One of the most active profiles on Play.fm is run by the label GOGO Music, with an archive that has just recently passed the mark of 500 mix shows – each one with an hour of high-quality House music, the authentic, soulful kind of. Reason enough to have a little chit-chat with label owner Ralf GUM about the label, the show and some insight into House Music in South Africa, where he currently resides…
You’ve been hosting the label GOGO Music since 2001, with none less than 80 releases by now. Furthermore, you’ve been hosting a weekly radio show with the same name for years. How would you describe the musical concept to someone who isn’t familiar with GOGO Music yet?
Compared to many other labels, 80 releases in nearly 15 years are not that much. However, at GOGO Music, quality comes before quantity, which goes for all our activities. The main focus clearly is on the music label, which serves a platform for premium House Music and innovative artists of that genre. All further activities, like our booking agency B-King.org, our ‘GOGO Music Night’ events or the weekly radio show, pursue the same focus. GOGO Music is a brand with the mission to enrich the world with good deep and soulful House Music and related styles. We want to offer fans of the label an all-round package containing music releases, DJ mixes, events and more.
Besides being played on a number of radio stations worldwide, the show has been hosted on Play.fm for a long time and still is, hundreds of previous shows can be listened to on our site. What do you like about Play.fm generally and about the new website in particular?
Shortly after launching the radio show in 2003, I started uploading it to Play.fm. One of the main reasons was the option to embed a widget with all streams into our own website with only a few steps. Ever since, we’ve remained faithful to Play.fm and are satisfied with the current site update. The new design is fancy and fits into the year 2015. Also, it’s really user-friendly and the new widget – which we have also embedded into www.GOGO-Music.net of course – works like a charm and finally on mobile-phones, too.
Three years ago, you’ve moved the centre of your life from the Bavarian region of Unterfranken to Pretoria in South Africa three years ago. How did that come?
My sound as a DJ has always been deep and soulful, and when being booked to South Africa for the first time in 2008, a whole new world opened up for me. Whereas I only felt understood musically by a small group in my native country – as House Music with soul is unfortunately only a niche market – I’ve been invited to a country with a natural appreciation for that sound. In South Africa, House is not only hip within the club-scene. It’s generally amongst the most popular musical genres. Throughout the following years, I’ve been touring South Africa regularly and, sometimes, got booked every second month. My wife, who has accompanied me along some of the tours, and I fell in love with the country, the people and the gorgeous nature. Along with a brilliant music scene, those were enough reasons to finally dare and relocate in 2012. We’ve not regretted that decision for a second since then.
Currently, the GOGO Music show is hosted by you and the Djs MAQman, Themba and Sir LSG in rotation. What can you tell us about them?
When I started the radio show in 2003, I mixed it myself every week. Eventually, as my other activities got more and more, it became too time consuming, so I suggested to other label artists to mix it in rotation. Besides the time savings for myself, other Djs and producers who release on GOGO Music should get the chance to represent their sound. Sir LSG is, in my view, one of the most talented up-and-coming artists in Soulful House and is currently, after a few successful single releases and remixes, working on his debut album. Themba is an established South African DJ, who has been helping out at the GOGO office throughout the last two years and, since 2015, is also responsible for our booking agency. MAQman is not from South Africa though, but from Vietnam. He has had two releases on our label so far with more to follow soon.
What can we imagine the music and club scene in Pretoria and South Africa in general like? What Djs and clubs should we keep an eye on?
The main difference to the European music scene is a deep love for rhythm and soul of people throughout the whole population. In clubs you’ll find all variations of electronic which are popular in other parts of the world, too. Yet, the balance is a completely different one. There are comparatively small scenes for Techno, Electro or Tech House, whereas Soulful and Deep House (real Deep House) are dominating. However, in South Africa, House Music is not only club music, but an integral part of everyday life. No matter if you go to a super market, get into a taxi, turn on the radio or watch music shows on TV, you will hear some House. Artists like Masters At Work, Atjazz, Rocco or Monique Bingham are considered superstars and get played on many major radio stations. A Deep House track within the top 10 of the official charts is not uncommon, and in 2012, I even charted number one with „Take Me To My Love“. The popularity of the genre has inspired a lot of local producers to produce House beats and brought up a lot of true talents. Besides the worldwide renowned South African Djs like Black Coffee or Culoe De Song, you shall keep an eye on Sir LSG, Da Capo, Jullian Gomes, Roque, Nativeroots, Chymamusic, Deep Xcape or Rune, just to name a few.
As mentioned before, you’re not only active as a DJ, label boss and radio host, but above all as a music producer. During your career so far, you’ve collaborated with illustrious artists like Robert Owens, Inaya Day, Monique Bingham or – on your album „In The City“ from last year – Hugh Masekela. Which collaborations have been stuck in your memory especially? And is there anyone particular you’d love to share your studio with in the future?
Hugh Masekela was for sure one of the biggest, if not the biggest feature in my career so far. I’ll always keep the studio experience with him in memory. However, I don’t like to highlight any certain collaboration. Basically, I only release what I’m 100% satisfied with, thus, every collaborative project that sees the light of day is something special to me. Of course, there are always further artists I’d love to work with. Besides the usual suspects within the House scene, I find it very interesting to collaborate with artists from other genres. Jill Scott, Chaka Khan or Kem are singers that I dig, but there are less established artists I’d feel working with as well. At the end of the day, the result is more important than the name on the record.
Speaking about future plans – what are the plans for GOGO Music in the upcoming weeks and months? A few weeks ago, the radio show celebrated it’s 500th edition – will we still be able to witness the 1000th one as well?
We’ll release a „Best of GOGO Music“ double mix album in early 2016. Until then, we will probably have a few more single releases. As mentioned before, Sir LSG’s debut album is also scheduled next year, if it gets finished till then, as we don’t like to set deadlines on creative work. Furthermore, we’re currently working harder on our ‘GOGO Music Nights’ concept, with the goal to bring the sound our artists to the clubs even more and in it’s purest form. ‘GOGO Music Nights’ have been taking place in a few hand-picked clubs in South Africa throughout the last months, and in 2016, we intend to start touring internationally. The radio show, of course, will keep going on a weekly basis. If we will reach the 1000th show is written in the stars – however, as I don’t see any reason to change the concept of the label and the according activities, chances are good that we will be able to reach this milestone.
Got some 21 days of time and no need for sleep? Then you might just go ahead and take the full tour through the wonderful world of GOGO Music shows right here – otherwise, simply dig your way through those 500+ GOGO Music Shows (each one is a sure shot) and be sure to follow their profile for even more House Music pleasure up to come!