ANANE VEGA: "The Queen is in the Booth, Come to the Dance Floor."

By :- Janette Brin

Industry

By R. Anthony Morrison 

 

Anane was born in Cape Verde, the beautiful Islands off the coast of West Africa.  Music has always been a part of her life since early childhood. Members of her family played guitars and percussion instruments. Her family moved to America, and she spent her early years in Rhode Island. After being introduced to House Music by a friend she developed a love for the genre. She later moved to New York, and spent some time modeling. Anane also embraced New York's thriving House Music scene. She met DJ/Producer Louie Vega, and the two eventually married. Though she had an interest on singing it was something she had kept to herself. She didn't even tell Louie for a couple of years. Louie saw immediate that Anane was a huge talent. He brought her on board as part of the Elements of Life collective. Anane has performed as a part of Elements of Life in Holland, Japan, Cape Town South Africa, and Europe's  Montreux Jazz Festival.

In 2007 world-famous entertainment empire Cirque De Soleil asked Anané to perform the opening song for the Super Bowl XLII pre-game show. Her performance of “One Dream” with elements of Life viewed seen by more than 140 million people worldwide. These days Anane Vega is a mogul in the making, In addition to becoming a DJ, Anane also started her own Music Label called; NULU (Nothing Ultimately Leaves Us). The label has been instrumental in promoting the 'Afrotech" sound internationally. They have signed artists from South Africa, Angola, Haiti, and Nigeria. Anane herself has collaborated with a diverse group of artists including Caribbean Artist "Mr. Vegas".

In 2013 she was asked to be the official DJ of the Ambassadors’ Inaugural Ball, a black-tie tribute to U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. In addition to residencies in NY, and Ibiza Anane is in regular demand as a DJ throughout Europe and other parts of the world. She masterfully balances her many roles as wife, mother, music label owner, DJ, and fashion designer. In a response to interest from her fans, she recently launched an online boutique featuring her own designs. Anane has become a certified to teach Bikram Yoga.  Saying that Anane is a busy woman is an understatement, fortunately Posh was able to slow her down for a catch up. 



P - 
Hi Anane, I'd like to start by asking about your record label, NULU.

AV: NULU
is three years old, I was just looking on traxsource and they did their 2013 picks of the top Afro songs of the year, and NULU really took over the chart. We were also in the top albums of the year; it was done with some guys out of South Africa Alpha and Omega. For example DJ Jeff out of Angola we signed his first which was "Tambuleno. We signed it on NULU, and once that came out we got offers for licensing deals. I want to believe that that helped with his career, also Black Motion out of South Africa, we were there from the beginning. We picked up some of their music. So NULU has done well and has made a name for itself. We've made a name of it; me and my partner Antonello Coghe. 

P - How does it feel to look back on the past three years of NULU?

AV; we kept on and we're going into four years now, and almost 40 releases. We have stayed true to what it is that NULU represents. Because we were getting so much music, other styles of music that we had to open a NULU Electronic division. So now we have NULU electronic that caters more to the electronic sound. It has a lot of artists coming from Europe, Italy, England, as well as South Africa.

P:  In the beginning to you really see the label expanding the way it has?

AV: It's really interesting to see what it's grown into; every year at the Winter Music Conference we have our NULU party. We've had Black Motion, as well Gardy Girault from Haiti. We had Oskido, as well as Zinhle out of South Africa. Zinhle is a female DJ; she did a track under Oksido that we picked up.  It was huge for us. It's called”My Name Is."; the lyrics say the Queen is in the booth.  That became my anthem, my song for when I play. It did really well, I’m really proud of NULU in what it's becoming and the work that we do.

P: Have you had to do a lot of work with regards to searching out artists? 

AV: We haven't' had to look, from the first artists that came which was AM Roots from South Africa. Once we started putting that type of music out it was just a natural progression. A lot of the artists like Sheyi Olagunju from Nigeria, and artists from the Congo. Now it's a constant flood of music coming in every day. We sort it out but at the same time I think you have to stay ahead of the game. You have to see what's out there as well. You can't always rely on what comes to you, so we research a little.  We see who is making noise; it's always interesting to find new young talent that no one has discovered. To me that's like a rare gem when you find them. 

P: These days in addition to your singing, and the music label, you are also a DJ. How long have you been doing that?

AV: Well actually, just as long as I've had NULU. It's going on four years now. I wasn't planning on it; I didn't really have any intention on doing it.  Louie was always telling me, "you should DJ" I had just finished recording my album Anane’s World. It was done, and we were planning on shopping it around for a label. At that time it was a slow period, and I went to visit a friend of mine named Stephan at a place in Manhattan called SUBMERCER who was the manager at the time and I just went to hang out. When I was there it was a very eclectic music selection  and it was very small , very intimate  So I said to my friend if I ever  did something it would be in a place like this I played there in November about three years ago in there was a good response. I played all night from 11 - 4 in the morning I just played everything that I liked. He told me that on the way out people were asking if I could come back, and who was the DJ playing that night. So he asked me if I wanted to play again and I came back the following month with more good feedback. And then they asked if I wanted to do a monthly party, and that's how it started. 


P: What happened from there?

AV: And then in March at WMC I played for the Vega records party, there happened to be some agents there who heard me and told me that they would be interested in booking me in Europe. Next thing I now, that summer I was in Europe to DJ. One of my favorite gigs was the opening of a summer club with 5,000 people; I was just completely in shock. From there it just took off in a way I never expected. I have to say that I completely love it.

P: What has the path to becoming a DJ been like for you?

AV:  Like anything else it's about confidence, it's about learning your craft. I think that no matter what you do in life you have to master your craft. You have to do it continuously, not just as work but practicing. I have a little set up at home that I practice on. So the DJ today now is ready to kick ass. I'm ready for the opportunities to play with the people I look up to. I'm comfortable, I'm confident, I feel a strength and confidence that I didn't before, which is normal because as you grow and continue to get better you become more confident in what you do. 

P:
 What are your thoughts on handling all the various hats that a woman like yourself has to deal with being part of this industry and doing the work you do?

AV: It just makes you stronger, as a woman you hold strength, you just get better. As women we have so many responsibilities. We have to tend to being mothers, homemakers, sisters, friends, wives. Then hold a career as well, and what we do is not the average 9-5 my work is going to a club and playing music so for us it's very normal, to other people maybe it's not but I love what I do. 

P:  what do you feel is your mission with regards to your work in music? 

AV: My mission in all of this is to put something out there that will empower other women. Once I posted a picture on Facebook of just my hands Dj'ing and there were many comments. One comment was “I love this picture because at the end of the day it's just about the craft." I thought; ok I can accept that, but then I posted another picture of a photo-shoot that I did. It was very provocative and I wrote; "beauty, and the body does not make any woman not capable and it doesn't take away the capabilities of a woman doing her job." 


P: Would you say then that as a woman in the industry, self-confidence is a big factor in handling the perceptions of others?

AV :
 I've embraced myself so why should I dim my light because I'm a sexy woman, I'm a woman that loves to wear high heels, and put short dresses on. No I'm a woman that wants to empower other women and say yes. You can be sexy, you can be a mother, and you can have that career. Beyoncé’s doing it. So go out there with your stilettos on and kick ass and be good. I shouldn't have to hide.


P- I know you have a son; does he think he has a really cool mom?
 

AV: You know I don't think kids ever think their parents are cool, at least they won't tell you that. They are always the cool ones, and they know what's going on. I think I'm a cool mom, but I don't know what he thinks. I know that he appreciates what we do since he has gotten to travel with us all over the world. He's been to places like Greece, Portugal, and Italy.

P:  Talk a little bit about your collaboration with Caribbean artist Mr. Vegas, you two did the track "Shake it" correct?

AV: I think when we did the track "Shake it" the label (Tommy Boy) wanted a male vocal on it. They wanted collaboration, at the time we had considered artists like Pitbull. Mr. Vegas seemed to be a good fit, he heard the track and he was into it. We didn't actually get to be in the studio together we sent our parts. I did my thing, and the track did really well. “Shake it" was a song I wrote with Wayne Harden It's just a fund song.  It says "respect me for the queen I am.", and it's that message again that it’s ok to be sexy, and still demand respect.


P: Any plans for more parties with all female DJs?

AV: I want to do another party with all female Dj's. I've done a few in the past that featured Sabine, and Kamala.  There are so many out there so I feel like why not. Louie and I did a party together called "Golden Ladies", that's something that I would like to do more of. Women empowering each other always help. 


P- Do you tend to get a lot of emails from girls and women wanting to be DJs?

AV: yes I do, I got one very interesting one from Botswana, a young girl of about 16 years old emailed me.  At this point the only thing I can do is to give advice on how to go about it. The moral of the story is that you have to believe in yourself, you have to dedicate yourself, and understand that it's a lot of work. It takes time, everything takes time.

P:
 So tell me, what is it like playing alongside Louie Vega?

AV: It's very interesting; at one point I was really intimidated. C'mon I was playing with Louie Vega. Then I was like ok it’s my husband, there are moments when we have this music going.  He's got something on top of what I'm playing, and between the effects and everything we get it going for a while. It's just amazing, there's nothing wrong with a little friendly competition only it's not a competition, He'll come out with something, and then I'll come out with something. I don't think he ever expected his wife to be dj'ing with him. It's a lot of energy, it's a good time. 

P:  As if you weren't wearing enough hats, you have also ventured into fashion is that right?

AV: yes I've launched an online boutique, Anane’s World online boutique. I had a lot of women asking me where do I get my fashion, and who helps me style it. It's just me by myself, when I DJ I'm in a dress. I'm in Stiletto heels, I love being that way, I love being sexy, I love being a woman. I wanted to make my style accessible to my fans, so now I have an online boutique. It's about feeling good about yourself.

P:  I know staying healthy and fit is important to you, you are a big fan of yoga how important is that discipline to you?

AV:
 When you take care of yourself it's really important. I take great pride in taking care of myself because it makes me feel good. Yoga has done that for me.  Yoga is about finding harmony in your body, and in your mind, and in your spirit. So taking that practice, those thoughts, and applying it to everyday life is what made me love it so much. One day I would like to have a yoga studio where people to come and get healthy, and find a balance in life.

Posh would like to thank Anane Vega for granting this interview.

*For more info on NULU Music and Anane’s online boutique:

http://www.ananesworldboutique.com/

http://www.ananevega.com/

 

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