April 27, 2011 by Bryan Peace
On June 17, dentist Germanyâ€™s most iconic dance label Peppermint Jam releases â€˜The Jam Files,â€™ a very special anniversary compilation celebrating 18 years of seminal house anthems.
And a glance at the tracklisting of this triple CD aural feast reveals no less than the soundtrack to our lives: thereâ€™s Ruffneckâ€™s groove-laden, hand-clap-driven â€˜Everybody Be Somebodyâ€™; Byron Stingilyâ€™s falsetto worldwide anthem â€˜Get Upâ€™; Boris Dlugoschâ€™s masterful rework of Molokoâ€™s â€˜Sing It Backâ€™; and â€“ of course â€“ Mousse T.â€™s international breakthrough, the Ivor Novello award-winning â€˜Hornyâ€™ (albeit in two radically new versions by Radioslave & Daniel Solar & Andi De Luxe).
In addition to these classics, which form the basis of CD1, CD2, entitled â€˜Presentâ€™, features Munich-based Christian Prommerâ€™s mix of seminal anthem Boris Dlugoschâ€™s â€˜Never Enoughâ€™ (also featuring Roisin Murphy), as well as remixes of Omarâ€™s â€˜Feeling Youâ€™ and Roachfordâ€™s 2004 Mousse T. collaboration â€˜Sex Has Goneâ€™ by Henrik Schwarz and the very hip Brooklyn-based Adultnapper respectively. Donâ€™t miss, too, the Martin Buttrich remix of â€˜Funky Shitâ€™ by Matty Heilbronn, and Rebootâ€™s deep rework of the classic â€˜Cruisinâ€™ by Can 7.
And what of the Future? Well, itâ€™s clear as glass, of course: check out Peppermint Jamâ€™s singular vision on CD3, crammed as it is with dubby funk and laidback house productions from fast-rising artists like Autodeep, Peavey, Daniel Solar & Andi Deluxe, Triad, Paskal & Urban Absolutes, all due for a release very soon. â€œAll these years later,â€ says Mousse T, â€œeven though genres and sub-genres have changed, we still feel we need to put good music out there.â€
But how did a talented pair of Hanoverians, Mousse T. and Errol Rennalls, found Germanyâ€™s longest-surviving house label â€“ and change house music forever?
â€œWe actually met as part of a band,â€ remembers Errol. â€œAnd we gelled instantly as a songwriting team, something weâ€™ve nurtured through everything, no matter which way our musical interests have gone. We identified a gap in the market â€“ and Peppermint Jam grew from there.â€
â€œIn the early 90s, techno was everywhere in Germany,â€ says Mousse T. â€œSo we felt we needed to provide an alternative, a cool, deep groove with some great songs.â€
â€œIt was that feeling of independence,â€ adds Errol, â€œthat we were totally independent. We didnâ€™t have a master plan. Our first releases were licensed from our American heroes â€“ Kerri Chandler and the Blaze guys. â€
From the very beginning it was planned that Peppermint Jam would remain an independently-distributed label as German distributors, at that time, were more focused on techno and trance, leaving vocal house largely untouched. The turning point, however, was the year 1996 â€“ and Peppermint Jamâ€™s first visit to the Winter Music Conference in Miami (an important international trade fair for electronic music). This milestone in the companyâ€™s history resulted in license enquiries from labels such as MAW as well as international collaborations. After their first self-produced releases, the label signed Ruffneck and â€œEverybody be Somebodyâ€ became their first real hit, soon followed by Boris Dlugoschâ€™s â€œKeep Pushinâ€ and â€œHold Your Head Up Highâ€ (both featuring Inaya Day).
A key track in the labelâ€™s hugely successful 18 year history was, of course, 1998â€™s worldwide smash hit, â€˜Horny.â€™
â€œA proper accident,â€ chuckles Mousse T. â€œThe backing track grew out of the club version of a Michael Jackson remix I had done for his song â€œGhost.â€ I had the beats and the groove and finished the production around 5 in the morning. I wanted to put it in the bin but when I played it Errol and Roger Sanchez they said â€œyou have to put it outâ€. We called it â€œHornyâ€ because of the horns and then wrote the lyrics around that. The result changed our lives.â€
On the back of the songâ€™s success, the labelâ€™s increased revenue and profile attracted some high profile collaborations, including the classic Boris Dlugosch rework of â€˜Sing It Backâ€™ by Moloko, and the infamous â€˜Sex Bomb,â€™ featuring Tom Jones (a UK Top 3 smash). â€œSuccess allowed a bigger vision,â€ says Mousse T.
In fact, artist development has always been the main focus for Peppermint Jam. Over the past 15 years, in addition to two Mousse T. albums (Gourmet de Funk and All Nite Madness) many artists such as Emma Lanford (who sang on the UK Top 10 smash â€œIs It Cos Iâ€™m Cool?â€œ), Inaya Day, Cunnie Williams, James Kakande and Omar have been signed and produced by the label. And Peppermint Jam tracks like â€œDangerous Vibesâ€ by Ferry Ultra, â€œBrothers & Sistersâ€ by Michi Lange, â€œCruisinâ€™â€ by Can7 and â€œGet Upâ€ by Byron Stingily have since become evergreen classics.â€œ
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