“Hey world, we're taking over”. So opens Solar System, the first single from the 2012 version of Platnum, the former figureheads of the UK Bassline scene and your new favourite pop group. As a manifesto, it's a pretty straightforward one. Having had a taste of success back in 2008, the trio of Aaron Evers, Michelle McKenna and Mina Poli are back to casually (this Manchester trio do everything with a smile on their faces) take over the airwaves with their unique brand of energetic, soulful dance pop and they've got the collaborators - including producer and Black Eyed Peas' collaborator DJ Poet - to help them do it.
Friends since they were kids (“All the families are intertwined” says Aaron), Platnum formed at a talent show in Manchester, with Aaron and Mina initially entering as a duo and Michelle's hopes resting on a solo rap effort. Quickly they realised what needed to be done. “Their song was Over The Heartache,” explains Michelle “and that was dead dancey and poppy and I had a rap track and then when we got there it was ghetto so we decided to fuse it together”. “We did it to get through to the next stage and we got through to the final and that was the birth of Platnum,” continues Aaron.
Dance music has always been in their blood and most of that stems from Manchester. “I think it's influenced our sound a lot because Manchester's always had a big house scene and it's always had a thriving clubbing scene, even back to the Happy Mondays you see bits of their influence in our stuff. Not at the forefront, but it's all there,” says Aaron. It's also there in their attitude, that swagger that permeates the grimier stuff they do as well as the more straight up dance tracks. This early underground success was eclipsed when they crashed into the UK Top 3 with What's It Gonna Be?, a collaboration with producers H “Two” O. This was followed by the club classic Love Shy (Thinking About You), which then lead to a UK support slot on the N-Dubz tour. After this burst of success they took a year off to deal with personal issues and just focus on what was next for the band. “We've not gone too far away from where we were, we've just taken it to a next level,” explains Aaron.
Part of what kept them going was an unwavering self-belief. Most bands who have tasted success initially either feel like they can't take time off and so burn out or they keep trying to do what got them there in the first place, even if it's not working. For Platnum it meant a re-evaluation and a renewed tenacity. This determination is how they ended up working with superstar producer DJ Poet, aka The Black Eyed Peas touring DJ and songwriter. During a night out in Manchester, Michelle – the band's livewire – handed a demo CD to a certain will.i.am and then calmly left him to enjoy his evening. She was then approached by Poet who told her about a party back at the hotel that she should come along to. “I rang Aaron and said 'get your laptop, get your laptop'” she says excitedly, “and I get down to the hotel and as I've come out I bumped into Poet again and got him in the car and played him the album. He was like 'this shit's dope man'”.
The 'album' was eventually released as a mixtape, but the songs were more than enough to pique Poet's interest, so much so that he gave them a beat there and then. This was then passed back and forth between producer and band before they were able to work together again in person. The results are spectacular, fusing a universal dance sound to the band's uniquely British core. From Solar System's bouncy rush of house-infused synth riffs, spacious beats and joyous lyrics, to the harder, more four-to-the-floor club banger beats of It's Goin Down via Love You Tomorrow's softer, more soulful lilt, these songs are evidence of what happens when a band loosens up and embraces the pure joy of music. When asked to describe their sound they all use pretty much the same adjectives, but it's Aaron that sums it up. “We want to make music that makes you feel good, music that makes you want to dance, music that puts you in a nice place. Just music that makes you smile.”
Need further proof that they're going global? A recent trip to LA to shoot two new videos resulted in the band being asked to write songs for the likes of Cheryl Cole and Rihanna as well as legendary label boss Jimmy Iovine’s new act W3 The Future. As Mina points out, this new journey to success can now be enjoyed because they're “finally doing what we want to do”.
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