Once I arrived at Mr. V’s studio he let me listen to a Deep House track he was finishing up and taught me exactly what he was doing to enhance the track step by step. He also let me hear the "before" version of the track. Let me tell you, listening to the before and after of this track showed me how extremely talented Mr. V is, as if I (you) didn’t know that already. Afterwards we conducted this interview.
CGNY: Mr. V thank you for taking the time out to do this interview for ClubbersguideNewYork.
V: Thanks for having me.
CGNY: Tell everyone where you grew up.
V: I grew up on the Lower East Side; I spent 22 years of my life on the Lower East Side. Moved to Brooklyn in 99 and stood there for 4 years and now I reside in Staten Island, NY. I’ve been here for the past few years.
CGNY: I saw one of your childhood photos online; you looked like you were a bad little boy. Did you get into a lot of trouble growing up in the mean streets on New York City?
V: No but I did get kicked out of Catholic School really early. I was cool, I had an older brother and younger sister who picked on me; we picked on each other. I think I was mediocre. I kept to myself a lot in school. I had a very select few group of friends. No real trouble, nothing crazy. Plus, my mom was scary.
CGNY: When you think back to that time (your childhood), what was some of the hottest music playing on the radio?
V: Wow, that’s a good question. I remember 98.2 on the radio, Kiss FM was on. I remember listening to (Mr. V then breaks out in song) “Mama used to say, take your time young man”, all those records. Radio was good. These were the years of Stephanie Mills. A lot of those R & B/ Disco records were really out. My mom used to play that a lot. The music was good, house wasn’t even out there yet but it was very soulful and disco-ey.
CGNY: Is that what you mainly grew up listening to?
V: Yeah, I listened to a lot of things. There was Disco, Salsa, Merengue, Funk, Soul.
My mom was into everything; she owned a Social Club. They did after-hours and played everything.
CGNY: Is it true that you have been Deejayng since the age of 14?
V: Yes, I was dabbling with Deejaying. I wasn’t taking it serious when I was 14. I met Lord G, he got DJ equipment for his birthday and every chance I could I would go to his house and just fool around as much as possible. I just like Deejaying, there’s something about it that just makes me feel good.
CGNY: You know we have something HUGE in common! I understand that the weekly Underground Network parties Louie Vega used to throw in New York City back in the 1990s are where you found your passion for House Music? I too am a victim. Those parties changed my life!
V: Yes those parties were good! I used to do lights back then. It was just seeing the atmosphere, how serious the industry was every week, how different it was. At that time, Louie was breaking all the classic records that we know now-a-days and they were just being broken. The 90’s gave birth to Masters at Work. You had St. Germain, Mood II Swing, Frankie Feliciano; it gave birth too all that. It was just a great era, a great time for music.
CGNY: How did you and Alix Alvarez start working together?
V: I met Alix at Bass Hit Studios in the city. He was an intern and I was working in the office for Masters at Work. We just hit it off, he was hungry to get in the business and so was I. I had this party called Sole Channel; I asked him to be a part of it and he did.
CGNY: What influences can be found in your tracks? Describe your style(s).
V: I’m into everything – House Music, R & B, Soul, Funk, Jazz, everything. I try to incorporate a little bit of everything into the music. I think House Music has gotten to a level where it’s just been so stagnant, it’s been so flat that people haven’t been doing much with it. I think that’s what’s happening in today’s music, a lot of it is the same old. I think Deejays and producers need to be taking more challenges. There was something that was said by Quentin Harris, which to me made a lot of sense, the average DJ just plays very flat, they don’t really go across the board the way they used to and I totally agree with that. I think every DJ should have some sense of just bringing the music element into their sets instead of the same old four on the floor the next 3 hours. I always loved Deejays that took chances.
CGNY: Your discography is pages long..What are a few of your own personal faves?
V: Just Dance, Something with Jazz, Blaze remix on Slip and Slide, there are so many, anything on my first album. I have my personal faves and those are it but everything I do, I love.
CGNY: Your recent collaboration with Fedde le Grand on Back and Forth, how did that come about? Who approached who?
V: Fedde approached me. Sent me a demo of a record called Back and Forth, it was an Electro track and it was a little weird. I didn’t like the track. I thought there was nothing to the track, I felt like it was just a white guy singing “Back and Forth”. What can I do with this track? How am I going to get a chorus out of it? So instead, of me scratching and editing the song, I left ‘Back and Forth” and I wrote around it. I decided to build around the “Back and Forth” acapella that was in it already. That was it, after that it took me about 4 – 6 hours to complete.
CGNY: Past or Present – Who have you always dreamed of collaborating with?
V: Kanye West, that’s it! Nobody else – Kanye West is the guy I wanted to work with forever. I think that guy is not just a lyrical genius but a production genius and I would love to just…. I don’t even have to work with him, just to hang out in the studio for one day or a few hours; I just want to meet the dude. That’s my idol right there, that’s my Quincy Jones. Everyone says Quincy, Stevie, whatever, no it’s Kanye.
CGNY: During a performance, what crowd has surprised you the most and why?
V: South Africa, Johannesburg, 2006. I performed at the South African Music Conference and there were 3000 people; I did not expect that until the lights came on. I was like – Holy Shit! That was cool.
CGNY: GOD FORBID music was ever outlawed, what would be your second career choice?
V: Marketing all the way.
CGNY: Tell us about your clothing line Made in New York? Most importantly, where can I get one of those T-Shirts?
V: Right now you can get Made in New York at www.wearitoutonline.com Made in New York I started last year. It’s a clothing line that features everything, not just music, things I like to see written on a shirt. For instance, I wanted to do a T-Shirt with Arnold (from Different Strokes), he usually does “What you talking about Willis” but in the caption of his thought it would say “Damn, I really loved that last record he played”; really different things than just having words on shirt. If you see a shirt on a girl that says in bold “Just play me” you’re going to think twice. If I create a shirt for females that says “Producer” on it you’re still going to do a double take and be like – well what do you produce? Remember girls produce children; they produce all kinds of things. My wife wore recently a NY Jets T-shirt and I always found that when girls wear sportswear it is incredibly sexy. It makes the guys look 3 times. Yo she got a Jets shirt on, she watches football. It makes you think. Just something to create a buzz and that’s where Marketing comes in. I took Marketing for 4 years. They always say that if you don’t sell the product it’s always great to sell the person; if that person takes a look at your product for 30 seconds, they’re sold.
CGNY: What is the one I-Phone app you cannot live without?
V: My very own Mr. V I-Phone app.
CGNY: Describe the I-Phone app. What makes it so special?
V: The Mr. V I-Phone app has classic house mixes of the 90”s that you can’t get anywhere else but on this app. It also has the best of the 80’s on there. It has an after-hours mix, which is the only place you get to hear me play more Electro rhythms; more late night stuff which is more pumpy instead of soulful. I have the standard Soulful House mixes on there; three different mixes you can’t get anywhere else. That’s why I love the app.
CGNY: Please tell your fans an interesting fact that we don’t already know about you.
V: It is a fact that I used to dance on MTV’s The Grind back in the 90’s
I never told anyone that till this interview. Hopefully no one sees this! Lol
CGNY: What! Hopefully everyone sees this! We have to find that Youtube video of MTV’s The Grind. What are we looking for? Did you have an afro back then or something?
V: No no. I was just one of the dancers on there with some of the dancers from Sound Factory Bar. They needed an extra, so I was on there. I hope the tapes never show up!
CGNY: What can fans look forward to from Mr. V in the future?
V: Wow – A lot! My next album which is called ‘Welcome Back’, Miss Patty’s album ‘The Intro’, a bunch of new music and remixes, a lot of things. The best way to keep in touch with us is www.solechannelmusic.com the reason why I say that is because we have our hands, I have my hands, in so many different things. I think I’m going to go by an alias and change my name to ‘Dr. Octopus’ because I have so many things I am doing. There’s Music for Tomorrow, the sister label to Sole Channel Music, which is coming in the next few months. We have a brand new label coming out just like Sole Channel Music except it’s just another place to make the releases come a bit quicker because we are so backed up on music, it’s not even funny. We got about another year’s worth of music that we have yet to put out, it’s backed up from years ago, so we decided to do another label where every 2 weeks there’s something new from us that comes out. Just log on to the website, that’s the best way to keep abreast of us.
I also have a residency in Italy every month. At the end of every month I leave to Italy and I have my own residency at this incredible club called Moxa Club. This season so far they’ve had: Grand Master Flash, Afrika Bambaattaa, Osunlade, DJ Spinna, Karizma, Derrick Carter, a bunch of people have already played there. The season started in September 2010. So definitely go to my website and you can find the info on that. If you are in Europe you can come see me play.
It’s all Deep House, if everything under the sun.