Pigeon holes are for pigeons, not music.
This slogan is brandished on Wideboys’ website, facebook and artist bio. And they live it. From the UK Garage underground to mainstream R&B, contemporary chart-toppers and club classics, Wideboys’ career has encompassed nearly every genre of dance music you can name. Discogs lists nearly 800 credited remixes from Artful Dodger to Aretha Franklin and Rihanna, and there are quite a few missing from that tally. 5 Magazine’s Czarina Mirani talks to Wideboys’ Ed & Jim about their long-awaited debut album, the first single (“Everybody Sing”) and what it’s gonna take to get them stateside to play in 2017.
Wideboys: A 5 Mag UKG Mix
Wideboys: The 5 Mag Interview:
It’s a great honor to have you in 5 Magazine, we’ve been big fans! You’ve covered almost every genre of dance music from House, Garage, Electro, 2-Step, Breaks, R&B, etc. Which do you find the easiest and which do you find the most challenging?
Ed: Thanks very much for having us, we are fans of the mag. In terms of writing music, every style is a challenge and especially a challenge to be done convincingly. We have always been inspired by completely different genres – literally from Classical to Jazz to Drum & Bass, Techno, Breakbeat, Rock, ’80s Pop, classic synthesizer music, rave, film soundtracks, US House, Garage, etc.
Jim: I started my career as a radio jingle maker at a local radio station, so I learned how to convey a message in a very short and punchy time frame. I also learned how to use sound equipment and old tape-to-tape machines, having always had an interest in analogue synths and drum machine (both programming and taking it apart!) This has always helped in shaping the Wideboys sound and because of an understanding of synthesis this plays a key part in making different genres.
Ed: Having originally started DJing and listening to British Hip-Hop acts like Hijack, then moving on to early House and rave music in the early ’90s as well as having an understanding of moving with the times and knowing what works on the dancefloors – that’s played a key part in us being able to move in and out of genres and riding waves and trends. Our motto has always been “Pigeon holes are for pigeons not music.” If we had never tried to progress or go out of our comfort zones we would still be making early ’90s rave music. Though funnily enough, that’s been making a comeback with the bassier leading edge producers. Having challenges spurs us on to continue to grow and develop our production and sound.
When doing major label remixing, what were some of the elements production wise they often wanted as opposed to making your own independent stuff?
Working with major labels and some of the worlds biggest acts and releasing official version of international hit records has been an amazing privilege. When you get sent vocals from acts like Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Snoop Dog, Rihanna, Ed Sheeran – you know the vocals are going to be recorded well and you can get on with the creative side rather than the technical comping side (both are enjoyable but have different merits). We have been able to work with some of the world’s best A&Rs. Every project is different. On some projects we are asked where we think we could best take it. On other projects we have a clear cut brief for a specific market or a particular gap in their release package.
Some artists get really involved in this process too. We had some huge artists give us really specific guidance on tracks. On a song we were doing with Nicole Scherzinger, her input really changed the vibe of the song and ended up a better track and a real team effort. For new producers coming up, we’ve found that being reliable and honest with timelines and an ability to “problem solve” rather than “problem make” has led to repeat work and a good name in the industry.
I see you have a new weekly radio show on Fridays? Can you tell us about that?
Yes it has been amazing to have a prime time Friday night show on the UK’s officially biggest DAB station, Kisstory. The station is renowned for playing classic dance music and anthems. Not only is it a chance for our older listeners to reminisce about the “good old days,” but we also get a chance to educate the younger listeners who would not have been born when we were playing some of this music first time around. Your last issue actually reminded of us of some hidden gems we are going to dig out. 🙂 Normally in our live sets we play mainly new music so going back to our roots also inspires us in the creative songwriting process too.
What have you been working on lately?
Lately we have been working on our debut artist album. The concept of the album was to hook up with some very established artists/producers and also some completely new and up coming ones. We have been working on the album for a number of years on and off and are about ready to release it.
The first single “Everybody Sing” is a collaboration from the legendary UK garage team DJ Luck & MC Neat and features the amazing vocals of Axwell vocalist Errol Reid. This has been getting support on all of the UK’s major radio stations like BBC, Kiss, Capital, Rinse, etc. We have also been working on some amazing remixes and recently got nominated for Remixer of the Year by the Music Producers’ Guild alongside Disclosure and Matthew Herbert for work we have done with Clean Bandit, Louisa Johnson, Frances, Little Mix, Sean Paul, Patrik Remann and Pink. We are also releasing new music and promoting fresh talent on our record labels Worldwide Phonographics and Zentek.
Any chance of coming up our way to the States? Ever been?
We would love to come to the US to write and gig. Ed is visiting family in July and We have spent a fair bit of time in the US traveling and visiting friends, particularly loving Arizona and LA. Let us know if we can hook up!!!!!
UKGx3: Originally published in 5 Magazine Issue 144, the last of our three issue series dedicated to the sound, the artists and the timeless influence of UK Garage and featuring Scott Diaz, Wideboys, Sunship and more. Become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full Access to Real House Music for only $1/issue twice per month.