Electronic music has become the Rodney Dangerfield of the music industry. Despite a wealth of artists who are doing so many great and innovative things (see Diplo, M.I.A., Nathan Fake, Phil K & Luke Chable and Vitalic), the genre has been pronounced dead so many times that it's starting to check its own pulse. The truth is, every time the mainstream scoffs at it or deems it passé, electronic music emerges stronger than ever. While four-on-the-floor club music might never again gain coverage in the mainstream, there always seem to be artists who break through the genre barrier by combining electronic music with pop (see Fischerspooner). The latest dance-pop sensation to emerge is Mylo (aka Myles MacInnes), purveyor of a buzz the UK dance scene had not seen for years. Once called “the savior of dance music,” Mylo is now ready to make a splash on this side of the pond with his debut CD Destroy Rock & Roll (RCA, 2006).
Destroy Rock & Roll is hard to categorize, because while it begins and ends with gorgeous electronic lullabies, it also veers off into realms of perfectly cheeky pop. Here, tracks like the sublime Moby 18-esque “Need You Tonite” and “Emotion 98.6” are juxtaposed with dancefloor stompers including “In My Arms,” “Guilty of Love,” the title track and global sensation “Drop the Pressure.” Surprisingly, the album was created using a bare-bones software setup. In fact, the title track and “Sunworshipper” were made with the free downloadable version of Digidesign Pro Tools. For the rest of the album, the primary production tools were Propellerhead Reason 2 and 2.5 and Native Instruments Absynth. Mylo switched to Reason 2.5 during the production primarily for the vocoder module that he used on “Drop the Pressure.”
As exciting as the North American release of this record should be for Mylo, it does come with some disappointment. U.S. sampling laws prevented the domestic release of the album in its original state. So there are glaring differences between the original import (released in the UK in 2004) and the current release. Legally, Mylo was forced to offer different versions of certain tracks; for example, he had to get musicians to replay the George Duke sample in “Guilty of Love” and the samples of Boy Meets Girl's “Waiting for a Star to Fall” and Kim Carnes' “Bette Davis Eyes” for “In My Arms.”
“It's really a heart-wrenching process when you make a track that you feel very happy with, and you find that you can't clear the samples and have to redo things,” Mylo says. “There's only one reason ever to go and do a replay with samples, and that's financial expediency. As a producer who's happy with the original sample, I just had to grit my teeth and go along with it.” Even with those differences, there's still a whole lot to like about the U.S. version of Destroy Rock & Roll. For instance, it includes “Doctor Pressure,” the much-talked-about mash up of “Drop the Pressure” and Miami Sound Machine's “Doctor Beat,” which became a Top-40 hit in the UK.
If you want to hear the original version of Destroy Rock & Roll and don't want to shell out $30 for the import, the next best thing is catching Mylo live. He has drawn critical praise for putting together a great live band and plans on returning to North America for select dates this spring. In this live setting, Mylo is untouchable from corporate lawyers and their cease-and-desist letters, so he plays the tracks the way they were meant to be heard — if not better. For instance, at last year's M3 conference, Mylo was joined onstage by a hundred or so enthused fans for a killer rendition of “Drop the Pressure.” It was one of those special moments rarely seen in dance music these days. Only time will tell if the Mylo buzz will last, but at the very least, he's brought a renewed sense of excitement to an industry desperate for a new breakout star.