the label

Based 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.

With 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.

Having 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.

'House 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.'

the boss : Phil Cheeseman

One 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.

Now 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.

It 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.

Phil 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.

With 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.

Essence 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 techy grooves.

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