A Sit Down With DJ Little Louie Vega

A godfather of global dance music, Louie Vega has painted an award-winning career from a palette mixed with everything from salsa and afro-beat to jazz, hip-hop and soul. What distinguishes the Grammy winner and 4-time nominee as one of the best living house music deejays is his ability to evolve alongside the times, distill the current musical landscape through his unique taste and put his own timeless spin on it.


“Dedicated is what we are. The people do this to us – all over the world there are many who seek this music and come to get enlightened through the DJ.”


About your Djing… What trax have been tearing it up for you in club-land?

Two tracks tearing up on the dancefloor are:

1) “Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You” (Louie Vega Remix)
2) “Dance” (Dance Ritual Mix) 3 Winans Brothers & The Clark Sisters
see I play lots of music as well not released for a few months. These are coming out in April and may 2015 look out for them, they are monster songs / tracks.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that’s particularly dear to you, please? Where do ideas come from, what do you start with and how do you go about shaping these ideas?

When I work on an album I usually start with tracks I’ve created to give it a base, a cluster of grooves. I then start working with lyricists to get the first few songs. then I choose the artist. Sometimes the artist is already on board and I may have something in mind for them, or I will speak to them and see what they want to talk about. If I’m working with another lyricist I will convey that to the lyricist along with my ideas. Or in some cases the artist writes lyrics so it can work that that way as well. I’ll come with a track and hand over to the artist then they will either feel the track or may want more and I will go back in and add more to compliment what the artist wanted, then they will start with lyrics. I will check the first phase of lyrics starting with the title. It has to hit me regarding the title, then if we are good move on and let’s get the lyrics in place. I may have melody on a piano, or Rhodes already which guides the lyricist to follow my melody, or the lyricist / artist may have a melody already then I will compliment it later in my production. That’s just a few of many ways it can come about.

Where do you continue to seek musical inspiration?

My inspiration comes from many places all over the world, especially in New York. It can be a performance from an artist, my record collection, a night at Roots, even hanging out with family and friends. My mind is always moving with many musical ideas and collaborations that come to mind.

Tell us about your studio, please. What were criteria when setting it up and how does this environment influence the creative process? How important, relatively speaking, are factors like mood, ergonomics, haptics and technology for you?

My studio is called Daddy’s Workshop, in New Yersey. It is located in the lower part of my home.
Love working there, the mood is magic, there are lots of vinyl records everywhere in cubes, and there are pictures of many I’ve worked with over the years. There is a DJ set-up on one side of the room, which resembles that of one of the NYC super clubs back in the day, and there is a studio set-up on the other side. They are face to face with each other. from the scent of the room to the lighting the mood is just perfect for making music, and when anyone comes over, the feeling is just right for them to perform at best. Everyone who has been there loves it and magical recording sessions have happened for over 10 years.

If we could go back to one record in your history and relive that process which would it be?

The Nuyorican Soul project. Especially the photoshoot for the album. Everyone was in a New York restaurant, hanging out just having fun, getting to know one another since at sessions we mostly worked with the icons separately. All the artists on the Nuyorican Soul project in the same room, photographer Dah Len working his magic to create those historical pictures – it summed up what Kenny and I loved to do: bring together lots of talent, get the best out of them and create art! That’s when we realised what we had done: not just made a monumental album, but unified musical forces. I’m proud to say I’ve achieved that with ‘Starring… XXVIII’ too.

Tell us about Vega Records. What artists are you currently producing and are excited about?

Vega Records is developing nicely. We have a new album out now by Luisito Quintero titled Percussion Maddness. Anane just finished recording her new album Selections with her new single “Walking on Thin Ice” released next month. And Mr. V’s new album Welcome Home will be released this fall, which we licensed to Defected Records. His first single will be “Da Bump”. A video is being produced as we speak. Singles from all artists above will be released this coming fall and winter.

Have you been touring more than usual?

With the DJing thing being so huge now, I’m playing a lot in so many places. But it’s very important to get inspiration from all these different energies you get in different countries. This album is very multicultural—African, Latin, jazz and soul—and it’s wonderful to travel to all these places, because it feeds into the music.

You’re still a very busy man.

Yes, I do DJ. I do a lot of DJ gigs and I also have a band. It’s called E.O.L. Soulfrito and I have a bigger band called Elements of Life. With E.O.L. Soulfrito, we actually just came back from Cuba. We played at the jazz festival on January 18 in a beautiful theater, and it was for the Two Beats, One Soul project. It’s a new project, an album that I’m on and a documentary that’s coming out by Vivian Chew and Ray Chew. A lot of great artists are on this project; there’s Eric Benét, Sergio George, Jean Rodriguez, Jon B., all the Cuban musicians… I ended up doing four songs. So we went out to Cuba to perform the songs. They asked me to come in and produce two songs, and a few weeks ago we just went out and performed in this beautiful theater called Teatro Mella. You know, I got to see the whole scene in Cuba, it was amazing. I played in a club called F.A.C. — Fábrica del Arte Cubano — wow, it was really wonderful. I had a great time. I think we might be touring that project in the U.S.

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