- Words Aimee Phillips
- Photography Baluga Media
Joel Corry and MNEK chat about their UK No.1 hit collaboration, "Head & Heart", how it came together in lockdown, and whether they'll release another song in the future.
Following on from his chart-smashing bangers, “Lonely” and “Sorry”, DJ and producer Joel Corry has teamed up with singer-songwriter-producer powerhouse MNEK on new made-for-the-club track, “Head & Heart”. Not only has it accrued tens of millions of streams, but the song has also become a No.1 record in the UK – a first for both Joel and MNEK.
The music video is as watchable as the song is catchy. In it, two very different lives of the same person are shown. On one side, the character lives a pretty bleak existence, from getting bullied at school to ignored at work, he faces dejection at every turn in his life. On the right-hand side of the screen, he’s been winning at life all the way through, and the vibrant visuals mirror this. Joel and MNEK appear sporadically throughout, dancing and singing along to the catchy tune. There’s a surprise twist at the end, but we won’t spoil it for you, you’ll have to watch the video for yourself…
When we speak over Zoom, Joel is giving me a virtual tour of his home studio, including the green screen he uses for live streams. “I could put a beach there… my DJ visuals. It’s kinda cool,” he grins. “I did a Livestream for Kiss FM – I was meant to be DJing in Marbella that night – and we put a Sisu Beach Party Marbella background on it.” He turns wistful as he mentions how he’s longing to “get back out there, man” and start playing live again. What he’s looking forward to most is performing “Head & Heart” live with MNEK. Corry had an Ibiza residency planned for this summer and had hoped to bring MNEK out to perform. “I’ll always aim to make him part of my live set. I do it with anyone I work with. I aim to try and incorporate them into my sets,” he explains. “It will definitely be a moment when we do it! When we get to do it live in front of a big crowd it’s gonna be the best thing ever!”
Corry’s happy-go-lucky energy is infectious; he doesn’t stop smiling throughout the whole conversation, and you can see that behind his knack for creating chart-topping tunes is a real love of collaboration. “Head & Heart” was made during the early stages of lockdown, so Corry and MNEK worked completely digitally throughout the process, messaging back and forth constantly with ideas and adaptions. Whilst DJs and producers around the world have been working virtually with musicians for years, it’s not often that they come out of the process as genuine friends, rather than just collaborators. That’s what Joel Corry and MNEK seem to be – and it’s clear from the way they praise each other sincerely and joke around comfortably, making sure the other has an opinion and the space to speak.
We got Joel Corry and MNEK on Zoom for a candid conversation following the release of “Head & Heart”. They filled us in on the song’s creation process, why they connected with it so much, and whether they’ll collab again in the future. Dive in below!
MNEK, I was just saying to Joel that you’ve got this amazing song but it’s such a shame that you can’t perform it live yet!
MNEK: I know! And I’m really excited for the day we can do the song live, Joel. That will be such a great night. Whatever medium that is, I can’t wait to sing it live. I’m still yet to sing it live except for the music video.
How did the collaboration for “Head & Heart” come about?
Joel: I was working on the track last year and at the time, I was launching my single “Lonely” before, so I couldn’t really get my head fully into it. I had this demo and I just knew this track was special. I totally connected with it. Once I got “Lonely” out at the beginning of the year, I started to have the headspace to work on it [“Head & Heart”]. It was far from finished, I knew it needed a new vocal, it needed new parts written. The demo got into MNEK’s hands, thank God [he chuckles]. He messaged me, said he loved the record as well, which meant a lot to me. I’ve been a big fan of MNEK’s for years so when he hit me up, I was like, gheez! He was into re-vocaling the track and he wrote the parts it needed. He was the missing piece of the puzzle. He brought it all together. He sent me his bits and I was blown away by it. I couldn’t be happier with how it’s come out, it’s amazing.
MNEK: I did my bits the day after I heard the song. I had nothing else to do so I was like, let’s go and do that. I did it and sent the parts. To finish the record, me and Joel were WhatsApping each other back and forth about changes on the song constantly – like daily! About can we put this bit back in, can we take this one out, do you lie the synth part added… it was very much that via WhatsApp. It was cool to go back and forth in that way. We were both so excited about the song and it coming out. Obviously, we couldn’t be in the same room, but it was nice for Joel to keep me in the loop with everything that was going on with the song because he could have easily kept me out of it but he respected that I care about everything, and I loved this song as well. It was both of us really excited about it.
Joel: The whole way I wanted MNEK’s input and as he said, I was probably doing his head in on WhatsApp with all my OCD ways.
MNEK: I was totally with it [laughs]!
Joel: It was great working together to finish the track. Even on WhatsApp, we got it done, man.
Will you collab again in the future?
Joel: As a DJ, I will always, always try to make MNEK part of my big shows, my sets. That’s something I really wanna do and I can’t wait for the day that we can do that together, even if it’s not until next year when the big festivals and big Ibiza shows next summer come around. The first thing I’m gonna wanna do is get MNEK involved so we can have those moments together, because I know it’s gonna be like absolutely mental when we’re doing that on stage.
MNEK: Yeah! I’m really, really looking forward to it myself. It’s been a while since I’ve been on stage. The song is doing its thing and it’s really exciting to have a song that everyone’s knowing. It will be exciting to sing that amongst people, and at this point they’ll know it. I’ll be a thing. It’ll be a fun party each time.
Joel: I think it’s a big singalong track as well. I can see it absolutely going off at a festival!
Did you set any goals for yourselves before making the track? Or did you let the song take its natural course?
MNEK: I dunno. I feel like everything that happened with the song and the process; it was really smooth. It felt like whatever happened, we were saying that this is a great song and we really wanna put it out. When it came into my hands – because Joel’s lived with it much longer than I have – I was just like, wow, this is a great song. I rarely ever sing a song that I haven’t been at the conception of. But the second I heard it, like Joel, I heard something about it, and I was really excited to sing it. All I thought was that this is a smash and everything else after that is subjective.
Joel: This track was just special to me. Out of all the tracks I’ve released, it’s the one that’s felt most like me, if that makes sense. I was totally connected with it. It just feels like such a ‘me’ track and I just wanted to get it out! I wasn’t really thinking about the success of the record, I just loved it that much and was proud to have it out. Obviously, everything else that comes from it is just a massive bonus. It’s just been so amazing to see it connect with people over the last few weeks.
What do you hope people will take away from this song?
Joel: The first thing for me is that the song feels very positive and good vibes. I feel like this year has been pretty rough, so the first thing that I want people to take away from it is just to have something that feels like a special song for the summer; something that’s gonna lift their spirits and be the soundtrack to a lot of people’s garden parties. For people just to connect with and have good memories from this record. Also, I think there’s definitely real meaning behind the record. I love the idea of the conflict between your head and your heart. It’s something that everyone can relate to. Also the music video – wow. I just feel like that means a lot as well. People watching that can take away a message of how they look at lives in the perspective of the glass being half full rather than half empty. That positive outlook on life, I think that’s important.
MNEK: I think to add to that, it’s that classic thing that everyone is feeling. At some point when it comes to relationships and love, that’s what music has always been, and this is an extension of that. It’s brought me and Joel together and people are really enjoying it. This is a unique time to release music, but it’s a nice time to release music because it’s lifting people’s spirits when a lot of things outside aren’t lifting the spirit. And it’s lifted our spirits – being a part of it, making it, releasing it and promoting it, and doing things like this where we get to talk about the process behind it. It doesn’t have to be so deep. Not everything has to have a deeper meaning. We’re both here to be a part of feelgood music and I think that’s what we’ve achieved.
Would you be open to creating another song together in the future?
Joel: Oh definitely. It was great to get to know MNEK. 100% we’ll be back in the studio together. I would love that. MNEK is an amazing songwriter. I can’t wait to get into that process with him. And next time we’ll actually be in the room together [laughs].
MNEK: We will. That will be great. I’ve only just started going back into the studio so it’s nice to be doing that and getting my creative juices going, getting into the writing spirit!