Mike Stock: The Future Of British Pop

Opinion | Music Production (Production Lines)

Published in SOS August 1994
Bookmark and Share

People + Opinion : Artists / Engineers / Producers / Programmers

Mike Stock, once one third of production giants Stock, Aitken and Waterman, ponders the future of British pop...


People who control the music business have never taken dance music seriously. But what we are now seeing is a change in the way this music is created and exploited; record companies have opened both their cheque books and departments dedicated to exploiting this area of music. However, they do not create music any more, nor do they look for new artists to develop -- they merely license the latest hot tracks from the continent, assault the dance charts and hope for a pop cross-over. It doesn't surprise me that records like 'Doop' by Doop were so successful, but will they ever have another hit? It would seem that this doesn't really matter. The record company is already purchasing its next release from somewhere else, and the producer/artist has already changed his name and act and is busy trawling the dance floor for inspiration to produce his next 'one-off'.

This is not where I come from -- I'm involved in dance music to develop new long-term acts, because I think it is the only area of popular music that is pushing out the boundaries of what is possible. Today's dance music is much more technically complex than it has ever been. It has also become incredibly creative and inventive, as a result of experimentation with new sounds and new technology. Of course, record companies may only see it as a way of making money, but I see it as a much broader venture than that -- and one that has continued to develop over the last ten years.

If it were left to the A&R departments we would never find anything new. I'm not knocking the musical and lyrical skills of people like Phil Collins and Sting, but the type of music they are making could have been made at any point in the last 30 years. None of them are doing anything revolutionary or original, and the majority of today's record buyers don't find them exciting any more; they know what to expect from them. Of course dance music is itself not new, but at least the things that people are producing now within the dance sphere are new and exciting.

I am setting up a studio for dance-based music because I take it very seriously. I believe it isn't possible to make truly great records in a bedroom, although it is possible to do much of the development and experimentation in that kind of environment. If you want that record to reach as many people as possible, and cross over into the mainstream pop charts, you do need a properly-equipped recording studio. For example, Matt Aitken and I recently co-produced a remake of the Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand hit 'No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)' with Kym Mazelle and Jocelyn Brown. That record has crossed over from the clubs to the pop charts. Now obviously, we needed a fully-equipped professional studio for that, because we used real players and real singers, with not a sample in sight.

As a producer, I don't sample other people's work -- I prefer to be more original, and create new drum sounds and bass lines using the skills of an engineer. When other people use sampled drum loops and bass lines, they are using the work of other musicians who have had to go into a studio and record them at some point. I think the original creators should be credited for their work. If we are to continue creating music that is new and exciting, we should not be stealing something from someone else, to the point where we ourselves lose the skill and talent needed to actually create original music.

Contemporary dance music is at the cutting edge of modern music. Dance music is the only area in which, to me, things are constantly changing and challenging. Moreover, I disagree with the idea popular among the major record labels, that dance artists are incapable of combining dance floor hits with long-term careers and healthy album sales. It's just that up to now the major record labels have failed to achieve this. It is largely left up to the independents to carry the flag for dance pop, and I am quite happy to be in there marching with them.

Producer and songwriter Mike Stock achieved fame, fortune, and a place in the record books as one of the hugely successful Stock, Aitken and Waterman writing and production team. To date he has worked on over 100 Top 40 records, making him the most successful record producer of all time. Stock is now going it alone, and is in the process of building his own state-of-the-art recording studio in London. He is also running a number of record labels from the studio complex including Love This Records and his Ding-Dong label, which recently signed a non-exclusive label deal with Arista/Bell.

Similar articles

Peaceful Protest: The PAIX Project | Media

Audio files to accompany the article.

A project that was started to help unsigned bands show solidarity with victims of the Paris attacks has grown to unite musicians, artists and film-makers from around the world. And it’s not finished yet...

Mandy Parnell: Mastering Audio

Video Feature

Thumbnail for article: Mandy Parnell: Mastering Audio

We talk studio secret weapons and walk through a session with Björk and Tom Jones’ Grammy-winning mastering engineer.

Inside Track: Pentatonix

Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Ed Boyer

Thumbnail for article: Inside Track: Pentatonix

In their conquest of the pop charts, Pentatonix’s only weapons were the human voice — and the skills of mix engineer Ed Boyer.

Rush: Recording & Mixing R40 Live

R Is For Rush

Thumbnail for article: Rush: Recording & Mixing R40 Live

The best engineers thrive on pressure. Which is handy when they’re recording the farewell tour of one of the world’s biggest rock bands, and timecode trouble is brewing...

Scott Jacoby: Producing Ronnie Spector

Video Feature

Thumbnail for article: Scott Jacoby: Producing Ronnie Spector

This month's in-depth video interview features Grammy-winning producer Scott Jacoby. He welcomes us into his own Eusonia studios in New York to show how he created a ‘60s-inspired track for the former Ronnettes lead singer.

Ben Folds

Recording So There

Thumbnail for article: Ben Folds

Fans of singer–songwriter Ben Folds expect piano music — but a full–on piano concerto is certainly a new development!

Inside Track: The Weeknd

Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Carlo ‘Illangelo’ Montagnese

Thumbnail for article: Inside Track: The Weeknd

Engineer, mixer and producer Carlo Montagnese likens his work with the Weeknd to painting — and he’s not afraid to use plenty of colour!

Thank you to all our readers over the last 30 years...

You are in good company!

Thumbnail for article: Thank you to all our readers over the last 30 years...

“I admire Sound On Sound as the survivor amongst the professional media"...

Jean–Michel Jarre

Producing Electronica

Thumbnail for article: Jean–Michel Jarre

New album Electronica sees Jean–Michel Jarre making connections with a galaxy of other legendary figures from the world of electronic music.

Inside Track: Bring Me The Horizon

Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Dan Lancaster

Thumbnail for article: Inside Track: Bring Me The Horizon

Where does a young mix engineer learn the techniques to deliver hit rock mixes? In Dan Lancaster’s case, right here!


Lauren Mayberry, Martin Doherty & Iain Cook: Producing Every Open Eye

Thumbnail for article: Chvrches

Like any good SOS readers, Scots electro-pop trio Chvrches used the success of their debut album to buy more synthesizers...

Inside Track: Muse's Drones

Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Tommaso Colliva & Rich Costey

Thumbnail for article: Inside Track: Muse's Drones

Working on Muse’s hit album Drones gave Tommaso Colliva and Rich Costey unique insight into the extraordinary methods of hitmaking producer ‘Mutt’ Lange.

Rupert Neve: The SOS Interview (Video)

Video Feature

Thumbnail for article: Rupert Neve: The SOS Interview (Video)

In this month's video interview  we meet a living legend of the audio industry, Mr Rupert Neve himself. Over 25 minutes, we talk transformers, software modelling, and get the story of how he created the world's first high-Q equaliser.

75 Years Of The Shure Unidyne 55

One Direction

Thumbnail for article: 75 Years Of The Shure Unidyne 55

In 1939, Shure revolutionised the music industry with a microphone so successful that it is still in production today!

Inside Track: James Taylor's Before This World

Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Dave O’Donnell

Thumbnail for article: Inside Track: James Taylor's Before This World

The art of music production lies in serving the song — and working with James Taylor, Dave O’Donnell felt that modern production trends would hinder his aim of capturing emotive performances.

John Chowning

Pioneer Of Electronic Music & Digital Synthesis

Thumbnail for article: John Chowning

A visionary in the field of electronic music, John Chowning invented FM synthesis and set up CCMRA, one of the world’s most influential research centres.

Richard King: How To Record Acoustic Ensembles

Recording Yo-Yo Ma

Thumbnail for article: Richard King: How To Record Acoustic Ensembles

Engineer Richard King has brought the art of ensemble recording to new heights in both classical and folk/pop spheres.

Throbbing Gristle ‘Hamburger Lady’

Classic Tracks

Thumbnail for article: Throbbing Gristle ‘Hamburger Lady’

Throbbing Gristle’s highly individualist approach to music extended as far as making their own instruments and, ultimately, their own genre.

Inside Track: Josh Groban’s album Stages

Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Andy Selby & Bernie Herms

Thumbnail for article: Inside Track: Josh Groban’s album Stages

A combination of technical wizardry and old-school craft helped Bernie Herms and Andy Selby bring Josh Groban’s Broadway album to life.

Pete Keppler

Mixing Bowie, NIN & Katy Perry

Thumbnail for article: Pete Keppler

Pete Keppler’s career has seen him mix shows for some of the biggest artists in the world. We asked him how it all happened.

Slaves - Are You Satisfied?

Jolyon Thomas: Producing Are You Satisfied?

Thumbnail for article: Slaves - Are You Satisfied?

The success of Slaves’ debut album depended on producer Jolyon Thomas finding a way to bottle their raw live energy.

Vlado Meller

Mastering Engineer

Thumbnail for article: Vlado Meller

As one of the world’s leading mastering engineers, Vlado Meller has enjoyed great success — and his share of controversy.

‘Voodoo Ray’ by A Guy Called Gerald

Classic Tracks

Thumbnail for article: ‘Voodoo Ray’ by A Guy Called Gerald

Hailed as the first British acid house single, A Guy Called Gerald’s sublime ‘Voodoo Ray’ has since become a classic in its own right.

Faith No More

Bill Gould: Recording Sol Invictus

Thumbnail for article: Faith No More

Recording and producing your own music is always a challenge — especially if, like Faith No More, your previous albums have been done by the best in the business!


Home | Search | News | Current Issue | Tablet Mag | Articles | Forum | Blog | Subscribe | Shop | Readers Ads

Advertise | Information | Privacy Policy | Support | Login Help


Email: Contact SOS

Telephone: +44 (0)1954 789888

Fax: +44 (0)1954 789895

Registered Office: Media House, Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SQ, United Kingdom.

Sound On Sound Ltd is registered in England and Wales.

Company number: 3015516 VAT number: GB 638 5307 26


We accept the following payment methods in our web Shop:

Pay by PayPal - fast and secure  VISA  MasterCard  Solo  Electron  Maestro (used to be Switch)  

All contents copyright © SOS Publications Group and/or its licensors, 1985-2016. All rights reserved.
The contents of this article are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, whether mechanical or electronic, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Great care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this article but neither Sound On Sound Limited nor the publishers can be held responsible for its contents.
The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the publishers.

Web site designed & maintained by PB Associates | SOS | Relative Media