We caught up with the one and only Louie Vega ahead of his set for Groove Odyssey's debut ADE party...
Hey Louie! How's everything going?
Everything is very good thank you!
Where in the world are you right now?
Just came home from South Africa touring with my elements of life band and seven artists who were all part of the show: Lisa Fischer, Josh Milan, Ananè Vega, Monique Bingham, Adeva, Bucie and an appearance by Roy Ayers who sang two songs with our band accompanying him.
Had two days off now on my way to Basel, Switzerland.
So during the past year, you released your epic 28-track album ('Starring...XXVIII'), oversaw the continued expansion of Vega Records, participated in a whole host of radio shows, played all over the world, from South Africa to NYC, and finished a European tour... do you ever stop?
I have a lot of passion for music and what I do. So right now there is no stopping. If I lose the passion that’s when I’ll decide to stop.
Massive congrats on the success of 'Starring...XXVIII' – it certainly is one of the best works to come out of the past year, if not the best, and the production really is second to none. On the album you did 28 tracks, and collaborated with 25 artists – was this concept planned out right from the beginning, or was it something that came to light while producing the album?
Thank you very much for the wonderful compliment on the album.
The album came to light in a two-year period while traveling the world. When traveling you meet many artists and you end up working with them. In my case many happened this way. I met Caron Wheeler as Soul 2 Soul and I were on the same bill in Hong Kong. N’Dea Davenport I met in Tokyo when I went to see Kyoto Jazz Massive perform in a beautiful theater. Some I already had planned to be on the record. Josh Milan, Ananè Vega , Lisa Fischer, Cindy Mizelle, and more were always a part of the record from day one. Some artists I flew to record, for example, Jocelyn Brown - I went to London to record her. The rest all in my studio daddy’s workshop, NJ. It was a very natural process.
Surely you must have had to overcome quite a few setbacks for it to all happen, especially given the scale of the project. Was there anything in particular that held you back at any point, and how did you manage to overcome it?
Not really, for me it was about coming up with the songs, once I had the songs and placed them with the artist it was a wrap. In lots of cases as well the artists wrote lyrics too, like Caron Wheeler, N’Dea Davenport, etc.
As well as ‘Starring...XXVIII’, recent releases to come out on your label include Natasha Watts’ “Everything” and “The Way It Is”, Kai & Kyle - what do you look for in terms of the style of music that you put out?
I look for a great song first. Remixes can always get done, but you need that powerful song. I made sure everyone had a good song or when I collaborated on the song or co-wrote, I would be involved every step of the way, from what the song is about to backgrounds, etc. Depending on how I felt about the outcome. It was easy with all these incredible artists.
From the artwork to the licensing, there's so much to get stuck in with when preparing a song for release - do you like to focus on the music and let the rest take its course or do you like to have a hand in every aspect of the release?
I’m involved from A to Z. I even work on all releases with my staff. This album took a lot of energy and was one of the biggest projects I had ever worked on.
As an independent label owner, Producer and DJ who’s seen the music industry turned on its head with the advent of digital do you long for the time when physical formats like CD and vinyl were king or have you fully embraced the change?
We still do vinyl; right now for ADE, Amsterdam, I made 4 pieces of vinyl, limited amount of copies, and we still do plenty of CDs too.
Now, we know you’ve been really busy over the past year, but what can we look forward to from you over the coming months?
I have several projects I’m working on...
“I Choose You” (Louie Vega Remix) - 3 Winans Brothers feat. Karen Clark (coming soon on Vega Records)
“Heaven Knows” (Josh Milan & Louie Vega remixes) - starring Ananè Vega (coming soon on Vega Records)
“See Some Light” (Louie Vega & Soul Clap remixes) - starring Nick Monaco & soul clap (coming soon on Vega Records)