READ: An Interview with Louie Vega
Louie! You’re a legend. Your contribution to music makes you a certified legend, so thank you for finding the time to catch up with us.
Thank you for the wonderful compliment. I’m humbled.
So tell us, where are you now, where are you writing this from?
I’m writing this from the airplane going to Ibiza from Rome. Touring now in Europe for summer.
We’re halfway through the year. What was your main objective for 2016, and is it going according to plan?
My main objective was to get the new album Louie Vega Starring…XXVIII out to the world. We have accomplished – it’s out now digitally, on vinyl & CDs.
PR by Melissa Maouris has been superb and best of all, the fans are happy with 28 songs performed by 25 super talented artists ranging from legends to seasoned artists & singers to younger artists who are exploding worldwide.
Talk to me about Kenny Dope. How did you first meet? How’s it been sharing elements of your journey together?
Kenny and I met through our mutual friend Todd Terry. They’re both from Brooklyn and I’m from The Bronx. Once we connected the magic began. There is an aligning of the universe when we get together, it’s inexplainable. I couldn’t see Kenny for a few months but when we get together it’s as if it was yesterday when we last saw each other. The energies and skills combined really take our music to special places and you can see that when the tracks are played out. The music stands out and you can easily see why there is such a sacred connection!
When you guys were creating remixes how did you select which tracks you’d remix? What would prompt you to take a track on?
The track or song would have to have a hook to bring us in, or in lots of cases we created hooks using riffs and licks of music or phrases. The music 95% of the time was fresh and new, nothing to do with the original. We were and still do end up writing new music and beats under the existing song or hooks we come up with. So if we heard something and it could be one of us, the other would support the belief in the idea then compliment it.
Along your journey, what have been some of the most crucial lessons you’ve learnt along the way
Lessons – so many.
You must trust each other. And we do. No one gets in between.
We learned about contracts – reading and understanding them – be not afraid to speak up and get what you deserve.
Learned abut publishing.
Creating our own templates for bookings and gigs.
Running our offices and having an amazing staff and support system. That took years.
Running our own labels and ownership of masters and what we’ve created.
Dealing with artists and producers that may sign to one of our labels.
No matter how crazy this business is nothing gets In the way of each other.
We are ready now for new Masters At Work in 2017!
And the most inspiring and/or supportive character you’ve encountered along the way?
Most inspiring for me has been Ananè Vega. She’s an artist, DJ and entrepreneur. She started with a dream and talent and she’s rising to the top! Look her up (www.ananesworld.com) and check her out at 51st State Festival.
How was it working with legends like Roy Ayers and George Benson?
A dream come true may sound like a usual answer but it really was! And it’s been ongoing; we’re friends and still work together today. We’ve got some upcoming projects in the works. They are Kings of Funk & Soul.
There’s a recent Boiler Room of you and Kenny Dope using what must be different equipment from what you started out using – how is it using new kit, how does it feel using it all now?
As the years go on, more and more new technology arises and we’ve always been eager to play with today’s equipment. We’ve been lucky enough to start with turntables into CDs, USBs, computers, rotary mixers, fader mixers, effects units, isolators, the list goes on. It all adds dynamics to the sets and sky’s the limit on creativity, it’s what you do with the piece that counts 😉 Same goes for the studio – we are avid collectors of vintage pieces but also have the best in today’s plugins and software to our liking.
Originally you’re from Puerto Rico – have you carried heritage and influences from there through your sound & style, and if so how?
Always! I’ve always suggested to others the same. It’s important to carry on your heritage and having the ability to do this through our music is something we’ve always done. For example my uncle Hector LaVoe, who is the greatest Salsa Singer, has recorded genius albums with trombonist and the greatest producer of Latin music, Willie Colon. I had the pleasure of remixing one of their big hits “Mi Gente” which brought their sound to today’s house and dance clubs internationally, and also my sound to their followers. It was released on Fania Records, which is also being a big part of my heritage – the label is the Motown of Latin music. Working with all above was a true honour and helped me contribute to our heritage!
Kenny and I have done this for years with much of our culture and many other cultures: African, Brazilian and more. As well bringing jazz, funk, soul, hip hop, gospel, rock into house music, we are always searching for sounds to incorporate.
What’s your relationship to London? What do you think of the 51st State concept?
London I’ve been coming to since 1989!!! I was there and played at Sunrise and Energy, High On Hope and Ministry Of Sound. Our music was first embraced in London and I will never forget that. The people of London have history with house & soul music. So for me playing in London is always special. It’s now become a melting pot of people coming together under one groove and that is what 51 State Festival is to me. You don’t have many festivals in London that bring together such an array of talent in our scene at the same time. I thank festivals like Southport and others for that inspiration!
51st State last year was an unforgettable experience and this year get ready for yet another musical & spiritual journey brought to you by the best of the best in our genre! It takes people with true passion to go with an idea and take that left turn when everyone’s on the right. 51st State Festival I see around for a long time, you’ll always leave musically satisfied because of the clever lineups and vibe at the festival!
Let’s gooooooo London we gonna have a funky good time !!!
Words by Sophie James