MJ Cole holds no truck with what people reckon he should do, wear, speak like or think. He strolls into the Voxstar suite looking relaxed, happy and at ease – no need for the showboating dynamics of the Gucci and champagne lifestyle that so unfairly shackles much of the UK garage scene.
Far from arriving today in some UV lit Beamer, Cole has done the decent thing and buzzed up on his motorbike. “Actually,” he grins, “it’ a scooter, not a real bike man’ bike. It’ a Piaggio – one of the fastest you can get. It’ the cheapest and quickest way to get around London. No matter where you are you can always move forward.”
A bit like Matt Coleman then. Ever since Sincere exploded early in 1998, Matt’ been busy conquering both the underground garage and overground pop scenes. There’ been some stunning remixes, a hit single in the form of Crazy Love, his debut album, also called Sincere, and now a single, Hold On To Me, featuring Elizabeth Troy with mixes from K Warren to be released on October 30.
A blend of ruffed-up, out and out two step dancefloor action and slinky, perfectly realised soul numbers, Sincere is UK Garage’ first proper artist album. Just ask the experts, Matt has recently picked up Best Producer at both the Eriksson Muzik Awards and the Mobo’ as well as a nomination for the Mercury award.
If Matt seems slightly bemused by all the fuss – ‘My only ambition was to work as an engineer in a good studio, he claims – such accolades will hardly surprise those who know him. To them it’ almost inconceivable that Matt could have wound up doing anything but making music.
Born in 1973, Matt has always been surrounded by music. “My Dad used to play the piano. He was really into musicals, songs from shows by Sondheim, Gershwin, Cole Porter” Matt recalls. “My earliest musical memory is most probably sitting on his knee when I was about two, messing up his piano playing.”
The young Matt soon started playing himself. Taking up the oboe and piano, he spent most of his youth attending the prestigious Royal College of Music, getting the full on classical music experience. He was a regular at piano competitions and at one point even found himself playing in the BBC’ Young Musician Of The Year.