Andrés, Ejeca, Andre Crom, Mirrors and Glasgow Underground boss remix Romanthony’s classic, ‘Ministry of Love’ this summer.
Released in two digital packages and two 12″s, this is the fourth set of remixes of the legendary house vocalist and producer’s catalogue via Glasgow Underground. Kevin McKay delivers his thoughts on the passing of his close friend and colleague :
‘I originally met Roman when I was doing some freelance work for Muzik magazine. His records were cult underground favourites yet he had never done an interview and no photo of him had ever been published. I managed to track him down and called him up at his home in Asbury Park. He didn’t agree to the interview straight away but was interested in talking further. We got on to talking about music production; I’d released a few 12″s on my own Muzique Tropique label and done a single for the Junior Boys Own offshoot Jus’ Trax. I offered to send some things to him and the relationship grew from there. By the time I set up Glasgow Underground in 1997 we had become trans-atlantic phone friends and he finally agreed to give me that interview.
Throughout the time I had known him he had voiced his unhappiness with record labels and their demands. They were always asking him to change things, be someone else, re-write his biggest hits and so on. I said that I’d be happy to put out whatever he wanted. I understood what it was like to need the creative freedom to try many things and have your artistic thoughts shaped by the reactions they received. The first thing he sent me for release was a song he wrote for Naida called “Do You Think You Can Love Me?”. Between that in 1998 and “One More Time” I released 10 singles and 3 albums he produced.
After “One More Time” in 2000, Romanthony had no financial need to be in the studio and we stopped working together on his releases. The publishing royalties from such a huge hit provided a sizeable income from him and – to be fair – as well as there being no financial need, he was having too much of a good time to be troubled with a heavy studio schedule.
Around 2006 someone bought the catalogue of a relatively unknown disco artist called Eddie Johns. It included the track “More Spell On You” released on an obscure French label called Disques President. Daft Punk used samples from this track to create the backing for “One More Time“.
They tried to sue both the recording artists and the songwriters for infringement of copyright. As one of the co-writers of the song, Romanthony’s income was in real danger and all publishing payments to him were put on hold.
We had kept in touch throughout this time and when the law suit came in and his rock’n'roll lifestyle had to stop, he set about recording songs he’d written since “One More Time” and sent them over to me. I tried to find a label to put them out but no-one was interested. I was shocked. This was the voice of one of the greatest dance songs of all time and I couldn’t get a single label to invest some time or energy in him.
Maybe it was his sound, I though. So I tried to find some producers to work with him. There were a few interested people but all of them, in the end, tried to take the best bits of his vocals and use them in their own tracks. “So I become a featured vocalist on another artist’s record,” said Roman. “When I wrote and performed the song? No thanks. I’ll never be that poor.”
The only option left to us was to revisit his back catalogue. So I bought him a new tape 2 tape machine so he could see what was available on the old 2 inch tapes he recorded most of his 90s output on.
In the beginning it was hard to find people to work on the projects, but we got there. We started with “The Wanderer”, then moved on to “Bring U Up” and “Let Me Show You Love”. By then offers started to come in for him to work with other producers. People like Nice7, Gerd, Chopstick & Johnjon, A.N.D.Y, Leo Zero had been inspired by the re-issues to get in touch about recording together and MN2S (who had just helped re-invigorate Kerri Chandler’s career were interested in touring him.
As the hype around the re-issues grew it became easier and easier to get our A-list remixers on board and we have remixes due and completed by Jimmy Edgar, Ejeca, Andre Crom, Andres, Ripperton, Himself Her, Alex Arnout, Audiojack, Hunee, Citizen, Motor City Drum Ensemble and Claptone. We were due to release these and then an anthology collating his best original work and a remix album with the best of the remixes later this year.
And then I found out that because of complications arising out of a kidney disease, Roman had tragically died on 7th May. The releases have been on hold since then but after discussions with his publisher and his family we would like to continue them to provide a legacy for his children. So many of Roman’s songs feature essential human feelings like love, family, strength and trust that I can think of no better tribute to him than to continue to provide for his nearest and dearest.’