The music never leaves you – the German house producer unleashes a brilliant second album
Ralf welcome to DMC towers ahead of your hugely anticipated second album ‘Never Leaves You’ swinging our way on your own GOGO Music. And wow what an album. Let’s kick off with ‘So Good’ featuring Caron Wheeler, I think it’s fair to say this is the Soul II Soul star’s first ever House music song. Have you created a new dancefloor diva here?!
“Yeah, who knows. Caron made music history with her work with Soul II Soul. They were a big inspiration for me when I started tweaking my first beats. Thus I felt honoured when she said that she likes my work, too, after I approached her. Obviously and needless to say, that I am very happy that I was able to feature her. Hopefully there’s more to come from the two of us…”
Loving the vocal talents of Zimbabwean shining star Oluhle on ‘Linda’ which has already smashed the Traxsource chart, an amazing talent – why did you choose her for the African vocal on the album?
“As I relocated to South Africa a while ago, I definitely wanted to have one song in a local South African language on my album. When I did the music, Oluhle instantly came to my mind. I was playing some other songs of her during the last years and whenever she sang in Zulu it just was my cup of tea. Hence she was the logic and perfect choice for the tune. Sharing the studio with her was fantastic. She really delivered within shortest time.”
There is also another tune created with New York’s Monique Bingham with whom you recorded ‘Kissing Strangers’ with in 2008 (many people’s House record of the year) and then ‘Little W.12th Street’ after. It must have been a pleasure reuniting with her on ‘Take Me To My Love’…
“Working with Monique is always more than just a pleasure. For me she is the best lyricist in the house music scene and well written songs are very important for me. Even some people think it might “only” be dance music, there should be a message carried by the songs. So working with Monique really inspires to the max. In the meantime we became good friends and will surely continue to make music together until we’re old and grey.”
‘Fly Free’ delivers us another chance to enjoy the vocal talents of the legendary Robert Owens. When did you first meet this great man?
“Literally I only met Robert a few days ago for the first time in person. I booked him for some album launch gigs in South Africa, where he hasn’t been DJing or performing before. For the recording of “Fly Free” we did not have the possibility to be in the same studio, as our schedules didn’t allow. I sent him the playback, he wrote and recorded in his studio and sent the vocals back to me. Luckily the internet enables us nowadays to collaborate without being in the same place, even I prefer to share the room with a singer when vocals are recorded. It was great to finally meet Robert and perform on the gigs with him – he’s such a humble and relaxed person. It is fair to say that we had a really great time.”
Two great songs from NJ’s Gospel House king Kenny Bobien – that man has incredible vocal range, the sort of dude you could have made the whole album with…?
“Yes, of course. Kenny is another legend on his own, just as the above mentioned artists are. I definitely would be up to do a whole album with him, if time allows and as time goes. To have his input on the album is an honour for me, too.”
If possible, how do you compare ‘Never Leaves You’ to your debut album ‘Uniting Music’ from 2008?
“The new album is a logic continuation of where “Uniting Music” stopped. I tried to progress as an artist and producer and worked with many great musician to make sure the music is right and tight. The focus on “Never Leaves You” is even more on “songs” than on the predecessor. As I mentioned already above, in my opinion dance music is not only about a groove, but should have meaningful lyrics, too. Because of that, I tried to work with as many great vocalists as possible, which are at the same time great song-writers.”
How long has this album taken to create, you have scoured the world for some amazing talents…
“Including all the work attached to it, it took me more than 2 years.”
What is the current top 10 you are spinning?
Ralf GUM feat. Monique Bingham – Take Me To My Love – GOGO Music
Oral Dee – Destiny – Skalla Records
Glenn Underground – Forgotten Art (Music) – Strictly Jaz Unit Muzic
Greg Gauthier – Femi’s Blues – Qalomota
Joseph Junior & MAQman – No Better Love – GOGO Music
Kerri Chandler – Rain (Atjazz Remix) – Nervous
Ralf GUM feat. Oluhle – Linda – GOGO Music
HNNY – Trummor – Local Talk
Lynx – May 1988 – Kanzen Records
Groove Addixx – Faith (DJ Spinna) – Soulfuric
You admit that you had a connection with music from an early age. What’s the story there – are you from a music family?
“Even though I don’t come from a musical family and didn’t grow up in a musical surrounding, I felt a strong interest in music already as a teenager. Mainstream radio was the main source for it where I grew up, but whenever I heard a good funk, soul, jazz or disco song, I thought that it is so much better. Consequently I started to dig for more of it wherever possible. I drove to bigger towns, spent hours in record shops and literally could sit for days just to listen to new records I found. People around me never really understood why I was that crazy about collecting music, but it seems that it just was in my veins. As well I always had own ideas when I listened to music and this lead me to producing. Since then I never took lessons. What I know about music and production by now is self-taught.”
What is the record that changed your life?
“It has to be one of the mid to late 80s House records. That was the time I got into the music, which I am doing now since more than 2 decades. Maybe let’s pick “Love Can’t Turn Around” by Farley Jackmaster Funk?”
Away from soulful House music, who are the artists you are listening to at the moment?
“I am always listening to a variety of genres as there’s good music to be found in almost every one. I know that I might be a bit late with this one, but I am currently really into Gregory Porter’s stuff.”
Dead or alive, who are the 5 celebrities you would invite to a dream dinner party?
“Woody Allen to have some cranky fun, Audrey Hepburn to add some style, Johnny Depp to fathom his fascinating deepness, Megan Fox for some sexiness and Nelson Mandela to learn more about South African history and hear his version of what happened.”
Emigrating to the warmer shores of South Africa from Germany was a big move. You must have discovered some exciting musicians out there already?
“I was familiar with many artists like Simphiwe Dana and Thandiswa Mazwai before I relocated and as well knew some of those musicians which made a global career. Since I am here, I came across many others, as there are lots of talents that unfortunately did not make their well deserved international break through so far. Beyond them is for example Mi Casa, an amazing House Band who just won the SAMA awards this year. As well I had the chance to experience a lot of great musicians, but so far did not have the possibility to work with any of them. I am sure it will happen soon.”
What if anything, do you miss about living in Germany?
“Except for family, friends and a few local dishes, I have to admit that I really do not miss anything.”
What are the next release plans for GOGO?
“Just released now is the Monique Bingham song “Take Me To My Love” with remixes by Raw Artistic Soul, Louis Benedetti and the first ever remix by Ms Bingham herself. There will be some more singles taken from the album which will come up with fresh remixes during the next month. Next to this, there will be releases by young South African talent Trancemicsoul, we’re working on another Joseph Junior & MAQman song and hopefully Raw Artistic Soul will finish one of his many tracks that he has in work sooner or later.”
What has been the best event you have rocked in 2012 – Soweto must have been pretty special…
“Soweto is definitely always a happening spot, just as most other townships. That’s where the South African House scene has its roots. 2011, I played in Orlando Stadium, Soweto and it definitely was an event never to be forgotten, as it does not happen too often that crowd of almost 20000 people really gets down to strictly deep and soulful house sounds. But honestly there were many great events in this year mainly in South Africa, simply as people in the motherland literally live and breathe house music.”
And finally, what is your favourite track from the album and why?
“That’s an unfair question right here. During the working process my favourite changed a few times and now that the album is done, I can not and don’t want to pick a specific one. I just hope that there are many songs that people will enjoy.”
‘Never Leaves You’ will be released Worldwide on September 17th 2012 on GOGO Music