Ralf GUM – Biography
Ralf GUM’s music career dates back to 1990 when he started out as a DJ before establishing himself three years later as a full-on institution within the industry with own productions. Since then Ralf evolved to one of the most respected figures in the House Music scene called a role model, pioneer, innovator, legend and global House Music superstar by others, while his secret is simply to keep absolutely fervid about real music. Always staying true to his passion and attempting to enhance the genre, he is globally renowned for his exceptional productions and DJ-sets. Harmony, Soul & Groove – are the main ingredients, but just some aspects of Ralf’s distinctive deep sound.
With an instinctive feeling for the right vibe, Ralf GUM convincingly performed as a DJ all over Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South- and North America as well as Africa. From the early 90ies he had various residencies in Germany including the “Airport” (Wuerzburg), which was the living-room for his interpretation of Dance Music for more than a decade. Ralf captured the crowd with his sessions every Friday night and hosted other top artists like DJ Gregory, Martin Solveig, Lenny Fontana, Mousse T or Frankie Feliciano, to name just a few. From 2002 till 2007 Ralf held a bi-weekly event at “Studio-Lounge” (Wuerzburg) which was called “the deepest and most soulful party of Germany” by the Subculture Magazine. In addition Ralf has a tight international DJ schedule since the late 90ies, which let him travel to most corners of the globe. Ralf toured in South Africa for the first time in autumn 2008 to great response. Two extensive tours followed there in 2009, one of them coming along an invitation by DJU and the Department of Arts and Culture to the Southern African Music conference where he conducted various workshops. Since then Ralf became an annual panellist at the conference where he passes his knowledge about music-production, label business, DJ-ing and more to a multitude of aspiring talents. Furthermore he was the first German DJ who was booked in the neighbouring countries Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. In 2012 Ralf decided to emigrate from his homeland of Germany to the world’s current hot-bed for Soulful Music, South Africa, but continued to travel steadily for appearances at some of the best events around the world. These include festivals like the “Southport Weekender” (Southport, UK), “Nature One” (Germany), “Sundaze” (Jakarta, Indonesia) or “Dancevalley” (Amsterdam, Netherlands). He graced the decks at many of the best clubs around the world including “360” (Dubai, UAE), “El Devino” (Ibiza, Spain), “Amika” (Miami, USA), “The Room” (Tokyo, Japan), “ECU / Echoes” (Rimini, Italy), “Djoon” (Paris), “Garito Café” (Palma de Mallorca, Spain), “Disco” (Sao Paulo, Brasil), “Volksgarten” (Vienna, Austria), “Cocoon” (Frankfurt, Germany) and hundreds others. Solely in 2012 Ralf had almost 200 DJ gigs.
But Ralf GUM not only fascinates as the unique DJ. In equal measure Ralf GUM’s productions have helped him building up a reputation as a forward thinking tastemaker influencing countless fellows. Producing music since 1993 he worked with notable artists such as Caron Wheeler, Hugh Masekela, Omar, Beady Belle, Robert Owens, Inaya Day, Kenny Bobien, Michael Procter, Wunmi, Concha Buika or Monique Bingham. During his career he released on and remixed for industry’s top labels like Defected, Vega Records, Papa, Peppermint Jam, Tommy Boy, Compose, Knee Deep, Mn2S and major labels such as Sony Music, WEA or Urban. Already called “one of Germany’s finest” by TTR Magazine (UK) in 2005, Ralf GUM’s productions are a worldwide beloved trademark in the House Music circles and beyond. As a result Ralf’s works hit the top spot of various download-stores many times and his records can be found on rotation of major radio stations like UK’s “BBC 1”, France’s “Radio FG” or South Africa’s “Metro FM” regularly. Some of the highly acclaimed hit records of Ralf GUM are “All This Love For You”, “Complicated”, which stayed for more than a month on the #1 position of Botswana’s Yarona chart, “Fly Free”, “Little W. 12th St.” & “Free (Is All I Wanna Be)” which occupied the South African Top 100 for more than half a year.
In 2008 Ralf GUM released his long awaited debut masterpiece album titled “Uniting Music”, a continuous piece of music, seamless and blended into a luscious texture of inspired grooves. Ralf effortlessly showcased his ability to create wonderful original songs taking influences from various musical styles. With a composition which let each song intertwine with another, he was pushing the boundaries well beyond the traditional DJ mix sense. Almost seeming like one beautiful track the whole album contained it all: really pretty dreamy tracks, some grooving live sounding deals and some late night slices of hypnotic House. The album received great plaudit, as for example UK’s M8 Magazine called the CD „simply one of the best albums of the year” or the German 3Sat TV show Kulturzeit attested that “no single second of the album bores”. “Uniting Music” was released on GOGO Music and licensed to Rambling Records for Japan and to Soul Candi for South Africa. It contained “Kissing Strangers”, which was a worldwide bestseller in its genre in 2008, thus scored the number 1 in the “Top 100 Singles 2008” and the “Biggest House Track 2008” in the annual chart of the ultra-credible Traxsource download-shop.
2012 Ralf GUM released his second long-player titled “Never Leaves You” including “Take Me To My Love” which became the biggest anthem and a number 1 in South Africa’s official media charts that year. It was just one of the many highlights on the album, a sort of vocal dream team, which brought together the heavenly tonsils of Kenny Bobien, Robert Owens, Kafele, Monique Bingham and former Soul II Soul star Caron Wheeler amongst others. The long-player reached GOLD status in South Africa and was the bestselling album of the year on Traxsource. The manifold critical acclaim included UK’s leading magazine Blues & Soul Magazine saying that “in the talented hands of Ralf that team complimented rather than countered an impressive, truly soulful collection of songs and emphatically demonstrates his ability to orchestrate soul-house goodness on the grandest possible scale”, SoulM8 writing that “this is head and shoulders above the rest of what others call house music” and a warning from Soul and Jazz and Funk (UK) that “You’ll ignore it at your peril!”.
In 2014 Ralf GUM proved that he is able to follow up and surpass his own high standards at any time, as he released his noteworthy third album “In My City”. Jumping straight in on the No.1 spot on iTunes South Africa on day of release, it became one of the most celebrated albums of 2014 in the motherland and was selected as Best Dance Album of 2014 by Itunes, while media celebrated it extensively again. IDM Mag (ZA) said that “’In My City’ has almost instantly been dubbed as a classic”, DMC World (UK) acknowledged that “The German superstar brings beautiful house music to our world”, while Spirit Of House (Switzerland) noted that “what you get with ‘In My City’ is the finest in soulful house music this planet has to offer.”
Ralf GUM embarked on the development of his own record label GOGO Music in 2001. With strong ambitions and his imperturbable love for music being the driving force, GOGO Music has become Germany’s, if not one of world’s most reputable soulful house music labels. Late 2005 GOGO Music was called “one of the hottest imprints around” by Blues & Soul and Germany’s Subculture wrote that “GOGO Music is the prime German house label”. In April 2009 Chicago’s best music publication 5 Magazine stated, that “GOGO Music has become synonymous with the best Deep House produced in Europe” and 2010 UK’s SoulM8 certified that “GOGO Music is one of Germany’s best independent labels”. With his label-work Ralf has been pivotal for the international breakthrough of artists like Raw Artistic Soul or Black Coffee and the discovery of many other outstanding talents. In 2003 Ralf initiated the GOGO Music radio-show, at first as a monthly show transmitted on one internet-radio station. It rapidly became one of the most popular broadcasts within the House Music community and now airs weekly by more than 40 FM- and internet-stations around the globe, with Ralf GUM, MAQman and Themba as residents.
Next to his own productions, Ralf GUM’s hunger for new challenges let him start two further projects. “Sugar Beat” is a collaboration with Steffen Meder, which developed out of their unique live performance, an interaction between DJ and drummer. With Sugar Beat’s irresistible sound a new broken beat style was being created. After remix works for GOGO Music, the first own productions have been released on the “GOGO Music Spring Collection 06” in 2006. Together with soul-mate Ben Moss, Ralf joined forces and started “4 Ears”. Their first release “Can’t Be Without You” was signed to Canadian label Iwanai Music and immediately became a club hit.
Ralf had the pleasure to compile and mix various CD-compilations. These include “Arrival Vol. I”, a double Mix-CD together with Howard Donald (of famous pop-group “Take That”) in 2004. In the same year Ralf’s “Studio – the finest in lounge and house music” compilation was released and selected as “CD of the month” by Germany’s “Raveline” magazine in their prestigious December edition. It was followed by the first GOGO Music compilation “GO!” in February 2005, which contained highlights of the first three years label work. It was called the best compilation of the year by UK’s TTR magazine. In October 2006 the second volume “GO!!” hit the market and achieved likewise attention and success as the first edition.
Ralf GUM held his first GOGO Music Miami Winter Music Conference event in 2006. With an impressive line-up including e.g. Kenny Dixon Jr aka Moodyman, Theo Parrish, Markus Enochson, Glenn Underground plus the GOGO Music DJs, the night went down in a storm and was one of the most talked about at the conference. 2007 GOGO Music teamed up with Atal Music and Bubble Soul for a joint WMC party called “Yes Please”. It became equally celebrated and was the kick-off for further “Yes Please” events such as the critical acclaimed 2008 WMC one at Sagamore, the 2008 ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) one at Mansion and many others in destinations in Europe. Since Ralf’s move to South Africa in 2012, Ralf hosted plenty of own gigs inter alia several charity events to give back to the community.
The hallmark of Ralf’s sound is his love for jazzy harmonies coupled with wicked, typical underground beats. But the distinctive groove isn’t the only reason for Ralf’s success – his soulful sensibility shines through in all he does and helps him creating an irresistible groove every time he works in studio or the turntables. Perfectly positioned in one of the worlds most enthusiastic and inspiring music capitals, he makes music from the soul and circulates it far and wide to the various destinations which he continues to play in. Due to his successful, wide-ranging and revered work, there is no denying that Ralf GUM has established in the top-league of the most prolific dj/producers in the global House Music scene.
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