitations.
Instead, he set about pursuing his passions for funk, disco and French touch era house music, bringing those sounds to a new generation by way of a prolific output under his own name and as MAM alongside longtime collaborator Matt Hughes.
He carefully chose his remixes (Basement Jaxx, Soul Clap, RÜFÜS), delivered a classy debut album in ‘Beams Of Light’, and invested time, energy and money into building up his Outcross Records label into an established force – all while maintaining a hectic touring schedule.
Now working and aligned with many of his musical heroes, he has ascended into the upper echelons of dance music. We caught up with him from the comfort of his new Leeds home-cum-studio to find out about some exciting new projects he’s working on.
What's new in your world right now?
I’ve been spending most of my time in the studio here in my new house. I’ve just moved out of some big warehouse thing, so I’ve dedicated a room in my new house to the studio, and it’s really nice here. I’ve been really productive, so it’s great.
And of course having it home means I can invite my friends to come and stay and we work in the studio ‘til late doors. It’s really cool. I can sit in my boxer shorts and make hits!
When you’re comfortable, you feel much more inspired. The warehouse I was in was really cold, there was loads of locks to open the doors and everything, and it kind of drained me going in there, you know? Of course I was living in Ibiza at that time so I was coming backwards and forwards to Leeds and it wasn’t cool.
So I’m really happy to be back here now. And I’m just looking forward to the summer now. I can’t wait to get it going.
Your release schedule is pretty prolific. Do you aim to have new music out every month or does it just happen naturally?
It’s just been something that’s happened naturally since the move home really. I have got so much music on my computer and I don’t have enough time in the year to even release it, so I’m actually considering setting up a new label at the moment.
I’m just in talks with a couple of distributors at the moment because I really need another outlet for this, and with the amount of demos that I’m receiving now it would be nice to have another platform to deliver some of the new talent and present new people to the greater industry.
I play a lot of unsigned music from my friends and people around me and every weekend I’m rocking in the club, and there’s so much music that it’s difficult to get it out there without diluting the essence of what you’re aiming for.
You had your new solo album Night Drive With You out at the end of January. It must have been a dream for you to work with [Stardust ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ singer] Benjamin Diamond. How did that all come about? It must have been a dream working with him...
It sure was. I met him in Lyon when I was playing a gig in a club there, and I messaged him on Facebook because I noticed he was doing a party there [on the same night] and he came straight back to me. So we met that night and we decided that we would try and make some music together.
Then I’ve also been working with Etienne De Crecy on his ‘Super Discount’ project and I was playing with him and DJ Falcon in Paris, and then the very next day I had my first studio stint with Benjamin. And yeah, it worked a treat. That was when we came up with ‘Interfunk’ and I think that’s going to be the name of our next project. I’m looking forward to completing the album that we started.
‘Super Discount 4’? That’s seriously exciting to hear…
Yeah, well I’ve just got back from the Super Discount All Stars party which was at YOYO in Paris a couple of weekends ago. It was really cool.
Etienne’s decided to come back and make a new album, and he mentioned on his social media that my music was a massive inspiration into his decision to fall back in love with house music and do [that sound] again. And he just reached out to me on Twitter one day. Again it was just like – I can’t believe this is happening.
For me, I’m just a Yorkshireman who makes a few tunes on his computer, so I was really stoked to get this message from one of my heroes. After the Beats ‘N’ Cubes project he was very electronic, but this album is actually a lot more low-slung. You can hear lots of deep house influences in there.
It’s a really cool album. It remains an Etienne De Crecy sound but in a really futuristic way. So when he reached out and I did a remix for him of the lead single, it was a big honour for me.
The new MAM album 'Garden Of Eternal Summers' is out this week (listen to 'Street Boutique' from the album above) – can you tell us a bit about the project?
Again, this was just an album born out of the new studio setup that we have here. Matt Hughes and I have done lots of remixes and things together, but recently we put our real names and we didn’t make the remixes as MAM tracks because we wanted to try and retain an essence to that music – in that it’s more organic.
We like really musical things that sound a bit more melancholic and not as expected as you might find in disco or house music. We like to try and capture country vibes and rock vibes and lots different types in these MAM albums, and with this particular album it was important because we stayed away from sampling other records. Before we were popular we used to sample lots of records. Of course once our popularity became known we couldn’t sample as heavily as we could before.
So that kind of pushed us into using all the synthesisers and effects that we had here, [to] pick up guitars and things and start playing with different tones, and we had a really good time doing it. We made the decision not to bring any vocalists in on this particular album because we were trying to go for a more organic feeling, a more musical feel, and we felt the whole vocal element... we didn’t need to do another ‘Something Special’, if you know what I mean.
It was important for us to just do something we were happy to do and really show what we’ve been doing in the studio for the last six months on the new thing.
Do you have any aspirations to produce for other artists and singers?
Yeah, this is something that I’m definitely interested in. I’ve been in talks with a couple of bands regarding me producing their albums, and I’m sure once I find the right project to work with I’m gonna jump on that. I’m just in the process of soundtracking a TV show that’s due to come on one of the major channels at some point soon.
I can’t let too much slip at the moment, but that’s been really exciting because as the musical director of the programme it’s given me a whole new concept of when the music should start, when it should kick in, when it should drop, and it’s similar to DJing – but you’re DJing alongside the pictures. The main goal there would be to maybe soundtrack a whole film or something.
How's the Leeds scene at the moment?
It’s OK. Since I’ve come home, socially there’s quite a lot happening here – but as far as venues go there’s definitely something lacking with regards to the community vibes. We’ve either got bars here at the moment or house clubs that are full-on rocking. It would be really cool to have a little spot where you could fit a few hundred people in.
I took big inspiration from Solomun’s club EGO. It was one of my favourite clubs in the world and it’s unfortunately closed down now. I used to go back there once a month on a Sunday night and it was one of the most amazing parties I’ve ever played. Sometimes there would be 50 people in there, sometimes there would be 300, but it was always a really good thing. And I definitely think that Leeds could do with an injection of something like that.
You're headlining Tribal Sessions up in Manchester on Easter Thursday 27 March. What do you love about the city? Was part of your formative clubbing years?
We used to always go across to Sankeys Soap. If it was someone’s birthday we would get in the car. It’s been really interesting, the whole way that my relationship with Tribal Sessions has developed, because of course my link originally was with Sankeys the nightclub directly.
I played for them from very early in my career, before I was popular on an international basis. I played some really good parties there. Following my time in Ibiza with them playing alongside Steve Lawler and the VIVa Warriors crew, it was the perfect time when I was approached and asked to be the resident for Tribal Sessions.
It was a perfect opportunity to take my work there further and represent what I do, and this of course enabled me to bring my label Outcross Records into the whole mix, and I’ve got different artists from my label playing with me every time I play at Tribal now. So it’s really cool.
Catch Miguel Campbell at Sankeys on Thursday 24th March. Tickets available from the box below.