“I've had lots of good times and many creations in music that have become part of people's lives, that's what gives me drive. Staying creative and trying new ventures are very important to me, its all part of the stimulation. So the answer to your question is ‘No’.”
As one of massively successful modestly monicked deep house pioneers Masters At Work, it’s unsurprising that Louie Vega remains supremely confident, admitting he’s never experienced self doubt or moments when he’s feared his career could be collapsing.
“Sometimes I have too much on my plate so the challenge is executing them with success,” he continues, “I work hard whether it’s DJing, creating music, running my label, developing artists, taking care of my publishing with my publishers, working with my Elements of Life Band, and coming up with cool ideas.”
His latest ‘cool idea’ is a summer season on Ibiza at EL Divino (Soul Heaven Presents Louie Vega & Friends), a project he’s the first to admit involves a large group of collaborators.
“Our team includes Soul Heaven CEO Fleur; myself; our events manager Martina Burke; the El Divino family (which include set designers, a talent director, costume designers, club managers - day and night) and my crew from SW Entertainment,” he says.
“Which will help our night become one of the hottest nights of the summer. We've already been preparing for the last 3 months, coordinating talent as well; everything is looking great!”
Also involving interior décor from Kenny Hwang and Anane and a serious overhaul of EL Divino’s sound system, he bullishly declares the coming season will be ‘a breath of fresh air for the island’.
“Having your own night in Ibiza definitely involves a different mindset because you’re producing an entire event for the whole summer,” says Louis, “It’s deep involvement as opposed to me just flying in and DJing.”
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Starting with your current sets, you’ve got a back catalogue stretching back almost 20 years: how important is it for you to still be playing brand new, upfront promos?
Louis Vega: “I'm a DJ and I'm always going to want to be looking for new music. I have many friends making music and I make music as well so there is always plenty of new music that’s often unreleased so frequently I'm ahead of the curve.
It’s good as well to have such an extensive catalog too, it means I have lots of music and selection to play with.”
Skrufff: What’s your take on DJs using laptops these days?
Louis Vega: “My personal opinion is I don't use the laptop when DJing, for me it takes the life out of DJing, having to be so concentrated on a computer. Though I do carry it when travelling, just in case of an emergency meaning my CDs don't make it. I move with energy and my pace in DJing and flow has lots to do with my motion behind the console. It’s great having thousands of songs on your hard drive and having software like Serato with all the new tools they are building, but you'll not see my go total computer. I'm using CDs and I'll burn whatever I want to add.”
Skrufff: What did you make of Mixmag’s last issue with their selection of top 25 most influential figures in dance: (they seemed to have hardly any Americans at all? Not you, no Todd, no David Morales, Frankie knuckles? Pierre? Were you asked?)
Louis Vega: “I didn't see the Mixmag issue with the top 25 DJs.”
Skrufff: Your Masters At Work colleague Kenny Dope chatted to Skrufff last year about growing up in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park and talked about gangs everywhere in the late 70s/ early 80s, how easy was it for you to avoid joining a gang (or getting harassed by them?)
Louis Vega: “Back in the days, yes it was like that in the streets, with gangs, etc. I didn't choose that route although they loved to go to clubs and appreciated my DJing and they eventually became fans of my music. At least I helped keep the peace with the music.”
Skrufff: Kenny also said ‘many of my people were either killed, stabbed, in jail or doing life for killing people’: what were the scariest situations you encountered Louis Vega: “Luckily I focused on my music and always stayed out of trouble. I was very ambitious and lived my music, 24 / 7. I started DJing at the age of 13 and never looked back.”
Skrufff: How much did you venture to Manhattan then: did you got to any of the big 80s clubs- such as Danceteria, Palladium or Paradise Garage?
Louis Vega: “As I said to last question I lived my music, I really did. I went to the Paradise Garage, The Funhouse, Danceteria, Palladium, Zanzibar, Inferno, Ones, you name it, I went there- I got schooled by the best. They were life changing experiences. In the mid 80s I ended up DJing at Hearthob which was the old Funhouse, and that was one of my dream clubs to DJ in. And after I’d finish playing there I’d head out to the Paradise Garage 30-4 deep (with thirty or forty friends).My first club was the Devil's Nest in the Bronx, which was owned by Fever Records owner Sal Abatiello. I go way back, but because I started very young, by the age of 19 I had spun in many of the top clubs in New York City.”
Skrufff DJing and clubbing have always been linked to alcohol and drug culture, how easy has it been for you to avoid slipping into those habits?
Louis Vega: “I've always stayed away from excessive use of anything. When gigging lots you learn to pace yourself. Of course you have an occasional drink, but if you do drink you have to take care of yourself and stay healthy. Your health is your number one priority.”
Skrufff: America appears ever more celebrity obsessed and, talking about the increase in college shootings in America, US author Lionel said recently ‘Americans appear to have lost touch with the concept of shame. Now that my compatriots have eschewed the old distinction between fame and infamy for the all-embracing concept of "celebrity", all that counts is being noticed’: how much do you agree?
Louis Vega: “I don't like the word celebrity and don't consider myself one. That is a sad life to live and can eventually drive you where you don't want to be. I agree with Lionel.”
Louie Vega & Friends runs at El Divino, Ibiza Town, every Sunday from June to September.