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Rob Davis: Spiller's Miracle Worker - Dance Music's Number 1 Songwriter

Author: Skrufff
Monday, September 3, 2001
He co-wrote Paul Oakenfold's first ever record Jibarro back in 1988 and more recently contributed to two of the biggest records of the last 10 years, Coco's I Need A Miracle and Spiller's Groovejet. He's also previously enjoyed a rich and distinguished pop career with chart topping pop/yobs Mud, playing guitar on a string of chart-topping singles throughout the 70s. Nowadays 53 years old, his latest production is Kylie Minogue's new single Can't Get You Out Of Your Head, which appears set for top 10 success when it's released this September in the UK. Skrufff chatted to the superstar songwriter recently.

Skrufff: You're written for 70s popsters Mud and other rock/pop acts before, how different is song-writing for dance music-

Rob Davis: "It's more limited because you can't meander around- Normally with dance music you don't want to get too complicated. There have been lots of big hits with one-liners but I'm always more song-based. I like to do at least a verse/chorus, verse/ chorus structure. With most dance songs that's all I do, perhaps adding a few adlibs or chants and non lyrical parts."

Skrufff: How did you get involved in writing dance music-

Skrufff: "Throughout the 80s, following the Mud experiences, I started listening to more black music, and ended up doing albums with people like Oliver Cheatham for Champion Records. I also did some hi-energy records in the 80s, then later on I met Oakey (Paul Oakenfold) because he used to live near me in Carshalton (Surrey). He used to come around and we'd talk about where music was heading- he knew exactly where it was going, scene-wise and music-wise. He started taking me out to some of his gigs in 1989 and I liked the vibe I found there and also the tracks."

Skrufff: Were you going out raving with Oakey-

Rob Davis: "I used to go to his gigs for just a few hours usually, really just to check them out, I'm not exactly a dancer; not unless I get really out of it. Paul's great, because he tries out acetates of new tracks at his gigs. Back then many people didn't understand the (musical) drops in dance music, so clubbing was more of a research thing for me."

Skrufff: 'I Need A Miracle' was another number 1 hit for you in 2000, as a result of a bootlegger combining your 1998 Coco vocal with Fragma's instrumental, when did you first hear it-

Rob Davis: "I actually heard it before Positiva even picked it up (signed it). Kiss were playing it for a while, and I remember phoning Positiva up to ask if it was being released and they said 'No, we know about it but we don't think it's coming out'. Obviously it became so big, they went for it."

Skrufff: The Coco version didn't do much first time around, what was your reaction when the Fragma version then took off-

Rob Davis: "It was weird, especially so with the Fragma one rather than for Groovejet. It (the Coco tune) felt like a really tasty song for a dance track as soon as it was written and it's quite difficult to get a song to feel magical over a simple backing track. I remember my publishers going bananas (getting excited) when they first heard it- everyone knew that it worked. It went into the top 30 first time round with a backing track I did with Victor Imbres."

Skrufff: Which bits of Groovjet did you write and which bits Sophie Ellis Bextor-

Rob Davis: "I had no involvement in the production, instead I was given a backing track to write something with and I did the whole tune. I didn't hear anything for a while, then they revocaled it, re-versed it and used my chorus. I think Sophie must have written the verse."

Skrufff: For somebody wanting to follow in your footsteps, what are the main requirements needed for successful song-writing-

Rob Davis: "I think experience is central then it's important to choose the right singer to perform it. In dance music, people like Oakey, as far as I understand it, are always looking for original lyrics rather than the same old love lines. If