The Nightlife 5: Louie Vega

by Marcos Colón
07.05.2011


While in most music careers, longevity may lead to some stale sounds. In dance music, it only adds more to new work you produce. Known as one of the pioneers in dance music, it's safe to say that Louie Vega's been around the block once or twice. The son of a prominent jazz saxophonist, and nephew of the legendary salsa singer Héctor Lavoe, from the start Vega was destined for musical greatness. After his renown work with Masters At Work, he began to cultivate a unique sound that combines the elements of Afro-tribal rhythms, soulful vocals, and a dash of Latin beats.  The New York City DJ-producer hosts one of the most eclectic residencies in the city at Cielo, and brings in a heavy dose of classic house grooves with a salt and peppering of contemporary dance sounds. His recently released Mad Styles and Crazy Vision 2 double mix CD features music from a wide range of artists, including Basement Jaxx feat Yoko Ono, Dennis Ferrer, Anané, Todd Terry, Loco Dice, and Black Coffee. Throughout this new compilation he always stays true to his roots, and those roots are what have gotten him this far.

We recently caught up with Louie Vega for the latest addition of the Nightlife 5, where he goes into his love of New York City, what his favorite rooms to play are, and what club everyone should experience.

Clubplanet: As legendary name in house music in NYC, what has changed most in nightlife since your initial days in the club?

Louie Vega:
Nightlife in NYC for our music is more about the intimate rooms. I have a a party and residency at Cielo called "Roots NYC" with Kevin Hedge which happens on Wednesday nights. We have a wonderful time every Wednesday and get the best of our fans in NY, from overseas and even the new ears experiencing our sound who usually get converted. The larger rooms we do use for special occasions as well, but it's usually on holidays for these events. There are a handful of wonderful parties in NYC that cater to the house vibe. The unique thing about NYC is that there is always something for everyone.
 
Clubplanet: You have a new double mix CD on the horizon that's considered a 'journey into electronic, soulful, Afro, and Latino rhythms.' You're known for always keeping a dash of that old school vibe, yet you keep moving forward. Do you feel that young up and comers forget about the past sounds that got the dance music genre where it is today?

Louie Vega:
I always stress how important it is to know where this music comes from, and I also love thinking forward as well, but one helps the other. I am into the best of both worlds.

Clubplanet: You've played some of the biggest clubs in the nation, but when it boils down to it, NYC is always home. What makes nightlife in New York City so special?

Louie Vega:
New York City nightlife is special because of the people here and the history we have with this music. We've been through a few decades of dance music here in NYC, much of it was created here. There has been history with disco, hip-hop, house, Latin, jazz, world, rock/dance and much more here we've all grown up with and had unforgettable memories with. So when we create nights like Flashback (a night of all kinds of classics that we do at Roots), garage parties, tributes, you really get the true essence of where our music today comes from. When it happens in NYC it's so real because the people that come out show you how it was and still is. I'm speaking people from way back experience to the new heads who appreciate and want to feel why that sound is so powerful.

Clubplanet: After hours of playing in the club, sometimes you need a night off too. Where do you go for a low-key cocktail, and what's your poison at the bar?

Louie Vega:
For a low key cocktail, I usually go to nice dinners in NYC. From Mr. Chows, Nobu, and Bond St. to a local spanish restaurant in the lower east side or The Bronx (Latin Kitchen). At places like these there are wonderful cocktails. But I usually don't go to a club environment to have a cocktail. Boom Boom Room & Le Bain at the Standard, Yotel, and many other hidden gems in NYC.

Clubplanet: We're sure at the start of your career the clubs were small, but now you've played the cream of the crop. What's one nightclub out there that you think everyone should experience a night of?

Louie Vega:
Actually, when I started my career all the clubs were big and had super sound systems by Richard Long. Its actually way more intimate than it was before smaller venues, but Cielo is one with a tight sound system. I think everyone should experience Cielo, you have the best DJs playing there, the sound is right on, and it's comfortable with a very friendly staff. More recommendations are District 36, Santos Partyhouse, Boom Boom Room, and El Ba.
 
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