To get you, Sunday People, amped for We House Sundays 4th birthday celebrations, we took the time to get to know more about the man behind the music. We also highlight the launch of his highly anticipated album, ‘Progressions’.
Ralf Gum, originally from a small town in the South of Germany, called Würzburg, is a much-loved DJ and Producer. He inevitably moved to Centurion, South Africa which he fondly calls home. Taking a moment to recall how he first became introduced to music, he says, “Music was like a calling (as a teenager). It started with collecting records, preferably of the obscure nature and not what one heard on the radio.” Visits to New York – in the early nineties – is what made him a House Music fanatic as the moving sounds of early funk, electronics, disco, techno and house music attracted him to the underground movement. Ralf Gum was able to progress from Djing to music production through a friend who had a home studio. “I used the opportunity to be there as much as I was able to. And started saving up and buying my equipment. It was like a drug that was drawing me in and still is.”
If you’re a House Music fan in South Africa, chances are Ralf Gum’s tracks accompanies many fond memories and dancefloor moments. Whether it’s a backyard party or a We House Sundays event, legendary tracks such as ‘Take Me To My Love’ always takes the atmosphere to another dimension. The love for this man and his music transcends all social barriers. He says, “I am forever grateful to be accepted in the Motherland and being able to feel at home here.” He lists Vinny Da Vinci, DJ Christos, Leighton Moody and Erefaan Pearce amongst some of his favourite South African DJs. He fondly says, “It often still is the legends and established DJs who play my favourite sets.” He also believes there is great talent amongst the younger generation, “Chymamusique and Sir LSG consistently push quality sounds.”
Ralf Gum is known for creating House Music classics. ‘Kissing Strangers’ and ‘Free (Is All I Wanna Be)’ are just a taste of what the DJ and producer has delivered. He says, “I usually have a certain feeling about the songs, that’s why they are chosen as singles, but of course there’s no guarantee.” He ultimately acknowledges that as a music artist, you can only create something as good as possible and how you feel it at the time, “then it is up to other people to decide if it becomes a classic (if they feel it too).” Through his music, Ralf Gum can express various human emotions and what it feels like to vulnerably awaken one’s conscience. A feeling of connectedness overcomes the listener and somewhat feels like it is intentional. “This is what well performed and good lyrical content naturally should do. My aim was always to present great songwriting within the Soulful House genre.” Ralf Gum eloquently proclaims, “Life is about emotions and I want them to be reflected in my music.” He tries to collaborate with vocalists he regards as great writers and takes influence from the lyrical content where possible. “If the music and vocals awaken consciousness, my job was well done. It is the ultimate goal.”
The much-awaited album, ‘Progressions’, is the latest offering from the DJ and producer. The creative process of ‘Progressions’ is a sonic journey of Ralf Gum’s personal evolution as a Music Producer. “Initially, I wanted to make an album aimed straight at the dancefloor, still soulful but with a rather minimal approach.” The album offers many formulas of the Soulful House genre which is gladly welcomed by the House Music community. “During the production process, the music became more complex and most songs lost their initial minimal approach, as my natural desire for music kicked in. Finally, ‘Progressions’ became a hybrid of all the aforementioned and I am quite proud of how it sounds.” The album includes collaborations with music titans such as Mafikizolo, Portia Monique, Joseph Junior and Monique Bingham. Ralf Gum is known for carefully selecting vocalists for his music projects as seen with ‘Progressions’. He says, “Messages in music are important to me. When selecting (vocalists), I consider their writing as much as their voice, tone and intonation.” It is no small feat to be able to produce such an album with such diverse artists. The mere existence of ‘Progressions’ proves what beautiful creations can happen when artists from all walks of life come together. “The first notes were laid down four years ago, but it was not an uninterrupted process. Every vocalist and musician involved in the project has his/her usual day-to-day things, so it took a while until everything was together. But there was amazing input from everybody, and it definitely was worth the wait.”
Ralf Gum is quite familiar with the We House Sundays event and the unique vibe the monthly Sunday party creates. “Probably every House Music lover in the country heard about We House Sundays, and honestly, I don’t know why it had to take four years until I was allowed to come.” The 3rd of March will surely be a day of immense dancefloor emotion. “I am very much looking forward to it especially as it is on your anniversary and (performing) together with Monique”, he says. Yes, the inclusion of Monique Bingham has Sunday People consumed with excitement for WHS birthday celebration at Rhebokskloof Wine Estate. According to the man himself, all those in attendance can expect some uplifting soulful vibes. “I will probably play some excerpts from ‘Progressions’, and I am excited to perform ‘Claudette’, the new tune with Monique, live.” Sunday People, get ready for the happy tears and goosebumps, it’s going to be a special one!