|With the Miami Winter Music Conference (WMC) - the hectic and hedonistic annual music event attended by the world's keenest clubbers, DJ's, producers and self appointed music industry big wigs - just around the corner, Defected are ready to drop their 19th compilation in their "In the House" series, this time deliciously compiled and mixed by Sam Hold and Gavin Mills, better known as Copyright.|
The WMC is a week long gathering with parties running all day and night where new tunes are broken and trends for the coming month' are set. Albeit things at the conference have changed drastically in past years (the days of handing out tunes round the pool in Miami at the conference hotel are long gone), it is still the time where the dance music world unites, and where DJs and producers can enter a giant spot light and showcase their products and skills.
Titled "Defected in the House - Miami 2007", this mixed compilation features a selection of upfront tunes that reflect the sound that will make big waves this year in Miami - Copyright production "Don't bring me down" featuring Lisa Millet, brand new mixes of last years Miami smash "Da bump" by Mr. V, a Ron Carroll produced track by CeCe Peniston titled "I'm feelin' U" or "I'm inspired" by Audiowhores who team up with Robert Owens to name just a few.
It's a triple pack release, with the first CD being a daytime mix perfect for chilling while having a drink at the pool bar, bringing you sun soaked latin and deeper grooves, while the second CD moves it to the night with more uptempo, peaktime grooves. The 3rd CD is a collection of Miami classics that will bring back memories to those who attended the conference in the past.
Not many production outfits get their first proper tune out on a heavyweight label like Soulfuric Records, but that's exactly what happened to Copyright when their "Where Would You Be?" production was released by the legendary US imprint in 2000. And it's proved no flash in the pan for musical partners Sam Holt and Gavin 'Face' Mills (third member Scotti de La Hoya departed in 2003), who've since followed that auspicious start with a slew of quality soulful house productions, among them "Good For You" with Angie Brown (Soulfuric) and "We Get Up" with Bryan Chambers (Z).
Sam and Gavin met in the late nineties, introduced by a mutual friend ('Matt Jam Lamont's missus' laughs Sam) and hit it off immediately thanks to a shared musical vision. Describing himself as a 'jobbing DJ' in Manchester, Sam had discovered the tail end of the Manchester club scene originally helmed by Graeme Park and Mike Pickering, and played at the legendary Hacienda, but as things cooled off up North he made his way south to London. Though he immediately set about honing his production skills by shunting out a few exploratory white label releases, Sam found himself slightly sidetracked by a parallel career in advertising, rising to director of Team Saatchi, a dedicated agency within the advertising mogul focusing on cooler brands. But as the productions blossomed and the DJ diary filled up, something had to give and the day job duly got the elbow in 2005 - a year when more people were quitting the dance music business than joining it full time.
Gavin meanwhile has enough London dance music credentials to make an entire pub quiz out of. The North London lad acquired his first set of decks from Aston Harvey (later of the Freestylers) and progressed through the early electro and hip hop scenes before arriving at house and jostling his way behind the decks at some of the iconic founding names of rave culture - Energy, Biology and Raindance, shedding his hairdressing job along the way when one Saturday night he earned more playing records than the entire rest of week cutting hair. Gavin's long and impressive production career kicked off proper with the cult classic "Hypnosis" by Psychotropic in 1990 and spans a host of releases on the Catch label (with Brian Tharme) by Anorak Trax (early disco sample grooves) - and Banana Republic plus a long stint engineering for UK garage dons Tuff Jam. But having been sucked deep into the UK garage sound, meeting Sam was just the chance he needed. 'I just couldn't take the music any more' he laughs. 'I'd always been into the US sound and that's exactly what Sam wanted to do'.
Their early productions - including "Where Would You Be?" - centred around disco sample tracks either as white labels or under their One Track Mind moniker but with Gavin's production skills and Sam's drive it wasn't long before they shifted into original work. 'We love songs, that's our essence' says Sam. 'Our stuff is drum programming led, we'll find a break and use it as inspiration, but we've developed our sound working with live musicians and Gav has a great musical ear and can play flute and piano. We try to make peak time records with an element of soul, whether it's Afro, techo or disco flavoured'.
Where some production partnerships become little more than marriages of convenience, it's clear that Sam and Gavin's relationship goes way beyond professional necessity. Though like all the best duos they do have complementary skills - Gavin as the musician and 'studio rat', Sam as conceptualist and business force - their closeness is emphasised by their DJ routine. Travelling to every gig together, an itinerary that takes them to some of the best clubs in the world, they always play in the same set from the same box, a box that harbours disco, soul and techno classics alongside the more expected soulful house. Naturally both found inspiration among the first generation of house producers and the US legends like MAW, Todd Terry and Roger Sanchez, but Sam will also admit to a liking for more diverse sounds such as the Jam, The Clash and Stevie Wonder while Gavin's something of a jazzer on the sly. Such a panoply of influences has led the pair to a lucrative side career composing music for advertising campaigns; among the ads in which you may have unknowingly experienced the alternative Copyright sound are those for the Recycle Campaign, Toyota cars and Sport England. Neither does it hurt that Gavin's years in the studio have resulted in an accumulation of vintage keyboards and guitar pedals. 'It started because I found that the sounds on digital keyboards didn't really blend in with the analogue sounds on sample tracks - my favourite is the Prophet 5, that's one you'd know from Earth, Wind & Fire, George Duke and Herbie Hancock.' Gavin's studio boffinry extends to such lengths as the possession of a saxophone widgit so rare that Courtney Pine phoned up to borrow it.
While the Copyright sound was a stalwart part of the strictly soulful house sound of the early years of the 2000's, tracks like the fiercely percussive "Bulo" featuring Shovel (Soulfuric), a kind of latter day Real 2 Real for the underground, and a remake of the Police's "Voices" which introduces a cheeky acid bassline, show a recent tendency for moving outside the box. 'We do want to take our sound somewhere else' says Sam. 'We're not scene jumpers, but we can change within what we do.' And with the launch of Copyright Recordings in 2004 - the debut release was Imaani's "Running Away" - they have the freedom to chop and change as they please, though that doesn't stop Defected, who run the label for them, pinching the odd production such as "Bring Me Love" featuring Imaani or Song Williamson's "He Is".
The hairdressing and advertising industries look like being a man down each for some time to come.