This week on the our podcast, we welcome a true veteran that almost needs no introduction – Groove Junkies (Evan Landes). The New York native (living in Los Angeles) has gained massive respect and global support from dedicated fans, as well as today’s most influential tastemakers for many years. Over a decade’s worth of chart topping original productions & remixes, high profile tours that showcased his exceptional DJing skills on global stages and prestigious award nominations have put him in an elite class amongst today’s top DJs, Producers and record label owners. We’re thrilled to have him as a guest this week. Enjoy.
How did you get started with music? Or what was your first introduction to it?
I had a deep appreciation for all types of music growing up in New York (ie ; rock, soul, funk, latin, jazz and standards). Everything from the Beatles to Chick Corea to the O Jay’s to Fanya All-stars to Sinatra to Stevie W. and everything in between 🙂 When I started DJing in 1979 I was more of a disco, soul, funk guy. In the early to mid-80’s I started to add new wave cuts, rock and early hip hop into my repertoire. Admittedly, I was a little late discovering house, but as the 80’s came to a close I started to get into it. My initial knowledge was limited to a few of the pioneers from Chicago, but eventually my record collection and love for the genre grew. It’s been running through my veins ever since! I started to produce house in the mid 90’s and eventually started my label MoreHouse with my better half Solara in 2002. Here we are in 2017 and we’re still doin’ our thang. It’s been a wonderful journey thus far and I feel like the best is yet to come!
You’ve been around for quite some time, and we’re sure there are a lot of incredible stories you can share. Which one is your favorite?
It would have to be getting asked by the Godfather of House Frankie Knuckles (may he RIP) to do a remix for him on his song “Matter of Time” feat. Nicki Richards and to get invited to play with him at his Def Mix residency at Pacha, Ibiza the same year. He absolutely loved the remix which was a huge boost of confidence for us and helped kick down quite a few doors. As for the gig – it was a packed house. Prob close to 3,000 – 4,000 people there. When my ex-partner Parrish and I were close to finishing our set and about to turn things over to Frankie, he came up to me and whispered in my ear “thanks for making my job easy tonight.” To have an idol / mentor say that to you – priceless!
When did you feel it was the right move to go into production?
I had been DJing for many years and got the songwriting bug in the late 80’s. I started messing around with production shortly thereafter. I tended to rely on the expertise of the musicians / producers who I worked with at the time. I wasn’t very hands on at first. My DJing experience however, played a vital role in how I was able to convey what I was hearing in my head with my collaborators and how things ultimately got arranged. I slowly became more comfortable with being at the helm after many years of being a co-pilot. I had to force myself to get over my fear of technology, but once I did I never looked back. I still don’t consider myself to be the most technically savvy guy out there, but I have a good set of ears & know how to get the job done and get a great finished product.
Any favorite productions or co-productions?
“Inside My Soul” (the 1st release on MoreHouse) feat. Solomon Henderson showcases my soulful / uplifting side and will always have a special place in my heart. “Dr. Feelgood” feat. Diane Carter was our homage to Salsoul and sported a funkier, disco style of Groove Junkies. Whenever I hear that song it always puts a smile on my face. “Sunshine” feat. Solara incorporated latin, afro and touches of jazz which was yet another shade of GJs. The song had a special meaning because it paid tribute to Solara’s father who passed away just prior to writing it. The “Conch” remix I did for Richard Earnshaw points to a deeper production approach that I’ve explored in recent years. There was something magical about that track that I always dug. I’d also have to include a fairly new release, “Perception” (again, featuring Solara) in this category and the latest collaboration that I did with Scott K. feat. Indeya (“Higher”) as more recent favs. To be honest there are many more, but I can’t list them all – lol. The one common denominator throughout these productions is that they all have that undeniable soulful element & GJ hump 🙂
What would be your dream artist collab? Dead or alive.
It would be an honor to work with the likes Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott or Nile Rogers. I would have loved to have worked with Prince and Teddy Pendergras too. A guy can dream ….right?
Your label, MoreHouse, has been quite the imprint for deep/soulful cuts, and it’s coming up on it’s 15th anniversary. What do you guys have planned for the special occasion?
We have a retrospective 15 Year Anniversary compilation and new single that are in the works. I also have a special date planned on May 2nd @ Revival here in Los Angeles to honor the occasion. I’ll be sharing the decks with my good buddy Reelsoul, along w/ Revival Residents + Surprise Guests. I’ll also be giving away some rare MoreHouse Records vinyl (I may have to drop a few classic MoHo nuggets throughout the night as well). It’s gonna be a blast! I hope to see everyone out for that 🙂
Your latest joint Scott K. feat. Indeya “Higher” has been gettin’ some good love recently. How did that project come about?
As is the case when working with Scott, there is never any plan – lol. Everything just happens organically. We bounce ideas off each other and when we have something tangible we run with it. If there were any ideas looming in the air it might have been to come up with something that depicted the tumultuous times we’re living in and offered some remedies / solutions to all the angst that people are feeling. Once the track started to take shape with “Higher” and the spoken part was arranged, I thought it would be cool to explore complimenting it with a vocal hook and ad libs. I wrote the hook and invited one of my favorite MoHo singers, Indeya, to stop by and see what she could do with it. She took the original idea and as usual took it to another level. We ended up shortening the spoken part (there were 2 more verses that got cut) and streamlined the track to a little over 6 minutes. We’re all very happy with the end result and yes, people are coming out of the woodwork with praise. We’ve been getting amazing early feedback from a very diverse group of DJs / tastemakers like Doorly, Marques Wyatt, Low Steppa, Danny Rampling, Roy Davis Jr. and even some mysterious cat name Mr Bootsauce 😉 It will be available exclusively at Traxsource.com on MoreHouse Records as of March 3rd and all other sites March 20th.
On that same topic, anything new on the horizon on MoHo and with Groove Junkies productions?
As mentioned earlier there are new singles still in production, as well as a 15 Year Anniversary compilation slated for May 2017 release and throughout the rest of the year. I have a new remix that dropped in late Feb. on David Anthony’s Universe Media imprint titled “Call Him Up” featuring the one & only Michael Proctor. I also did a tight lil’ GJ Edit of Leo Alarcon’s “Greens” for Oscar P’s Open Bar imprint. There will also be some new collaborations with various producers and singers (hopefully one with that mysterious Bootsauce character ;-). All I can say is stay tuned…
LA has been your home for a while. Which parties do you absolutely recommend?
I don’t go out as much as I used to but here are a few – Unity, Revival, Deep, WOTN, Wayne Williams WareHouse LA monthly, Sweet n’ Low, RE:LOVE, Tony Powell’s Dirty, Dirty Party, Boogie Down Brunch, FTWK and countless others!
Lastly, what is it about house music that always kept you around?
First and foremost the music itself. I love it! It runs through my veins. Then again, I love ALL music as long as it’s quality! I also cherish the friends I’ve made and its capacity to bring people together in a very peaceful, organic way. I’ve been blessed to have had some success writing, producing and putting it out, as well as playing it around the world. It’s been hard work, it has its challenges and it all hasn’t been a bowl of cherries, but for the most part I still enjoy being a global Ambassador of this thing we call ‘House.’
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