Active since the '80s as a DJ, producer, and one-half of Masters at Work, Little Louie Vega is a permanent part of dance music history. Vega, born Luis Fernando Vager, made a name for himself as a DJ in the New York City club circuit spinning in major venues such as Studio 54, Devil's Nest, Hearthrob, and the Sound Factory. Besides producing his own work, he remixed tracks for commercial dance-pop vocalists and underground producers alike. Remarkably eclectic across four decades, Vega has been deeply immersed in an array of club music styles that include freestyle, house, rap, and Latin jazz.
Born and raised in the Bronx, Vega grew up surrounded by music. He is the son of a saxophonist and a nephew of immensely popular salsa singer Héctor Lavoe. Vega began DJ'ing at 18 after he watched some high school friends spin records. He was soon a regular at parties and founded a small label. While spinning at the infamous Studio 54, Vega met house producer Todd Terry, who regularly gave Vega his new mixes to try out on the 54 crowd. Vega's own first remixes included Information Society's "Running" and Noel's "Silent Morning," and also some work for then-budding star Debbie Gibson.
In 1989, Vega produced the instrumental "Don't Tell Me" for SBK and "Keep Pumpin' It Up" under the name Freestyle Orchestra, one of several aliases. Vega had been commissioned to do songs for the movie East Side Story when he met the singer Marc Anthony. Anthony and Vega signed to Atlantic as a duo and released the single "Ride on the Rhythm," which topped Billboard's club chart. Vega later teamed up with house vocalist Barbara Tucker to produce Beautiful People, and also to establish the Underground Network club in New York. Vega connected again with Todd Terry to produce "Todd's Message" with vocalist India, Vega's former wife.
Though Vega has produced quite a lot as a solo act, he is more widely known as half of the production team Masters at Work. Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez, who originally used the name for his own DJ crew, met Vega through Todd Terry. Under the Masters at Work name, Vega and Gonzalez issued dozens of 12" productions and remixed the likes of Jamiroquai, Madonna, and Michael Jackson. As Nuyorican Soul, the two worked with such jazz legends as Tito Puente and George Benson for a self-titled album. Vega later led Elements of Life with help from fellow deep house heavyweights Josh Milan and Kevin Hedge of Blaze, along with top-tier session vocalists Cyndi Mizelle and Lisa Fischer. Vega continued to tour the world with his unique blend of classics, obscurities, and Latin dancefloor anthems both old and new. His selecting and DJ'ing skills have been showcased on over 20 commercially released DJ mixes to date, including Little Louie Vega at the Underground Network NYC, United DJs of America, Vol. 2, and Back in the Box. ~ Diana Potts