Having recently signed to Virgin/EMI, the almost obscenely talented MNEK flicked the switch on his new website today, but you’ll probably recognise his name because it has been hovering above pop like a big cloud of amazingness for some time now.
That really good Misha B song? He co-wrote and produced it. Duke Dumont and A*M*E’s ‘Need U (100%)’? He was on that too. ‘All Fired Up’ by The Saturdays? ‘Wings’ by Little Mix? All touched by the hand of MNEK. Florence & The Machine are reportedly working with him. You’ll have heard his work on Tom Aspaul’s ‘Indiana‘, Tanika’s phenomenal ‘Bad 4 U’ and Gorgon City’s ‘Ready For Your Love’. Imagine what would happen if you put MNEK and Sia in a room together. Pop would probably start to bend in on itself like in Inception or something.
Along with the new website, he’s done one of those minimix things. It includes three new songs (‘Every Little Word’, ‘What Good Is A Heart’ and ‘FML’) plus a few things he’s worked on and some other tunes that give you an idea of where he’s coming from (and going to): music by Janet Jackson, Bobby Brown and Black Box.
In 2009 – he was 14 at this point – MNEK wrote to Popjustice telling us all about the music he liked listening to and the music he wanted to make. “I’m inspired by Calvin Harris, Sam Sparro, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Usher, Anita Baker and loads others,” he said, adding that “if I were ever to be signed I’d love to work with Calvin Harris, Xenomania, Pet Shop Boys, Max Martin, Richard X, Sam Sparro or Bless Beats”. His tastes have no doubt moved on since then but listening to the music he’s made in the last five years you can hear bits of most of those artists, some more than others, poking out of his production, or his songwriting, or his vocals.
When he came to help judge the Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize last year he did so having actually co-written two of the songs on the list – ‘Wings’ and ‘All Fired Up’. Usually when songwriters and producers are part of multi-authored hits like that you quite rightly think to yourself “well the input of any one person must have been incidental”, but MNEK’s name is present in the credits of so many brilliant songs across so many different types of pop that all the evidence clearly points to someone who knows what he’s doing.
Consider all the areas in which he’s been working – Rudimental wouldn’t take him on the road, or get him singing on their songs, if he wasn’t a good musician or vocalist. Brian Higgins wouldn’t even let MNEK get off the train at Oxted, still less bring him into the Xenomania house o’hits, if he wasn’t a ridiculously sharp talent. And Virgin/EMI wouldn’t have signed him if they weren’t confident that he could bring that talent to life as a popstar in his own right.
One of the things we love about MNEK is that while he often finds himself working at the more credible end of the pop spectrum, he can’t resist (and wouldn’t ever try to resist) the pull of an incredible tune.
What a man.
Anyway, you’ve already heard a lot from MNEK, but you’ll be hearing a lot from him in 2014. His website’s here, and you can also follow him on Twitter (you might want to turn off retweets), Facebook and SoundCloud.