Mark Knight's Salsoul Nugget Remix is COVID Era Disco House
When UK duo M&S (Ricky Morrison and Fran Sidoli) released “Salsoul Nugget (If You Wanna)” in 2001 it exploded onto dancefloors across the world, it was an inescapable club favorite. Even before it hit number one in the UK dance charts, number six in UK singles, and number 21 on the US Billboard charts. It was the spark for an avalanche of disco house records that defined the sound of the era.
The celebrated producers returned to the studio this year to recreate the magic and remaster the record for 2021. Released on Tinted Records, they also revealed two fresh remixes from UK heavyweights Mighty Mouse and Mark Knight. Both remixes open the door for a new generation to fall in love with “Salsoul Nugget.”
“Salsoul Nugget” brilliantly samples two records originally released on the legendary Salsoul Records imprint. Based in New York City Salsoul released a string of chart-topping disco and funk records. “Salsoul Nugget” is driven by a chopped-up hook from Double Exposure’s 1976 record “Everyman(Has To Carry His Own Weight),” and the enigmatic wail of Loleatta Holloway’s soulful voice on “Hit & Run.”
Morrison and Sidoli knew it was a hit when they first discovered the iconic loop. And after four hours of running it back, Morrison says, “We knew it was a golden record.” So good in fact, that they named it before they wrote the arrangement.
“We said let's call it a nugget. Before we even started the record. We’ll call it the nugget and it was on Salsoul Records. So natural progression was call it the Salsoul Nugget.”
The duo believed they had a hit on their hands. However, the labels they shopped it to didn’t hear it. So, they pressed 50 copies and dropped in on top DJs like Kenny Dope, Frankie Knuckles, and Louie Vega. After a year of dominating clubs, Pete Tong’s FFRR Records wanted to release the record in Europe. Atlantic wanted it in the US. “Salsoul Nugget” was a global hit.
Mark Knight says it was a flash-point for house music. “It sort of framed where everyone's head heads were at the time. Disco with a house music made a real renaissance."
"Salsoul Nugget" was disco house's first real moment of exposure he says, "[It] was leading the charge in terms of focal records. And if you weren't playing it, then you know you weren’t playing the right record.”
When Knight was approached to remix it was an easy yes. However, its iconic status came with some pressure. “The reason I took it on because the parts are so good. But that creates a problem. What you want to do is bring just enough of something new to evolve it but not enough to detract away from what it was good originally.”
When “Salsoul Nugget” was first written, there were no verses. M&S decided to add Natasha Bryce’s sticky-sweet vocals to give it more commercial appeal after it was already a club hit. Knight struggled to uncover the right arrangement that respected the record’s evolution.
“I was trying to take it from a point of view, if you're 18 now you'd never heard it. How do I get all of these things to make sense? I was just trying to put my head in it, you know,” Knight says.
His remix fantastically captures the original record’s sparkle. Knight masterfully layers its most beloved pieces beneath the verses. It’s a club record with radio appeal.
“Salsoul Nugget” is a product of the early aughts era of disco house. Similarly, Mark Knight says his remix is a product of the COVID era.
“I'm in a little studio, like a little room outside my house. And I've got COVID the week I was supposed to start it. And I was literally locked in this room for 10 days. My wife, she just dropped food at the doorstep for a week. So, no excuses not to get it right because I couldn't go out anyways. Yeah, I was literally locked in these four walls from nine in the morning till 11 at night when everyone went to bed and I was allowed to go back in the house. But it definitely gave me a few it gave me the time to work through a lot of arrangement.”
“Salsoul Nugget” is from a storied era of dance music. The late noughties and early aughts produced an avalanche of iconic records. Timeless music that continues to spark joy and hands-up moments. Knight is overjoyed to have the perspective to recognize how far dance music has come in 20 years. However, he understands that market saturation has come at a cost.
“There's not enough markers in a kind of musical timeline right now. Forty-five years from now what would be the records that you'd bootleg. You know the way people do bootlegs of Salsoul Nugget. Where are those records of now?”
Knight’s used his label Toolroom to shine a light on records he believes have that X factor. He hopes he can help change the direction of club music. They’ve used the pandemic to release non-traditional club music.
“When's the last time you went to a club and heard a verse?” He asks. “It just doesn't happen. So, let's really expose this window of opportunity to write songs, to put some those markers back into the equation.”
Morrison humbly reflects on being one of those markers in the history of dance music.
“It’s one of the most important things a producer wants to have. When you're playing, you hear it on the radio. You hear someone playing in the club. You hear it in a department store. You know, you hear it on an airplane. It's just a fantastic feeling. I remember Kenny Dope was at Ministry of sound. And I'd never heard it in the club before, only when I played it. And he played this record, and it was like putting in a match to petrol. It was ridiculous. The people just went absolutely mad. I mean, I couldn't believe the key they're all singing along with me when I was just the hook at the time, but the song hadn't been developed then it was just the hook. Right? And I just couldn't believe it. And then I was at another place in Brixton where Frankie knuckles played it three times in one night and that's when I really thought wow, the Godfather my hero played it three times and is looking at me while he's playing it across the dance floor. It's just the best feeling.”