When WANARB Met: Louie Fresco
Mexican producer Louie Fresco burst onto the scene late last year with his Donna Summer sampling track So Good released on Art Department’s Jonny White’s label No.19 Music. The subsequently (and exquisite) remix by Russ Yallop cemented him as one to watch in 2012.
Now, as he’s set to put out the second release from his new label, Mexa Records, a joint venture with his fellow countryman Jay Blakk (of Climbers), we caught up with him to chat Latin influences, Kenny G, Twinkies and more in what might be the funniest interview we’ve ever had the pleasure of conducting…
[Editor’s note: this interview took place before the death of Donna Summer. We’d like to take this moment to say big love and respect to the Queen Of Disco… you will be missed.]
Hi Louie, how are you?
I am very good, thanks for asking. I stopped with the whole “I’m so hardcore, I don’t sleep for 6 days straight” state of mind I had the last time I was over; that was hopefully just a one-time thing because I was excited and caught up with the whole UK madness. Right now I’m just taking a breather from all ‘Louie Fresco’ related stuff so I can fully focus on the label. Now, the question here is “How’ve you been, you party animal?”
Your visit to the UK was your first and you managed to cram in quite a lot of dates- what was the highlight of the trip for you?
Oh man, there were so many highlights I seriously couldn’t really choose just one, every city/gig had its perks. In Switzerland I think I had a perfect set and the people felt it; the final week was just epic, plus the final party I went to – Lo*Kee, so sick! – was definitely one of the most memorable highlights. But if I really have to choose something I would choose the surprising kindness of everyone I met and the fuckin’ amazing job my agent did, she was top notch! She earned my full loyalty.
You must be mega busy at the moment- what with also recently setting up your label MEXA Records with Jay Blakk from Climbers. How do you find the time?
Yeah, I’ve been mad busy with every MEXA Records aspect since I got back home. I’ve actually benched (put on time out) Louie Fresco… I’m still halfway through the album I’m doing for No.19 and my queue is packed with at least 10 remixes and a slew of podcasts, but one of my few rules I have is to take some time off to enjoy as much as I can; chill with my girl and closest friends, and not do anything related to music if I’m not really inspired at the moment. To me, mathematical music just doesn’t feels like a piece of music made on a very inspirational moment.
Can you tell us a bit about how the label came about?
MEXA Records started just like every project: as an idea. An idea that we had because back then Jay, myself, and many talented friends of ours didn’t have an outlet to release our music. Mexico has never been a front-runner in the electronic dance music scene, so we decided to take matters into our own hands. Thankfully I met Jonny White through my music, and Jay met Andrei Osyka [of Culprit LA], and we’ve been blessed to have their full support even before we’ve released our music on our label, but the vision as well as the mission is still the same as the beginning, if not bigger and stronger.
It’s been two years since we had that idea, and now it became a reality, and I say this very often, but we couldn’t be happier with the outcome. It’s really a dream come true.
Your first release by Lee Foss, Masta Blasta, has had a great reaction. Having Lee as the debut release is fantastic! Was it planned that way or did was it just one of those amazing things that fell into place?
A bit of both, but a tad more the first one. I remember I told Jay that if were to launch a label I really wanted to sign Lee, who at the moment was a big source of inspiration for me. I admired the way he did his music and I still do; the way he and Jamie [Jones] broke so many musical rules to do what they wanted to do without giving a fuck… So I approached him a while ago, discussed some terms, and signed him to be our first release.
We were sure that move was going to help us get our label into Beatport. We honestly didn’t know it was going to have such a positive and massive response all over these known outlets such as Beatport, Ibiza Voice, Pulse Radio, and a pretty decent array of magazines and blogs.
Who’s next up on MEXA?
One of our favorite upcoming producers: Lee M Kelsall. Lee MK sent me a track called “Something” some time ago. 40 seconds into the track I knew we had to sign it. Straight house with a hint of disco, great arrangement, plus some ill and original vocals from Thabo. Add a bad boy, bassdriven remix by Cubiq; it was my mission to sign it.
I reached my good friend Matt Spurlock who’s Volta Bureau’s manager so we could have a bomb remix by them and the EP was complete.
Next up we have an EP by one of my fave producers: Matt Fear, plus a great Clinton Houlker remix, another one by my longtime buddy Delia Ros (from Mexicali as well), and a collab remix by Climbers and yours truly.
Then we have a really solid sampler, and more gnarly EPs by the likes of Ashley Wild, Corey Baker, Jakkin Rabbit & Robert Owens, SpaceByrdz, and finally the Climbers debut EP on MEXA and mine as well.
Damn, I’m inspired! I just can’t stop writing!
(you should give me some props cause I’m writing all of this on my iPhone in the middle of an afterparty I’m hosting in my house! Haha it must be a fun afterparty..)
You’re back in the UK in July for the MEXA showcase at Basing House in Shoreditch. Are you excited to be properly bringing your sound over to London?
Extremely excited might sound a bit (for lack of a better word) extreme, but I’m really excited to bring some of our artists and most of our music to London, Barcelona (Off Sonar with our soul brothers Miguel Puente and Sishi Rosch’s label Digital Delight), Birmingham, Brighton, Ibiza, Leicester, and Australia. Not to mention many cities in South America, Mexico, and hopefully the U.S. around October.
Your own music really came to the forefront late last year with your release on No. 19 ‘So Good’. What do you think it was about the track that really struck a chord with clubbers?
I seriously think it was Russell’s fault! He took the best parts of the original, stripped it down, and turned into something special sexy won…
I mean, something special.
All jokes aside, he totally nailed with that remix and thanks to that and of course my amazing brothers and label bosses Jonny and Nitin, I think the EP did Soooo Goooood, did Soooo Goood, did Soooo Gooooood…
Sorry, I act stupid when I’m under the influence of alcohol.
How did you feel about Russ Yallop remix?
Like I previously said, he totally nailed it. This is kinda funny… The following story I’m about to tell you it’s true, and it’s the first time I tell it to somebody…
The day Russ sent me the premaster I had heard it once or twice on my PC and thought it was a bit too stripped down and simple for my taste and mood that day.
Don’t get me wrong, I really liked it, but I felt it was just a bit too stripped down. So I had it on my hard drive for a while until the day we booked Art Department to my hometown Mexicali.
Jonny White dropped Russell’s remix and the place (9,000 +++ attendees) went mental! I remember the look on Jonny’s face kinda like saying: “Here’s a little present for you, bro.” I bet my face expression was really awkward! The next day I burned Mr. Yallop’s remix on at least 3 CDs and I haven’t played the original since that warm, more like ridiculously hot summer night.
The Donna Summer sample played a big part in the track’s popularity. She was really part of the zeitgeist at the turn of the year. Who do you think is filling that role for early summer?
I honestly think that the last year’s Most Sampled Artist award goes to Ms. Janet Jackson, but I’m sure Donna Summer must be there as a runner up for sure.
I believe this year’s award goes to using original vocals. I haven’t heard many producers sample the same act, though I’ve seen a growing tendency of producers who go the extra mile and just record original vocals, a thing we’ve been encouraging some of our signed acts to do cause I really think it adds more to a track.
On your Facebook you state that you’re a fan of Kenny G. What other… surprising artists are you into?
Hahaha, you stalker! Just kidding… I tend to write a bunch of random and stupid stuff everywhere and anytime I feel like it, as you may have witnessed throughout this interview, so I better state now that I am NOT a fan Kenny G or of his mesmerizing curly hair. I liked him in that Saturday Night Live sketch, but that’s it!
But if I have to tell you and the readers about one of the most random/surprising/weirdest artists I like, I think I’m gonna be really honest and say that I’m a big fan of Climbers…
Hahaha, jokes aside, I have to say I’ve always been a fan of alternative/hardcore rock band: Deftones. There has always been something about frontman Chino Moreno’s voice and the feeling he adds to those tunes that made me an instant fan of them.
You started MEXA to showcase “the best unknown talent in Mexico”. What influence would you say your roots have on the music you make, if any?
I think my Latin roots have been a significant influence on my music. Maybe I haven’t used many trumpets, accordions, or any other famous instruments used in Mexican folk music, though I’ve been using a lot of guitars since last July. Another instrument I’ve been using since forever are congas and bongos, which are a big part of our Latin (musical) heritage.
Now that you point it out I think I’m going to add a bit more “Latin Flavor” to some of my tunes.
You’ve been making music since you were 17. What was the stuff you were producing as a teen like?
Horrible! But I think it’s safe to say that everybody’s first tunes sound very lame.
The tunes I composed playing guitar and drums still sound surprisingly good, but you have to listen to my first projects I did on a computer… They were sooo lame!
I used to do a lot of trance, psytrance, “experimental” electronica, a lot of hip hop beats, and many rock, punk, and rap covers. Trying to remake those covers helped me learn a bunch of cool stuff; just trying to emulate somebody else’s sound helps A LOT to learn some cool tricks.
And finally, what would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?
I’d steal all the Twinkies in the world. We call them “Submarinos” here in Mex…
Mexa Records latest release, Something by Lee M Kelsall is out on Monday 28th May.
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