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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Exclusive Q&A with Dance-Music Producer Mike Jolly for Queens Our City Radio

Mike Jolly has been very influential on the international dance music scene, as producer and remixer, through his work with Stonebridge and Fierce Angel. He now also joins Sobel Records/Sobel Promotions to continue drawing us to the dancefloors in 2014. He has already presented to Sobel Promotions a fantastic updated mix of the classic Heaven 17 song, "Let Me Go!" It was indeed a joy as well as a privilege, then, to interview this gracious and talented artist for Queens Our City Radio.

DJ Buddy Beaverhausen: Hi, Mike, and thanks for doing this Q&A for us. It looks like you've been very busy lately as remixer/producer. Please fill us in on your latest projects. 
Mike Jolly: Hi Charles! Hey, it's a pleasure, nice to be here! Yes, 2013 was quite a year; it all kicked off of course with the release of my track "In Between" on Firece Angel last March and the momentum just kept building from there. At the moment, I am mainly concentrating on the (re)launch of my label 9th Floor Recording and the first three releases that will be going out starting in March, so that's keeping me pretty busy right now. There are also a couple of very special projects that I am working on including a charity record for Sobel Nation's Rohan Tarry, who is a super talented writer/ producer in the UK who sadly is suffering from MS.

DBB: I interviewed Rohan Tarry just this past December. It was a pleasure. Mike, can you tell us about the current state of your relationships with Fierce Angel, Sobel Nation and, of course, with Stonebridge? 
MJ: It's all good thanks. I think the way that the business is now it's all about collaboration and co-operation so I think the more fronts you can open up the better. I am lucky in that there seems to have been a natural progression in what I have done in that one thing has led to another. For example, my work with Fierce Angel is what introduced me to Stonebridge. I have been lucky enough to have some great one to one time recently with both Stonebridge in Jakarta in December and Mark (Doyle) in Bangkok over new year.I am just waiting for the chance to come to New York now to catch up with Barbara (Sobel)! As a result, I think it's fair to say that plans are afoot for some exciting things on all three fronts this year! 

DBB: What music did you listen to growing up and what music influenced you? 
MJ: I grew up listening to the likes of Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, Human League, OMD, Heaven 17, Tears for Fears and all those other great synth-pop bands of the '80s. Ultimately, it was Gary Numan that first inspired me to buy my first synthesiser and start writing music. I first got into house music when I heard MARRS' "Pump up the Volume" in 1987. I got a bank loan and bought my first sampler shortly after hearing that record and the rest, as they say, is history....

DBB: How did you get your start in the industry? And what was your first production and/or remix? 
MJ: I started making music when I was 15 - that's a long time ago now (laughs) and it's difficult for me now to pin an actual start date on it all! I guess it started getting serious, though, in early 1996 when me and my production partner at the time stumbled into a meeting with Paul Dakeyne (aka Tinman) at Manifesto and were introduced to Judge Jules, as Paul was really digging our demo tape and particularly a mad Acid house/techno track we had done called "Hong Kong Elvis." So started a 6-month roller coaster ride with the record through the clubs and the A&R'ing process at both Manifesto and Positiva who picked up on the track after Jules played it on his KissFM radio show. Although the track was subsequently never released, the whole experience brought a lot of attention and led ultimately to our first release on MCA/Soundproof Recordings, "Grief," which came the following year. Our first official remix also came in 1997 from V2 Recordings when we remixed Moony's first release entitled "All I Want" (although she went under the name Angel Moon back then). 

DBB: Could you expand on discussing your musical background before you ever had a professional career? 
MJ: As I mentioned before, I was really inspired to start making music by the advent of the synthesiser in the early '80s. I had never learned to play a musical instrument properly when I was at school. And when I saw Tubeway Army perform "Are Friends Electric" on Top of The Pops for the first time, I thought "I could do that"! From that point on, I started buying equipment and writing songs, and for the next ten years learned the trade playing in various different bands in pubs and clubs around my home town in the UK and London. 

DBB: What do you think about the state of club music right now? 
MJ: There's been so much said about the great "EDM" debate already I'm not going to add fuel to the fire here! I am a firm believer that the cream always floats to the top - eventually!! 

DBB: What, might we ask, are your personal pet peeves? Musical and otherwise. 
MJ: People who have no consideration for others. Living in Asia, I see that a lot and it bugs me to hell - I don't like selfish people - people that are only looking after number 1. You see that a lot in this business but in every walk of life. You have to give before you can get, but sadly not many people understand that. 

DBB: We understand you are currently based in Singapore. Where were you born and raised, and what led you there?  
MJ: Yes that's right. I was born in a town in South East England called Southend - famous for having the longest pleasure Pier in the World and the greatest football team on the planet (the latter sadly only in my dreams)! I lived there until the company I was working for at the time sent me out to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia in 2003. That job finished in 2008 and a year later I moved down to Singapore.

DBB: If you had to describe your musical aesthetic in 5 words or less, how would you put it?  
MJ: Badly I would guess! Sadly I am not a great lyricist which is probably one reason I have ended up as a Producer; I have always found it easier to write the music and let someone far more skilled than me come up with the words. Having said that words fascinate me, particularly in the framework of a song, and I admire greatly those who are gifted in the art of songwriting. If you are gonna push me on the question though, I'll just have to say "Make music that sparkles". 

DBB: We all know from starving artists. We've all been there. Have you ever had to work "day jobs" to support your passion? What were they? 
MJ: Yes, of course. I have done it throughout my career, and am still doing it now! I worked in the City of London as an Insurance broker for 17 years prior to moving to Malaysia in 2001 and I am still involved in that business in Singapore today. People that meet me for the first time are always surprised to find out that I can be involved in two things that, on the face of it, seem poles apart but I tell them that is precisely why it works! 

DBB: I can totally relate to that! Of the work you've done with Stonebridge, do you have any personal favorites? 
MJ: I think the best is yet to come, and knowing how Stoney likes to keep a tight lid on things before they drop, I am going to retain the right to remain silent for now! 

DBB: What can we expect from Mike Jolly in 2014? 
MJ: Lots of good things, I hope. A lot of focus this year will go into getting the label off the ground and that is taking up virtually all my time at the moment. I have signed some really great artists and some great records, so it is hugely exciting for me as much as it is for the artists; it's important for me to help others as much as I can to realise their dreams in music so i have got high hopes for this year. Of course there will be a couple of Mike Jolly tracks and remixes appearing on the label also!! Apart from that, I am sure that my work with Sobel Nation, Fierce Angel and Stonebridge is going to keep me busy so I look forward to coming back this time next year and reporting on another great year! 

DBB: Mike, thank you so much! We adore your work. Is there anything you'd like to shout out to our readers and your fans at this point? 
MJ: Why, thank you so much Charles! It's an absolute pleasure and thanks for some really tough questions! I would just like to say a huge thank you to all your readers and all the listeners of OCR and everybody at the Station for their support and for getting 2014 off to such a great start for me. A special shout out to Barbara Sobel for her tireless work and support and to Chris Colby also. I would like to wish everybody a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year! New York Rocks! Cheers!

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