As lady soul herself, Aretha Franklin, so memorably put it, it's all about respect. And respect is what record labels since year dot have constantly striven for. Although absolutely necessary - and boy do they help keep the bank manager from the door - sales come and go: any label wishing to maintain itself by always going after that 'big' record will one day come a cropper. Likewise cultural cachet: yes it can help to enliven interest within the connoisseurs of cool, but anyone dumb enough to build the foundations of an imprint on such a fleeting and arbitary notion better look at the saying 'flavour of the month' one more time, because that last word pretty much sums up how long they're going to be around.
Thankfully, respect is something Ovum has never gone without. Established in 1994 by Josh Wink out of his hometown of Philadelphia, Ovum's early noteriety was all of Wink's making. Having long been recognised as an acid house prodigy thanks to his early tracks, released both individually and in tandem with his sparring partner King Britt - most notably their E-Culture recording 'Tribal Confusion' - by the mid-'90s Wink was on a roll, as the stunning triumvarate of releases 'Higher States Of Consciousness', 'Don't Laugh' and 'I'm Ready' effortlessly attest.
The arrival of the label then was no fluke - Ovum gave Wink control, the stylish Wink with his trademark flowing blonde dreadlocks gave the label personality - nor was its moniker.
"Growing up in Philadelphia I was listening to all sorts of music," Wink recalls. "Funk, new wave, hip hop, house, jazz and disco. I always wanted Ovum to be about different types of house music. Plus Ovum's an egg, the basis of life. That's what I wanted the label to be, life music."
With King Britt on board following his stint in late period daisy age hip hoppers Digable Planets, Ovum was set. Almost immediately it hit paydirt. In 1995 the success of Wink's 'Liquid Summer' raised the profile of the label immeasurably, enabling it to follow its unique vision.
"Having travelled the world," Josh explains, "I got to see how it was done and those ideals and values I bought back to Philadelphia. The music had to be credible and it had to be revered, but just as importantly the label's integrity had to be very strong."
Compromising this vision has never been an option. Matt Brookman, label manager since 1996, understands why: "Having never jumped on any bandwagon is one of the reasons, I believe, why the label's still here ten years laters. We've never put out anything we haven't liked meaning we've passed on some big records but we've never sold out."
A four year production and distribution deal with Sony (as part of Josh signing as an artist) between 1996 and 2000 helped Ovum gain a wider footing, but it was the label's core belief of scouring the globe for the freshest talent which has seen it reap the benefits. Aaron Carl, David Alvarado, Rulers Of The Deep, Universal Agents and D'Julz have all felt the Ovum touch and they in turn have allowed the label to grow.
And as the multi-faceted nature of the aforementioned artists reveals, no two Ovum releases are the same. Something which is ably reflected in the calibre of DJs who have consistently spun its releases: Laurent Garnier, Doc Martin, Gilles Peterson Darren Emerson, Slam, Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin, Jazzanova and Layo & Bushwacka!.
"I love the fact that Jeff Mills and Erick Morillo can both play our records," boasts Josh proudly.
'The Fall Collection', the label's first compilation since 97's 'Ovum Sampler' and a comprehensive round-up of the last ten years, is further testament to Ovum's glittering breadth and depth. Stylishly traversing dance music's universal language of deep, soulful and trippy metronomic rhythms, the collection is at once triumphant, staggeringly inventive, joyful, hedonistic, mesmeric, graceful, thoughtful and hip. And drawing a line under its history to date we find the label in good health, ideally placed for dance music's next evolutionary steps.
"You know what my proudest moment of the last ten years is?" states Josh. "Being where we are right now; having survived. Yeah, there's low points, especially concerning the music industry, but this is a labour of love. That people are still interested ten years later is great."
False modesty? Not a bit. It's all about respect. Now let the music play.