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Jazz-N-Groove: ‘We knew we had something special from the beginning’

In house music circles, the name Jazz-N-Groove is spoken in reverential tones. Brian Tappert and Marc Pomeroy’s involvement in music stretches back to the 1980’s.

Brian’s early DJ career drew inspiration from Tony Humphries’ radio show in his native New Jersey, whilst Floridian Marc honed his technical abilities as a producer and studio engineer with tastes ranging from Steely Dan to MFSB. The early 90’s saw Brian trying his hand at production and Marc turning his to house music, and a chance meeting in 1992 heralded the birth of one of house music’s most prolific and well-respected partnerships. Best known as Jazz-N-Groove, but also recording individually and collaboratively as Urban Blues Project, Soulsearcher and Cleptomaniacs (together with longtime friend John Julius Knight), for labels such as Bassline, Sub-Urban, Strictly Rhythm and AM:PM, their work fast became touchstones for their soulful heart and exquisite musicianship. The pair’s business acumen would prove as sharp as their ear for music, establishing the much-loved Soulfuric label family in 1996, and the pioneering specialist download store Traxsource in 2004.

We had the chance to talk with Jazz-N-Groove aligned to the recent release of their Defected’s ‘House Masters’ compilation. 

Electronic Groove: Hi guys, we’re happy to chat with you today. Your ‘Jazz-N-Groove House Masters’ compilation has recently dropped on Defected Records and it features a huge selection of your productions and remixes under various guises, what classics have you dug out for us?

Brian Tappert: Thanks for taking the time to interview us, we really appreciate the support. There are all kinds of classics on there from the popular ones like ‘Soulsearcher’, ‘Cant Get Enough’ to ‘Deliver Me’… hopefully, something for everyone.

EG: For those who don’t know about your history, please tell us how you met and what were your first musical fruits together as Jazz-N-Groove?

Brian Tappert: Marc and I met by chance around 1992, It was my first time in a commercial studio and we were recording something with Roy Grant (my then partner in Jazz-N-Groove) at Hideaway Recording Studios in Hollywood, Florida and Marc was the engineer who came with the studio. The song we recorded never came out, but Marc and I hit it off and we began to hang out. It was around mid-1994 when we made our first record together which was ‘Deliver Me’ and that experience made it clear we should do more.

Marc Pomeroy: Brian ended up moving around the corner from me in ‘92-ish and we would hang out a lot and talk production and music. The coffee was always brewin’.

EG: What inspired your sound back in the early days and how important were vocals and live instrumentation to your work?

Brian Tappert: In the very early days, we were inspired by all sorts of things. From Philly Sound, to electro like Cybotron and Kraftwerk, to Chicago house to the NJ sound coming from Movin and the Zanz, Rush, Steely Dan, Run DMC, man. I could go on, so much music. It was a real melting pot back then, people didn’t do just one thing, so we just got inspired by everything really… To be honest, vocals and live instruments were always moving to both of us so it was just something we tried to do right from the beginning.

EG: You’ve remixed a lot of great artists over the years from Frankie Knuckles and Loleatta Holloway to Louie Vega and more. What’s your favorite and why?

Marc Pomeroy: That is very hard, but if we had to pick one, it would be Loleatta Holloway simply because it was produced by Gamble and Huff and we got the original 2 Inch tape from Sigma Sound. We really enjoyed listening to all the original tracks from the main MSFB crew, and of course, who wouldn’t love to work with those classic vocals.

“Often the toughest records to make were when it was a follow up to something which was successful”

EG: Who excelled at what in the studio and was the winning formula for a typical Jazz-N-Groove production?

Brian Tappert: We each always had our areas where we would take the lead but we always made sure both of us were into it. My roles typically were in basic grooves, hooks, drums and arrangement. Marc is more musical and also very technically gifted so, when it came to keys and engineering and writing I give that credit to him always. The winning formula typically consisted of hanging around long enough for “the” moment to happen… that’s when something sparks and you just can hear the finished work and off you go.

Marc Pomeroy: And maybe a few video games while we were waiting to catch a vibe ?

EG: Which was the most difficult track to make?

Brian Tappert: Often the toughest records to make were when it was a follow up to something which was successful, or a remix when the label was like we want something like this but it just didn’t fit. I suppose, creativity works best when it’s free to create rather than be forced into a mold.

Marc Pomeroy: I would say creating the follow up to ‘Can’t Get Enough’ was one of the toughest. Learned a lot of ‘what not to do’.

EG: Is it true you guys signed Axwell’s first record? How did you meet him?

Brian Tappert: Thats right, well we knew his manager James Sefton, and we got a package through with a bunch of material on it. We heard this track by an unknown guy called Axwell and just thought he had something special. We asked James to keep sending his bits through and and he did. This led to a bunch of things we did with Ax, from his Mambana project to Jetlag to some remix projects, etc. We always knew he would be huge. Axwell is a true gentleman and is the same humble person he was all those years ago.

Marc Pomeroy: It’s true, Axwell has always been an amazing human being, and today he’s exactly the same despite his tremendous fame.

EG: Did you ever think your partnership would last so long, and furthermore that you would go on to create and achieve so many things in the music industry together?

Brian Tappert: We don’t really think about it too much but I suppose it’s rare today to find anyone who’s got a long term anything, especially in the music business. I would say that what makes us a good partnership is that we are very different in our skill sets and we each let the other get on with their area. This makes our collaborations end up greater than the sum of the parts. We are as opposite as a knife and a fork, but you can’t eat a steak without both.

Also, Marc and I have always had an amazing team around us which make us look good, Megan and Sheldon have been here since the 90’s when things were just starting. We could never do what we do without each one of them.

Marc Pomeroy: I think we knew we had something special from the beginning.

EG: You have had a long relationship with Defected Records and now they have picked up the baton and re-launched the Soulfuric labels, why the decision to part with your music estate and what can we expect in the future from camp Soulfuric?

Brian Tappert: Simon is a long time friend of ours for sure. We all met way back in late 1994 when he was at AM PM where he signed one of our records Mone – ‘We Can Make it’ from Strictly Rhythm. Throughout the years we have worked on tons of rec-ords together and there has always been a mutual respect and admiration.

Marc Pomeroy: We are super happy with the move with Defected, they are the only people who can pull this off for us. We will be re-releasing the entire catalog in phases along with some new remixes of classics but most importantly we are looking for new material to release.

EG: Do you miss making and playing music and will there ever be a Jazz-N-Groove comeback?

Brian Tappert: Sometimes when I’m at a great party and the vibe is thick, I think may-be I could get back up there and DJ again. As for productions, maybe if we could get 48 hour days ?

Marc Pomeroy: We just dropped the latest Jazz N Groove remix… it’s called ‘Change Is Good’. Check it out here.

“We will be re-releasing the entire catalog in phases along with some new remixes of classics but most importantly we are looking for new material to release”

EG: You were responsible for launching one of the first DJ download sites, Traxsource, back in 2004, did you ever anticipate this venture would become one of the world’s best sites?

Brian Tappert: Absolutely not… We’re floored every day when we think that the very music we fell in love with has found a home right here on Traxsource!

Marc Pomeroy: Truly humbled by this.

EG: You just relaunched and rebranded – Why did you feel the time was right to rebrand Traxsource?

Marc Pomeroy: We have been working on the new site for a while, it’s been a planned upgrade and progression for some time. Though, it took us a while to get it right. The main thing which you will notice is the mobile ready responsive design which is much more modern and streamlined, but the heart of the site is the same. Plus, we have tuned up and added tons of new bells and whistles like fully integrating Dropbox into the downloads page for example. We are literally just getting started. More features are on the way to make the experience better and better.

EG: What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome over the last 15 years with the business? What potential obstacles could you possibly foresee in the future?

Brian Tappert: Literally, everything… This business challenges us in every way every single day. Thank God for it though, it keeps us sharp…

Marc Pomeroy: Piracy, Publishing (PROs), unscrupulous people in the industry, Chang-ing landscape… I could go on, but thanks for having us ?

‘Jazz-N-Groove House Masters’ is out now on Defected Records.

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