Miguel Migs, who as new album ‘Outside the Skyline’ shows, is now moving well and truly beyond the limitations of the house scene in which he first made his name. His deep seated love of reggae and dub shines strongly through as well as his passion for classic rock, blues, funk and soul.
Not that his career to date hasn’t been illustrious enough. Just look the list of collaborators he’s managed to attract: original disco diva Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King, reggae legends Capleton, Half-Pint and Freddie MacGregor, Meshell Ndegeocello, nu-jazz singer Georg Levin and bossa nova phenomenon Bebel Gilberto all feature on the album, alongside Migs’ regular vocal co-conspirators, Aya and Lisa Shaw. No slave to metronomic dancefloor rhythms and tempos, the resulting long-player blends influences from house, jazz, reggae, soul and more, with a heavy emphasis on high-quality songwriting – and equally high production values.
“I definitely spend more time on my studio production sounds these days – I’m constantly tweaking everything!” he laughs. “Songwriting is paramount, but so is getting the EQ right, getting the separation of the sounds right, getting the songs to sound warm with depth, dimension and musicality… I’m pretty happy with this album, but really I still feel like I’m at the beginning of my career — as an artist, as a songwriter and as a producer. I plan on doing this for another 30 years.”
“Those early house records I made,” he continues, “it’s flattering when people tell you they mean something to them, but I was just a broke kid then rushing the productions to get stuff out there, figuring it all out on the fly as I went along. Now, I get the chance to work with some of my musical heroes, which is amazing… when I started work on the album, I sent out a lot of emails to different people, mostly just via their record label or management. And when someone like Evelyn or Freddie replies, and they say they love your music… that’s a pretty awesome feeling.”
But Migs hasn’t turned his back on house music entirely: when he’s not working in the studio with some of the biggest names from across the musical spectrum, he still runs much-loved house imprint Salted Music. Founded in 2004, Salted is Migs’ outlet for “the stuff I like to play as a DJ… those B-side underground dubs!”. Salted was also home to Migs’ last album, 2007′s ‘Those Things’, which saw him collaborating with the big-hitting likes of hip-hop legend Sadat X and Black Uhuru’s Junior Reid, among others. The album won Best Dance Album in the Independent Music Awards, and was also included in Virgin’s yearly Virgin Recommends 24 ECD promotion. It followed in the footsteps of 2002 debut album ‘Colorful You’on Astralwerks, which first brought Migs to the attention of the broader music community and brought him the opportunity to remix big-name artists as diverse as Macy Gray, Lionel Richie and Britney Spears (yes, really).
It was in house, however, that Migs first made his name. After playing guitar in local dub/reggae bands in his teens, he started DJing as well, and by the mid-’90s, Migs – then in his early 20s – started producing electronic dance music. By the time the new millennium dawned, a string of releases on numerous leading deep house record labels had earned him an enviable reputation among discerning dance music buyers worldwide. He’d also become a stalwart of the hugely influential Naked Music stable with his singles, remixes and compilations as Petalpusher.
And today? Well, there’s ‘Outside the Skyline’ of course, a stunningly diverse album that’s sure to win Migs countless thousands of new fans across the globe; at the other end of the spectrum, he continues to run Salted Music to service the needs of deep house dancefloors, “pretty much on a part-time basis, for fun. It’s almost like a side project… but it’s also important to me, to be able to keep pushing that sound, and push new artists.” And of course, he continues to DJ worldwide – he’s been touring constantly since the late ’90s.
Yet despite his A-list status, in a music industry long on supersized egos, Migs is something of a rarity. Despite achieving levels of success – both critical and commercial – that most in the deep house community can only dream of, he remains a genuinely humble, self-effacing individual. He’s a superstar DJ, he’s been nominated on a Beatport poll as Best Deep House Producer, but rather than constantly bigging himself up, he prefers to let his music to the talking.
Thankfully, Migs’ music more than does the talking – it speaks to people. Just listen.