INTERVIEW: Richard Vission (2012)
As big name superstars rise and fall in the EDM world, there are few producers who stand the test of time – continuing to produce incredible music and support it with masterful DJ sets. Richard Vission is the host of Power Tools, the longest running mixshow in the US. In the 90s, he achieved success as part of the techno group The Movement and pop house group Pure Sugar. Not only a remixer for the biggest artists (Madonna, Lady Gaga, Ace of Base, David Bowie, Korn), Richard also releases his club-banging original productions on his own label Solmatic. The two are not mutually exclusive, however, as “I Like That,” his collaboration with Static Revenger and Luciana, started as an underground club track and exploded into a viral internet clip and international club smash.
DJ Ron Slomowicz: When you did the song “I Like That,” did you have any idea that it would become so big?
Richard Vission: No, I actually never think about it becoming big, we just do the records so that we can play out. Honestly, it still boggles my mind that it went on the radio because the song has no chorus. It’s kind of weird when I think about it.
RS: Was it just something that you made lying around? Where did the idea come from?
Richard Vission: Static Revenger and I wanted to do a track together, so we met up and banged out a track. We messed around with this little vocal saying, “I like that,” that was all that it was supposed to be. Initially, Luciana was never in the picture, it was just a track with a guy saying “I like that.” Static Revenger decided to send it to Luciana to see what she thought about it, and she actually sent back the record with the vocals in about two days. It was pretty amazing. We shot the video and did everything without even meeting each other, it was pretty crazy, but she was in London the whole time.
RS: When you work with Luciana, like with the new single, do you make a track and send it over to her? How did it all come about?
Richard Vission: It was kind of the same thing. I originally had a track that I just made to play out, and a similar thing happened. It just had the vocal saying “you want me because I got that swagger” and I was playing at a couple big raves and clubs and the response was great, people were feeling it. I sent it over to her and she wrote some verses that were cool. Luciana, Nick, and I write many pop songs for other artists together, and people don’t know that Luciana can really sing. She demos all of our pop records and her voice is absolutely amazing. When she did the verses, I decided that I would love to get her to sing something and that’s when we came up with the hook. Her voice is amazing and it all came about naturally. The track is getting a good response; we just banged out the ideas in the studio.
RS: Since you mentioned it, what are some of the pop songs or artists that you have written for with Luciana?
Richard Vission: Luciana has had many songs. We just got one song cut that we are doing with Havana Brown. Luciana has songs for Kylie Minogue, but I can’t remember all of them off the top of my head. She has a lot of pop placements out that people aren’t even aware of.
RS: When you work in the studio what software do you work with?
Richard Vission: I use Logic to program all of my stuff, and then I mix down in Ableton.
RS: When you DJ live are you on CD or Laptop?
Richard Vission: CD for sure.
RS: When you are making a track in the studio, are you thinking about how it’s going to sound in the club on the weekend? What is in your mind when you are working on tracks?
Richard Vission: The only thing that I am thinking about if it’s going to sound cool when I play it out. My number one focus of making anything is first and foremost for the dance floor, if it goes anywhere beyond that, then that’s just great.
RS: What are you working on in the studio right now?
Richard Vission: Right now I am finishing three different singles that I have. I am deciding which of the three songs I am going to release next. I have a song that Static Revenger is singing on that I am mixing down, and I just finished up a song for Havana Brown. For the last six months I have been working with these kids called W3 the Future. They are three fourteen year old kids; one is black, one is Asian, and one is white, I think that they are going to take over the world. I am executive producing their album and have done about fourteen songs with them. That has been my main focus for the last six months. There is a video online called “High Volume.” These kids are ridiculously sick. I am doing everything from dubstep to hip-hop to even some R&Bish dubstep, if that makes sense. They are pretty amazing.
RS: How is Powertools going?
Richard Vission: Powertools is amazing. It seems like every major DJ has been on it. Over the last three months we have had everyone from Afrojack to Avicii to Dada Life to Laidback Luke on it. It’s amazing how well it still does for being on for such a long time.
RS: Talking about Avicii, you were the first guys on the Avicii train. You did a track on your label with him in 2010 right?
Richard Vission: Actually, Vicious were the first guys on the Avicii Train. They had signed him and put out a track that we had picked up and put out on our label Solmatic. It is amazing how quick the guy blew up in two years, freaking fantastic.
RS: Were you at EDC this year, Daisy Carnival?
Richard Vission: I did not make it this year, I was sick in bed trying to get on a flight. We were supposed to broadcast Powertools from there but I was too sick to get on the plane.
RS: What is your take on this big EDM boom that is going on in the states right now?
Richard Vission: I think that everything comes in a wave. I think that it’s amazing how big it has gotten but I can also see that there is somewhat of a backlash. It has become so popular and it seems like some of the music is getting a little too watered-down. What I am starting to see now in LA is that people are starting to go underground. They are starting to rent out warehouses, but legally they aren’t advertising and it’s not any bottle services or anything like that, it’s just thousands of people coming to dance, nothing else.
RS: Yeah, there is a vibe going around that the high-end bottle services and the elite lounges are starting to kill the vibe of what dance music is supposed to be.
Richard Vission: Yeah, I have heard that a couple people have gotten kicked off the decks in Miami and Vegas. I think that you are going to start seeing two forms of dance music. There is going to be the mainstream dance music and then an underground side chain. Kind of like when hip-hop became really big, you still had the underground hip-hop even though it wasn’t on the radio it was still percolating.
RS: What is coming up next on the label Solmatic?
Richard Vission: One of my singles, we are currently figuring it out. I am actually sending my partner David Garcia three or four options to see what he wants to go with. I am letting him decide on what the next single will be and we’ll see which one he wants to go with. That’s going to be the next thing on the label. I think that we are going to rerelease the Avicii track with new mixes.
RS: You had a track called “Feel the Love” that came out on Stealth earlier this year, why do you release tracks on labels other than yours?
Richard Vission: “Feel The Love” didn’t actually come out on Stealth, it was supposed to but we couldn’t come to terms with the right arrangements at the last second. That is actually another track that I am redoing to put on my label. Going to your question, I have done so many tracks that I can’t put everything out on my label. It would just be a freaking Richard Vission fest on Solmatic and that wouldn’t be too fun for the partners. I have another track coming out on Luke’s label Mixmash, and it depends on the track since certain tracks fit better with certain labels. Like with Solmatic, we are really good with taking tracks that might have some mixshow potential. There are labels that are more underground like Mixmash that aren’t trying to do mix shows; they are just putting out crazy tracks. When I have a crazy track like “Boombaa,” I’ll send it to Luke and he will be like “yo let’s put this up!”
RS: Have you heard that song by Die Antwoord, “I Fink U Freeky?”
Richard Vission: I haven’t heard it but I am very familiar with the group, I love them.
RS: Okay, I was going to ask how you felt about them ripping off your track “Jump?”
Richard Vission: No, I didn’t know that! What did they do?
RS: The middle of the song is flat out the Movement’s “Jump” with “jump mother fucker jump mother fucker jump,” the techno noises and everything.
Richard Vission: No shit! I have to look that up right now, that is actually kind of genius. It’s funny, I have been asked a hundred times to redo that record and I just can’t do it.
RS: If you listen to R3hab, that old school, techno shit is all the way back now.
Richard Vission: I know, I don’t know why I just tell people to have somebody else do it. It just doesn’t sit right with me. I think that somebody else doing it is amazing, I am glad that they used it. I am going to look it up on YouTube! Is there a video?
RS: Yeah, the video is really sick. And now the really big question that everyone wants to know, what happened to Humpty?
Richard Vission: Humpty was the nickname that I was given when I started mixing on the radio. I never wanted a nickname; my DJ name in clubs was just Richard Vission. It got to a point where they were going to keep me as a regular on Power 106 and the guy in charge gave everyone a nickname. What it came down to was that I had to have a nickname or I wasn’t going to mix on the radio. He came up with the name Richard Humpty Vission and I said “I don’t like this name” and he said, “we are going to call you Richard Humpty Vission or we just aren’t going to call you at all!” I agreed with it at that point but I have never liked the name. Fast forward ten years later, I wanted to drop it but I was putting out mixed CDs and my name was in the system, none of the stores can change your name once it’s in there. I was stuck with it as long as I was doing mixed CDs. I couldn’t change my name until the stores started dwindling out and mixed CDs were going to be sold online. For my last mixed CD I was able to use just Richard Vission and after that I just dropped the Humpty, I never liked it! That is a long story, as short as I could make it.
RS: It’s wonderful, I’ve always wondered that. By the way are you still touring a lot, you are still a road dog right?
Richard Vission: Yeah, I have actually taken off the last four months. What actually happened was that the kids that I was working with are only fourteen years old and can only get in the studio on the weekend. I was so excited about working with the kids and their potential that I told management to clear my schedule out for four months. I wanted to work with them every weekend. Now that I have a single out and about four songs coming out, they are setting up a small tour and then I’ll get back on the road. I needed a break though; I have been gigging on the road for fifteen years nonstop. To have a breather for four months has been great!
RS: I have always wondered, you always seem to be in great shape, how do you keep yourself physically going with the schedule that you keep? Are you in the gym every day?
Richard Vission: I go to the gym about two or three times a week. My thing is that I don’t eat junk food, fast food, or fried food. I am not on a big health kick, but if you eliminate junk food from your life you won’t necessarily gain weight but you will stay where you are at. I go to the gym a couple times a week and I am able to maintain. I also don’t drink a lot of alcohol so it’s not like I drink a bunch of beer and then go grab a burger at 2 am. After my gigs I usually drink water or Gatorade and eat a power bar or a piece of fruit, and then I am good to go.
RS: Cool: Are you married?
Richard Vission: Yes, I got married last year. It was the best achievement that I have ever had in my life; she is a great woman. She has been awesome, she’s amazing. If you would like to see my wife, you can check her out on Powertools TV. She does the radio show, Indy version on YouTube. It’s pretty cool and I am really excited about working on it.
RS: What is Powertools TV?
Richard Vission: It is a 2-3 minute thing that my wife put together, she has been doing it on and off but she got a deal in place that she has been doing it every week. It is like Entertainment Tonight but for EDM. The way that she put it together is amazing; if you go on YouTube it’s amazing the way that she does it. She films it, does the editing and everything herself.
RS: What remixes should we be watching for?
Richard Vission: I have a couple remixes coming out, there is the Cheryl Cole remix “Call My Name.” I know they dropped that in the UK and should be dropping it here in the next couple of weeks. I am pretty excited about that remix. I also remixed of Madonna’s new single “Turn Up the Radio” which just came out.
RS: Let me ask you this, how does a UK pop artist find her way to be working with Richard Vission?
Richard Vission: We are actually managed by the same manager. I did a song for her album but in the end it didn’t make it. She is a cool person and I really liked the song. It was Calvin Harris song and I really dug it, when she asked me to remix it I said “cool.” I also remixed the new Will.i.am and Eva Simons song “This is Love.”
RS: . With Madonna you did some things with her in ’99 and 2000, with the “Music” and “Die Another Day” it’s been like ten years since you have done something with her, how did you get back to working with her?
Richard Vission: They just asked me. I was submitting songs for her album so Guy Oseary and Dave Renee reached out to me to see if I could do a mix of “Turn Up the Radio.” When I listened to the album, it was one of the songs that I liked off of her album.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Richard Vission: To all of the fans out there, thanks for supporting me. I am excited about the new stuff coming out.