classics #5

Want to know how you scored a radio friendly house hit in the early to mid 90s? First, you created a catchy bassline and piano riff, then some melodic and trancey synths, laid them over a Hi-NRG beat and, most important of all, got yourself a female vocalist to go diva all over it with some sticky sweet lyrics about love and dancing. Hell if you wanted to, you could even get some dude to rap in the middle of the track and coin one of the funniest lines in dance music (I’m serious as cancer when I say rhythm is a dancer).

It seems that back then people couldn’t get enough of commercial dance, with acts like Rozalla, Corona and La Bouche flooding the airwaves and topping the charts the world over.

One of the most desirous and ecstasy-like tracks from this period came from a Manchester outfit whose name said it all: Urban Cookie Collective. In 1993 the group scored it big with their most famous track, “The Key, The Secret”, which charted all over the world, peaking at #2 on the UK charts and at #4 here in Oz.

Urban Cookie Collective – The Key, The Secret


 

beats & pieces tracked down the group’s founder and main man Rohan Heath for a few quick questions…

“The Key, The Secret” was an essential track in the commercial house period of the early to mid 90s, yet it clearly echoed the spirit of the underground rave scene. Was that the aim of the Urban Cookie Collective? To make music that kept the spirit of rave burning?

Not really, no. UCC were always just about making uplifting music, the genre not really being important. However, I was heavily influenced by the Manchester club scene, so it must have had a massive effect on me.

Did you have an inkling that the track had such commercial appeal that it would blow up across the world as it did?

Absolutely not. For me it was just another track that I had written. Had I known how successful it was going to be I probably would have tried to make it even better and therefore ruined it! It was a real shock to me when it charted in country after country.

The lyrics again echo that spirit of the free party scene and the beliefs of the acid house counter culture. How did getting Diane Charlemagne to sing vocals come about? Did she write the lyrics or did you write them for her?

I wrote the lyrics for the song. I knew Diane from my days as a keyboard player for A Guy Called Gerald, with whom I toured and wrote songs for. I got her in on a session for another band whom I wrote and played for called Together (they had a UK no. 12 hit with “Hardcore Uproar”). You’re right about the lyrics though – they are about what you think they are!

Could you say that her work with Urban Cookie Collective was one of the factors that kick-started her career in becoming a famed dance music vocalist?

Diane was already an established singer in dance music, and the benefit was mutual; we both took each others careers to another level. She has since worked with Goldie (singing “Inner City Life”), and toured with Moby. We still work together and earlier this year we were in the studio.

Are you involved in and do you still listen to dance music today?

Absolutely, although in quite a chilled way – only when I feel like it. Axwell and I formed a band a while ago called Jetlag that had a big underground track called “It’s Alright”. I am also working on a track at the moment with another of my acts called The Wicked Warriors (we had success with a garage track called “Be My Lover” a few years ago); the act comprises of me and Danny Kirsch (he has just remixed Katie Meluah and Jocelyn Brown). I also had a UK no. 3 hit with Jurgen Vries feat. CMC called “The Opera Song” (I co wrote it) and a UK no. 15 with “You Take My Breath Away” by SuReaL, another of my acts, this time with Lange. I also just signed a record to Brighton’s Skint Records (home of The Freemasons and Fatboy Slim). Watch this space………



 

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