Ralf & Monique – the first track you guys did together “Kissing Strangers” was the best selling track on Traxsource in 2008. Tell us a bit about the song and the pressure behind making this follow up?
Monique: Of course if you've released a tune that's been received well you don't want follow it up with a piece of crap. But I can't say I felt any extra pressure because of the success with "Kissing." Ralf and I both understand where the other is coming from. So I approached this one the same way that I approach every tune. Work on it until it's done. When you love it, it's done.
Ralf: There have been two sides for me. As an artist my aim is to produce cool music. Sales do not count when I work in the studio and I don't care about commercial aspects. I have to feel the music I produce. Monique and I have been content with 'Little W. 12th St.' when it was done and that was the most important thing from my artist point of view. As a label-owner I was aware of the fact that “Kissing Strangers” was one of the key-releases for the label and knew that people expect a slammin' follow up, if there will come one. So I felt a bit of pressure in the morning and none at night…;-)
Monique – There is an interesting story behind the new release "Little W. 12th St."…care to share a bit?
Well I suppose it's kind of silly to try to be discreet about something after you've written a song about it. But there's no law against being silly so I won't comment in detail. But I will say that the tune was written about a complete miscarriage of justice! As well as in solidarity with the millions of hard working and otherwise law abiding folks who have had their lives disrupted by the ill-conceived American war on drugs.
Ralf – Your label has been around for some years now. How have you adapted to the new ways of the Music Business and what do you think the future has in store?
The changes in the last few years have been drastic. When I started GOGO Music, the digital age with downloading hasn't even started yet and I only released physical. Like it or not, nowadays the download became much more important than the physical sales. This entailed lots of changes, but as well lots of chances for labels with it, as for example the way of marketing changed to a cheaper way. The internet is the most important marketing tool today and you can reach many people rather easy. The investment for a release got way cheaper, too, but because of this we now have unfortunately a market flooded with mediocre and poor quality music, which makes it more difficult to stand out of the rest. I always believed that the quality of releases can't get lower just because the present offers possibilities for quick productions and the product-cycles got shorter. Thus I did not change too much and did not release anything that I wouldn't have released on 12inch as well. In the near future ring-tones probably will get a more important income source as well in our scene, but I am not sure what surprises the future in long term will bring us. I just try to be observant to react on the changes.
Ralf – Where did the name GOGO come from?
The name has no deeper meaning. When I was searching for a label-name it was a coincidence that I saw this little funny car from the 70ies called 'Gogo Mobile' passing by. I thought GOGO Music sounds good and is memorable.
Monique – You're considered one of House Music Diva's providing us with many classics over the years. What do you think of the current state of house music?
I don't know if the title of House Music Diva is completely accurate but ok. As far as the current state of house music, people can and should do whatever the hell they want. So long as it's what they really want. That said I do find the trend away from instrumentation and full on songs slightly disturbing. I like human beings and I like hearing real musical ideas that don't need to be in a certain context to make sense or sound good. I don't want to hear how well someone has learned to manipulate software. Although the trends are also a direct result of the economic black hole that making independently produced music has become. I'm sure if people made "enough" money on a release to pay a horn player you'd hear more horn players. If people made “enough” money on a record to spend this much on a real conga player and that much on a real songwriter and that much on a real singer the state of house music would be different. All music would be different. The trends are a response to the very real environment those of us charged to make this music are in. As well as what all of our definitions of “enough” are.
Monique - What first drew you to House Music and singing in general?
Music has just been part of me from childhood. Who knows why. The draw to house specifically happened before I ever made a record. I was drawn to the parties even more than the music. People were there for an experience and the music was actually promoting peace and fairness and inclusion. So I dug and still do dig that. And I am proud to be associated with a movement built on that kind of bedrock. But I also love instruments and watching people who can play well do their thing. So eventually I started going where the musicians were. And they weren't really at the house parties I knew about. So I kind of left that scene and it found me again when I started recording. And when Matty Heilbronn remixed the down tempo Abstract Truth tune "We Had a thing" that was it. The DJ/producers started calling me. And I've been trying to carve out my little niche in this scene ever since.
Monique – Are you touring at all now or hangin in the studio?
I'm always touring and I'm ALWAYS in the studio. I have no life. These gotdam people have no effing idea what hell we go through so they can dance to a record for 8 minutes.
Ralf – What country or city do you like to play in the most?
I really enjoy playing in South Africa, as they have an amazing house scene. It's probably the best for soulful house worldwide now. I am lucky that I am well promoted by my agency there and only had great gigs in SA so far. As well I am looking forward to play more regularly at Atlantis in Basel (Switzerland) from now on, after it was big fun to play there on DJ Le Roi's birthday party last month. But I had good experiences in many countries. As soon as you have enough dedicated people in a room with a good sound-system, the best party can be everywhere.
Ralf – ADE, MIAMI, or IBIZA?
Everyone of them has some advantages and none of them is a must for me. The main reason for conferences is logically to meet people, but you can reach everybody on other ways, too. If I really have to prefer a specific one, it would be ADE to date. It is probably the best one to combine business and party. Miami is good to meet a lot of people especially from the US-scene and offers compared to ADE better weather and the beach. If you have enough time you should combine your trip to Ibiza with a holiday and check out the beautiful island as well. To break a record none of the fore mentioned is necessary anymore. The times of the “Miami-Hit” or “Ibiza-Hit” are over, at least in my opinion.
Ralf - how would you describe your sound and has it changed from when you started out?
It is natural that the sound of a producer changes a bit over the years, as you hopefully never stop to improve yourself and simply as technology develops, too. When I started to produce I worked with an Atari computer and a six track tape recorder which ran out of synch steadily. Something like plug-ins has been an unknown thing and more has been done analogue. Of course everybody is influenced a bit by the current sound other of producers, too and I am no exception to that. But my musical style itself hasn't changed. I started with soulful house and this is where I am today. I always stayed true to what I really like and it is nice to see the fruits of the consistent work now.
Monique – What can we look out for from Monique Bingham?
I haven't a clue. I have been talking about this damn album I've been recording for like 3 years. I've got enough $hit for a triple album but now I'm not even sure that a traditional album even makes sense in the 21st century. Not to mention there are a billion things I've recorded with other people that are sitting on shelves all over the globe waiting to be released at any time. Maybe even simultaneously. Who knows. I have no control over that. Such is the reality of making house in this day and age. So your guess is as good as mine.
Ralf – What can we look out for from Ralf GUM and GOGO Music?
I probably will release 3 more singles and a mix-compilation in 2009 on GOGO Music. 2 of the singles will be by me. One is with Inaya Day and the other one with Kafele, who is known since his great 'Above the sky' that he did with 'Andy Compton' for my label. The third one will be by Bucie, who is the vocalist of the 'Turn me on' record with Black Coffee. The forthcoming DJ mix was done by DJ Christos. He did a CD containing GOGO Music releases especially for the South African market that just was released down there. I will release it here on Traxsource soon as well, to make it available for the rest of the world. As well I just finished some remixes that aren't out so far, but should come soon. I can't tell you the exact release-dates, but I reworked a new 'Dutchian Soul' track featuring 'Andrea Love' for Panevino Music, 'Better' by 'Dance Culture feat. Kenny Bobien' coming as Part 2 on Qalomota, 'Everyday' by 'Held and Esposito' for 2Delicious and probably some more I forgot now to mention...
Monique & Ralf: Tell us something we don't know about you :)
Monique: I've had sexual fantasies about my president. And if that's wrong damn it I don't want to be right..
Ralf: My left ear always itches.
Check out Ralf GUM & Monique Bingham "Little W 12th St" on GOGO Music