Celebrating 15 years of MoreHouse Records!
We had the pleasure of chatting with Evan Landes a.k.a “Groove Junkies” about his MoreHouse Records imprint which is about to celebrate its 15 Year Anniversary. MoHo’s strategy of releasing intoxicating dance grooves which are not bound by any gimmicky trends, and memorable songs that stand the test of time has paid off since their doors first opened in 2002. Each unique release can run the gamut stylistically – ranging from organic soul, funk, afro, latin, jazz and gospel drenched songs, to peak hour, deep, tribal, and electronic influenced tracks.
First of all, A huge congratulations on MoreHouse Records’ 15th Anniversary! Could you please tell us a bit more about how it all started?
Thank you very much. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since the release of our first single “Inside My Soul!” Prior to that I had been working non-stop for many years as a DJ and had some success writing and producing under various alias’ from the mid-nineties to early 2002. Songs like “Deep Side” feat. Ja’nell on One Planet under my Bass Symphony alias and “Music Is Life” feat. Mijan on Champion were a few notables that did well. Throughout this period I often fantasized about owning a label someday, but it wasn’t until I met Brian Tappert of Jazz N’ Groove / Soulfuric Recordings fame in 2002 when the dream became a reality. I had previously sent Brian some material that he was feelin’ and he wanted to meet in Miami at WMC to discuss a few options. Originally the plan was to sign over a few songs to Soulfuric, but after a lengthy chat we all collectively agreed that forming our own label would be the best path. Soulfuric just ended their distribution deal with Northcott and the timing was perfect for them to add a new dimension to their business model. When the dust settled MoreHouse Records (MoHo) was formed and we were the first label to sign a P&D deal with Soulfuric. Needless to say we were extremely fortunate to have Brian, his wife Meg, partner Marc Pomeroy and Sheldon Prince as our mentors. They opened up doors for us right out the box and we seized the opportunity by dropping a string of successful releases. Early Groove Junkies singles on MoreHouse like “Inside My Soul,” feat. Solomon Henderson, “Gonna Get By” and “Oh Lord” feat. Indeya, “Deeper” and “Sunshine” feat. Solara were a just a few that landed in the record bags of many of the biggest DJs on the planet.
Your wife Solara is also heavily involved in the label. Tell us what it’s like working as a husband / wife team?
She’s co-owner of MoreHouse, built and maintains our website, does all of the graphics and also happens to be a writer and successful recording artist! She’s the featured artist on many of our biggest selling and popular releases (most recently on a song titled “Perception” which reached the #3 slot on Traxsource’s Soulful House and Afro House charts). Her talent is in abundance and her contribution to our label is invaluable. As for working with her – it’s been a blast! We’ve put our blood, sweat and tears into our company. We’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to do what we love, touch peoples lives in a positive way with our music, travel the world and perform together and actually earn an honest living in the process. Has it all been easy? Hell no – lol! When you’re not on the same wavelength, resentments can bleed over from the professional to the personal life. It’s def not for the weak at heart and can get rough! That being said, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We here at Traxsource love MoHo’s sound! What do you think it is that keeps the label fresh after 15 years?
Again, thank you for the kind words. We’ve certainly done our best to be good Ambassadors to the global House community. We’ve also been privileged to work with a brilliant collective of singers, musicians, writers, producers and remixers who are featured throughout the MoreHouse catalogue. They have all played a significant role in defining the “MoHo Sound.” To answer the question though – I think it’s been our willingness to methodically evolve as a label and as artists. We’ve tried to keep a high standard and take the quality over quantity approach. Although the label has been a showcase for many of my Groove Junkies productions, we’ve also tried to shine light on new talent and keep a diverse balance by working with established artists as well. Artists / Producers such as DJ Spen, Richard Earnshaw, Terry Hunter, Joi Cardwell, Kiko Navarro, Michele Chiavarini, Reelsoul, DJ Memé, Ida Corr, Morten Trust (aka Soulmagic), Andy Caldwell, Marques Wyatt, Timmy Vegas, DJ Pierre, Sean Ali & Munk Julious, M.Caporale, Charles Dockins and a host of amazing singers, spoken word artists and producers (unfortunately too many to mention) have all graced our label with their talent. All of this, along with not resting on our laurels and remaining hungry has def helped to keep things fresh after 15 years.
MoHo has been 15 years in the game and was one of the first labels to be signed on with Traxsource. With well over 70+ releases, what have been your top 5 favorite releases over the years?
They all have a special place in our heart, but in no particular order Solara and I both agree that they would be two of her songs “Sunshine” and “Perception,” “Dr Feelgood” feat. Diane Carter, “Oh Lord” feat. Indeya and last but not least “Inside My Soul” feat. Solomon Henderson.
Tell us a bit about the new release “HIGHER (The Remixes) Pt.1 & Pt.2”. Who has been recruited to remix the project and why?
One of my long time collaborators Scott K. and I wrote and produced “Higher.” The idea for the song was inspired by all the drama and divisiveness which has been going on here in the States during the last Presidential election and from the all the global turmoil. There are some powerful and healing messages going on in this song. The ‘Main Mix’ which features MoHo veteran Indeya on vocals came out earlier this year. It went on to become a Top 10 hit during WMC which was a real coup. Both before and after the initial release various producers expressed interest in remixing the song. In the end we went with an eclectic group of veterans and producers on the rise – each with their own unique style and fan base. We ultimately had 5 quality remixes and decided to split it up into Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 remix packages. PT 1, which featured brilliant mixes from Marques Wyatt & Gabriel René and DJ Pierre came out on May 19th. Marques & Gabriel’s dope ‘AquaDEEP Mix’ reached #3 on the Deep House Chart in a few short days. Pierre’s mix has flown under the radar, but is sick in its own right. Don’t sleep y’all! PT 2 just dropped on June 16th and features incredible mixes from Sean Ali & Munk Julious (Sole Syndicate), M.Caporale and Master Kev & Tony Loreto (MKTL).
How have you guys been celebrating this tremendous milestone and what’s coming up next for the label?
There have been various DJ sets and ‘live’ performances here in Los Angeles with a few more planned throughout the summer. As previously mentioned “Higher (The Remixes) Pt. 2” came out June 16th and a “15 Years Of MoreHouse” compilation will land July 7th. The compilation will feature some of the most endearing titles from the MoHo vault, many of which have been digitally re-mastered. And lastly, we’ll be releasing a new Groove Junkies production featuring powerhouse diva Mijan titled “From Within” in July.
If you could have done anything different for MoHo what would it have been?
Not to sound arrogant, but we wouldn’t change a thing. We’ve experienced the highest highs and some pretty bad lows, but isn’t that what it’s all about? In hindsight it would be easy to say I’d have done this or that differently, but in reality no one has a crystal ball. And the expression “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is so true! You have to learn from mistakes to grow in business and in life. The journey that we’ve been on has been incredible. We truly feel blessed.