mj-coleHe’s been acclaimed as a production legend in a league of his own. Nominated for a Mercury Music prize and is recognised as one of the most influential names in UK Garage. He is none other than MJ Cole. Today he teams up with music giant Atlantic Record’s latest signing Digga for what critics are dubbing to be the next big radio and club smash – I Gotta Have it!

With MJ’s definitive strings and Digga’s soft but overtly masculine vocals, this single tells a tale of unrequited love. Coupled with an infectious bassline provided by production guru MJ Cole ‘I Gotta Have It’ is undoubtedly set to be a sure fire hit in the UK and on the party islands this summer.

No stranger to mainstream success, Matt Coleman aka MJ Cole first crossed over from the burgeoning UK Garage scene at the age of 24. He successfully made his stamp in the industry drawing praise from his lesser known peers, record buying masses and critics with the release of his album ‘Sincere’ which was nominated for a mercury music prize. The album was certified silver in the UK alone and produced two top ten singles ‘sincere’ and ‘crazy love’ winning MJ Cole a MOBO award for best producer and cementing his reputation.

Having produced remixes for Mariah Carey, Roots Manuva, Dido, Nitin Sawney, De La Soul and LAMB he has been one of the most sought after producers for the past decade. I Gotta Have It is the first single from his forthcoming yet to be entitled album and with rising star Digga featuring on the track (the man behind huge internet hit Broken) I couldn’t help but catch up with MJ to find out what he’s been up too and how he manages to get it right every single time….

How did you hook up with Digga?
I was approached by his management to remix a track of his. Spotting the potential immediately, I suggested getting into the studio to write something original. The result was “Gotta Have It”.

How did you come up with the idea for the tune?
I’d been working on some backing tracks last year in the Bassline style – Watford Gap and Eastwood were some of the others. Digga heard the backing track amongst a lot of things I played him and immediately started writing the vocal. He’s amazingly talented. He doesn’t use pen and paper – he writes the whole thing in his head. Gotta love that!

How did you find the transition from the garage scene to the mainstream?
I didn’t ever really feel this at one point. I’d been grafting hard for a good few years before “Sincere” popped out, so it was a gradual process. The mainstream has its benefits – everybody gets to hear your music and it leads to gigs and remix work but you also have to give up ownership of your material and jump on the merry-go-round! I’m happy that my label, Prolific Recordings is in the driving seat. It is hard work, but worth it.

Some people still recognise you as Garage artist. What have you been involved in since you crossed over to the mainstream?
I’ve been involved in several exciting projects over the past few years – working with Classical percussionist Evelyn Glennie and producing and writing a rock album and music for TV and film. Underground music is still where I’m at though at the moment. There’s nothing like playing a track from the studio out in a club and seeing people react to it.

How did it feel when you won the MOBO for best producer?
It was a great honour to receive that award. My roots are in black music so it felt like a pat on the back from one of the best organisations.

Who have you been working with recently?
I’ve recently been recording with Digga, Elisabeth Troy, Shea Soul, Laura Vane, Lifford, Serocee, MJ White, Example, Gabriella and others. There’s some good stuff to come.

Your new single “I Gotta Have It” featuring Digga has been tipped for chart success. What can we expect to follow this?
We have the next release lined up, but I’m not going to let it off until Gotta Have It is in full swing. It features one of the singers from above though.

Will you be hitting the party islands this year?
The DJ schedule is good for this summer. I’m playing at Glastonbury for the first time in years and I’ll be at Big Chill too. I’m also in Holland, Poland, Dubai and hopefully the US. I might nip over to Ibiza for a quick visit though. No summer is complete without it.

When is “I Gotta Have it” out?
It came out now as a download. Vinyl will follow soon after that for the vinyl addicts. It will be available from our website…

Words by Daina Anderson