Nearly two decades in the game, Little Louie Vega is a legend on the House music scene. He has taken his unique brand of soulful, uplifting House all over the world, making him one of the most prolific and celebrated Dance DJs to come out of NYC.
As one half of production duo Masters at Work, he has won a Grammy and worked with the likes of Madonna, Michael Jackson and George Benson, creating some of the most memorable dance floor fillers of the last decade.
Allhiphop.com headed down to London’s exclusive Artspace Galleries for the VIP launch of his new project Lust, where we caught up with the Latin superstar DJ to find out what it’s like to continuously tour the globe, the importance of honing your craft as a DJ and why art and music fit together so well…
Take us back to the early days; do you remember when you first got behind the decks?
At about thirteen years old. My friend’s older brother had a load of equipment and that’s how it all started, I fell in love with the turntables, and ever since then I’ve never looked back. I started travelling in 1989 and my first trip was to Tokyo and then it was London. I played at all the big raves back in the day and have been touring ever since; it’s been a wonderful ride.
You started out spinning at house and block parties in your neighbourhood in the Bronx, did you have an idea then how big you’d become?
I never thought it would be this big, I never thought that I’d leave New York! It took a little time, it didn’t happen overnight. I did a lot of Sweet Sixteens; a lot of weddings, I did all that. So I was working hard on my craft, learning as much as I could from my peers and people that were more experienced and had a lot going on musically. I was lucky enough to hang in the studio with people like Arthur Baker in the eighties; they really opened their arms and said come in and absorb, so that’s what I did.
Growing up in the Bronx in that era there must have been quite a big emphasis on HipHop. Did you ever consider going down the HipHop route and did to what extent did it influence what you were doing?
I started with HipHop music and I was there right at the beginning with Afrika Bambaataa, Jazzy Jay, Afrika Islam; they all started in the projects about one block from where I lived. At that time it was just about good music; a lot of HipHop influences came from Break beats, from Disco, Jazz. I got a lot of schooling from Jazzy Jay; he was one of my mentors. I still keep in touch with him to this day. He’s definitely one of the reasons that I got into this.
What do you feel it takes to be a successful DJ?
You’ve got to know how to read a crowd. A good DJ to me creates an atmosphere; that when you walk in, you feel something; that’s the vibe that’s being created by the DJ. When you see people with their eyes closed, it means you got ‘em (smiles). You obviously have to have your skills together, be very ambitious, learn your craft; you have to have knowledge of where it comes from, that’s very important. Don’t be afraid to take chances and be a little different, because you don’t always have to do what everybody else is doing. If you do it well, people will appreciate it.
What’s it like being a superstar DJ, is it all champagne and jet setting?
The DJ life is whatever you make it out to be, if you want to be a party animal you can be a party animal. I mean I’m a family man and I travel a lot, I have a good time, I know a lot of people around the world, but there’s a limit to everything, you have to know how to pace yourself as a DJ because everywhere you go, every day, there’s a new group of people, a new party, with new happy faces. The hardest part is to travel so much and keep up with it physically as the body can only take so much and playing in a different country everyday almost is crazy. So I’ve learnt to eat better, and take care of myself a lot more, and not be excessive- have a good time, and show people a good time, because that’s what I’m here for, but not to take it to that extreme.
How do you juggle your family commitments with work?
It’s very hard to keep up, you have to manage your time, because things happen sporadically; people wanna do this on the other side of the world and it’s hard to balance everything, so I’ve tried to slow down a little- not stop, but try to balance my life. Because my son’s growing, he’s seven years old now. I always try and bring him on the road with me and during summertime my family travel with me. I tour around my son’s schooling now; his vacations are my vacations, that’s the way you gotta do it.
Your new album Lust has been described as an erotic music-art project. How did it all come together?
I was approached by Susu Records to work with Jonas Larrson, an amazing photographer from Sweden who took some real sexy, beautiful and exotic photos. So I came up with a double CD of some real sexy music inspired by his work. The music we make has always been very theatrical and colourful, with a lot of different faces, like art. The two genres definitely go together very well and what we wanted to do was just marry the two and come up with something really sexy, yet tasteful.
What’s next for you?
I’m gonna be doing the Vega Records sessions all summer, everywhere from Ibiza to the UK, you know, world over. My band Elements of Life will release their third album by the end of the year, called One Dream, and I’m also developing new artists, such as Mr. V. I also have a new compilation coming for summertime, and in the meantime, it looks like we’ll be touring galleries now with this project! It all keeps me busy every day.
Little Louie Vega’s VIP Launch Party
Superstar House DJ Little Louie Vega recently held an exclusive art exhibition/DJ set in London, after a successful preview at Miami’s Winter Music Conference earlier this year. The event was put on to showcase his new project, Lust, an innovative combination of music and erotic art, courtesy of rising Swedish visual artist Jonas Larsson.
Staged at the prestigious Artspace Galleries in the City’s upmarket Mayfair, Vega took control of the decks as the Capital’s cool and trendy dined on sushi and champagne, whilst browsing the pieces on display and being treated to a playback of the album, also called Lust. It was inspired by Larsson’s work and the pair have now teamed up to present their concept to the world.
The Grammy Award-winning DJ has previously collaborated with the likes of Madonna and Michael Jackson and is world renowned for his uplifting House music, playing everywhere from New York to London and beyond.
His latest album, out now, is nothing short of what you’d expect from the sensational spinner, and the event, which had a glamorous yet relaxed vibe, once again proved that there’s no-one like the New York native when it comes to entertaining guests and providing top notch House music to groove to.
By Anna Nathanson