In the fickle and competitive world of DJing, anyone closing in on 30 years in business and who has worked with artists like Madonna, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Prince, Cyndi Lauper and The Pet Shop Boys has to be some kind of a legend, right?
“They say that,” DJ Junior Vasquez said about his reputation. “I’m a little more humble than that. I guess, maybe so.”
These days, when the out and highly sought-after DJ and producer isn’t cranking out remixes for Britney Spears or drawing crowds ready to get down in the hottest clubs all over the world, he’s hosting his own monthly residency, Freedom, at Cielo Night Club in New York City.
Vasquez said no matter what country he’s in, most of the club-goers he spins for are looking for the same thing.
“When I go to most places, they’re hiring me for the house sound, strictly New York house,” he said. “Japan is strictly New York house. I play usually for a bisexual or an asexual crowd. If I’m going somewhere and I know it’s primarily straight, I will alter my music a bit and play more high-energy music. My theory is, wherever you go, you should play at least nine things that are current and at least one or two things that you know they can sing along with. I try to stay true to myself. There’s this big resurgence of early house music that I used to play. So that’s what I do.”
Even with all the traveling and performing on his plate, Vasquez recently managed to release his first studio album in seven years, “Generation Next,” a compilation of Vasquez-approved new singles by Bimbo Jones and DJ Demarko and unreleased productions by Razor N Guido, SIN and DJ Twisted Dee, among others.
“It’s my first album without any attachment to anything from the past,” he said. “It’s my own endeavor and my own new company. It’s really an album for me.”
Staying on top of the game as a DJ isn’t as easy as it used to be, with modern technology fooling many into thinking that a couple of iPods and a hot selection of songs can now qualify a person to spin.
Vasquez said he misses the days when vinyl records were the weapons of choice for most DJs.
“I like it when records skip,” he said. “It feels human. I don’t like the whole computer thing. It took me a while to get adjusted to CD players but now I work them like they’re machines — backwards, forwards, looping, I can still do all of that. I don’t use turntables at all anymore because I find it cumbersome to carry all of the records. I can do more with CDs. I think that the whole MP3 and laptop thing, anybody can do that. They’re playlists. I like the human side because I don’t know where I’m going with the night. I like to be spontaneous. I can’t be in the club, typing things. I’m lucky I can read e-mails. I don’t have the patience. I’m really hands-on. I move around a lot.”
The decline of the mega-club scene in New York doesn’t help things either. Through the 1990s and as recently as 2002, Vasquez could draw massive numbers to his weekly residencies at the biggest dance venues in New York, like Exit, Twilo and the Palladium. But things aren’t the same around his usual stomping grounds.
“The whole after-hours scene and the breaking records and playing every week was just different and they don’t have that now,” he said. “So I’ve had to adjust. I used to break records; in other words, just play and play them until they like them. It’s just not that happening anymore, which is a shame; not being able to shove it down their throats every week and teasing them with things I might be remixing that week. I’m figuring out how to do it with shorter sets, my Web site and MySpace to try to let them know what’s going on and to give them a little taste. That is the purpose of this album.”
For more information on Junior Vasquez, visit www.myspace.com/officialjuniorvasquez.