From the Crate: Buzzin Cuzzins ft. Romanthony “Let Me Show You Love”
The birth of our underground brand, Factory 93, not only brought on an adrenaline rush reminiscent of the renegade warehouse era of raving—on which Insomniac was founded—but it also had us thinking back to all the people, places and parties that made this whole operation possible. And with that came a burning desire to crack open our collection and dust off the classic records we couldn’t live without. Through our From the Crate series, we’ll be breaking out seminal and obscure cuts alike, imparting some knowledge in the process.
There are worse fates for a musician than being remembered as that guy from that worldwide #1 hit by Grammy-nominated Daft Punk. But the honor becomes a bit dubious when you consider there was so much more to Romanthony than the auto-tuned hook on 2000’s “One More Time”—which made the already elusive singer successful enough to withdraw from the industry before his death from kidney failure in Austin, Texas, on May 7, 2013.
To house heads everywhere, Anthony “Romanthony” Moore was known since the early 1990s as one of “the voices.” Dajae is one of the voices. Babara Tucker is one. So are Robert Owens, Jamie Principle, and Byron Stingily. The voices give life to the words in the music and to the timelessness of the moment. Years before catapulting into the history books on Daft Punk’s 2001 Discovery album, the New Jersey native was giving life to indie deep house classics—like “Now You Want Me” (1991), “The Wanderer” (1993), “Make This Love Right” (1993), “Let Me Show You Love” (1994), “Bring U Up” (1995), and “Hold On” (1999)—as a singer, songwriter, performer, and producer.
Released under his Buzzin Cuzzins alias, “Let Me Show You Love” is an exercise in funky minimalism. A simple garage beat shuffles along at a clipped pace; a bouncy bassline is accented with quick, witty organ plucks, odd grunts, and looping stutters; Romanthony’s Prince-like vocals alternate between meditatively mumbling about getting himself together and effusively pleading in one of the catchiest hooks in music history. Like his obvious purple influence, there was often an esoteric and introspective element to much of Romanthony’s music. On “Let Me Show You Love,” there is nothing but optimism and jubilation at play. The song is deceptively straightforward, and Moore pumps so much soul into it that what could have been redundant in lesser hands becomes a mesmerizing classic, thanks to his soulful touch. Romanthony’s skills were a long time in the making.
“Moore pumps so much soul into it that what could have been redundant in lesser hands becomes a mesmerizing classic.”
“When I was younger, my parents supported me 100 percent,” he told Slices DVD Magazine in 2009, alluding to his childhood piano and guitar training. “I took music lessons... and from there, I don’t just hear music—y’know, like beats and everything—I hear melodies and the structure of where it’s going.” In Romanthony’s experience and own words, music was often destined for and rooted in pain. More than technique, this maudlin truth is what centers his vocals, his songs, and his legacy.
In addition to being a songwriter and performer, Romanthony was also a producer and label founder. In 1991, he launched Black Male Records with his first release, “Now You Want Me.” “The Wanderer” followed in 1993. Expanding his reach, Romanthony’s Romanworld was released in 1997 on longtime partner label Azuli. In 1999 on Thomas Bangalter’s Roulé imprint, he released “Hold On,” a sonic precursor to their future collaboration on “One More Time.” He followed with 1999’s Instinctual with DJ Predator and 2000’s R.Hide in Plain Site on Glasgow Underground.
In 2013, Glasgow Underground released a remix EP for “Let Me Show You Love.” On the six remixes, Oliver $ goes the tribal route, Glasgow Underground’s Kevin McKay goes lean and sexy, Gavin Herlihey and Laura Jones go for the quirky breakbeats, and Mia Dora goes for an acid dub. Most compellingly, Dutch veteran Gerd adds the full vocals.
“Best mixes of this ultimate classic are the Crooklyn Mix and Quick Dub,” Gerd has said. “But both mixes do not contain the full vocal. When I was asked to do this remix, I decided to go for the same vibe but make use of the whole vocal (verses, chorus, etc). I thought there was no use trying to do something completely different. It’s hard to beat this classic. Now, there finally will be a Crooklyn Mix and/or Quick Dub with the amazing verses! I only received the vocal parts, no other parts, so it took me a while to rebuild the track with same sort of ingredients, and especially to get the sounds very similar to the original.”
That original Romanthony sound—that blend of gospel, R&B, house, and techno soaked in sweat and suffering—is what attracted Daft Punk and so many others in the 1990s. In a 2001 interview, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo told Remix Mag, “We met him at the 1996 Winter Music Conference and became friends. What’s odd is that Romanthony and Todd Edwards [who is featured on the Discovery track “Face to Face”] are not big in the United States at all. Their music had a big effect on us. The sound of their productions—the compression, the sound of the kick drum and Romanthony’s voice, the emotion and soul—is part of how we sound today. Because they mean something to us, it was much more important for us to work with them than with other big stars.”
Toward his final years, Romanthony had consciously decided to step back and watch the new generation do its thing, so he wasn’t working with many other big stars himself. But it didn’t stop him from teaming up with new talent when they reached out. Just before his death, he had just collaborated with Teengirl Fantasy and was working with Alexander “Boys Noize” Ridha, who posted on Twitter, “Romanthony was a big inspiration for many DJs of us. His voice was the most touching in house music.”
While Romanthony’s voice may have been one of the most touching, Anthony Moore the man was more elusive. Wary of journalists, he didn’t speak with media for several years. Afraid of bootlegging, he allegedly sent Glasgow Underground music via cassette only. Other times, he limited his communication to faxing. Whatever his quirks or reasons for remaining elusive, Romanthony’s impact on music is indelible, and at the root of that undeniable fact is his unflinching embrace of life’s symbiotic joy and pain. As he said in an interview with Muzik, “The vocal is still one of the most powerful things, something which lasts forever.”
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