King of all things deep and tribal is Merecumbe Recordings’ Doug Gomez who makes his UK debut for Househead LDN at their festive That Perfect Beat on Saturday December 9th at Aures in Waterloo.
Whether it be remixing Kerri Chandler’s “Ye Yo Ma” or releasing deep grooves on his rising label, Doug’s Colombian roots and love of drums infuse his house grooves he affectionately calls “That New York sound”, a mix of organic, soulful music, combined with Afro-Latin rhythms. Recent releases for Doug include his “Puro” album on Nervous, which is up for Grammy Consideration, and his deep house, “Cypher Girl EP”, which hit #1 with the cut “Baby Powda” on the Deep House Chart on Traxsource.com.
Hey Doug, it’s great to catch up with you and understand you’re speaking to us from your home in Costa Rica? Such a different vibe from your original home town New York, and when and what inspired you to make the move?
Yes, you can say that again – we went from the concrete jungle to the actual jungle. My property has palm trees, 3 types of monkeys come through daily, venomous & non venomous snakes, and just about every critter on 4 legs. We made the move after we visited family back in 2008, and my wife fell in love with the place. She put it out to the universe that she wanted to move here, and here we are 9 years later. Time flies.
As you reminded me our paths crossed when you were working at Wacko Records, best known for its incredible track “Love Commandments” by Giselle Jackson, and how did you first get into the music industry and who and what were your early inspirations?
Well I was a DJ first for many years, and I always wanted to break into the music industry. I saw an ad I believe in the Village Voice seeking interns for a record label back in 1994 so, I jumped at the opportunity. I went to the interview and guess who opened the door? None other than Tedd Patterson. I was hired along with another DJ that day. I worked for the label from 1994 to 2005, moving up to Promotions & A&R to label manager. I must say, they were the most amazing 10 years of my life. While I learned everything about the music industry, I met so many people, artists, DJ’s, and the WMC was at its peak! So much fun.
What was the first House record you ever heard and who clued you up to House music and when?
The first records I bought consisted of early hip hop and freestyle records. The freestyle records started having “house mixes” so that opened my eyes to a whole new sound. But, the first real house record I heard was “Jack Your Body” by JM Silk. I bought that JM Silk album “Hold On To Your Dream” in 1987 because by then, the 12″ was hard to come by. The one record that I loved even more from the album was “I Can’t turn around” (House in Eb Minor). I never heard strings like that on a track and then it went into the vocal. WOW, I immediately fell in love with House Music. The energy and pianos took me to another place.
Any classic NYC house music stories of clubbing, big records, classic moments you can share with us and what’s your favourite memory and tune of that time? Are you also still in contact with any of the artists who you collaborated with back in the day? Any special friendships stretching across the years?
Wow, I’ve got a ton of memories from back in the day, some good ones and, well, a few that involved some not-so-great decisions, haha. Here’s a story about a friendship that’s still going till this day. So, back in ’96, producer/DJ Wil Milton who used to swing by the label and drop off demo tapes asked me, “Have you been to Body and Soul?” I was like, “Nope, what is it?” And explains that it’s this new Sunday tea party, and I should definitely check it out. The resident DJs are Claussell, Krivit, and Kevorkian. I couldn’t resist, so I had to check it out.
Now, mind you, this party used to kick off at around 11am in the morning, way before they shifted it to later hours. I think they wanted to capture the crowd that was spilling over from the Saturday Shelter party. So, my friend and I roll up at around noon, and there’s no one there. They had some opening DJ spinning tunes, so we figured we’d go grab some lunch and swing back later.
When we return, the place is starting to fill up, and let me tell you, it turned into one hell of an experience. Aside from the amazing sound system and the space that housed the Shelter party for many years, the energy and vibes were something else. I’m happy and thankful that I got to be a part of this legendary party right from the early days. It also turned me on to one of my favourite producers and DJs to this day, Joe Claussell.
You mentioned “Love Commandments” by Gisele Jackson, and man, I still remember putting together 25 promos, from labels to packaging to shipping them directly to the top DJs in the UK in the hopes of hitting the DJ Chart in DJ Mag and DMC Update magazine. On the next issue, low and behold it charted! Whew, I was so proud of myself ha!
From label manager to being a fully fledged DJ, artist and label head of Merecumbe Records, what inspires and informs your creativity in regards to your output?
I think the output from my peers and producers I look up to. So much music comes out on a weekly basis, and unfortunately lots of great music gets lost in the mix. So, as DJs & Producers, we need to dig for those tunes, and when we find them, it takes us to another level.
What was the very first track you worked on and was it in a professional studio or someone’s home, and who with?
The first track I worked on was with my then partner at his house lab. We formed a short lived nu disco outfit called Drrtyhaze. Our first 3 tracks got signed to Tirk in the UK and we were ecstatic! We went on to have some success even doing an album. I learned a lot from those early lab sessions.
What is your most memorable studio session and who was it with and where was it and and which track felt the most exciting while in the process of making it ?
When my then partner and I collaborated on our first tracks that eventually got signed, we were so excited. We said, hey, maybe we have something here! In the mid to late 2000’s, I used to hit his East Village apartment, in a 5 floor walk up a couple times a week. This was both our first experiences working with someone and on a newish music genre. For me, It was my first time learning how to produce and how to use a DAW, and plugins. Back then, the Nu Disco sound was exploding thanks to acts and labels like Metro Area and DFA.
Our different backgrounds, influences and mix of ideas while we banged our heads together to come up with tracks was such a meaningful and learning experience. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Maybe you’ll see our life story on VH1 behind the music haha.
You’ve worked with lots of different artists on Merecumbe including Jabzz Dimitri, Korie Minors, Pietro Nicosia and many other talents and what have been the pivotal moments for the label?
I hear all the time how the label is loved and respected by many in the industry and those trying to break in as producers. It all started with my deal with Traxsource, and then later MN2S, solidifying a strong presence and distribution in the industry.
You’re heading up Househead LDN’s festive event alongside Mark Francis on Saturday December 9th and am I right in thinking this is your debut Ldn show? What are you most looking forward to about this show and for those that haven’t heard you play before can you describe what your style and musical set might encompass?
Correct, this is my first time playing in London and I’m so looking forward to it! Over the years, I’ve received so many messages and emails about when am I coming to the UK to play, Well, it finally has come to fruition! I look forward to creating a vibe, from afro latin rhythms to soulful house and some odd stuff in between. I bring my influences throughout the years from partying and DJing in New York City.
How many and which countries has House music taken you to and what have been your highlights to date?
I’ve been around the block to quite a few places but a couple of my most recent memories were Mi Casa in Tulum, Mexico and the House Music Festival in Newark New Jersey. Playing for hardcore, House dancers and music heads is a real test for House DJs. Newark doesn’t play, they already have such a rich house music history and amazing DJ’s. You really gotta bring it!
2023 sees you busier than ever and talk us through your year so far in terms of tracks and highlights, as I understand your “Puro” album on Nervous is being considered for a Grammy Nomination?
Yes, what an amazing year thus far. To have my album not only on double pack wax but on one of house music’s longest running and respected labels, Nervous Records, was a huge highlight of my career. Seeing it supported by so many producers and DJs I look up to makes it even sweeter. The icing would be winning a Grammy, but being considered and hopefully nominated is a huge accomplishment in itself!
I also decided to jump back into the Deep House Genre with my latest EP,’ Cypher Girl’. I was quite surprised at the amazing feedback and the main track even hit #1 on the deep house chart on traxsource.com and it’s still in the Top Ten. So you’ll definitely see more Deep House coming from me but of course, more of my afro/latin rhythms. Ending the year with a bang in London this December with the Househead LDN crew, wow, what can I say? Big shout out to Lee and the crew for bringing me out. Look forward to banging it out with my brother Mark Francis!
Househead presents…That Perfect Beat with Doug Gomez & Mark Francis on Saturday, December 9th 2023 at Aures, 18 Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Flanked by resident DJs Rap Saunders, Lee Coffey, tickets available at…