The message reached the German-born DJ/Producer’s ears about what his music has done to African nation known as Mzansi. Then, for the first time, Ralf eagerly decided to make a personal visit and launched the first South African tour in 2008. The House music scene experience that Ralf had experience was incomparable.
Four years later, in 2012, the head of GOGO music immigrated from his homeland of Germany to South Africa.
Though Ralf has many fans worldwide, it is tempting to shout-out that most are South Africans, who adore his music and humbleness. The “Take It To My Love” producer’s 92.9K Twitter followers and almost 200k Facebook likes, the majority are based in South Africa – his second home. That is part of the number of souls he has touched musically in Südafrika.
Whenever Ralf releases an album or a single, it is expected to hit the number one spot on digital music stores or radio stations. This time is no different, Ralf is back with a brand new album – ‘In My City’ – the 10 tracks which feature legendary and heavyweight vocalists. As usual, on its first day, the album went straight to number 1 on iTunes.
In an exclusive interview with TVOSA (The Voice of SA), Ralf introduces his album, ‘In My City’, and speaks openly about his decision to relocate to South Africa.
What is the inspiration behind the title of your album?
RALF: Obviously there’s Bra Hugh’s track “In The City” on the album which gave me the final idea for the title, but that was more of a lucky coincidence, as I desired anyway one which expresses that I have “arrived”. I intentionally put the skyline of Johannesburg on the cover as a tribute, South Africa is the most vibrant dance nation I know globally. I am grateful that I am allowed to be a part of it. I feel that I spiritually and musically now live in a place which I really call home.
And I wanted to produce an album which continues to keep up this amazing House Music scene, which was started by the likes of DJ Christos, Vinny Da Vinci or Tim White amongst others. They created something which is one of its kind and eventually became the biggest consumer market for House Music in the world. Looking on the local market one of the aims is to keep the movement up and hopefully even enlarge it. Simultaneously as an internationally known artist, I want to play my role in raising more awareness about what’s happening in the motherland. The music produced in SA is a great economical potential and should be used to its fullest. Exporting SA music to other territories can create revenue into the country.
How long did it take you to produce In My City?
RALF: It took me 1 and half year to complete it.
When was the album released and how is the response so far?
RALF: The album came out on the 18th of August. So far I could not be happier about the response I received. The album went straight to #1 of Itunes SA on the release day and even more important to me is that I pick up a lot of positive feedback from people who heard the album so far.
You featured such a quality and legendary line-up, how did you go about choosing who you wanted to work with on this album?
RALF: Usually the idea who to feature comes when working on a playback. The more the music progresses, the clearer and more specific this idea becomes. Then it is about to approach and ask the desired singer to see if she/he would be interested in working together. Luckily I was able and had the honour to feature all those you find on the album now.
You produce hits that are not easily forgettable and judging by the response on social networks, it seems like this is another classic album. What are you hoping to achieve with this one?
RALF: I touched on some of those aspects already in the first question. My personal main aim is to progress as an artist. This happens whenever you try to deliver the best you are capable of and the challenges you go through by producing such an album. After it is done now, I definitely can say that I learned a lot during the process and grew my skills. My main hope is that it is an album which is liked by those who knew my productions before and gets more people into House Music.
For people who haven’t purchased the album, what should they expect and where can they buy it?
RALF: ‘In My City’ is a variety of soulful and deep House styles, which reflect my various influences over the years, transformed into how I feel in 2014. It contains 10 songs which hopefully tell a story people can relate to and are sung by the likes of Hugh Masekela, Monique Bingham, Omar, Portia Monique, Dele Sosimi, Kafele, KB, Lee Bling and Jocelyn Mathieu. The album is out on CD in all music stores in SA and can be bought here on Itunes as well. The release will be available to the rest of the world on 6th of October via my label GOGO Music.
Let’s revisit your decision of relocating to South Africa, what influenced such big decision?
RALF: As a DJ I travel a lot since almost 20 years now and saw many different places all over the world, but when I came in 2008 for the first time to Mzansi, I felt a special vibe right away. The more I visited the country on subsequent tours, the more I fell in love with it and its people. My wife started to accompany me on my tours in SA and we extended our stays whenever possible to get a better feel of life here. The more time we spent in SA, the more we felt at home. After a while it actually felt as we would leave home, when we flew back to Germany. In addition the friends we made in the country played a role in the decision, just as the fabulous music scene did.
What was your expectation when you first moved to SA?
RALF: I did not move because of specific expectations. There’s this above mentioned energy in this country that draw me to it. Regarding my career, I was really not sure what would happen. I prepared myself that I eventually might have to start it from scratch. It’s always a difference if you come as an international DJ to a country and leave after a few gigs again or if you really intend to stay. But the love for SA overbalanced such thoughts and made me ready to take up this eventual challenge.
What do you tell people in Germany about South Africa?
RALF: That most media reports about SA in Germany, just as in many other parts of the world, only tell part of the truth. News tend to show the negative sides of the country, such as for example crime. But besides all the challenges which South Africa still faces, it is a really beautiful country with positive people who can take the country to a prosperous future.
Are German fans as crazy about your music as we are in South Africa?
RALF: Unfortunately House Music is a niche market in most parts of the world including Germany to date. Thus the amount of people who like and live the genre is much higher in SA. Fortunately there’s still a core scene which enjoys and keeps the sound alive in my old home and all over the world.
How would you describe South African house music fans?
RALF: One word: passionate.
Can you speak a few words of any South African language? If so, you can mention one or two.
RALF: I have to admit that I still speak very few. When I relocated my first priority was to better my English. But ngiyabonga isikhathi eninginike sona.