Interview: Donae’o

Following the release of soulful house track ‘I’ on Strictly Rhythm, Donae’o the multi-award winning singer/producer from North West London talks about all things music and his future goals.

How did you first get in to the music scene?

Wow! Ok, well when I was 16 met a producer called Sticky who co-owned a record label called Social Circles with the Top Buzz Legend Jason K. I had produced, written and rapped a song called Bounce (My Philosophy) and Sticky wanted to sign me after he heard that track. He also had a lot of artists on the Social Circles roster and I was signed because I could write, produce and sing my own songs. Sticky didn’t have to concentrate on me as much as the other artist because I could hold my own. So Bounce was my first introduction to music.

How has being brought up in London influenced your music?

It has influenced my music so much because there is so much of it around. It’s never hard to listen to a number of genres and be inspired. I’m always taking elements from different music to make music. I don’t do it on purpose but I always hear different styles in my music. Plus there is always something exciting being invented in England. You will never get bored, ever. I don’t know how you can get bored.

You cross quite a few genres of music. How would you describe your sound?

Dance music. I make dance music. No more no less (laughs!)

There are mixes of your single ‘I’ from Sean McCabe and Kenny Dope. How did they come about?

Well, to be honest all the mixes came from Seamus Haji (A&R at Strictly); he had all the hook ups. I wanted them to do the remixes and Seamus said he could sort it out, and I’m grateful because they definitely pulled it out the bag for me and Strictly Rhythm. So thanks guys, I hope we get to work together again.

‘Party Hard’ was a big success. What does the track mean to you?

I love the track but I love everything I release. I didn’t expect for it to blow up so big from nowhere. It just became a massive track. I taught myself: always just release good music – the song that will blow will come, just as long as you are persistent and put out good music that makes you feel good.

What do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years?

I want to become an album selling artist that tours, so in the next 3 years I want at least 2 albums out and I want to have had at least two tours of my own. Once I’ve achieved that then I want to start thinking about moving more behind the scenes: set a label and start producing for other artists. I would love to have a few number ones under my belt from myself and other artists I work with. I would want to have experienced the world; I want music to go global. That would be my ultimate goal as a musician.

Where can we see you perform?

Follow me on twitter @donaeo. All the info about me will be posted up there.

What’s your Strictly Rhythm?

George Morel – Morels Grooves

Sean McCabe Q&A

25 year old Sean McCabe from South Wales has been producing since the age of 12 and DJing since he was 14.  Being too young to get into clubs at the time he got into House music through radio shows like Danny Rampling’s Love Groove Dance Party and Deli-G’s The Touch on Galaxy FM.   He is proud to have remixed and produced for some of his favourite labels such as King Street Sounds, Z Records, Mn2S, Restless Soul, Soul Heaven, Tony Records and Strictly Rhythm.

How did you get in to DJing / producing?

Well, like most people it came from meeting fellow music heads, DJs and producers in the local record shops who influenced me massively in my production and DJing. I met a group of local house music producers called Southern Divide who gave me a lot of help and advice on production when I was learning. Southern Divide were doing some remixes and productions for Soulfuric Recordings when I was about 17 years old and luckily they gave me the opportunity to do some mixes alongside them. This is where the releases started. I also studied Sound Engineering at College and University for five years.

What is your biggest record to date?

There have been a lot of good ones but I guess one stand out track for me so far has been A Little More Love featuring Adeola Ranson on Soul Heaven Records because of the support it’s had. It still seems to be getting played a lot on radio and clubs even after two years, which is rare these days.

Why do you think it did so well?

I think it’s a very catchy song, which makes it great to sing along to. The lyrics are very positive, and the music has a very classic feel with use of live elements and drums that have good feel and energy. It was a very special song to me and I spent almost 1 year working on it to get the sound I wanted.

Do you prefer to DJ or produce?

I think they are both as important. It would be very hard to pick one but I am probably more passionate about producing, as it is what came first for me. I don’t think anything musically is as exciting as writing, recording, arranging and producing all your own musical ideas from scratch right through to the finished mastered product ready to blast out to a dance floor –no amount of DJing can beat that feeling for me.

What are you playing in your DJ sets at the moment?

There’s quite a lot to pick from there, but a selected few currently would be…

Kerri Chandler – Get Out

Elements of Life – Love Will Know (Spen and Karizma Mix)

Gay Marvine – MJ Vocal Illness

Josh Milan – Stay With Me (DJ Spinna Mix)

Restless Soul Fun Band – It’s Hard

Mishal Moore – Rein In The Night

Agev Munsen & Roland Clark – That Thing About Deep

Take us through what you did for your Donae’o remixes.

The original version had a lovely live feel to it using guitars, Rhodes and a funky little bassline, so I wanted to give a deeper vibe using some classic synthetic sounds but still keeping it all very soulful. I used Motu BPM for the beats and kept the percussion loop from the original record. Then using my Roland JV1010 I laid down a deep ascending chord progression with a classic Roland Rhodes sounds, and then played a cool rolling bassline using the Trillian VST instrument, which is a very nice Bass softsynth.  After setting this basic groove for the track a very kind friend let me use his Korg Poly-61 keyboard for added synth stabs, chords, arpeggiator and lead sounds etc. The dub used a lot of these same elements by chopping up most of the music and vocal parts and re-arranging them. Oh, and I’m a Cubase 5 user!

How did you come to work with Strictly Rhythm?

I was lucky enough to have a chance to remix Margaret Grace’s My Joy on Strictly Rhythm a few years ago so this isn’t the first time doing a production for them, but I was approached this time round by new A&R of Strictly Rhythm, Seamus Haji to do this remix. I have remixed before for Seamus on his Soul Love label.

What’s your Strictly Rhythm?

It HAS to be Black Magic – Freedom (Make It Funky). This is one of my all time favourite records. Amazing tune and timeless!!!

Donae’o – I (Strictly Rhythm) Out July 12th