you can't have just a little GRACE  

Dominique Atkins brings a breathy freshness to the cynical old world of bpms. She is the voice behind Grace - originally the project of beatmeisters Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne, and one worth making a song and dance about... principally because it's just dance music with proper songs.

Dominique Atkins

Paul Oakenfold

Steve Osborne

This biography came from the original Perfecto website.

The Grace information was removed in 1997 and the entire Perfecto website has since been reconstructed.

Contemporary music was a dirty word until she left home. "Then I went on this complete musical adventure, heard loads of mind-blowing stuff, went home and said 'Dad! You've missed so many things..." The work of the great rock and pop songwriters infiltrated Dominique's world. "Lyrically, there were all these interesting ideas", she marvels. "There were no rules. I'd only ever known love and being spurned before. Mind you, I still tend to write like that - I suppose I'm a techno-torch singer now..."

Dominique pursued her musical goal, writing and gigging it, influenced by each successive musical revelation. "I've been a dishwasher, waitress, receptionist. And I always comforted myself that it was research for songs. I couldn't just sit in my bedroom and write."

Her compositions earned Dominique the traditional "Nice, but no market", response. Then in 1995, Oakenfold and Osborne were looking for an untarnished singer-songwriter to front their new project. They wanted Dominique to voice the original "Not Over Yet", but she was committed to a well-paid stint singing in Japan. But after their first storming single, she decided to give the project a go. "Their reputations made me feel safe about doing it," says Dominique, "because it wasn't originally my bag and it had to feel right. The dance music I've liked has generally been done without a song: it's been trancey/ambient music", she says. "What I don't like is a bad song stuck over a great backing track."

"And people said to me, "You mustn't do dance music", but I said, "How can you say that when I'm playing with the cream of the crop?" Dominique co-wrote two songs with Steve: "Skin on Skin" and "One Day" "one of those you-bastard-you-hurt-me ones" as she puts it. The producers' handling of them was further evidence that this was not to be some Eurobeat bonce-blowing sound. Then of course there's Dominique's smoky vocal - alluring, not hectoring in the classic "dance diva" sense.

"As a writer I'm a mixture of lazy and lonely", she muses. "I like writing with other people - and I'm not a great musician at all. But I try to interpret songs. People say I sound like a different singer on some songs... but it's a bit difficult to talk about it without being up your arse."

Earlier Dominique-penned efforts like "Love Song" and "You're Not Mine" also feature on a set that transcends the infectious "Not Over Yet" (now resung by Dominique) with a variety of contemporary essences, from house to jazz to techno and street soul. It's all part of Dominique's plan to arrive at an as yet unspecified musical destination.

Meantime she's enjoying leaving the engine room business to Paul and Steve. "I've never taken control of a project", she says, "and maybe I never will. What's the point of working with people if you're going to take over and not use whatever it is you wanted to work with them for? There have been lots of times I've taken a deep breath and said... where's this going to? But it is somewhat like I'd hoped."

Reassuringly, as she voyages into the musical unknown, some things remain the same. "Sunday is still vinyl day", she chuckles, "I just sit and listen to my dad's jazz collection."


1999 Genderation  Original design by Genderation
Inspired by the original cover art and design by Form
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