Evan Landes, also known as Groove Junkies, is a renowned producer and DJ in the international dance community. Evan has gained wide support and respect for his consistent quality of work over the last two decades, and he is the co-founder of MoreHouse Records, which has been instrumental in shaping the house music genre.
Landes has coordinated over 100 successful releases on the MoreHouse imprint, including numerous chart-topping hits, and his original productions and remixes have garnered him critical acclaim and DJ support from industry legends such as Frankie Knuckles and David Morales.
In this interview, Evan talks about his journey, setting up MoreHouse Records, and celebrating its 20th anniversary with the release of ’20 Years Of MoreHouse Records’.
EG: Hi Evan! Welcome to EG. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us. How have you been? Where are you based right now?
Evan Landes: I’m doing well, thank you! We’re based in Los Angeles.
EG: First of all, congratulations on the 20th anniversary of MoreHouse Records! What an outstanding landmark! What were some of your initial thoughts when you became aware of this? What does this mean to you?
Evan Landes: It means that I’m getting old (laughter)! All kidding aside, it’s been an amazing journey and milestone. I’m one who doesn’t dwell too much on the past. I try to keep moving things forward, but I have to admit, it did bring back lots of memories (mostly positive).
EG: So, let’s take this one back to its origins… What was the process of setting up MoreHouse Records 20 years ago? Did you ever think you’d make it this far?
Evan Landes: 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 that the dream came to fruition. I had previously sent Brian some material that he was feeling 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.
When the dust settled, MoreHouse Records (MoHo) was formed between myself and my better half, Solara. We were the first label to sign a P&D deal with Soulfuric. As for wondering if we’d make it this far – yes! I’m the eternal optimist. And this shit is in my blood! I’ll be writing, producing, collaborating, and putting music out as long as the creativity is still flowing.
EG: And now, you’re celebrating the milestone with the drop of ‘20 Years Of MoreHouse Records’! Congratulations! What’s this one all about? What can fans of the label find here?
Evan Landes: Thank you! My wife Solara and I wanted to pay tribute to this achievement and to all the artists, musicians, tastemakers, employees, interns, and most importantly the fans who helped us get here. The exclusive promos of both ‘Vol 1’ & ‘Vol 2’ are out now, exclusively on Traxsource. Both compilations were released commercially on all platforms on April 24th, 2023. The collections include remastered classics, fan favs, the hits, and previously unreleased remixes, as well as new material. It’s available in a DJ-friendly, unmixed format and each volume will have a continuous guest mix (‘Vol 1’ mixed by Richard Earnshaw & ‘Vol 2’ mixed by Reelsoul). Each song can run the house gamut stylistically – ranging from organic soul, funk, afro, Latin, jazz, and gospel-drenched songs, to peak hour, deep, tribal, and electronic-influenced tracks. Producers such as Reelsoul, Brian Tappert, DJ Spen, Opolopo, Richard Earnshaw, DJ Meme, Michele Chiavarini, David Harness, Deep Soul Syndicate, and yours truly – Groove Junkies (amongst many others), along with the stellar vocal talents of singer/songwriter and label co-owner Solara, Lisa Shaw, Joi Cardwell, Indeya, Diane Carter, TC Moses, Nichelle Monroe, MissFly, Carolyn Harding, Mijan and Tertulien Thomas (to name just a few), are all featured on these two essential collections.
“My wife Solara and I wanted to pay tribute to this achievement and to all the artists, musicians, tastemakers, employees, interns, and most importantly the fans who helped us get here”
EG: Was it a nostalgic exercise to revisit the label’s back catalog? Did any particular gems stir up any emotions?
Evan Landes: Curating the two compilations was definitely an emotional rollercoaster ride. Each song has a back story. Releasing our first single ‘Inside My Soul’ under the MoreHouse banner was an incredible moment in our history. I wrote this on my own during a time when my life was at the proverbial crossroads. Having some of the biggest names in the biz supporting, validating, and playing it was and still is a proud moment. Many of the other older songs in ‘Vol. 1’ were co-produced and co-written with my former partner, Parrish Wintersmith. ‘Far Away’ feat. TC Moses is a song that I wrote that sort of summed up how I was feeling after the breakup. There were also numerous songs that our dear friend and mentor Frankie Knuckles championed (may he rest in peace). I thought of him a lot when I was going through the classics on ‘Vol 1.’. Since Parrish and I parted ways in 2009, I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of very talented collaborators. The end result is two decades’ worth of blood, sweat, tears, and putting out some incredible music that we are blessed to offer to the world.
EG: How have things evolved in general since you first released ‘Groove Junkies ft Solomon Henderson – Inside My Soul’? Do you think the concept of a “label” and how it works has evolved for the better?
Evan Landes: Piracy and streaming have certainly taken their toll on record labels and how they do business. I think more and more labels are using releases as a promotional tool to support other revenue streams like touring, branded events, and merch. If you happen to make some money on downloads, streams, and publishing, then you’re doing better than most.
EG: What is the best advice you can give to someone with a young label seeking to establish themselves in today’s landscape?
Evan Landes: We’re still taking the quality over quantity approach when it comes to releasing music. The playing field is very noisy, so as a label, you have to put your ‘AAA’ game forward, or else, you’ll get lost in the shuffle. Nice releases just don’t cut it anymore. And don’t burn bridges because your reputation will follow you wherever you go!
EG: Now, on to something a bit different…How do you keep entertained when not in the studio? Have you checked out any good movies, series, books, or albums you’d recommend?
Evan Landes: I love watching movies (particularly the classics) to pass the time. I have to admit I’ve fallen behind on the newer movies, but I recently saw Mel Brooks ‘The Producers’ for the umpteenth time and it still cracked me up. Other classics that I’ve re-visited were ’12 Angry Men’, ‘West Side Story’, ‘The Great Escape’, and ‘The French Connection’… ALL GREAT FLICKS! Some binge-worthy shows that I’d recommend are ‘Ozark’, ‘The Godfather of Harlem’, ‘Jack Ryan’, and ‘Tulsa King’ to name a few. I also watch a fair amount of news. I’m a bit of a “political junkie”. And I’m always listening to music – both new and the classics.
“We’re still taking the quality over quantity approach when it comes to releasing music. The playing field is very noisy, so as a label, you have to put your ‘AAA’ game forward, or else, you’ll get lost in the shuffle”
EG: What’s next for Evan Landes & MoreHouse Records? What particular milestones are you looking forward to this 2023?
Evan Landes: 2023 is shaping up nicely! I recently co-produced a gorgeous soulful house cover of Minnie Ripperton’s iconic ‘Lovin’ You’ with Munk Julious, from Deep Soul Syndicate. It features B. Valentine (formerly known as Baskerville Jones) and is available exclusively on Traxsource. Reelsoul and I are currently working on a cover of Ashford & Simpson’s classic ‘It Seems To Hang On’ with fellow producer David Harness. It’s due out in May. It features MoHo veterans Tertulien Thomas and Mijan on vocals. Solara and I are putting the finishing touches on a hot new original titled ‘Shine’. There are also previously unreleased remixes coming from Richard Earnshaw (GJs ‘Breathe’), Deep Soul Syndicate (‘Touch One Soul’ feat. Lisa Shaw), and Shane D. (‘You Can’t Hide’ feat. Tertulien Thomas). Get ready! It’s gonna be a hot summer!!
EG: Thank you so much for your time, Evan! We wish you all the best for the future.
Evan Landes: Thank you! It’s been a pleasure.
MoreHouse Records’ ’20 Years Of MoreHouse Records Vol 1′ is out now. Purchase your copy here.
MoreHouse Records’ ’20 Years Of MoreHouse Records Vol 2′ is out now. Purchase your copy here.