Mr. G: London House Pioneer Colin McBean Finally Sees the Fruits of His Labor
- Words: Thomas Rees
Though he's been practicing the art of DJing since the late 1980s and producing since the mid-1990s, the productions of London's Mr. G (a.k.a. Colin McBean) are only now getting the broader attention that they so richly deserve. One of the original progenitors of a funkier, low-end house that has blown up in the past year, McBean has always been a favorite of DJs and the techno cognoscenti, but his recent debut album on Matt Edwards' Rekids imprint has brought a whole new group of fans and producers to his music. Yet McBean is anything but bitter about the belated appreciation.
"I don't get into the bittersweet thing at all, because I try not to be negative at all in anything in my life," McBean intones in his warm, silky English accent. "Fans have simply come back around to this twist on house music. Seeing the youth pick up on these sounds is a great new picture."
That said, McBean acknowledges that producers like himself and Robert Hood "don't always get what we deserve, and that's the nature of the beast. For me, it's simply nice to get some positive feedback, because producing can be a lonely little world, and putting out singles doesn't necessarily give me the validation that I need to hear."
After years of releasing only singles and EPs, Still Here (Get On Down) acts as a long-form way for McBean "to test out the waters, to see whether I still have it." And with the accolades of the press and fans alike, it is certain that Mr. G is still a force to be reckoned with. Perhaps it's is because McBean still uses an all-analog, MPC-based approach to production that allows for maximum spontaneity and freshness, both in the studio and live. "Blessed" perfectly conforms to that aesthetic, building from a bassline and slowly incorporating piano and vocal samples that eventually cut in and out in the places where the listener would least expect. "In the studio, I do my cuts and tweaks and jumps on the fly," he explains. "It's more than building a track; it's the picture that you've gleaned while you've built the track that you'll produce again. Sometimes in the studio, it's one take and the piece is perfect, and sometimes it's 29 takes and the picture of the sound still isn't right."
Yet because his live set-up is the same as his studio set-up, it's clear that McBean has a pretty firm grip on the aural picture he wants to create. Indeed, his one-off live sets are legendary, not only for the way they push the bass to its extreme depths, but also for McBean's stage presence—unlike many DJs who simply stand behind a board, Mr. G is "doing robotics, jumps and leaps, punching the MPC," and acting like a true entertainer.
"Performing live, as I get more into it, people go crazy. It's about interacting with the crowd, creating a fantastic total atmosphere for the people on the floor," enthuses McBean. "Taking performative risks like that, it can take time to get recognized for your achievements. But right now, my sound is really ripe."
Still Here (Get On Down) is out now on Rekids
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