Arguably the hottest property in the UK garage revival and one of the fastest rising stars in dance music, full stop, it’s a wonder Sammy Virji still has time to put out new tunes.
Having wrapped up an Australia-New Zealand tour before the end of last year, the British producer is now spinning his way through 15 dates across North America. Meanwhile, the accolades keep piling on from the likes of major industry institutions such as Spotify, BBC Radio 1, Soundcloud, and Rinse FM.
Despite the whirlwind, Virji has blessed his over 2.1 million monthly listeners (at least, according to Spotify) with new material in the form of ‘Moonlight’, his latest single that dropped on January 19 via London’s Positiva Records. With much of Virji’s recent catalogue centring around big, vocal-led tracks (such as 2023’s ‘Shella Verse’ featuring Flowdan), ‘Moonlight’ hooks in the listener with harmony and atmosphere. Luscious chords form the backbone of this track, channeled through synths, pads, and jazzy keys.
That’s not to say that there aren’t any vocal elements — this is a Virji tune, after all. Vocal samples run through ‘Moonlight’ but they are used more as melodic and rhythmic devices, continuously looping in the drops, for example. Only in the breakdown do we get any discernible words with the vocals sweetly declaring that the “stars align”. A poignant choice of words, considering how the producer’s career has taken off in the past couple of years.
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Another thing that caught our notice is that Virji used an age-old pop production trick in ‘Moonlight’ where, after the breakdown, the key of the track shifts up by one semitone. Right out of the mainstream pop playbook, pitching up after breakdowns is a tried-and-tested technique that has been used in countless hits, such as ‘I Will Always Love You’ and ‘My Heart Will Go On’.
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Its effectiveness lies in its ability to make a song feel more urgent and revitalised without changing any other elements, and it’s another subtle way that Virji is telling us he knows exactly what he’s doing.
Listen to 'Moonlight' below.
Mengzy is Mixmag Asia’s Music Culture Columnist, follow her on Instagram.