Masters At Work (2012)

Their name says it all: Masters At Work. ‘Little’ Louie Vega and Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzalez have spent more than 20 years together, shepherding dance music down new paths with their inventive production style and imaginative feel for different musical forms. Synonymous with the rise and peak of NYC house music, Kenny Dope and Louie Vega met through their mutual friend Todd Terry, resulting in a fruitful production partnership full of timeless hits. With remixes being their specialty, the Masters at Work treatment has been given to a diverse roster of artists: from Madonna, Debbie Gibson, and Lisa Stansfield to Saint Etienne, Michael Jackson, Brand New Heavies, and about 800 other artists. They defiantly mix everything they can find - house, hip hop, funk, disco, Latin, African and jazz - into a universal groove. In doing so, MAW has become a cultural mélange unto itself, emblematic of the multicultural society in which we live. Listen to two dancefloor dons in lecture at the 2012 Red Bull Music Academy.

Hosted by Shawn Reynaldo Audio Only Version Transcript:

I want to start off not at the beginning, but with something kind of basic. The name "Masters at Work" is kind of a ballsy choice, especially when you guys were just putting out records at first. Can you talk a little bit about where the name came from?

Kenny Dope

Basically, Masters at Work goes back to my childhood days in Brooklyn, 1984, 1985. It was my old crew, and basically we did neighborhood parties. That’s basically where it started from. After that, Todd Terry used to come to the parties, who was another friend, and basically needed the name for a record. He was like, "You know, I need a title for this joint that I’m putting out." I let him use the name. So he did two titles, a song called "Alright, Alright," and another joint called "Dum Dum Cry." He put those out, they made some noise. Those were more on the electronic freestyle side of things, 1988. I started doing records at that point, and Louie was DJing at that time. Todd would bring Louie reel-to-reels to play at the club, and everything kind of just snowballed into effect from there. At that point, me putting out records, Louie was doing his thing. There was a few records that Louie had gotten from Todd. Louie actually wanted to remix a couple of my records, which never happened. But we started this company, and we started hanging out. I would go to is house, he had a drum machine there. We would mess around, and then that was basically the birth of Masters at Work, the production team, like late ’89, early 1990.

RBMA

We’ll talk a lot about Masters at Work, and what you guys have put out. But let’s scale it back a little bit. I want to talk about New York City, just because obviously, that’s where the Red Bull Music Academy is going to be this year, and that’s where you both grew up. Can you talk about, what was it like growing up in New York City in the '70s and then in the '80s, musically, culturally, and how did that affect what you guys eventually started doing with DJing and production?

Kenny Dope

Being in New York, actually, being in Brooklyn, I was surrounded by a lot of different styles of music. I’m from Sunset Park, which was primarily Puerto Rican. Next to me, I had Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, which is all Italian. Further up, it was a Jewish area. To my left, it was African-American, Jamaican. I was in the middle of all of that. So I had reggae on one side, I had Italian stuff on the other, electro and alternative stuff, rock, and then my area. Growing up to all of that that's where I learned about breaks, and learned about different styles of music. Being Puerto Rican, my pop all he played was Latin music, which I hated as a kid. I was just like, "That's my parents' music, and the old folk music." Later on, as I got into production, and started to understand music as a whole, I got into it, and the arrangements and all that kind of stuff.

RBMA

Louie, you came from a musical family, correct?

Little Louie Vega

Yeah, I was born in the Bronx, and I was raised on Stratford Avenue, which is right at the heart of where hip hop was born. Right down the block was Bronx River Projects, and there was Afrika Bambaataa, Jazzy Jay, Red Alert, Afrika Islam. Actually, Jazzy Jay was the first known DJ that I knew, just a very famous DJ, that took me under his wing when I was a kid. At the same time, I had an uncle who was a very famous salsa singer. His name was Hector Lavoe. He was on Fania Records, and he was one of the Fania All-Stars. I would see him walking in my house at like four in the morning, and bringing a little test pressing of a 45 of one of his records that became a huge hit in the next six months. That was in the family all the time. My father played sax, and he listened to a lot of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and he played jazz and also in a lot of the Latin local bands, and Latin jazz bands. My sisters were disco queens. They went to Studio 54, The Loft, Paradise Garage. They used to go out with a lot of dudes in gangs that were DJs. They would bring home all this music I never heard on the radio. I grew up listening to anything from Elton John to Steely Dan to Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones and all that. A lot of pop music at the time. I heard all this great dance music, that wasn’t the disco music that was on the radio. It was this other style, and I was like, "What is this fusion?" It ended up being loads of the classics that we play today, a lot of records you only heard in places like The Loft or the Paradise Garage. The combination of all those things, I guess, has been reflecting on me all these years.

RBMA

Did you start going to those things as well, once you got old enough? Did your sisters let you tag along to the clubs?

Little Louie Vega

Yeah, first of all, when I was a kid, I used to be in the car dropping them off in the front of the club. Imagine, you see this chaos, like 1,000 people in front of a club trying to get in. You hear the "boom-sh-boom-sh" outside, and then I've got to go back home.

(laughter)

I would drop them off, with another person in the car who was driving. It was a big tease for a long time. I finally got to go in 1980 to the Paradise Garage. That's where I first heard Larry Levan, and it just changed up the whole game. I really wanted to be a club DJ at the time.

RBMA

When you hear names like Larry Levan, and people talk about Paradise Garage, they've achieved this mythical status. The terms that people throw around, that obviously never went there. Since you were there, was it as good as everyone says? What was a night like at the Paradise Garage, with Larry Levan?

Little Louie Vega

First, I have to say that I've never, ever heard a sound system that can beat the Paradise Garage. It was an amazing sound system. It was in a room that was treated… I mean, they took something empty, like this, and built the club within that room, in this big square. You had Larry Levan, who was this musical genius. He started like all of us. I think he was a light man or something, and the DJ didn't show up, and he just started playing. He had a great taste for music and sound. Then you had Richard Long, who was the creator of the sound systems that you see that started like a Ministry of Sound. You've got to imagine, in New York City at that time, there were about 20 Ministry of Sounds. Imagine clubs with sound systems like that, and anywhere you went, the DJs were amazing. They were playing great music, and it sounded great. But the Paradise Garage became the blueprint, and The Loft, even before the Paradise Garage because The Loft was in 1970 or whatever. I wasn’t around at those times; I’d be a little older. My sisters went to those places. They're ten years older than me, and I was the little kid, just watching them and checking things out. The Paradise Garage was a magical place, the lighting system, the sounds. He didn't even use monitors. I mean, he didn't use headphones. He had Bose speakers that were like his headphones. It was weird, I would never be able to play like that. He wasn't a super- technical guy, but he definitely created an atmosphere, and made those records sound amazing, and knew what to play after what. There were no musical boundaries. He would play something that was influenced by rock, something that was influenced by jazz, it just went all around the scope. He just had an open mind for music but was all danceable. That was it. I just saw this interview, because Lenny Fontana, I don't know if you guys know, you should check this out, I think his dad used to work at a radio station or something, and he recorded some interviews from Larry Levan. When you hear him talk, you could tell he was definitely way ahead of his time. It definitely was magical. It was a great time, that’s it. I think today, there’s other good times, and it’s a world now. It’s not just New York, it’s all around the world. Now you have kids from around the world making the music that's inspired by that sound. It is part of the roots of dance music, and New York in general, with hip hop as well.

RBMA

When you both started DJing, what kind of stuff were you playing initially?

Kenny Dope

I started playing reggae. I was playing reggae and hip hop, primarily. That's where it started for me. I graduated to actually trying to make beats, instrumentals to play in my sets. I would record them on reel-to-reel, and play them at the parties. At the same time, at that same moment, in '85, that's when house music was introduced in New York. That's when Marshall Jefferson had "Move Your Body," and a lot of Trax records coming in from Chicago. I worked at a record store at that point as well, so I was able to hear everything that was coming out. At that point, coming up, I learned how to play a lot of different styles of music, because that's what people wanted to hear. At the same time, on the radio, listening to Marley Marl, and listening to Red Alert, and listening to Chuck Chillout, they played everything. They would play Prelude records, they would play breakbeat records, they would play hip hop, of course. But I came up on the DJ being able to play a lot of different styles, which is really important. That's something that we followed up with. Louie as well, he did the same thing. When we started with the production, we brought in a lot of different elements as well. The loud bass, percussions, horns. We just wanted the sound to be more organic, once we got into it. Initially, when we first came out, we started doing dubs. Because we wanted people to know that we can mess with it, and do that sound. We were new, together. Louie had a career before that, but I was the new kid on the block. That was our introduction into the game. I guess from coming up with all that different music, and then that's where the Latin came back. We introduced that as well to it, records that are still being played today. It can go on and on.

RBMA

Louie, what about you? What were you spinning?

Little Louie Vega

That was it. Growing up in New York, you just grew up to different sounds and different styles. I was playing hip hop. Remember I said Jazzy Jay took me under his wing. I was playing, what do you call that, electro, back in the early '80s. I played disco, I played r&b, I played '80s electro, reggae. I think I had a lot to do because from '85 to '90 is when I really started playing in clubs in New York City. I was a mobile DJ was I was 13, helping out. He had the equipment, I was carrying the records, setting it up, back in '78. I just worked my way up, little by little. I was like, "Yo, could I borrow two crates? Could I borrow the turntables and the mixer and one speaker?" I started like that. I practiced, I just loved what I did, and I lived it. That was it. In the late '70s, I was also a good roller skater. A lot of my r&b influence comes from my roller skating days. I wouldn't roller skate now, though.

(laughter)

I used to go to all the rinks, from like '78 to '83, like solid, five days a week, like heavy, during school and everything.

RBMA

Were you doing tricks?

Little Louie Vega

Yeah, tricks. Let’s not get into that.

RBMA

360s?

Little Louie Vega

A lot of hip hop and r&b, and more of the downtempo disco music and all that, was played in the rinks. I got a lot of schooling from there. I just learned to play all that music, within a night. From '85 to '90, my first club was the Devil's Nest up in the Bronx, which was, let's say the dance club that the Fever Club owned. Fever Club is where Grandmaster Flash played, Lovebug Starski, you name it, all the hip hop legends played there. They wanted to make a dance club, and I was this new kid, doing all this stuff up in the Bronx. They heard about me and they were like, "Yo, we want you to play in this club. We're going to open up a dance club." It wasn't disco at the time, because it was the tail end of that, and all this new stuff was happening. When I started in '85, it became the birth of the freestyle era. It was called Latin hip hop music. A lot of music that was made by myself, Andy Panda, Latin Rascals, Carlos Berrios, that music actually was inspired by music that came from the Funhouse, where Jellybean played in the early '80s. We all went there as kids, and we heard all these English artists, and even black artists like Shannon, making a freestyle-type record. All we had access to was all the Latin girls in the neighborhood. That's why you hear that music. If you look up all this Latin hiphop music, you hear a lot of the Latin girls singing. Some were not such great singers.

(laughter)

We had like three great singers, in the whole scene. (laughs) From '85 to '90, I made a lot of that music, but I was still playing hip hop, reggae, disco, and then house. I think I had a lot to do with the format. It was in this open format in New York, that after I left the scene in 1990, when we got together, it was just too crazy. There was a lot of trouble. You know how it is in clubs, shoot-outs, everything outside. Look, it got too dangerous, and I said, "I've got to grow up. I've got to do something else." I laid low for a year and a half. Kenny and I got together, and I just focused with Kenny for a year and a half solid of working in the studio, and getting accustomed to each other. I'd have to say that New York is what brought that out of us. All the DJs that we listened to over the years, just playing all those different styles of music, which eventually got into our production. We brought that out in our production.

RBMA

Why don't we play a little bit, just for anyone who wants a refresher, or hasn't heard it before. You guys' first single came out in 1991, correct? You think so? I checked.

Little Louie Vega

I think as Masters at Work…

RBMA

As Masters at Work.

Little Louie Vega

As Masters at Work, yeah, 1991.

RBMA

I checked discogs today. We're going to play a track.

Kenny Dope

A lot of records ago. A lot of them.

RBMA

I looked. In case you guys don't realize how much output these guys have made, the remix credit on discogs is like 872 remixes, which is insane. These are just a sampling of some of the artists they've remixed: Michael Jackson, Debbie Gibson, Soul II Soul, Bjork, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson, Daft Punk, Madonna, Keith Sweat, CeCe Peniston, Mr. Fingers, Lil Louis. That's just a tiny fraction.

Kenny Dope

You know what’s crazy about that is? For the amount of records that came out, there's about double the amount that didn't come out. They were just like, "Nah, we're not putting that out." We're like, "OK."

Little Louie Vega

Every time we worked on tracks, for each of those remixes, there were two or three bodies of music done; different, complete tracks for that artist. We would use the one for the artist, and then we had these other ones that are hidden there; some that we don't even know about, that we have to go look back in the archives and pull out.

Kenny Dope

During that time, we each had solo careers. Doing the mixes together, then we had records separate. It's got to be in the three thousands, easy; somewhere up there.

RBMA

Let's hear a little bit of this. This is, I believe, from your first 12". I'm going to play a song called "Justa Lil' Dope." You guys, I hope you know this record.

(music: Masters at Work – Justa Lil Dope)

Obviously, you guys are most closely associated with house music, but this is kind of like a hip hop vibe.

Kenny Dope

What's crazy is at that point, Louie wanted some records like to segue into what he was doing at the club. If I remember correctly, there was some samples that he wanted in there. Schooly D had just come out, and it was just me, just putting samples together, just to segue in there. It ended up to be a record.

Little Louie Vega

You can hear a lot of the influences there. At that point, I was playing hip hop, reggae, and then the other styles. I always told Kenny that I felt that we played hip hop or reggae, but we wanted to mix hip hop with reggae. I was like, "Kenny, I want you to mix hip hop with reggae. We've got to just take all these records that I'm playing right now."  Those are all the records I was playing. You guys can recognize some of them, if you're DJs from [that time]. No? Those were some popular reggae records at the time. Schooly D, of course, and that sax… where's that sax from?

Kenny Dope

Lafayette Afro Rock Band.

Little Louie Vega

There you go. A lot of those records we were playing at the time, and there was really no records that were reggae and hip hop together. We was playing this reggae records and we was playing these hip hop records and I wanted him to combine it. I thought that was a pretty cool combination of all that; all those elements.

RBMA

Speaking of sampling, I'm going to put on another track, which has maybe one of the most unusual samples. I think youÄll know what I’m talking about, when I play it. It's called "The Ha Dance." It was from the same year, 1991.

(music: Masters at Work – The Ha Dance)

Can you tell everyone what that sample is, the main "da, da, da, da, ha"?

Kenny Dope

That’s actually from Trading Places.

(applause)

RBMA

Do you guys know that movie? How did you think to sample that, and put it on a house record?

Kenny Dope

I have no idea.

(laughter)

I can't even tell you. It's crazy. I was just telling Louie, I was like, "That's the voguing anthem. They go in on that."

Little Louie Vega

It's crazy how that record is a huge voguing record.

Kenny Dope

It's crazy.

Little Louie Vega

There’s this dance in the gay scene, and it’s crazy how they dance to that. At the same time, in those days, it was great because the hip hop crowd and the house crowd were as one. They would be in one club. We have what, in the Roseland, like 2,500, 3,000 people. You hear these elements, we were making these records from that influence, and getting inspired from the crowd. It was together. I wish it was like that today, but it was an amazing time. Everybody was into the music that was out, whether it was house, or whether it was hip hop. A person who liked house, liked hip hop. A person who liked hip hop, liked house. We were bridging those gaps. We were bridging that music, with records like that.

Kenny Dope

I just loved the fact that it was able to touch so many different people. A song like that, that was done in a couple hours, can touch so many different people, in so many different styles.

RBMA

You guys made that in a couple hours?

Kenny Dope

Probably, like two hours.

(laughter)

Maybe less than that.

RBMA

I don’t think it's fair. You guys are just too talented.

Little Louie Vega

That was a time when Kenny said that we used to go to each other's places. I lived in the Bronx, and he lived in Brooklyn, which was maybe 50 minutes away, an hour away from each other. We would take some time, and I would go to his place. We would talk about music, sample some records, come up with some tracks. He would come to my place, we would do the same. At that time, Kenny brought me this track and I said it was crazy. In those days, we would play off of a reel-to-reel, when you didn't have a record out yet. Imagine this technique, quarter-inch reel-to-reel. It had a pitch control. I used to spin it, hit the "play" button, and just pitch it right in and mix it on top of the other records. Kenny brought me this on a reel and I said, "Yo, we've got to make this the first single." It was our first time coming out as Masters at Work. On the other side, we put another song called "Blood Vibes," which also brought in hip hop and reggae together. We wanted to put something for both crowds, or whether you liked any kind of music, you would like something from our single. That's why we started putting something that was hip hop or reggae influenced on one side, and on the other side, a house anthem.

Kenny Dope

The label loved it, too, because it was double the sales. Because the hip hop DJs bought two [copies] to cut, and the house DJs bought it for the other side. They were happy.

Little Louie Vega

In those days, you could sell about 100,000 to 150,000 pieces of vinyl, of a record like that.

RBMA

Which is crazy, because now it's like people are putting out 12"s and it'll be like 500, 1,000, or something like that. I want to ask a little bit more about, you guys got involved pretty heavily in the house scene in the early to mid-'90s, and were turning out all these remixes. Major labels were putting out house music and stuff like that. What was that era like? I feel like now, in a way, it's like the scene is bigger, but the industry for it is so much more specialized. Were you guys tied in to the mainstream music industry?

Kenny Dope

Right now, I do r&b stuff, so on that side, yes. But on the house side, no. I actually think, if you really listen to what's going on in the urban scene, there's a lot of records that are house records, that are being played right now, that are big records. You've got Timbaland's, you've got a lot of guys that actually studied house, and studied us, and have taken that style and created it for the newer artists. Going back to your original question, yeah, it was crazy when you had Epic Records, and you had Warner Brothers and Atlantic. We did a big body of work for a long time. Every artist that they had coming through there, they wanted us to touch. We were very selective, believe it or not, for those 873 titles that you came up with. We turned down a lot of stuff, too, because there had to be something in the song, that we could relate to, or get an idea for. There was tons of remixers that did everything that came in the door. That’s why they got fizzled out pretty much. We kept it true to what we do, we learned more as we went on, we expanded our sound. We tried different sounds. Like I said before, we tried to bring in different elements to the music that wasn't there. There was guys that were just doing drums, bass, they were sampling the vocal a little bit, and that was the mix. We brought instrumentation in. We brought live strings into the whole thing. Like I said, guitar, and a lot of different instruments into it. I think we took it pretty far, musically, I think.

Little Louie Vega

I think from '85 to '90 I was doing a lot of remixes. I was doing more freestyle and pop. That's when I had done stuff like Debbie Gibson. She was like the Britney Spears of that time, put it that way. I used to do a lot of records that were on the radio. These records were selling 250,000 to half a million copies. It was crazy. I couldn't grow anymore with the music that I was working on. When I got into house music, and Kenny and I started working in 1990, some of the pop artists were still calling me. I said, "Damn, we can't get the artists that can sing on this kind of stuff." Kenny and I thought about this idea. We said, "Let's make the B-sides of the records, and let's put this new style we created on the B-sides of the records, but still grab a hook from the artist and song." Maybe their vocal, it could be any musical hook, something that was really strong and create these things called Masters at Work dubs. We did a few of them, and Atlantic Records was one of the first that really looked out for us. From there, it spread. After we did Atlantic, we did Epic, we did Warner Brothers. And once we put out a few of these dubs, they were so big, they were playing them on the radio. Just a dub. We were even blown away like, "Why are they playing an instrumental on the radio, or this record with this one little hook?" It was so strong in the clubs, and at that time, the club music was influencing radio in New York. Once we did a few of them, then bigger artists started calling. We were like, "Whoa, OK. Madonna wants one? Serious?" We couldn't believe everybody wanted one of those dubs. We just kept going from there. As we started getting more artists that we could work with, we began creating songs out of those dubs, out of that style that we created with these dubs. Our first song that we did was with an artist that we worked with from New York, and it was India. We did "I Can't Get No Sleep." If you listen to "I Can't Get No Sleep," what it really is, is a Masters at Work dub with a song on it, with her singing, sort of ad-libbing.

RBMA

I actually have it. We can play it for people.

Little Louie Vega

OK.

RBMA

 Let's hear what it sounds like.

(music: Masters at Work feat. India – I Can't Get No Sleep)

Those vocal bits at the beginning, you guys basically had taken her vocals and then chopped them up?

Little Louie Vega

Yeah, that's just her. We sampled her vocal. In those days, for the first, let's say six years of Masters at Work, it was just Kenny on drummachine and me on keyboards. That's what it was. I can hear more of the naiveness in the music. I try to play my best, but it definitely developed something that a lot of people liked. I guess that's what attracted a lot of the young people that listened at that time. With her vocals, it was really powerful, and this record really took the world by storm, big time.

RBMA

I pulled an example basically of how transformative you guys' remixes were in those days. Basically, I brought the original, and then I brought your dub. It's of Saint Etienne's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart." I don't know if you guys know. I'm going to play the original first, and you can see what it sounds like, and we'll play their dubbed version, and you'll see how different is the original.

(music: Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart)

That's a really nice, British dance pop song. They didn't make it, but this is what they did make out of it.

(music: Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Masters at Work dub))

On a remix like that, how much of the original song is in there?

Kenny Dope

Just that one, that first line.

(laughter)

That laid it out, that first little piece.

Little Louie Vega

You've got to imagine, we're getting songs like the first version you heard. We were really inspired at that time. We wanted to make that floor rock in a dance club. It was about getting that right hook. That one hook, it was pretty strong. You knew where it came from, but then you heard this new track and you're like, "Who made that?" It became its own entity. You can tell, it's its own thing. A lot of people, and especially in Europe, this is when it started blowing up in Europe. Everybody wanted to know who these two guys were from New York. We hadn't gone there yet together.

RBMA

During that era, it seems like there was a lot of this going on in New York. There were artists like MK and Todd Terry and stuff like that. Was there sort of a scene of artists? Were you paying attention to what they were doing and then being like, "I've got to top it"? Were you guys just doing your own thing?

Little Louie Vega

We all hung out in the same place. I used to play in a place called the Sound Factory Bar. It was at the Underground Network parties, and I did that for five years. That's where we were all hanging out. Everybody was inspired, because I would play everybody's records. I'd play ours, I'd play Todd's, MK's. We never really had the competition thing. A lot of times, we got a little frustrated because everybody was kind of taking our grooves at one point. Another record come out, another remix for somebody, but they would take our same keyboard line, our same chords, the bassline, the movement, the beat. A lot of the guys were inspired by us, let's say. They would just rip our entire hard work. Getting that we spend time, some things would take two hours, and some things could take two days. We felt we worked really hard creating these things, and they were ripped by all kinds of guys out there, doing their thing. They'd have the bigger artists, and they'd get all the glory. We were like, "Damn, but it's all good. We'll just keep going." We just kept doing what we were doing. We just worked hard and always tried to create something new. That's the thing with Kenny and I. I was always like, "Kenny, just keep coming up with different drum kits, different rhythms, everything." I would play keyboards on top of that, and they would create these new grooves that we had. I think we just tried to keep it fresh. And it was ten years of that.

RBMA

I've got to play one more song. It's hard to pick a biggest song, but I think this is definitely one of your most influential, and I think it's one that a lot of people in here are going to know, and I want to know a little more about it. It's called "Deep Inside."

(music: Masters at Work – Deep Inside)

That record came out in 1993, even though it's a song that you can still hear at a club today. DJs still drop that one. Did you guys know when you made it, that it was a big tune?

Kenny Dope

It was in doubt for a minute.

Little Louie Vega

That song, it was kind of weird, because it was part of another song. There was a song called "Beautiful People." The Underground Network, the parties I used to play at, were hosted by Barbara Tucker and Don Welch. Barbara Tucker was a singer. I figured, she's a promoter, we're in this club. We should just make a record. We got together, and there was a lot of people involved in "Beautiful People," which created part of "Deep Inside" and everything. Of course, Kenny, India, Lem Springsteen from Mood II Swing, Derek Whitaker; these were all songwriters. We got together and I played this little groove on the Rhodes, and they wrote this song on it. When Barbara came in, she was ad- libbing. I heard this little hook, "Deep Inside." That was it. I just sampled that from the song. It was like a marketing thing in a way. I said, "Let me introduce her voice to the world, through this track, so they can get used to her tone and everything, and then put out the song." It kind of worked, because the track blew up really big. Actually, that track was done in another producer's studio. He's a DJ, I mean, he was a DJ at the time. He was young. He wasn't even doing much. He wanted to get into DJing, so he just really wanted me to work, badly, in his studio. I said, "Let me go over there and play some keys and stuff." That's when I had the little "Deep Inside" sample, and I played those keys. He engineered the record, which actually doesn't sound as good as when [Kenny and I  would have done it], you know? It was Erick Morillo. Erick Morillo actually engineered that song, and I did it in his studio. He had a little studio and a little room. This was way back in the days. Ever since then, we were instrumental in helping him to get his stuff out on Strictly Rhythm and all that. It's a small world, you know?

RBMA

I want to move ahead a little bit. Basically, around the same time, I think it was in '93 or so, you guys formed Nuyorican Soul. This is while you guys were pretty much at the top of your game, in terms of turning out house records and remixes in Masters at Work. What was the impetus to make the new project?

Kenny Dope

That came from us being in London, at Southport, which is a Weekender that's been going on, what like 25 years? Yeah, like 25 years. At that point, I was just amazed to go to a party where you had a jazz room, a soul and funk room. They had the old guys, the old heads, the 60-year-olds had their own room, the northern soul room, then they had a dance room. You could walk in, and there was all this music going on at one time. I was in shock at the jazz room. The dancers just blew my mind. Everybody was dressed; suits, the women were dressed in dresses, the men had these tap shoes on. The dances that they were doing, just from watching them, made me come up with that rhythm of the beat, the drum sound on "The Nervous Track," which ended up to be later on broken beat music. Just from seeing them dance, that's how I came up with that style. That's actually the birth of the whole Nuyorican Soul thing.

RBMA

Why don't we play that, just to give you guys an idea? This is the first single they put out under that Nuyorican Soul name. It's called "The Nervous Track," and we'll give it a little listen.

(music: Nuyorican Soul – The Nervous Track / applause)

I feel bad turning it down. It's a classic tune. I don't mean this in a critical way, but it's almost a little more musical, if you will.

Kenny Dope

At that point, that's where it was transitioning. We was getting into jazz, we'd get into more of the Latin stuff. Things were going in that direction at that point.

RBMA

As you guys started working on it, because you eventually put on an album, you kind of assembled a sort of dream team of musicians and artists to come in on the songs. Can you talk a little bit about some of the people you collaborated with in Nuyorican Soul?

Kenny Dope

Yeah, we had George Benson, Tito Puente, rest in peace, Eddie Palmieri. We had Vince Montana with the Salsoul Orchestra…

Little Louie Vega

Roy Ayers.

Kenny Dope:

Roy Ayers, Jocelyn Brown… who else am I missing?

Little Louie Vega

Dave Valentin.

Kenny Dope

Yeah, Q-Tip was on the remix of "Black Gold of the Sun," Dave Valentin. What's up, homeboy? I just seen you. There was a lot of different artists that we looked up to as kids, and played their records. We wanted to incorporate a record with no boundaries, no different races, just everybody, all types of people, to create this project with us. Pretty much, we had this vision for it, and at that point we wanted to bring in all of our childhood vibes, pretty much.

Little Louie Vega

When you hear the track, "The Nervous Track," we were blown away because we had people that liked drum&bass, that liked hip hop. We had like Funkmaster Flex, Roni Size, Goldie, of course the house scene, everybody calling us about this track. When we did this track we said, "Wow, this appeals to everybody." It's at the tempo of house, but it's not. When we were creating that song, I remember we were in the studio doing an Ultra Naté remix for Warner Brothers. When Kenny did that beat I was like, "Dude, we can't put that on that remix. It doesn't go with the vocal. It's a different thing, man. It's a whole new thing." I started playing those pads, those eerie pads in the beginning. I remember, I was all psyched about this old piece called the Oberheim. (to Kenny) Remember that little Oberheim module?

Kenny Dope

What? The…

Little Louie Vega

The Oberheim?

Kenny Dope

The 1,000? The Matrix?

Little Louie Vega

Yeah, the Matrix. I was blown away by that, and a lot of the sounds came from that, actually. When we were bringing a new piece into the studio, it was like inspiration right away. A lot of our memorable tracks are from when we just got a new piece or a new keyboard in or something. That track right there, we even brought in a percussionist, one of Kenny's friends from the neighborhood. We wanted to keep it real street, so we said, "Let's not bring in one of the top percussion dudes. This is one of our boys, to give us a street thing." He did a great job on the congas there and everything. Everything else is just us, keyboards and drummachine. Actually, Kenny sampled, that's three or four drummers, playing at the same time or something.

Kenny Dope

It's crazy. It's actually a drum sessions record. It's like three different parts, but that actual main loop is from the left side of the drum sessions. The drum sessions record is four drummers playing at the same time, throughout the record. But that main loop happens to come out of the left side. That's how that works.

RBMA

When you guys were working on a track, and trying to get in touch with someone like George Benson or Roy Ayers or whoever, Tito Puente, was it odd to be like, "Hey, we're Masters at Work, we make house music. Tito Puente, do you want to come play on our record?" Or Roy Ayers was it a natural collaboration? Did these people know about Masters at Work, or did you have to sell them on it?

Kenny Dope

At that period, that we were doing a lot of the major label stuff, we got approached to do a Tito Puente remix. We did that for him. He was real cool. And I guess the Latin connection between Louie's uncle and that whole thing, he came in and he was just like with open arms. But it was crazy, because every time we did a record, and every time an OG came in to record with us, he would turn us on to somebody else. He'd be like, "That sounds good. Why don't you call so-and-so?" "No, we can't." "I'll call them for you," and then they'd bring them in. It just kept going on like that; the domino effect kept going on. It was crazy. We kept meeting different artists, and working with different artists. I remember when we did the album, they didn't know what we were doing. Musically, it didn't make sense to them.  'Cause were two club kids making this record, and trying to come up with all this music. They would be like, "You want us to play what? You want us to do what?" It was like, "Just do it." At the end, when they heard the whole album, they were like, "Wow, we would have never thought that's what you guys were doing, or trying to do." It was kind of cool.

Little Louie Vega

When we first started the Nuyorican Soul project, we reached out to the artists we had relationships with. That was Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Jocelyn Brown, India and Roy Ayers. We knew all of them through the years. But we would do things like, Roy Ayers was playing at the Shelter, and we went out to the Shelter at 4 in the morning after his performance. We said, "Yo, we're working on this project called Nuyorican Soul." Right away, we say the name, everybody was like, "What's that?" At least they were interested in that, because they knew the Nuyorican thing from back in the days. That’s like a '60s term. He came in, so we had already that. But when we had to go to George Benson now, we had to meet him in an office and everything. Tommy LiPuma, who's one of our pioneer producers, we love him, he's produced everybody from Miles Davis to George Benson, you name it. He introduced us to George Benson. When George Benson came in the room, he looked at us like, "All right, what you guys going to show us? What you guys going to show me that I ain't seen yet?" We were like, "Ooh." He didn't say that, but you could tell he was just like, "What's up?"

Kenny Dope

 "Don't waste my time."

Little Louie Vega

Yeah. We played this track. We had a guitar player kind of fake him, play like him. We said, "Look, listen to this. We hear you on this type of a track." It was more like an afro Fela track at first. If you hear "You Can Do It," that song, it wasn't even that. It was an afro track that we did. We wanted to get Fela on it. Unfortunately, he had passed away about that time. He was one of our dream people to have on Nuyorican Soul, but we didn't get to have him on it. We had that track. We said, "Let's show him this track, see what he can do on it." When he came in the studio, he played on it. We got so inspired, that we ended up creating a whole new track. At that time, we were big on drum&bass. We were all excited with Goldie's stuff, Roni Size, listening to their music. That actually inspired the track "You Can Do It" for George Benson. You hear him doing this thing in the beginning of the song, this beautiful piece that he does. He was just messing around in the studio. He was like, "da, da, da." It was incredible. We were like, "Yo, what is that?" He's like, "I'm just exercising."

(laughter)

It sounded amazing. What you hear in the beginning was that piece and he did it in one take. That intro with just the guitar by itself on the Nuyorican Soul album. That's the way it kind of went. It just kept adding on and adding on, it took a year and eight months to complete that album.

RBMA

While you guys were doing this, Masters at Work was still active, and you guys were still putting stuff out, and you're both DJing, you're both doing solo work. As the '90s turned into the 2000s, Masters at Work's output kind of slowed down a bit. Was that because you guys got busy with your solo projects? Was there any particular reason that Masters at Work sort of slowed down a bit?

Kenny Dope

Yeah, we did a big run. We came to a point where we did want to do separate things, separate projects, and stuff like that. And that's what we did. Louie had his ideas that he wanted to do. You've got to respect the fact that when somebody has a view in their head of what they hear, it wouldn't have been the same, me being there. The same way, vice-versa, if he was with me, and I got a vision in my head of what I want to lay down, and I'm hearing it in my ear, it's not going to be the same. It's just going to be different. The influence is going to be different. At that point, we just decided to, "Let's do separate projects." That's when all the rumors started. Once they started seeing, "Produced by Louie Vega," or one of my things, the Bucketheads or whatever, "Produced by Kenny Dope," it was: "Oh, they broke up." That was the whole thing about it. It was like, we just let people run with it, pretty much. It was at that point where we decided to just do separate projects and stuff like that. Our thing is magical. (to Louie) When did we do Brazil?

Little Louie Vega

About three months ago.

Kenny Dope

Three months ago, that was the last time I saw him. We're both traveling. We're both doing projects. But if this would turn into a studio right now, and I didn't see him in three months, we'll bang out the record, whatever it is. If there's singers, if there's musicians, it just happens. It's just a gift that we have, together, when we get together and do that. As DJs, it's the same thing. Nothing's rehearsed. We're just like, "What do you like right now?" "I like these records. What do you like right now?" "I like these records. Let's just record, let's go do it." It's just freestyle, at that point. I don't know what else to say. That's pretty much what it is.

RBMA

Twenty years in to making music together, or more than 20 years now, I'm curious, for each of you, is there something that the other one is particularly good at, that you're jealous of?

Kenny Dope

Nah. We both have different styles. I think Louie's a great arranger, when it comes to working with artists. I've got a different ear, when it comes to the beat, and to the grittiness of it, to the way I want things to basically hit you in your head, whereas he might like things a little bit more laid back. But that's the whole mix of it. That's the whole beauty of the partnership, because it's two different people that like two different things all around. That's what makes the chemistry so good. Nah, I'm not jealous of him. I don't know if he is, but I ain't.

Little Louie Vega

I think we had a really good run. It was 11, 12 years solid. I'm talking about, we were working 18 hours a day. Kenny and I would not stop. It was all about the music, and that was it. We'd be in studios, we even bought a huge studio. It was beautiful. It was incredible. We had these different ideas. We went out, did our own labels. I wanted to do an orchestra thing. I did Elements of Life, he wanted to do r&b. There was all these things that we wanted to do. I think that now, it’s come to a point where it’s come full cycle. We've been talking about re-vamping the MAW Records label, and remixing some of the old stuff, and then trying something new. We're taking it step by step. Right now, we're just doing a couple of gigs. We did an incredible gig at Rock In Rio with Stevie Wonder, Jamiroquai, Janelle, all on the same bill. It was amazing. We've been doing events and festivals together. Something like today was really special, because for us, it's really special to come here and talk to you guys. Anything that we could help out the up-and-coming, or the next generation, or just to help keep lifting what we all love, and it's this music. This was important for us to do. Thanks for having us here.

(applause)

RBMA

I feel like now is a good time, why don’t we open it up to the audience? If any of you guys have questions, I'm sure some of you do. There's microphones rolling around.

Audience member

How you doing? My name's Hugo. I've been DJing for 20-plus years, played your stuff since Cover Girls, all that stuff. Still play it today. In terms of production, you guys started on, I'm assuming, SP-1200s, stuff like that? Do you still use those today, or do you just strictly use digital audio work stations now?

Kenny Dope

I use everything still. It's crazy, because SP-1200, there's nothing that could duplicate the sound, the swing, the feel. Sometimes I use a [MPC] 3000. There was a period back then that Louie touched on before, that people were trying to figure out what I was doing on a beat. I would take two machines and sync them up together. With the two machines, it just gives you an odd swing. You can't figure it out. At that point, the computer was coming in. What they were doing was sampling a beat, and taking my swing out of it. It was all out of whack, because it was two machines, so it didn't make sense. They were like, "Why ain't this working?" It was just the machines that give it that feel. I use a [MPC] 5000 now, sometimes. Sometimes I feel like going back to the 12. There's nothing like it. Like I said, it's just so simple. You just get there, and tap away; get some samples. It makes you work. It makes you think. You only have 2 ½ seconds of sampling time a pad, so it makes you chop things up a certain way. And you normally wouldn't do that on a computer or keyboard or a long sampler.

Audience member

My name's Henry. Man, again, I'm not trying to date myself, but I've been listening to you guys for a long time.

Kenny Dope:

Thank you.

Audience member

For all the records that you guys have put out, and many of us, if not all of us, were like, "Wow," what were some of the records that you guys heard in your career, coming up, whatever, and you're like, "Shit, that was dope"?

Kenny Dope

We were just talking about Nuyorican Soul. I'm going to tell you this: there was a time where we were basically on automatic pilot. You would just go in, it was like clockwork. You'd have two, three studios booked at the same time, different rooms going on. You were just going. I just knew what my job was. I had rhythms in my head. I knew what I wanted to do. But the one time out of, from '88 to '97 when that album came out, when we did the photo shoot for that album, I was like, "Wow." Because at that point, when you're in a photo shoot with all these giants, and you look around and you've got Eddie over there, you've got Tito over there, you've got Benson over here, you've got the orchestra over there, and it's just like, "We did that? We brought all those different type of people together?" I was like, "Wow."

Audience member

Hey, how's it going? My name is Manny. There's this track you guys made; I think it was Louie, in the '90s, the song with the "do, do, do do."

RBMA

Oh, that one.

(laughter)

Audience member:

Wait, wait, wait. "French Kiss," that's the name of that song. I want to ask, where's the sample from, the girl?

Little Louie Vega

Oh my goodness. There's another Lil Louis, I'm not sure if you guys know. He's African-American, he's from Chicago. He's the one that made that record.

Kenny Dope

That's Lil Louis. This is Litlle Louie Vega. It's a great track.

Little Louie Vega

It's amazing. That record sold five million records, that track that he made in like two hours, with this girl moaning at the end and slowing down. Louis is a genius. He's one of our favorite house producers. To me, he produced one of the biggest albums of all time, for house music, which is Lil' Louis & The World. Don't worry about. Between Lil Louis, and Lou Bega, I get it all the time. I'm either "Mambo #5" or "French Kiss," not Masters at Work.

Audience member

Hello? Yeah, my name is AP; big fan. Louie, I've seen you play several times. I'm good friends with Patrick Wilson, who's your mutual friend. Can you talk about, as many DJs are here, the importance of knowing your records? A lot of people, especially with digital systems now, there's a push to accumulate a lot of music. Can you really get into knowing the records, knowing how to deliver those records?

Little Louie Vega

I think you need to listen to what you play from beginning to end, I think. Take some time. All the records that I know, I know all the arrangements. I know where that intro is, where that vocal comes in, where that break is. And that really helps me. A lot of the DJs today play it a little different now. It's the computers, and Traktor and everything. Nobody really goes to the middle of a song to play it from the break, or they won't go to the vamp of the song. They'll play it with that 16-bar intro into the top, right in. I think the important thing is to stay creative, man. You've got to be creative. Just about anybody can DJ now. You know that, right? You get Traktor, Serato, whatever it is. You barely even have to mix any more, do you? I'm still mixing. I'm sorry, but I'm using a pitch control, doing everything. We're old school, whatever. You have to do something extra. You really have to get creative, overlaying these records, knowing where the breaks are, using acappella sound effects, whatever it is that you want to do. You need to work up your game and be creative. I think that's what's kept us where we are as DJs. We keep it really interesting. Of course, the sound of your music as well. A lot of people are using mp3s, low-quality mp3s. You can hear it in a club. When we come on, you hear a difference in the music, because we really care about what we're playing. WAV files, AIFF files, whatever it is, we're really trying to keep the quality up high, trying to keep it warm, sounding good. I think all those elements, and just use the tools you have, to the best of your ability. It's up to you to be creative. That's nothing that you can be taught. It has to be in you. Obviously, you have to have your technical side of things, in knowing how to mix and blend and all that. Like I said, these days, when I see some of these guys playing, nobody's even mixing or nothing. It's connecting, they match on, and everything's just playing down. You don't really need to focus on that much anymore. It depends on how you want to approach what you use to DJ out there. You've really got to do some creative stuff to stand out. I'm a little bit disappointed in the way it is now these days, because I don't see people doing much work. I think they're not really being creative.

RBMA

Who would you say some of your favorite DJs are, either today or historically, that influenced you guys, or continue to?

Kenny Dope

That's a hard one.

RBMA

Just say Larry Levan.

Kenny Dope

Huh?

RBMA

Just say Larry Levan.

Kenny Dope

I can't. I can't say that. Maybe he could, but I can't, because I wasn't there. I was too young to go there and to witness it, which is something I wish I could have. At that time, at that era, I was listening to radio. We had DJs like Chuck Chillout and Red Alert and Marley and Tony Humphries, which was somebody who, on the radio, was riding three records at one time, which to me was amazing, to hear it. Later on, I went to Zanzibar, and he would do that live, too. On Thorens turntables. There's no pitch, and it's like you’ve got to hold the platter to mix the records in, which is a whole other technique. When Louie's saying these kids got these devices that mix records, but at the same time, the crowd knows it. I remember being in Korea, and the crowd was pissed off. They were like, "When are you getting on?" I'm like, "When the sound man comes. I've got to hook up my stuff." They were mad, because the DJ before me, had one of these setups. Basically, all the records were mixed, and all he was doing was pushing faders up and down. They were upset. It was just like, "Get on already." To them, they feel cheated, in a way. And in Korea, the dance scene is new. I guess they're on the computer, on their YouTubes, and seeing other DJs, how they get down. Then they've seen this kid not doing anything, pretty much. It's upsetting to them. I think nowadays, we have so much technology that it's basically where your mind takes it. You could do so many things now with those syncs and all that. If we got into that, there's no telling what can happen in a dancefloor. When you could have so many things going on at once, forget it. It's crazy. Like I said, it's about people getting in their mind and taking it that step further.

Little Louie Vega

I think when you're DJing, you should be telling a story. That's what we try to do. There is a new idea, though, that Kenny and I have been talking about, with using Traktor. Because if you listen to us DJ, if you come out tonight, we're playing a lot of things at the same time. It's almost like records are being remixed right in front of you, all new grooves to these songs that you might know, or might not know. I wanted to try something, where we could do that with Traktor and overlaying a lot of stuff, creatively though, but really doing some really cool musical stuff, live, right in front of everybody. We have to sync us both up together in order to do that. He's working on that with the Native Instruments people and all that. It's about being creative with what you have. For me, you could have the simplest thing, but if you know how to use it really well, you could blow out somebody who may have the $50,000 equipment. It's about what you do with what you have.

RBMA

Any more questions in the audience? Yeah, there is.

Audience member

I had a quick question. I appreciate you guys' work, and thank you guys very much for being here. This kind of goes off of the question or the response about being in Korea, but what are some other countries where you guys have been well received, that we may not think of?

Kenny Dope

Italy's a huge market for us. Japan is a huge market. We just went to Brazil for the first time a couple months ago, that was great. I think we've pretty much touched everywhere. Iceland, crazy areas you would never think of. I think people, when we go to these countries, they feel our music. They feel us. They know that we're passionate. They can see that we're passionate about it when we're playing. My thing is, I still get amazed today when I get my publishing checks. You see these countries of where these records are being played, that you can't even pronounce. (laughs) It's crazy how far music travels, and I think that's a beautiful thing, for someone who just loves music, and got into this DJing, and ended up producing and ended up with a partnership and ended up with labels. I think that's real cool.

Little Louie Vega

I think another place is Africa. Right now, Africa is really, really big with our music. I've been going out there since '99, but the music has gotten so huge now. It's on the radio, TV. I'm talking about deep underground music. You would be blown away. That's where you see artists like Black Coffee, I don't know if you know these artists, Culoe de Song, and all of them blowing up out there. I was there a few months ago, and I played in a stadium headlining in front of 15,000 people. It was a rugby stadium. It was nothing but an ocean of people, and playing the music that we play. It wasn't playing drum crescendos and everything, just to get everybody going like this. No, it was playing the music. I was really blown away by how our music, Masters at Work and everything, has influenced a lot of the young people there. The music caught on to the youth. That's what it is. When it catches on to the youth, it just blows up. Over there, you've got 16-year-olds listening to this music on the radio or on television, going to clubs, the older ones are going to clubs. When I went out and played in the stadium, I was blown away. Those are the kind of things that Tiesto and David Guetta and everybody's doing. I'm not used to doing those kind of rooms, unless we do some really special thing, like Rock In Rio or whatever. When I went out there and played our music, and hearing our records in that size of a place, I was really blown away. Right now, different countries are into different flavors. For us, luckily, we’ve been really well-received in Italy. Italy has tons of clubs, and tons of kids out there that really follow the music deeply. It reminds me a little of Japan. Japan is a little deeper, though. They know everything. They know what year it came out, when I played it, in what club. It's crazy. They'll know the littlest things, that you won't even think about.

Kenny Dope

I remember when they were singing "Show Me" to you, I'll never forget that.

Little Louie Vega

They were what?

Kenny Dope

Japanese girl came up singing "Show Me" to you. I was dying.

(laughter)

Little Louie Vega

Yeah, he means a record, a song.

Kenny Dope

Louie's like, "What?"

Little Louie Vega

It was a freestyle record that I made in 1986. This girl…

Kenny Dope

Local girl.

Little Louie Vega

… she knew it. I was like, "OK." It's really amazing. Now, with the Internet, obviously you can pretty much know anything about anybody. At least it helps to educate a lot of the youth around the world. When we go somewhere, people are prepared now. They come in knowing the songs, knowing what's happening. Even if you just learned about it, you can study pretty much anybody out there. I have to say thank you to everybody around the world that has opened up their arms to us 'cause we’ve really worked really hard. When nobody sees us around, it's because we’re in another country, doing what we do. It's amazing how big dance music has gotten around the world. You guys can just take a look, and youtube any one of these guys out there and see what's happening. I'm really thankful to you guys, to everybody around the world. This all came from being a bedroom DJ in New York. That's where we came from. You guys, if you're starting out there, don't ever think you can't get this far, or even further. You can do it, trust me. If you really put your mind to it, you've got to take every opportunity you can to learn from maybe somebody else who's doing what you like, and they're doing it well, and they’re successful. When I was young, I took advantage of all of those opportunities. When Arthur Baker says, "You want to come in the studio and check it out? Cool, sit back there." That's what I did. Latin Rascals, Shep Pettibone, like all these guys were making music in the '80s, and I was this little kid, 17 or 18, 19. I would go into the studios and stay until 4 or 5 in the morning, just watching them and learning. Take advantage of every opportunity you can to learn. You've got to know your roots. You've really got to know your roots, and where this music comes from. A lot of these DJs today just live on what is happening now and they don't know where it came from. All this music you’re hearing, on an uptempo scale, even like you said before, even some of the hip hop cats, house music has been a big influence for a lot of producers and DJs, in all spectrums of music. I guess that's why we're here, and I'm happy that you guys do this thing. We need a lot more of this. I've heard about the Red Bull Music Academy thing for years, and I'm finally happy we got to do one. You guys are great, man. I'm not trying to get rid of you all. (laughs)

(applause)

I feel like I'm saying good bye all the time, but I just want to thank you guys, man. I did not expect this many people to be here. I was like, "There’s going to be like 50 people. That's cool." I didn't sleep at all. I came from Miami, straight from a gig. I haven't slept, and I was complaining to Josh and everybody here, "I'm going to be tired. I don't know if I can do this." I said, "There's not many people going to be here." We walked in and it was packed. I was like, "OK." Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

RBMA

There's a question there.

Audience member

Hello. How y'all doing?

Kenny Dope

Great.

Audience member

I'm Vince. I grew up DJing in New York in the '90s. I just want to thank you all for your contribution. I remember Red [Alert] playing "Blood Vibes" back in the day, and I went up to Rock and Soul in Midtown and bought that record. I really appreciate it. This question's particularly for Kenny, and a segue from what you all were just talking about, the tie between house and hip hop. I've seen a picture of you and Dilla digging, and I wondered if you could speak on that. Everybody knows, Jay Dee is a big hop hop influence. What kind of records were you all talking about and digging about?

Kenny Dope

Yeah, we were real cool. We were real tight and we always used to talk records. He used to take this $50 flight from Detroit down to JFK all the time, because at that point he was working with Tribe [Called Quest]. I was like, "Look, man, we've got to go get some records," or whatever. He always wanted to go shopping. Things didn't pan out, things didn't pan out. Finally we said, "You know what? We're going to do a buying trip." He came down, we got in the car. We drove to Philly, picked up Jazzy Jeff, and then we drove to Pittsburgh.

(applause)

It was crazy. At that point, I had a Navigator. That truck was full of records, from the back to the top. We had another car full, and we was just in the shop, back to back. Literally, he was on my back, I was here; we were digging back to back. "You got this?" "No." "Alright, boom." He would go and pass me shit. It's just something I will never forget. He was definitely another musical genius that we lost too soon. It was a great experience.

RBMA

I think we have time for one more question.

Audience member

I'm Brent, honored to have you here. Going a little bit on what you were talking about earlier with the new generation, South Africa and in Italy. The house sound that you guys champion, do you see that new generations are coming into that here in America, or is it just an aging demographic?

Kenny Dope

(to Louie) You got that one.

(laughter)

Little Louie Vega

Even if you listen to music now, what do you guys know that's on the pop charts now with dance music? Rihanna? It's funny, because we have a friend of ours who's at Jive Records, and he called me the other day and he says, "Louie, I really want you guys to get together and write some new songs for me because I really feel like in the pop market, it's going in that direction. It's not going to be super underground, or deep or whatever, but they are taking elements of that music. I feel that's going to be the next level." I think everyone pretty much works in cycles. I have to say that I think it's coming back around where they're going to want to do something funky. They're going to want to do something a little more soulful. It may not be the soulful soulful, but it's going to have some of those elements in there. It's going to take guys like us, and that's how we make the change, guys like us collaborating. One of the reasons why David Guetta blew up over here, let's say, for the music he makes, is because will.i.am was hanging out in Ibiza. He was hanging out in Ibiza, he came in the DJ booth, and he said, "You want to say 'hi' to the crowd?" He gave him the mic, and all of a sudden he started getting down with him. He was like, "We should get together some day. We should write a song." Next thing you know, a couple months later, "I've Got a Feeling," "Tonight's Going To Be a Good Night," whatever. That's how it works. It's up to guys like us to reach out and collaborate with artists in the pop genre. I feel that he was very smart in what he did. He came out here and talked to all these artists and said, "Let's do something together." Once he did it with one big one, then the other one wants to do it. That's how it got so huge. I think now all that has happened, and they're always going to seek the new thing, or the new sound, or the new whatever. I feel that for Kenny and I, we're producers. Just because we made this music in a certain era, we're still making music now, and doing what we do. We're just doing it more internationally. It doesn't mean that we can't collaborate with artists like that today. Music is always going to change. The good thing now with pop music, as far as dance music is concerned, is that a lot of the pop artists want uptempo music. You remember when it was at a certain level, it was downtempo, it was very hip hop influenced. Now, it's very dance influenced. We knew that a couple years ago, because people kept telling us a lot of pop artists wanted to reach out to make dance music, to do uptempo music. We couldn't believe it. We was like, "OK, cool." But then it went in a direction that's a different sound than what we do. I think with all music, it just works in cycles. It's going to come around again where they want to be soulful, they want to be funky, and even today, I'm hearing hip hop artists and r&b artists that I would never think would do the type of music they're doing. There's a thing out on these really pop house records, or whatever. I think eventually, everybody's going to want to try something else. That's how it works. We're going to have to reach out, guys like us, who are in that kind of a position, I'm not saying just me and him, there's others. Reach out to these artists and collaborate. The pop artists are the ones that are ruling the airwaves. It's just a handful of artists that are making that kind of volume. To me, there's a lot of things in limbo right now. That's what I feel. Me, I want to hear hip hop, like Tribe Called Quest. I want to hear all that type of hip hop but I know there's an underground scene with hip hop, but I can't even get to it, because I don't hear it. You've got to reach out, and you've got to find it. (to Kenny) He probably knows where it is. For me, and even in dance music, there's a lot of the scene that's in limbo. It's not popular, it's underground. It's in this area where we became like jazz artists almost, where you keep playing to your audiences around the world. To me, I feel like a jazz artist. You have your following, we could fill a place. It's cool and everything, but it's not on the airwaves. It's not in the pop culture or market or whatever it is. It's up to us to try to make it happen. For me, I've always told Kenny, "Yo, we could do that. We could do that by our way." The thing is that we don’t want to do something, and sound like the sound that's there, when we're not feeling that. We can get influences from it, but we're never going to make a record, and you're going to hear the sound and say, "That's not Masters at Work." We're not going to, it's always going to be us. For me, I feel that we need to do something. We definitely need to do something.

RBMA

They’re telling me one more question, actually.

Audience member:

This is a question to you guys. Are you guys going to do the Magic Sessions again at the [Winter] Music Conference? The reason I'm asking that's because one of the most memorable experiences I had was back in, I think, '98, when you guys had Tito Puente, India and Roy Ayers play live at it. Also there, I met these two guys, they called themselves Daft Punk back then. I thought it was so awesome back then that those guys were listening to you guys play, and now we've got Daft Punk and that whole electro-disco-house movement out of that. Are you guys going to do Magic Sessions again, because I think that was a very inspirational event for artists?

Little Louie Vega

That was a Masters at Work party, but yeah, we used to do these things. We did it for about seven years, and they were great parties. What we're trying to do is get back into it together. When we create the right kind of project, we're going to do a world tour with it. That's what it's about. Of course, we're going to do Miami. Those were great times. It's going to be a fun Miami this year. Check out what's going on, there's a lot of good things. We're not doing a Masters at Work thing, but hopefully next year we'll do something really good. We just found out that the Opium Room is called Amnesia now. That's the room we used all the time when we did the Masters at Work parties, at the ten- year anniversary and all that stuff that you're hearing about; or you probably were there. That was a great time, because we did influence all those guys. If you talk to anybody from Bob Sinclair, to Martin Solveig, David Guetta, Daft Punk, you name it, I think that we at least had a little something to do with a lot of those guys. There's a little piece of us in all those guys, and more of them. They were at those parties, hanging out, checking it out. Hopefully, we will definitely do them. For me, my dream is for us to get together, and it's all about how we connect. You've got to understand, Kenny and I haven't really connected in the studio for years; a long time. I'm really interested to see how it's going to work. I really feel it's going to be great, but I'm interested to see what's going to come out of it. I feel that we can create a nice project, and really show the world that we’re here. We're still here, and this is the new, what we're doing right now.

RBMA

We’re all going to get the chance to see you guys connect tonight at 1015 Folsom or 103 Harriett, whatever you want to call it. Let's give a big round of applause to Masters at Work.

Kenny Dope

Thank you, thank you.

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