in London, Essence Records was established in 2001
by veteran dance music journalist and former head of legendary
US label Strictly Rhythm's European operation, Phil Cheeseman.
a career championing underground dance music behind him, it's
no surprise to find that Essence is dedicated to quality
funky and soulful house music. The label debuted with G-Dubs'
Forever, and followed up with records by DJ Pierre
& Marshall Jefferson and rising New York talent Alix
Alvarez, but it was finally Dajae & Full Intention's
immediate club hit What Do You Want? that put the label
on the map.
added Chicago artist Harrison Crump to the roster,
the label's joint US/UK theme continued with releases again
featuring Full Intention (Your Day Is Coming) featuring
Shena) and the legendary Robert Owens (Never Too
Late). Always on the lookout for new talent, essence launched
the career of new Argentinian producers Ariel and Damian
Amejeiras with their track Lamento in Summer 2003.
In a difficult year for dance music - and the music industry
as a whole - the label stayed true to its ethos of quality
productions with three releases all with a Full Intention
connection. The first of these was Sub Rosa's Some Changes,
produced by Full Intention's Mike Gray along with Una
Mass, and Mike followed it up with a cheeky little Latin
track, Para Goza by Nuzzoli. Mike's partner
Jon Pearn was hot on his heels with Reach by
Pearn & Campbell, which features a vocal mix by Stonebridge.
The first release for 2004 is another storming vocal track
entitled He's My Music by DJ Dove & Inaya Day.
music has probably been through its major changes and developments
now.' says Phil, who was one of the first UK journalists to
start writing about producers like Todd Terry and acts
like Ten City. 'There is no major new style around,
and a lot of styles have been with us for several years now.
Some people interpret that as meaning that this music is dying.
But that ignores the evidence that house, or club music or
uptempo dance music, whatever you want to call it, is massively
more popular worldwide than it was ten or twelve years ago.
There are more DJs, more labels, more producers, more clubs,
more everything than there were even five years ago. This
music is a culture now. And just like hip hop, which has been
around for longer, and which has also been past its major
experimental curve, it's not going to go away. That's what
people said about pop music and rock and roll in the 1950's.
What does have to change though, at a time when accessible
technology has given everybody not only the means to make
records, but to copy and share them, is the focus of labels
to put out better records, not to just rely on cranking out
the same old tracks month in month out. Our mission at Essence,
is obviously to put out the best records we can find, but
also to develop the creativity of producers and artists we
work with, and challenge the DJs who play our records. That's
why you won't find the same style on every Essence
release: Alix Alvarez is very different to Full
Intention who are something apart from Harrison Crump.
But we feel they all have great talent to offer.'
of the first music journalists in the UK to cover dance music
back in the mid-eighties, Phil Cheeseman has been a constant
figure on the dance scene ever since. From introducing the
likes of Ten City, Marshall Jefferson and Todd Terry to readers
of the then Record Mirror, Phil became a founding writer on
2001 dancestar award winning DJ Magazine, where his reviews
and features can still be found today.
owner of the up and coming label Essence Records, Phil cut
his teeth in the record industry with Strictly Rhythm, running
the legendary label's European office from 1992-2000.
was during a trip to New York in 1990 that Phil met DJ Pierre,
and immediately saw the opportunity to bring the acid house
legend to London to play at some clubs; the ensuing dates
triggered a new trend for bringing US DJs to play in UK clubs.
After persuading Strictly Rhythm to sign Pierre's newest track,
'Generate Power', Phil was asked by the label to establish
a European office, and went on to steer the label to success
throughout the nineties with Barbara Tucker, Reel 2 Real,
Wink, Ultra Naté and Wamdue Project. On leaving Strictly
Rhythm, Phil answered the call of a long-held ambition by
establishing his own label, Essence Records. Essence debuted
in May 2001 and has gone on to stake its place on the dance
music map with releases by Dajae & Full Intention, DJ Pierre
& Marshall Jefferson, Harrison Crump, Robert Owens and Full
Intention & Shena.
is also the creative force behind the burgeoning Latin _ compilation
series on the respected Obsessive imprint. Featuring the best
quality Latin influenced house tracks, encompassing names
such as Mambana, Victor Davies, Afro Medusa, Joeski, Onionz,
Negrocan, Nova Fronteira and Bebel Gilberto, the first volume
of the Latin _ was released in September 2002, with the new
second part due at the end of July.
interest in both Essence and the Latin _ leading to increased
requests to DJ, Phil has returned to a DJ career that began
back in 1990 in a Clapham wine bar when he had to make an
emergency substitution to replace a friend forced to abandon
decks after accidently dropping a tab of acid. Some of the
gigs since then have been a little more prestigious, with
highlights at New York's famed Shelter playing as support
to Louie Vega and accompanied by keyboard legend David Cole
of Clivilles and Cole, a memorable night at Pacha in Portugal
with David Morales and Azuli's David Piccioni; the momentous
Hard Times mega-bash at Bagleys, in London; PopKomm in Cologne
with MAW; Pacha, Ibiza with Roger Sanchez and Eric Morillo
and many other Strictly Rhythm parties worldwide.
kicked off with a label night at Ministry of Sound in Summer
2001 featuring DJ Pierre and Jazzy M, and since then Phil
has been playing under the essence banner both around the
UK and internationally. A long-time supporter of the US house
sound with many friends and contacts in the US dance scene,
Phil's current style spans traditional vocal house and garage,
jazz and Latin influences and when the occasion demands, tougher
bookings, please e-mail us here