‘We don’t really work that hard on the groove. We work on the songs, and it’s only when we start producing that we think about the groove because that’s really just the taste of the
Consistent producers of pristine pop singles, and relentless dancefloor ﬁllers, M PEOPLE are that rare entity, a credible crossover act. Philip Dorward moves on up for a chat.
0 let’s get this M-People thing into perspective: two sold-out nationwide tours in ﬁve months; four consecutive Top 10 singles (with a fifth, ‘Renaissance’, the theme from The Living Soap. imminent); and, while their debut album, Northern Soul, sold only 35,000 copies. the follow-up, Elegant Slamming, already has sales of half a million and is heading for double platinum; four Brit nominations (Single, Producer, Group, and Dance Act) of which they are likely to pick up at least one.
So why the hell are M-People not excited about moving on up into the musical premier league? The answer is that they are, but that they mask it very well. They are perhaps the most unpretentious band you could ever hope to meet. In a dance market which throws up innumerable incompetents and shady characters, M-People are your rock-steady- tomorrow’s-just—another-day-professionals. What’s their secret?
‘There are a number of reasons,’ divulges co- songwriter Paul Heard in his well-modulated Home Counties accent. ‘One is that we always play live, right from three years ago, and people have always been able to put a face to us through Heather. First and foremost. we are optimistic people who write good songs. We don’t write songs for the danceﬁoor but they do sound good on the radio, at home or in the car, but we don’t set about doing that. We are not a trendy band — one of our best features is that anyone from three to 80 can relate to us.’
M-People are together as Britain’s most popular dance act by accident, but it’s something they’re very proud to be part of. [n 1991. club revolutionary Mike Pickering (of Manchester’s infamous Hacienda club) seemed to be the ﬁrst in an ever expanding list of DJs who wanted to make a record. M-People were viewed as the current project of Pickering — they were to be a compendium of four or ﬁve singers providing the vocals for a one-off
album. Ex-Orange Juice and Working Week
bass guitarist/keyboard player Paul Heard had been asked to produce and write half the album, while former HotlHouse diva Heather Small was to sing a couple of tracks. It was she who galvanised the M-ixed persons into people.
‘We realised after "How Can I Love You More” and “Colour My Life" that the strongest element of it all was
Heather, her voice,’ relates an extremely relaxed Heard. ‘As it turned out, halfway through the
recording of Northern Soul, we decided to make it a group because we found that the most enjoyable part of the project was working together. That’s partly why the second album is more focused; rather than having separate singers, we knew Heather’s voice and geared the songwriting towards her.’
Ahh, those songs . . . show me a person who
10 The List I l—24 February I994