Miguel Campbell is a veteran in the house music scene, having released across a range of labels, including Hot Creations, No. 19 and Ultra over the two-decade span of his career. Throughout his time as a DJ, producer and label owner, he has seen a lot of changes in the sounds that dominate dance music. We caught up with Miguel to talk about his latest releases and collaborations, his label Outcross Records, and which sub-genres will be next to gain popularity.
You’ve been working on your upcoming project, the Walk & Talk EP. What did you enjoy most about putting the music together for this?
This was a really fun EP to make. We used lots of new bits of studio equipment throughout the whole production process and it was great to learn some of the hardware as we were going along. It’s instantly gratifying when you record the sounds into the computer and they sound great!
You worked alongside SION on the new release. What do you enjoy about collaborating with other artists to create music, and how do you go about choosing the people you’d like to work with?
It was great to work with SION on this project. We worked in the studio together several times whilst producing this EP and we both learnt from each other as we went along. We had lots of laughs and a great time whilst working. I feel that when collaborating with another artist, it is very important to know one another or to have a full mutual understanding of one another’s music and ethos. This is something that the universe has always decided for me and I always look forward to being presented with opportunities for new collaborative projects.
How would you describe the overall vibe of the project? How does it differ from your last few releases this year?
This project was a mixed bag of styles and vibes. Some of the tracks also change style halfway through the recording! At the core of it we have an Outcross vibe throughout, but we have drawn upon inspiration from all of the different sounding dance music genres that SION & I are into. There are elements of funk, techno, electro and all sorts of other things going on.
Have you had to alter your sound to meet demands for what’s popular?
As the dance music scene has evolved, I have found myself using more electronic sounds, less organic ones and also simplifying the process. This has been key to staying true to my own sound and not having to subside to the expectations of dance music today. My music has been from the heart since I first tried my hand at music production. I’ve managed to carve out my own sound over the years and this is something that I refuse to compromise.
The new EP follows your collaboration with Colour Castle on, ‘I Know A Place’. Did you meet Colour Castle during your tour in Australia back in December last year?
Chris (Colour Castle) and I had lots of mutual friends, and after working on a remix for his single ‘Love Addict’, it was a pleasure to finally hook up with him in Sydney and get into the studio together.
‘I Know A Place’ came out on Australian label TMRW Music. Having reached a milestone with your own label Outcross Records, what are the main differences you’ve noticed between the music you release on Outcross and other labels?
I think the main difference between my label and some others that I work with is that Outcross Records holds strong family values and I view the label itself as a member of the family. I did not start my label to make money and so I have never really considered it to be a business, thus I do not go out to source popular artists. Everything that happens at Outcross has always been organic; from the artists we work with, to the music we make, to our connections and contacts. We like to keep this purity. It helps us continue to maintain the relationships that we have with people for many years.
At ADE this year, you played as part of Berlin label Mother Recordings’ showcase. How did it go and, out of the artists you played alongside, whose set did you enjoy most?
It was great to be part of the Mother Recordings Showcase and I am really excited for my first release to drop with the Mother family. It was a great time to connect with the guys and we had a really good party! There was so much good music being played on the night – Nahn Solo & Superlover were my favourites on the night.
You’ve also spent a lot of time playing in Mexico this year. Tell us a bit about your time there. How do their music crowds differ from anywhere else in the world that you’ve played?
Yes, I have found myself touring in Mexico lots during this year. I have had the privilege of visiting many different cities across the country. Mexico has so much to offer in the form of the arts & electronic music. The crowds in Mexico’s club scene tend to arrive to the venues much earlier. They are full of energy and don’t stop dancing until the last song is played regardless of which DJ is playing. I love this because it means I can have a good old dance too!
Your tour took you to Columbia and Brazil back in September. When playing in different locations, how do you go about preparing sets for a new crowd?
I never actually prepare my DJ sets. I tend to make sure that I have all bases covered with the music that I carry with me. Whilst on tour I play lots of my own music and the music that my friends make, and I showcase my music in every city I visit, adapting the tracks I play depending on the crowd reactions to certain sounds and elements.
Whilst away on tour, how do you like to spend your down time?
I always like to turn on my ‘tourist eyes’ when I’m away from home, I’m always taking in the things surrounding me. I tend to try lots of different snacks, food & drinks when I have the opportunity to visit local cafes and restaurants. I am very lucky because, over the years, I have developed lots of friendships in many parts of the world and whenever I have a chance to connect with my friends close to their hometown, I jump to it!
As someone who has been on the scene long enough to see the changing faces of dance music, what are your thoughts on the underground scene in 2017?
Musically, I feel that the current trend of tech house is a progression from its predecessors’ form and there are lots of influences from many different genres bottled up into this straight up club sound. I quite like this music but I feel that it is difficult for a DJ to carve out their own sound in this genre and I still feel that that is a very important component of a DJ’s artistry.
With the predominance of tech-house in the scene right now, what genre do you think will be next to gain popularity? Do you think there will be a huge return of deep house or will disco be next to shine?
I think it is a natural cycle for the predominant style to swing from more musical styles, to more beat & groove-driven styles of dance music. Every few years, we see this switch happening and I already see people enjoying vocals, bassline melodies and guitars again.