#026 MJ Cole
Should you bother to learn music theory if you want to make dance music? This is a rare area in life where ignorance is quite often openly celebrated. That's not to be sniffy about those who can't pick out the sixth note of a minor harmonic scale, but the arguments used to justify the lack of knowledge do lend themselves to a suspicion that the people involved are either kidding themselves or seeking to do as much to everyone else.
In the introduction to an interview with MJ Cole, the term 'classically trained' is reliably invoked - notwithstanding the opening paragraph this is an epithet which can justifiably be met with some trepidation. In this case however, the briefest acquaintance with his late 90s, genre-defining UK Garage classic 'Sincere' instantly banishes any such worries.
This is a maker of tunes with the highest level of sophistication in terms of knowledge and technique, but also the chops to know when to let those things get out of the way.
I was intending to have something of a deep dive into the development of UK Garage during this conversation, but instead we got a snapshot of a career defined much more by a personal approach to music than fitting into a given genre, even though the MJ Cole name is synonymous with the aforementioned style.
We also discuss other stuff including that first question about the value of technique in making club music, engineering tunes for DJs, and the relationship between UK Garage and Jungle/DnB.
This is an awesome conversation with a really important figure in UK music. You will enjoy it!
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