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Classic Album: Mousse T. on Gourmet De Funk

(Image credit: Peter Timm/ullstein bild/Getty Images)

After storming international singles charts with the back-to-back pop house bangers Horny and Sexbomb, producer Mousse T. – aka Mustafa Gundogdu – had a choice to make. Follow up that global success immediately with more of the same. Or wait three years to release an album of downtempo funk, big band, reggae, and trip-hop – with an undercover policeman on bass, porno samples, and a Fine Young Cannibals cover version. Needless to say his distributers had hoped for the former, and he delivered the latter.

“After the success of Horny they wanted 13 more tracks just like that,” says Mousse. “I tried! But I never played them to anyone because I was really feeling ashamed. I said, ‘I can’t just keep copying myself, and just doing this... formula’.”

Instead, he rebuilt Horny and Sexbomb as ‘swing’ and ‘jazz’ versions, to form the start of a wild and wonderful artist album that represented him, his inspirations, and his record collection.

“I wanted people to know there was a little world behind Mousse T,” he says. “I wanted to move away from the whole house music and dancefloor thing, and just have a playground, basically. Which, for me, was the funk and soul music I loved.”

Ignoring all his commercial club house instincts, he broke out his vintage keyboards, assembled a crew of musicians and vocalists, and looped up any groovy samples he could find in his crates, or tucked away on 2” tapes from previous projects, and set to work.

“I had to go with my heart on this one,” says Mousse. “People were like, ‘Props on the success and everything with those singles, man. But in terms of coolness, this is gonna be the death of you!’.

“Those tracks were so pop and so Tom Jones, and all that, you know? So, instead of doing the same again, I decided to do the opposite and dig out samples, pull bits from old multi-tracks, get musicians and singers in, and make something new.

“It opened my view on things. It was like, ‘Wow! Whatever you feel... just go for it’. So, with this album, I did whatever I felt, and not what was expected.”

Gilbert

“This is a little intro with my friend Gilbert Cohen speaking. He also goes by DJ Gilb’R from Versatile Records.

“He sent me some remix stems for Venus [Sunshine People] by Cheek – remember that track? Anyway, he sent that on a DAT with his voice recorded at the start going [adopts a thick French accent], ‘Hey, Mousse T. This is Gilbert talking to you. Can you remix this...?’ And I just thought it was a great moment, so I wanted to use bits of that to open the album.

“I thought it was funny. It gave it that international feel with a twinkle in the eye, you know?”

Fire

“The singer on this is Emma Lanford, who sang on Horny. When it came time for this album, I contacted her again to do some more music. We wanted another modern love song. It was the first single off this album, too.

“It’s very sexual, but always with a touch of class, and a vintage feel to it. It’s very bluesy, with the three chords. It really made sense to add a really funky backbeat to it.

“A few years later Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson did what they did in that kind of vein. It made me feel really good to hear that. It was my sound. That was a really beautiful feeling.”

What You Say?

“Juliet Edwards on this one – important to mention her. Beautiful lady. Met her randomly. We did some tracks on the Ferry Ultra album. She has this amazing raspy voice.

“We did this session in the studio and then I used her vocal, but she disappeared and I never managed to get in touch with her again. It’s not a lot of money, but the income for this track is still laying here, waiting for her. I hope that this article can reach her! [laughs].

“The track is very minimalistic, almost, with a drum machine going in there. Then basically just some horns, you know? That’s the basic funk instrumentation that you want to add.”

Gourmet De Funk

“With this album I was like, ‘What do I really like?’ And I really like funk and soul. I wanted to capture some of that – the bass, guitars, some keys, and then obviously some amazing vocal talent.

“This track features my good friend, who unfortunately passed away, Boris Jennings. I did another track with him a few years later – Brother On The Run, which was a Johnny Pate tribute. Anyway, he was the talent behind this track. He added a kind of poem on top.

“I was really happy with the outcome. It was a real super groove, you know? I was playing the Rhodes on it, and a bit of bass.”

In the studio with...

(Image credit: Mousse T)

“I was using the same gear as I have now to make that album, basically. My console, which is over 30 years old, is by a German company called Mitec – so nice. Then I combined that with beautiful outboard analogue gear, and digital bits. And I’m still working with Logic.

“Then I had Urei compressors, a couple of Neve bits, some Manley. Then a very vital thing – Six Akai samplers. I still adore them as they have this beautiful sound.

“I was sampling all the vocals into my Akais and replaying the songs from them. So three would have vocals and other audio materials in, then the rest would have my sounds and my beats and everything.

“Then I had a coupla keyboards like a Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes, Minimoog. Then the Roland SH-09, which you hear on a lot of my stuff – the ‘choir-sounding’ sounds are from that.

“Then I had the turntable set up, sampling things in. I still feed off of the types of samples I did back then, to be honest.”

Toscana

“I was sitting in a garden, looking down a valley in the beautiful place of Chianti, where a lot of olive oil and wine comes from, and I had this idea for a track [starts humming the melody]. You know? Very simple.

“I started on a Rhodes, and filled it with a nice bass groove. It’s almost ‘chillout’, but I hate that term.

“Fanfan La Tulipe plays on this – a great friend who also unfortunately passed away last year. Amazing guy. Cancer is just a fuck. A lot of my remixes featured him on bass and guitar. We’d jam in the studio and build from there. He’s on a few tracks on this album.”

You Are...

“This track is very special to me. If you listen to it, just the beats are programmed, and the rest of the music is done by a friend of mine, Lutz Krajenski. He’s probably the best Hammond organ player I know on the planet. The bass is a Hammond, and the later licks are also from the organ.

“Then I got Inaya Day in, who’s known for house vocals – we did Keep Pushin with her, and Rock the Mic, which I released on Glitterbox.

“We made a very classy R&B tune with You Are... I was very fortunate to just do what I wanted on this album.”

C-Movie

“You’ve heard of a B-movie? Well, this is a C-movie, because it has these classical music influences. That’s what the ‘C’ stands for.

“I really like that classical theme which I played on the piano. It was really beautiful on its own. Then I added a very simple, monotonous beat. And then I sampled some moaning out of a porn movie, basically, which worked for me! I was playing a gig in the UK and I was in the hotel after and I switched on pay TV, and flicked through, and was like, ‘OK! I can use this’ [laughs].”

Horny (Jazz)

“For me, Horny, as far as I see it, is a very beautiful love song. It was already really nice, so I tried to put it in another world.

“I always loved Peggy Lee’s Fever, which is where the idea came to do the album version in that jazz style. I used that same kind of sparse bass arrangement to start.

“Then I let the song ride on that for a moment, then I was quite brutal and added this break, and then brought in this big band arrangement.

“I used a funk band in Hanover called Spice. They were really cool, as well as being a really great collective of musicians.”

Sexbomb (Swing)

“Again, the album version is very different to the single. I took the same Tom Jones vocal, but then added a swing.

“We literally wrote it for him. He was the Sexbomb, with the knickers thrown on stage. He heard it and totally fell in love with it. He was working on his own album, Reload, and wanted it for that, but his label said it was done and dusted. Tom said, ‘I don’t care. It has to go on. We can wait.” That was so cool of him to do that.

“In the deal we asked for a one-time usage with a remix. And that’s how this new ‘swing’ version came about.”

Johnny Come Home (Cocktail Mix)

“This is a proper random remix of the Fine Young Cannibals I did back in ‘96 for FFRR, for Pete Tong. I’d handed in a couple of house and R&B mixes, and then me and my friend Fanfan La Tulipe came up with this almost bossa nova version.

“I always loved it, because it made so much sense, musically. So I basically licensed that version of the track for this album – almost like a compilation tape. It just really fit in with all this new stuff I was doing now. It was like I’d actually hit on the Gourmet De Funk formula back then [laughs].”

1 Touch

“Rosie Gaines sings here. Having the label, Peppermint Jam, meant a lot of people got in touch offering tracks. Rosie offered a song she’d done with the Closer Than Close people, and I took it and just flipped the music.

“I talked to Rosie and she was really cool with it, so I licensed it off her, and we did a whole 50/50 deal.

“I could have done better with that track, to be honest. It’s a really cool vibe, and Rosie is great, obviously. But I took a step back and let the vocal speak for itself, but should have added more, musically.”

Negril Blues

“This is a proper homage to the whole reggae thing. My partner back then, Errol [Rennalls], who I ran Peppermint Jam with, came from Birmingham, but had a Jamaican background.

“I felt this really cool image of sitting on the beach there, sipping on rum punch, you know? Then basically did this backing track. I think I did the beats and the rest is kinda chopped up reggae samples.

“Then I got my friend Till Brönner on the track, who is one of the most famous trumpet players, worldwide. He came up with the main melody, with the harmonised trumpet [hums it]. He totally got the track.”

Libra

“This features a friend of mine who was an undercover policeman who loves the funk! I got him in the studio and he played me this bassline, and it sounded so good. I said, ‘Look! You have to give me that. We can share the track. Let me just finish it...’ And that was that.

“Again, I did my drums and a nice little Moog line. The drums were totally chopped breaks. I managed to do that quite well because it came out sounding real.

“Then I emulated a Vocoder – Not a real one. It was sweet so I said, ‘Hey. Whatever. Throw it in’.”

Numero Uno

“First of all you see the name. It means number one, of course, but it’s the last track on the album. I thought that was a nice little twist.

“I had the idea with the piano after being inspired by Craig Armstrong’s track, Weather Storm. It’s very cinematic.

“I occasionally do projects with 90-piece orchestras, covering tracks. You should hear this one with 50 string guys playing it and me on the piano, with a drumbeat underneath. You’ll have tears in your eyes, believe me.”