James Hype Revisits En Vogue Hit For 'More Than Friends'

En Vogue remains one of R&B's most beloved groups and rising U.K. producer James Hype has paid tribute to one of their biggest hits in the most honourable way with his newest offering, "More Than Friends." 

Sampling the group's "Don't Let Go (Love)," which appeared on the Set It Off soundtrack, was a task that took a little bit of guts, an atmospheric house melody and, of course, lyrics straight from the '90s smash.

iHeartRadio recently caught up with the budding star to speak to him about the making of the dance track, which features guest vocalist Kelli-Leigh.

"Don’t Let Go" is one of the most prolific songs from the '90s R&B era. Where were you the first time you heard it? 

I don’t actually remember where I was the first time I heard "Don’t Let Go" because I would have been really young, like, younger than 10 or something. It's definitely, like, more of less one of those songs my mom would have listened to at the house. Yeah, all of the R&B from that era is the kind of music my mom always used to listen to. It's one of them you hear on the radio every couple of months or whatever and it's just like, 'Yeah, this one's great.'

I understand “More Than Friends” went through various incarnations. What do you make of Kelli-Leigh saying she was listening to “Don’t Let Go” the day before you pitched it to her?

It was funny because it was like the stars aligned. I was really nervous [as to] whether she would say yes to singing on the tune, and when she did agree, I was externally playing it really cool but internally, it was like yes we did it. [It was] one of those meant to be moments I think. 

You’ve said that you put an emphasis on incorporating a visual element into your sets. Why do you think that’s missing from the dance scene?

Well, for years people have gone to see singers and bands do live shows. These days the rock stars are the DJs and that's really cool for DJs but when you think of what it comes from to what it is now. You once had six blokes moshing their heads off on the stage and jumping around while playing instruments to a very high level. You now have one guy pressing play on a song he made in a dark room, while he’s waving his hands in the air. It just feels like it's lacking for me. The crowd can’t always see exactly what you’re doing, so you still need to get that energy across and you need to get the message across that you’re doing more than just pressing play on the song in my opinion.

Your 28th birthday is nearing at the end of November. What do you have planned?

I still haven’t really celebrated the success of "More Than Friends." I keep meaning to do it and I'm, like, "Oh, but we’ve got this gig coming up and I got really drunk last night, so I can’t really go out and celebrate again." I need to get all the people involved on the record together and go somewhere really nice and celebrate that properly to really show appreciation for everyone who’s involved. That's probably a bigger priority over the birthday celebrations.

With the end of 2017 approaching, what is your highlight from this last year?

The highlight for me is definitely when me and Kelli performed "More Than Friends" at Ushuaïa in Ibiza because it was like 8,000 people [with] all hands in the air singing the words to "More Than Friends." We had a video crew there, so part of my brain was trying to look okay for the video and the other part was trying to enjoy the moment. I was reminding myself, "Make sure you enjoy the moment." It was really good, and afterwards I was like 'Phew, lets have a drink.' That was probably the highlight. 

What else are you currently working on?

I've got some really cool tracks in the pipeline. I'm working with a couple of household name artists. I can't really say any more than that. To get some really big vocals on some more James Hype tracks moving forward and there's a few more remixes in the pipeline dropping very soon.

Original article by James Dinh at iHeartRadio