Ahead of his headline slot at the Easter Sunday soulful house takeover, house legend Louie Vega sits down with Groove Odyssey to talk about his upcoming set, his Elements of Life project and his friend Frankie Knuckles.
Groove Odyssey: You’ve been a regular name at Groove Odyssey for many years now, what do you think the future holds for GO and the soulful house scene now that the trend seems to be swinging back towards house?
Louie Vega: I think the future is looking good for Groove Odyssey! The soulful house sound is in everyone’s ears now and you are the leaders in the UK with the deep sound. It’s gone beyond the underground house crowd, which is great as now there are also new kids that want more of this deep sound.
London has always held you dear in their hearts, how do you think the scene here has evolved?
London has always been in my heart, as it’s the first place I came to on this side of the water and the first crowd that really embraced my sound. I’m glad London is coming back round to the deep sound, with groups like Disclosure writing songs with elements of deep and soulful house. London has always been ahead of the curb with music, but that's true now, more than ever, now that deep house is back in the charts.
What has kept your DJ sets so appealing over the past 20 years?
I’d say the appeal of my sound comes from the fact that when I play music, you can tell I’m giving you a piece of my soul. I transcend emotions through my DJing and connect with the crowd. My sound is really just what I like, you can’t really say it’s latin or soul or gospel house or classic, I play what I’m feeling at that time. When you see me DJing, it’s an experience, lots of times people go through many emotions while I’m DJing – from crying, to smiling, to singing along. I have had people tell me I’ve saved their life and they’ve been serious!
How do you keep your mixes so fresh?
I keep the mix experience fresh by trying new gadgets. My mixing style is always the same – blending records and cutting them, but it’s what I do with them that keep it fresh. I have isolators, which allow me to speak to the audience and create dynamic effects. The RMX 1000 pioneer is another wonderful new toy I like to use as well.
Do you have any 'wonderful toys' you use in the studio?
I’m always getting a new keyboard or plug-in or new piece of gear which excites me and brings out new vibes in my keyboard playing. I can write an entire new song just by hearing a new keyboard plug-in!
You are playing Groove Odyssey alongside the legendary Josh Milan, who works on your Elements of Life project. How did that project come around?
Josh Milan is a very close friend, a brother to me. I’ve known him and Kevin Hedge for many years. We started working on Elements of Life in 1999 when we first created the original song “Elements of Life”. I had this track and they had these amazing lyrics that fit perfectly. The track ended up being really different from any other music I had created before. It was just at the start of my relationship with Anane (my wife) and once I heard she could sing and write, we went into the studio. From there the Elements of Life family was born!
It’s a huge group of musicians, right?
My dream was to have a full band, but I didn’t expect to be on stage conducting until my musicians asked me to! The Elements of Life orchestra rhythm section is made up of many musicians I’ve worked with over the years, including; Josh Milan, Anane Vega, Luisito Quintero (percussion), Gene Pereze (bass), Jerard Snell (drums), Axel Tosca (keyboards), Sherrod Barnes (guitar). We are a family and have grown to include even more amazing talent, who join us on occasional shows. Here we are, still together, 10 years since the release of the original Elements of Life album.
The new EOL album is out, what tracks will be released from the album?
The new album is called Eclipse, and we are preparing 5 EPs to be released throughout this year. Each EP will focus on one of the artists: Anane, Josh Milan, Lisa Fischer, Cindy Mizelle and the Elements of Life Band. The first release will be Anane EOL Eclipse EP Remixes. I will be playing some of them at Groove Odyssey and you can hear the rest of the EPs as they come out later this year.
On the back of Miami’s WMC, you will be playing some hot new music at the GO party. Can you tell us what your 3 hot tips are from the conference?
Here are the three I will definitely be playing this weekend
“Ain’t No Stoppin’ Love” – Louie Vega feat. Byron Stingley
“Just Like Love” (Louie Vega Remix) – Josh Milan & Chieko
“Sample Your Soul” – Nick Monaco
With the passing of the legendary Frankie Knuckles, can we ask how and when you first met him?
I met Frankie in the late 80s at a club called The World. That was the first time we shook hands and when we were introduced he pulled me into a hug, he was just that type of person. He was very genuine, down to earth, humble. He was very special. You don’t get anymore real than FK! He was super talented of course as well, he taught us all and will still be a teacher to new DJs forever.
Do you have a favourite memory of him?
There are a lot of memoires to choose from, but for David Morales’ birthday we all played together in Myconos at Cavo Paradiso. At one point the three of us were all in the booth, each of us working a piece of equipment. I felt then like I’d done it all! Just to be next to him in the DJ booth, working together was huge for me. FK was to me a friend, a brother, a hero and an icon to us all.
What is your favourite Frankie record?
I love lots of his music, but “The Whistle Song” and “The Pressure” really bring out emotions in me. Now I can’t hear them without getting a knot in my throat.
Awesome! Thanks for your time and before you go can you tell us what song we should be listening to as we head out the door on our way to Groove Odyssey this Sunday?
“The Whistle Song”!!
Louie Vega is headlining the Groove Odyssey Easter Sunday takeover at Ministry of Sound, book in advance to avoid disappointment!
15 Apr 2014