Born in London, England, in his youth, Cole learned to play the oboe and piano, and won scholarships to both the Royal College of Music Junior Department and City of London School. Having graduated from City University, Cole began at respected drum ‘n’ bass label, SOUR, as a tape operator and sound engineer to the likes of Freq Nasty and Ed Rush. It was working on Ramsey & Fen’s 2-step remixes for Kim Mazelle, however, that gave him the garage bug. From there, Cole penned and produced Sincere in 1998 using a sampler and Atari, which was eventually picked up by Pete Tong and AM:PM and became one of the earliest garage records to break into the UK Top 40.
He signed on Gilles Peterson’s Takin’ Loud label where in 2000 he produced his first album, also called Sincere, which earned him two Top 15 singles, a prestigious Mercury Music Prize nomination, Brit Award Nomination and he beat Dr Dre to win MOBO’s Best Producer award in 2001. He received a Silver Disc for UK sales in excess of 60,000 copies. Cole formed a live band to accompany his “Sincere” album performing on Jools Holland’s Later Show as well as TOTP, CDUK, The Chart Show, Mercury Music Prize and the MOBO Awards. In 2003, Cole followed Sincere with his Cut To The Chase album, also released via Talkin’ Loud. Since leaving Talkin’ Loud in 2004 MJ Cole has continued to push the boundaries of British music through his own label Prolific Recordings. He has engaged with sounds from across the musical spectrum, reflecting his unique early musical training. His releases have ranged from garage influenced grime and 2-step records with Wiley to sophisticated orchestrated pieces.
His more recent work has seen him and studio neighbour T Williams collaborate on a big piano driven house track entitled Privilege, released in 2015 on William’s Today/Tomorrow Records. This was followed by the more brutal Bouldaz on Disclosure’s Method White label the same year that rolled through the festival season with it’s weighty force.
Cole has also been prolific with his production for a variety of artists across the musical spectrum. Dizzee Rascal’s Bassline Junkie, Example’s Something In The Water and Katy B’s Blue Eyes were all produced by MJ Cole in the past 5 years.
In 2014, he co-wrote and produced Nobody But You for Mary J Blige with Sam Smith & Jimmy Napes, and again in early 2015 on Napes’ own Making Of Me EP. He has also remixed tracks for Amy Winehouse, Mariah Carey, De La Soul, Alicia Keys and many more. Recently he has released remixes of Jess Glynn’s Hold My Hand on Atlantic and DJ Fresh & Adam F’s Believer on Ministry of Sound.
MJ Cole has also lent his classical composition ability to several major TV advertising campaigns including Guinness, Volvo, Schwartz and Pokerstars. Cole was also responsible for the construction and design of a new recording studio complex in Clerkenwell called The Gin Factory.
Alongside his producing, writing and remixing work, MJ Cole is more in demand than ever as a DJ throughout the world at both festivals and nightclubs.