Kings of House NYC is an apt name for the epic collaboration of House icons Louie Vega and David Morales, a duo whose roots in the Big Apple's early House music scene have irrefutably written them into the genres folklore.
With a legacy dating back to the early 80s, Morales and Vega have both left indelible marks on their industry. They are both true innovators who have remained dedicated to creative integrity and being a key part of the perpetual evolution of House Music. Whether it be through both of their illustrious discographies, persistently awesome remixes, or unforgettable live shows, they are both true masters of their craft. Yet, when they get together for Kings of House NYC, their joint decades of experience and love for the music amalgamate for awe-inspiring sets that any true fan of house music would kill to witness.
Such a set is happening this weekend, at the UK's biggest House music extravaganza, 51st Festival, at which the duo, under their Kings of House NYC moniker, will be headlining.
In preparation for the huge set, Skiddle caught up with the iconic duo to chat all things 51st Fest, the history of the NYC house scene, and the history between the duo and their rise to fame. Check out what they had to say below, and scroll to the bottom of this page to grab last-minute tickets to see them live at 51st Festival!
So, let's get right down to the reason we are here, the two of you will be headlining 51st festival this weekend, under your aptly named moniker ‘Kings of House NYC’, what are you most looking forward to, and what can the crowd expect from your headline set?
LV: “We are looking forward to seeing lots of our peers and friends in the UK and most of all playing music together for the 51 State audience. Expect good music from David and I, from unreleased jams, today's heat, and some classics too; we are ready to have a funky good time.”
DM: “I'm just looking forward to playing for an audience that knows and appreciates the music. I wear my heart on my sleeve. That's all I can say.”
As we just mentioned, the Kings Of House NYC moniker is one that absolutely no one is arguing with. I would like to take you both back to those early days of Brooklyn, New York, and Chicago house music. What was it like to be at the forefront of that scene, a scene that was so new and filled with possibilities?
DM: “I really liked when I was getting promos from Chicago back in 1985 because it was a whole new sound. History was in the making without anyone even noticing it.
LV: “Yeah, there was nothing like the New York City Underground Dance Music scene. The clubs had top sound systems designed by genius engineers like Richard Long and Alex Rosner; DJs that could play their asses off. I mean practically any of those great clubs you went to, the DJs would take you on a trip and all had their own styles of djing.
“One Dj played the entire night 6-8 and even 10-12 hours a night which allowed them to stretch musically but you also had to have stamina and energy and flow. Making the sound system sound proper tailoring every song live and keeping the creativity at a high. The crowd in New York City is and was very honest, if they felt you or not they’d let you know.”
DM: “ House music was what hip-hop was in New York. It was a musical culture for us minorities. It was the natural evolution for black and Hispanic DJs I would say. There was only a handful of white DJs that were playing house when it first came out.”
LV: “We consider ourselves lucky we lived in that era in the 80s/90s; It was like no other.”
When and how did you two first meet, and when did you first start to play side by side? there's got to be a story there.
LV: “I used to go hear David when he played at a club called the Inferno so it was I believe 1984. I went out with my older sister to clubs, I was already a DJ and was exploring and listening to many NYC DJs.
“I remember him playing records like “Are You For Real” by Deodato, James Brown's “Give It Up Or Turn It Loose” (Live Version), “Hit N Run” Loleatta Holloway, e2e4, and many others mixing them flawlessly”
“In 1985 he came up to the Bronx (where I’m from) and ran up with a promotions person at A&M who told him about me. I was a teenager up in the Bronx doing my thing and playing for over 1000 kids rocking the house. He showed up at the club and that’s where we met.
DM: “I first met Louie when a friend of hours took me to hear him play at a club in the Bronx called Devil's Nest. He was so small hahaha...
“But, jokes aside, I want to say that we both just came up together remixing and producing tracks. Then we would always visit each other playing.”
LV: “I’d known about him and he was one of the DJs out there doing it in NYC and I followed around other clubs he played at like Lovelight and even Zanzibar when he guest spotted for Tony Humphries. So there was always that six degrees of separation between us all!”
Following on from how you met, when and how did you first link up for the Kings Of House NYC project, and what has it been like to be a part of it?
LV: “Kings Of House NYC started with John Davis, the promoter of the famed Body & Soul.
“He met up with us and wanted to do a night of ‘legends’, we said we didn’t want to do legends but mentioned a night I did called ‘Eve Of Souls’ where I brought Tony Humphries and David Morales along with myself at a club on 21 Street in Manhattan. He liked the lineup and we then all met up, and he came with Kings Of House which later David and I changed to Kings Of House NYC.
DM: “The first events were all classics and were very successful.”
LV: “Yeah, it started at the club Webster Hall which as David mentions was a huge success and then later we did several other KOH NYC events in NYC and Miami, then it spread to Italy, London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, LA and more.
“It’s wonderful to play music with your heroes, we have such a blast together!”
Image: Kings of House NYC on Facebook
How does the House Music scene today compare to the one you guys started in?
LV: “They’re two totally different animals.”
DM: “Yeah, I'm going to keep this answer short too... It just doesn't. You'd be surprised how many DJs don't really know about the origins of house music. Some think that it started in the 90's so what does that tell you? BUT... the evolution of house music is another story.”
The 51st Festival Lineup is absolutely stacked with talent from your era. Whether it be your fellow NYC compatriots Body & Soul, Todd Terry, Roger Sanchez or so many more. What is it like for you guys to still be flying that flag for House music?
LV: “For us it’s pure passion, we love what we do and no one here is complaining. We make the music we want to make, put it out when we want to put it out and play all these amazing places around the world. The cons are the hardships of travelling with no sleep and being away from family.
“There is a reason why we are still here and are putting out music consistently, you gotta love this to do it!”
DM: “It's an absolute honour. But to me, it's just music”
Alongside the festival showcasing such innovators as yourselves, they also book a variety of trailblazers of today. How important is it for festivals to do this? particularly ones that focus on specific genres like 51st, and are there any newer acts at the festival whose sets you are excited to see?
DM: “It's important to book the new generation because they represent their generation. It's how the audience evolves.
LV: “These guys are the ones that are making big noise now, and we need to prep the next ones! The audience as well needs to be fed new music. How do you think we made these classics, they were new records once! But it’s beautiful they are embraced by the new generation as well.
“It’s the cycle!”
Playing 51st means a return to London and the UK, is there anything in particular that makes UK crowds stand out, or the UK house/DJing scene in general?
LV: “UK crowds sure know how to have a good time. They respond to music they feel, they sing along, and they are loyal to their favourite DJs. I have a deep love for the UK, they are very dedicated to dance music and there is heavy culture with it.”
DM: “The UK has always been a trailblazing market. They put me on the global map.”
LV: “Many styles have also been birthed in the UK. Whether Drum n Bass, UK Garage, Trip Hop, Northern Soul, and more. Then there’s the vinyl culture which is a big deal, some heavy vinyl collectors and stores that are open to reach the young about music history.
“All these and more make the UK scene stand out.”
Image: Kings of House NYC on Facebook
Now, last question, your Kings of House NYC headline slot at 51st has been reduced to just 5 tracks. What are you playing and why?
“Wow that’s difficult, here it goes:
“‘MAW Lost Tapes 5’ by Funky Anané & Maw Want You - Top grooves that create atmosphere and vibe within a space when played.
“‘I Am The Blackgold Of The Sun’ by Nuyorican Soul - This one always leaves a lasting memory!
“‘Let Us Shine’ by Elements Of Life, featuring Josh Milan - A proper sing-along choon and one that has such a positive message.
“‘You Brought The Sunshine’ by The Clark Sisters - There's nothing like some Clark Sisters with Spen on the rework, an arm raiser for sure!
“‘Mercy’ (Brand New Masters At Work Remix is fiyaaah) by The Blessed Madonna, featuring Jacob Lusk - This one feels like a big one coming, hopefully, we can give it its debut at 51st State!”