UO X RED BULL STUDIOS: IN CONVERSATION WITH MNEKNovember 12, 2015
Get your party hat on and get set to celebrate the fifth birthday of Red Bull Studios, London. Prepare your ears and eyes for a week-long takeover celebrating all things music and art. We catch up with MNEK on undertaking the 24 hour studio challenge, 90s R&B and his memories at Red Bull Studios.
UO: We’re celebrating the fifth birthday of Red Bull Studios. Can you tell us a little about your experiences at Red Bull Studios to date?
The studio has always been a great, fun place to work and I think it’s down to the people who work there. I’ve come in loads of times and there’s a great central area so I can come back and forth all the time. It’s an amazing place with great engineers and great energy as soon you walk through the door. I’ve made some really great music in there. There’s always good vibes, everyone loves working there and it’s good to go somewhere people actually like their job.
I’ve made friends with the people working there. Brendon Harding is an amazing engineer and I trust him more than most people with recording my voice because I always record my own vocals at my own studios. He’s the one person I trust to record my voice. His vibe is completely chill and not stressful at all. I completely trust him.
UO: You’re currently at Red Bull Studios, mid way through a 24 hour music challenge where you’ll be creating a brand new track that will be accompanied by visuals created by Studio Moross and Kiko Bun. How are you feeling about it?
I haven’t done anything like this before! So I’m creating this whole unique experience in just 24 hours. We’re making the music now and it’s feeling really good. It’s all in our control, so there’s no stress. We’re also presenting it later this evening at Red Bull Studios. I mean, I always play my music to my friends the day I’ve made it or the day after I’ve made it, but this is different because now I have a presentation! I feel like I’m at school, like it’s a show and tell of my project or coursework. But I’m looking forward to it.
UO: Did you grow up in a musical household? What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
My parents weren’t musical in their professions, although they love music and because of that I also listened to all the music they played in the house or in the car. It was a lot of 90s R&B, like those Pure Swing CDs. The front covers always had some lady with some grease on her body or a guy with a 6 pack and his sweat glistening. My dad always played those CDs when I was a kid.
UO: What kind of music are you listening to right now?
I’m a sea. Or a sponge…I listen to all kinds of stuff. I think R&B has always been my bag, but I listen to everything. But then again I’m listening to the music I’m making now a lot. If you ask any artist in the middle of making their album they will tell you, “I’m listening to my album right now!”
UO: You’ve worked with a range of amazing artists over the past few years. Has there been a particular highlight for you?
Honestly, no! I take every experience as they come and I would never want to put one above another. It’s great that I learn something new from every person I work with, whether they’re the biggest artist in the world or the smallest artist in the world. I love all of my sessions, but my favourite sessions are with new and upcoming artists. I love working with fresh, upcoming people who no one knows about yet. It means it’s a secret and it’s more exciting, and you can say to people you meet ‘Have you heard of this new amazing artist?’ ‘What, no?’ ‘Well I’m about to tell you about them now!’
UO: Can you tell us a little about your most recent single, Never Forget You with Zara Larsson?
I met Zara in March in L.A and it was a really quick process. We wrote the song, recorded the vocal. It was originally her song, but I joined in and I did a solo version of the song . Then we thought it better to make it a duet. It turned out to be the song it is now, which is wicked. I’m really pleased with it. Zara is a massive talent and I’m so happy with the success the song has encountered and to see it rise up through the charts.
UO: What else have you got planned this year and beyond in 2016?
I’m looking forward to my headline show at Heaven, which is only a week away. Zara and Leo Kalyan are supporting me; I’m really excited for that.
I’m also getting myself ready for next year which is the main focus. Never Forget You has done so well, beyond our wildest dreams. It’s become a worldwide thing, which has opened up avenues for me to go around the world and promote my music. I mean, even in Sweden. I never thought I’d have a hit in Sweden! It’s mind-blowing. And also the album next year… I don’t have a release date for an album yet because if people don’t buy the singles there won’t be an album!
I’m currently listening to… Don’t Panic Ellie Goulding
My guilty pleasure is…I have no guilt in my pleasures!
My dream collaboration is… Maria
My favourite place to play live has been… Manchester
My sound in three words… Electronic, supersonic, hypnotic…
Follow the progress of the studio challenge live on Tumblr here