Louie Vega connected with the legendary Fania Records after doing the smash club remix of his uncle Hector Lavoe’s “Mi Gente” track back in 2008. Louie elaborates, “At that time I started working on my new Elements Of Life album. Fania was already aware of my previous E.O.L. albums and when they got wind, they wanted to hear it. Once they heard it, they were very interested in signing it. I was in awe of the idea. Things really would go full cycle being on Fania Records. I also found out, I would be the first artist signed to Fania Records with a new original album. They’ve already done the Hammock House series and put out numerous compilations, but those were based on the Fania catalog. Elements Of Life: Eclipse would be the first original album on Fania Records in many years. For me this would be a highlight in my career.”
Michael Rucker, chief marketing officer of Codigo Group/Fania Records enthusiastically adds, “We have been longtime fans of Louie Vega and his numerous projects. From first listen of the new Elements Of Life material, we knew that it was perfect for Fania. We’re thrilled that this is our first release in some time of all original material and know that Louie and the Elements Of Life are the perfect bridge between different generations of Fania fans.”
In the past two decades, Louie Vega has become a household name in the dance music community. The New York-based DJ/producer/composer and label owner has been proclaimed the “Miles Davis of House Music.” Impossible to pigeonhole and irreplaceable to the scene which he has helped build over 20 years, Louie Vega is the quintessential music professional. He’s the ‘DJ’s DJ’, that name constantly thanked on an artist’s album, the one who has influenced and defined countless other DJ-producers, from today’s brightest stars to those still beat-matching in their bedrooms.
Known for his original Afro-Latin-Pan-Global-inspired productions as well as his remixes, signed under his own name or one of his many projects and monikers including Masters At Work (with Kenny Dope), Nuyorican Soul, Elements Of Life and Hardrive to name a few. The Grammy Award winning Louie Vega has toured the world, played at the most prestigious venues and worked with some of the biggest stars in dance, pop, and Latin music. Elements Of Life came to fruition in 1999, when Vega was collaborating with Blazers (Josh Milan and Kevin Hedge) on a track that was “poetic and spoke to the Earth.” When Blaze heard the track they thought of a song they had called “Elements Of Life.” It was a perfect fit not only for the song, but also for the name of the group that Vega would soon create. The debut Elements Of Life album was released in 2004 and was so well received that the group was approached by Cirque de Soleil to compose, produce, and perform the song “One Dream” (co-Written by Blaze) sung with lead vocals by DJ Anané live at the 2007 Superbowl. Vega states, “The album really came into its own from other styles of music I’ve been a part of creating such as Masters At Work, Nuyorican Soul, Hardrive, etc. I’ve always dreamt of having my own band and being able to bring the music I create in the studio to life. When the moment came, I felt so free on stage with a top class group of musicians who could play just about anything.” Vega also won a Grammy for the E.O.L. remix of Curtis Mayfield’s classic song “Superfly.”
On Elements Of Life Eclipse, which was 4.5 years in the making, Vega kept the style of the earlier albums (African, Jazz, Latin, World) but has added Soul, R&B, Gospel and Blues. The lyrics are deeper now and are bringing more conscious messages to the world. Featured artists on the album include singer/songwriter/global DJ Anané, Lisa Fischer, Cindy Mizelle, Ursula Rucker, Josh Milan, Luisito Quintero, Oveous Maximus and an all star cast of musicians. The first single “Children Of The World” (co-written by Josh Milan) conveys words to the children of today, “Children of the world you are the future, we need you, you’re the only ones come save us,” with the blues guitar licks, the vocals of Josh Milan reminiscent of Donnie Hathaway over an infectious groove driven by Bata percussion (African drums) and gospel vocals. It draws you in with that infectious hook and speaks strongly with a catchy melody.
Joining Elements Of Life on this album are singers Lisa Fischer and Cindy Mizelle, and poets: Ursula Rucker and Oveous Maximus as well as percussionist Luisito Quintero (Vega produced his last two albums). Singer/songwriter, and global DJ Anané has blossomed since her full length release of Ananésworld and brought in more of her Cape Verdean influences and has also experimented more with the R&B/Soul sounds which she’s made her own on songs like the Roy Ayers penned “You Came Into My Life” and the Cesaria Evoraclassic “Sodade.” Lisa and Cindy have brought in their Gospel and R&B influences, and have even experimented with Jazz, Funk, and House. They performed backgrounds on live shows for many years for artists like Luther Vandross, Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, and Mary J Blige to name a few. For years Vega wanted to do a project and take Lisa and Cindy from the background to the forefront as leads. Rounding out the stellar talent are poets Ursula Rucker and Oveous Maximus who bring their storytelling and poetry in the form of spoken word to E.O.L.
As Vega states, “It was all perfect for the new album.” Ongoing themes for the new album are about reaching out to our young generation, and paying homage to women. Vega adds, “I feel in these times we need songs like this to help inspire moves.”
The second disc includes the “EOL Soulfrito,” a medley Louie Vega and E.O.L. put together to pay tribute to Hector Lavoe, Willie Colon, The Fania All-Stars and the entire Fania family. Vega describes it as, “a continuous journey intertwining Fania with Elements of Life. The foundation of the music is Salsa, Brazilian, Jazz, and Afro, filled with poets Oveous Maximus, Ursula Rucker and singers Anané, Josh Milan, Lisa Fischer and Cindy Mizelle. A special collaborator for this medley is Jose Mangual Sr. who was actually in Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon’s bands and sang backgrounds live and on recordings and played bongos and cowbell. He will surprise everyone with his clever adlibs on “Descarga Fania” where he names just about every single person in the Fania All Stars. In addition, the second disc includes bonus tracks “Draggin’ My Heels,” “You Came Into My Life (Louie Vega Roots NYC Mix),” “Children Of The World (Louie Vega Roots NYC Mix),” “This Is US (Roots Mix),” an E.O.L. take on Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise,” and “Overtake Don Overtake Overtake (Roots Vocal Version) featuring actor/singer Sahr Ngaujah on lead vocals, best known for his lead role in the TONY Award winning hit musical, Fela!
Vega concludes, “It’s a true honor for me to be the first new artist album signed to Fania Records in years. It really comes full circle now, being able to be on the label my uncle Hector Lavoe was on and the Fania All Stars who are also great inspirations for me. Fania Records is to Latin music what Motown is to R&B and Soul, so to be even a small page in this encyclopedia of music is a dream come true for me.”