Vanessa Laker Meets Donaeo: The Interview

I caught up with up with music mystro Donaeo to discuss his new album, his desire to collaborate with Dizzee Rascal and partying hard, all exclusively for MTV’s Wrap Up.

He burst onto the scene in 2003 with the underground garage smash, ‘My Philosophy (Bounce)’. The anti-drugs, anti-guns song boasted the lines, “Don’t do drugs… Just have fun” and with a heavy bass and catchy positive hook, the song became an instant club classic – Donaeo had officially arrived. Over the years the MC/producer has released consistent club bangers and with 2009 underground hit ‘Party Hard’ exposing him to a wider mainstream and international audience, the rest of 2010 is looking very bright for the 27-year-old Londoner. His new song ‘I’m Fly is the lead single from his second album and is guaranteed to be a summer smash…

The Wrap Up: Your new single ‘I’m Fly’ is set to be another club summer anthem. Tell us a bit about it…

Donaeo: I was working on a few tracks with Sway. I also worked with Shy FX – they’re both very talented guys, so working with them is always a good live experience. One of the songs I made that really stood out to me was ‘I’m Fly,’ it has such an upbeat fun vibe to it, so I thought it was perfect for me to have it as the lead single.

TWU: Wiley is the Godfather of grime and you could be considered as the ‘ambassador of funky house’. What is it about this particular genre of music that really attracts you?

Donaeo: I’ve always liked dance music, from UKG and drum and bass, to bassline and dubstep. I play around with all those sounds. I love funky and that’s definitely the direction of my sound, but I also incorporate many different elements of dance into my music.

TWU: I read somewhere that you initially wanted to be a rapper…

Donaeo: Yeah that’s true, I’m really into rap, but as I got into my teens I started going to Heartless raves. I saw people like Sticky doing it big and all of a sudden the dream is a reality. You’re naturally going to be influenced by the water you drink and the sun that shines on your skin, so it was natural for me to get into the dance scene, as oppose to hip-hop. I actually made a bet with my dad, I told him that I would definitely be a rapper, and he told me I wouldn’t. I should probably pay him now… haha!

TWU: During the early days of your career, you chose to do it alone without any management. What was the reasoning behind this?

Donaeo: A lot of the times managers make you feel as though your success is due to them and I didn’t want anyone to feel like they made me. It’s the artist that pays the manager. They work for you. But a lot of managers try and make you feel as if you’re working for them. Also a lot of artists rely on their managers to handle all their business, so they don’t get the chance to learn and understand how the politics of the industry really works. I wanna understand the business myself and have someone who assists me, not someone who is gonna take control and make me feel like they’re responsible for my success.

TWU: The UK dance urban scene is forever changing. It has evolved from jungle, to garage, to grime to funky and dubstep. Does this constant change put you under pressure to always create something new?

Donaeo: Nah I don’t feel under pressure. When I’m in the studio I make the music that I like. If you let pressure get to you, it will affect you in a negative way. I think that maybe back in the day I may have felt the pressure, but didn’t really notice. I’ve been doing this for 10 years and during this period we’ve had jungle, drum and bass, garage, grime, bassline, dubstep, niche, funky etc. The changes happen so quickly that you don’t really realise or feel any pressure until you look back and really think about it.

TWU: Your music still has a very underground sound to it. Were you surprised with all the mainstream success that ‘Party Hard’ got or did you expect it to be such a hit?

Donaeo: I make underground music for the clubs. So when ‘Party Hard’ blew up like it did, I totally didn’t expect it. It’s great because it raises the bar and makes me even more determined than I already am.

TWU: You’re set to release your second album soon. What can we expect from it?

Donaeo: It’s gonna be a fun upbeat album. It’s dance music and has a real fun party vibe to it. I produced the majority of the tracks, so I’m very proud of it. We haven’t got a release date just yet, but it’s more than likely the end of this year or early 2011.

TWU: If you could collaborate with any artist who would it be?

Donaeo: I’d really like to do something with Dizzee Rascal. He’s such a talented guy and he’s been making good consistent music for so many years. He’s an artist I’d really like to collaborate with.

TWU: And which new album are you really liking at the moment?

Donaeo: I just got Big Boi’s new album. It sounds big; I’m liking that a lot right now.

TWU: You famously told us all to party hard. Are you a big party animal then?

Donaeo: You know what? I’m kinda bored of raving these days. Obviously I still like to go out and have a good time, but not as much as I used to. But trust I can still party hard. 

Donaeo: ‘I’m So Fly’ – is out July 26


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