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NAJM Interviews Grammy Nominated Richard "Humpty" Vission!

"Shut the fu*k up and dance!"

RHV

NAJM Dance Culture
Richard "Humpty" Vission is no new comer. Richard has spent the last 10 years remixing the likes of Madonna, Enrique Iglesias, Martha Wash, Todd Terry, No Mercy, RuPaul, Charm Farm, Ace of Base, Taylor Dayne, C&C Music Factory, & Crystal Waters, as well as developing artists like Pure Sugar & Adrenaline! Beyond his frenetic mixing style, Richard has an excellent understanding of music.
 

NAJM:  Congratulations on your Grammy Nomination for Remixer of the Year!

 

 

RHV: Yo, Thanks for the support!!!
NAJM:  Richard, what’s the story behind the “Humpty” part of your name?
RHV:  It’s a nickname that I got around 1990. I was working at Power 106 in LA, and the Program Director, Jeff Wyatt, was notorious for giving everyone nicknames. Everyone knew me as Richard Vission, and he’s like “if you are going to start mixing, you gotta have a catchphrase in there”, I hated it but I got stuck with it.
NAJM:  Give us a little bit of background on how you got started as a DJ?
RHV:  I basically started in Junior High. One of my friends that lived on my block got turntables. We didn’t know what mixing was, or what we were supposed to do. We just started messing around and found that we could put things on beat and found that some other guys were doing the same thing. From one summer playing football after school, I went to mixing every day after school.
NAJM:  What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out as a DJ?
RHV:  You have to practice everyday and stay versatile. If you practice different types of music, it will really help you. You may not like hip-hop and you want to be a house DJ, but there are elements from hip-hop in your house spins and vice versa. Stay versatile and practice all types of music for a while to just get your skills down and then adjust into your niche.
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Richard on Attitude...

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NAJM:  Our core concept here NAJM is attitude and music. How important is attitude in the music industry?
RHV:  Attitude? There’s a lot of attitude in the music business, which transfers into ego. I think the business would be a lot better without it and we could concentrate more on music. That’s just the way today’s music is, you just have to deal with it. There are a lot of good people out there that have dropped their attitudes, it’s just about the music.
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes) NAJM:  How important a role has the Internet played in establishing yourself as a DJ, and do you see yourself spinning for millions of people outside of your Power Tools show?
RHV:  I was very late in the Internet game; I didn’t realize the mass potential of it. But seeing the way that people email, and how those emails turn into gigs. Through the Power Tools site, we have had thousands of people all over the States listening to the show. It’s huge. Within the next 10 years, the Internet will dominate the music industry.
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Picking Music for a set...

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NAJM:  How do you choose your music for a mix, Richard?
RHV:  I just play records I like. It’s pretty simple, if I like it I’ll play it.
NAJM:  How much preplanning do you put into a night you’re going to mix live?
RHV:  There is definitely a lot of preplanning. I usually know about 80% of what I am going to play. I still practice because when you come to do a show people expect you to be your best, and if you are not on top of your game, which happens a lot of times. I like to practice what I am going to do and what direction I am going to go.
NAJM:  What do you look for in a record and what breaks it for you?
RHV:  It’s just got to move me. There isn’t one type. I’m a little different. I don’t play one specific genre; I play all types of house music from drum and bass to techno to trance and breaks. It doesn’t matter what it is, it’s just got to move me.
NAJM:  So you don’t have a preferred style?
RHV:  No, there isn’t a preferred style.
NAJM:  As a DJ, do you prefer tracks that have a lot of effects already in them, or effect less to allow you more flexibility for mixing?
RHV:  It doesn’t matter, it just goes back to if the track is banging, effects or no effects, that it the track I will play. Whatever bangs.
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Agressive Mixing

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NAJM:  You’ve been called an aggressive mixer. How did you develop your aggressive mix style?
RHV:  It actually came from high school. In my high school alone there was 50 DJ’s. The DJ thing exploded in East LA where I grew up. When you would go to a house party there would be 30 DJ’s spinning in a night, and you would have a 10-minute set. So you would either sit there and play 3 records, or in 10 minutes I would bang out 10 records. It was just something that I learned because I wanted to play lots of records.
NAJM:  So you used it really as a way to set yourself apart?
RHV:  Yeah, basically.
NAJM:   Have you ever found yourself in trouble during one of your mixes-maybe the needle broke or something went wrong?
RHV:  You will lose things from time to time, but I’ve been doing this for so long I don’t panic if something does go wrong, you just have to take it with stride. Put your hands up in the air.
NAJM:  Richard, where is the most memorable place that you’ve ever spun?
RHV:  I think my favorite place to spin right now is Toronto – the scene is great. I did a rave there and there was close to 10,000 people. It was Bad Boy Bill and me. That was the first time I’d spun there. Being born in Toronto, it was kind of cool to go back – it was a special night for me.
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Remixing and Producing

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NAJM:  Many of the lines between remixing, producing, and DJing are blurring. Do you approach remixing different than you would a production?
RHV:  Actually, I used to approach it differently. Now I approach it the same because I started finding out that songs that I had written and produced, I was a lot safer back in the day. With projects like Pure Sugar, I knew I was really safe with the project as it was on a major label. Now my approach is to take it like a remix – you should rock the song.
NAJM: What is your take on Remixing?
RHV:  Someone should not have to remix your shit because you didn’t get it right. It’s one thing to remix it because you want a different sound like trance or something like that, but if your mix is too safe, and you need more of a club mix, then there is something wrong. My new approach within the last two years is be more aggressive. It’s like, how would I remix it – once you cut the song I take the a cappella and start over.
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Superstar DJs?

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NAJM:  The roles of the artist and the DJ are also starting to blur where the DJ is becoming the artist – what’s your take on that, Richard?
RHV:  It’s two-fold right now. It’s good for the DJ, but it’s bad for music in general. If we want dance music to go to the next level we need artists. It’s just not going to happen with DJ produced music, because then it will always stay faceless with a track here and there. I think it’s great for DJ’s like Paul Oakenfold or Armand Van Helden to take things to the next level and people are into the DJ’s. Some of them are artists and that’s cool, but now that we have that base, we need to bring more artists into the scene. We need more Madison Avenues, the Dee-lites, where people say, I’m into their music, their lyrics, and I am into everything they do.
NAJM:  You hit it right on the head. Do you think being a DJ is a prerequisite for remixing and producing?
RHV:  No, there are people who are remixing who have never DJ’d – like MK back in the day. The guy never spun a record and he’s doing incredible music. The guy in Charm Farm, Dennis White, he just starting spinning a couple of years ago and he’s been producing great music for a long time.
NAJM: So it’s really not a prerequisite to be a DJ to make dance music.
RHV:  I think it helps. You’re making music for the dance floor, so it’s good if you are a DJ. You know what will work on the floor. What happens is that sometimes it’s too dance floorish. I think it’s good when DJ’s collaborate with songwriters. I found that to be very helpful in my case. To collaborate with people who can write a song. They may not know the dance floor, but work with people who understand melodies, who understand a song. I think that’s the best thing.
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Tools of choice...

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NAJM:  What’s your favorite piece of studio and DJ gear?
RHV:  DJ gear is definitely the Pioneer 600 without a doubt. Studio gear is the Virus. That’s gotta be the baddest piece of gear I’ve come across.
NAJM:  If you could remix any artist just for fun, who would it be?
RHV:  I would love to remix U2 – I even offered to do a free remix of “Beautiful Day” but they already had remixes from Paul Oakenfold.
NAJM:  His trance mix is excellent.
RHV:  He’s a great remixer, producer.
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When Madonna Calls...

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NAJM:  You’ve remixed Madonna a couple of times, with “American Pie” and most recently with “Music” and “Don’t Tell Me” how did you manage to hook up with the Maverick projects?
RHV:  It was sort of two-fold. I’d met with Jason Bentley and he suggested that I try a mix. I also found out at that time that when I was working with my partner, Pete Lorimar, they had tried contacting us to remix “Ray of Light”, but had the wrong phone number for us.
NAJM:  When Madonna calls… you better be sure she has your number. How did they track you down?
RHV:  The guy that used to be the President of Geffen is now the President of Maverick, so he was familiar with my work from the Pure Sugar project. They were looking for a radio edit of “American Pie” and someone threw out my name and it just sort of fit. They were very happy with that mix, which led to “Music”. And then I remixed the new single, “Don’t Tell Me” which is out now.
NAJM:  Any feedback from Madonna on your mixes?
RHV:  Yes. She was definitely happy with “American Pie” that went #1 in 7 different countries. The last mix I just did, “Don’t Tell Me” her exact words were, “it was the bomb digitty” or something like that.
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Shut the fu*k up and dance with Rozalla

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NAJM:  “Shut the F**** Up and Dance” is your mix CD now out on Tommy Boy. How did the album come about?
RHV:  It’s a mix compilation that we got in bed with Tommy Boy and did. The idea behind it was to do three original songs on the compilation. The original name for the CD was supposed to be “I’ll House You” and when I went into a promotion meeting I brought them a track, “Shut the F**** Up and Dance – everybody snapped on it and wanted to call the CD that same thing. But then they were like it might be a little too risqué. In the end they decided to go with it – great name. It’s something that I was feeling at the time as a DJ. I had a lot of producers who sent me tracks before they were released. I found out that there is stuff on the CD that may never even be released. I just picked and chose music.
NAJM:  “Everybody’s Free” by Rozalla scored at #42 on the NAJM Top 100 – you’ve got an affinity for the record. How did you come to work with Rozalla?
RHV:  It was actually something that wasn’t supposed to happen. I was trying to license the a Capella from Epic to use on the CD. They would not license the track to me for some unknown reason. I just wanted to lay the vocal over a track.
NAJM: What do you do when a label won’t license something to you that you’re after?
RHV:  Victor Lee from Tommy Boy came up with this idea – if they don’t want to license it, I know her manager, let’s just have her re-do the song and we’ll put it out. I really didn’t want to do that, but it turned out to be a great relationship. I produced and wrote two other songs with her that will be coming out 2001, that I am excited about.
NAJM: Had you ever worked with Rozalla before?
RHV:  Rozalla and I have a history. I used to be in a group called The Movement in 1991, and did a song called “Jump Mother#$”. We did five dates with Rozalla in some clubs, so it’s two-fold that we came back to work together again. It was great to work with her; she is an incredible human being, and her voice! Just being in the studio with her I wanted to cry, it’s phenomenal.
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Working with Labels and Touring

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NAJM:  You’ve worked with all different types of labels, from majors like Geffen, Warner, Arista and you’ve also worked with Indies like Tommy Boy, Maverick, Logic, Strictly. What is your preference?
RHV:  I don’t know if I have a preference. They are all good labels and they all do good things. Preferably, I like independent labels because you are allowed more freedom. On major labels it cool but they are trying to be the home run and the radio hit. Lots of times, they are remixing things for radio. As opposed to Indies where it’s like, “rock that shit”. So it’s lots more fun with much more freedom.
NAJM: The “Shut the F**** Up and Dance” Tour is 2/3 of it’s way through. Is touring something that you want to continue doing or do you really want to spend more time in the studio working on projects?
RHV:  I like to do both. I’d like it to be 70/30 in favor of producing. That’s kind of where it is right now. This tour has snowballed. I said 30 dates initially, they pushed it to 40 and all of a sudden I have 60 dates plus. I love DJing but I don’t want it to take away from my production career. As long as there is that balance I will continue to do both. Of course when a CD is coming out, you have tour a little harder.
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Richard's "Vission" on the future...

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NAJM: You’re the co-founder of Aqua Boogie out of LA and you’ve started your own production company. What is your “Vission” for the future of dance music?
RHV:  I think it’s happening right now. I think the Internet is a very powerful source. The UK has it down and we need to learn from them. They have everything from TV, radio, to artists, clubs, everything. You have to have all the bases. I know we don’t have enough radio shows. We’re starting to get cool clubs like Twilo in NY and Giant in LA. We need to have the whole house (the whole foundation) and I think it’s starting to be built with Indies starting to do well like Strictly and Subliminal. There’s a lot of good things happening. Even majors are starting to pick-up some dance driven artists like Madison Avenue. We just need to keep on pushing and keep the music quality. Dance took a step back radio/commercial-wise in the last five years, but it’s exploded in the underground and I think it’s ready to explode back on and legitimize itself.
NAJM:   We’re going to catch your gig later tonight here in Fort Lauderdale – any surprises we can expect?
RHV:  I just do my thing; it may be a surprise to you but not to me.
NAJM:  No screw-ups, in other words?
RHV:  No, there are always screw-ups, always.
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For Bookings Call:  619-476-1288
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Check Out NAJM's Review of Shut The F*** Up and Dance!

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Check out Richard ONLINE!

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