Resident DJ Soul Medic and host Rescue Poetix had the opportunity to catch up with PhaseShift Ent CEO and founder, Luis Evangelista, for the October 28, 2014 edition of Rhythmic Vibrations.
Born and raised in New York City, Morningside Heights, Luis Evangelista has many passions. Music, after his family, is a large part of his life. DJing from an early age, with over 30 years behind the decks, he delved into music production in his late teens, when everything was analog, editing on quarter-inch tape and 1 inch tape, spending days upon days editing a song. To this day, his passion leads him to continually research new music, listen to old music and produce music. Most people are blessed with a talent, a gift, Luis’ is music.
In addition to blazing the decks with Soul Medic, Luis graced us with a brief on air interview.You can catch the audio archive for a limited time here: http://bit.ly/1tk5Kmy
Here is the full interview with Evangelista:
Rhythmic Vibrations (RV): While your name seems to be relatively new to the scene, you have an excellent grasp of what the Music Industry is about. Can you give us a little background on how you got started and what led you where you are today? What made you leave and what made you come back?
Luis Evangelista (LE): I have been involved in music as far back as I can remember. I owned my first Tambora when it was gifted to me when I was a toddler. In elementary school, I was the kid bringing the 45rpm records to the party, so technically I’ve been DJ’ing since the 4th grade. I started spinning at parties in my early teens, became a master editor in my late teens after graduating from Center For the Media Arts in New York. I began working for an independent label as their Associate VP of Retail, than moved on to become their Associate VP of Radio promotions. This was before the internet, so it involved lots of phone calls, trips to the post office and lots of leg work. I remember the CEO used to ask me why I didn’t start my own Record label, I wasn’t interested in owning a label at the time, my mind was set on being a producer. That question lingered in my mind for years, I always had an excuse for not starting a label. With technology being where it is now, I ran out of excuses. It needed to be done, it’s my calling. Why did I leave? I guess life happened. With the technology boom happening at the time, I thought it was a great opportunity to jump on the bandwagon. I left the music industry and started working for advertising agencies and publishing companies in their technology department. For me, financially it was the right thing to do at the time. Even though I was no longer working in the music industry, I was still doing projects and always had my gear setup, so I never reeealllly left. I decided to jump back in due to the advances in technology. It’s no longer necessary to have a staff to run a label, it helps, it helps a lot, but it’s not necessary. With DAW’s, it’s no longer necessary to book studio time, you now have a studio in a box, literally. Modern technology is a wonderful thing.
RV: In this day and age in the music industry one must be multi-talented and multi-faceted. Besides DJ & Producer what hats do you wear? How have you found that having all these skills have helped you establish a presence in the digital music age?
LE: Nowadays you must be a jack of all trades, be prepared to wear many hats. You need to be the DJ, producer, engineer, artist, graphic designer, promoter, accountant, web designer, publicist, etc. if you lack any of these skills, or just can’t multitask too well, you should outsource. Being familiar with technology is a definite plus. You quickly learn that one asset compliments the other. There are many tools available to assist the promotion and marking of material. The fact that I do not need to count on a third party for about 95% of release setup makes PhaseShift a fluid company. We can shuffle releases around and make last minute adjustments pretty quickly. Once all marketing points are realized, everything gets streamlined. It becomes the norm, but one must always remain open to other avenues.
RV: PhaseShift Ent, a label you recently launched, came out of the gate running. With ten releases already in 2014 and more scheduled, what advantages have you experienced in releasing your own music vs releasing on industry familiar labels?
LE: The greatest advantage in releasing our own music is just that. Having full control of releases verses having A&R critique your production, suggest changes, producers, remixers or just shelving your work. There is nothing like having complete control, but it comes with a cost. Being the new label on the block you need to establish yourself as a contender, the quality of the releases must be consistent, the next release must be as good or better than the last. You don’t have the luxury of having an installed fan base, massive mailing list and industry clout. The main goal for the first couple of years is building a foundation on great music and building that fan base. It’s a never ending grind that one must be mentally prepared for.
RV: Of the producers who have influenced your creativity, how do “old school” producers differ from today’s producers?
LE: Today’s dance music producers create some amazing tracks. The tools that are available today are light years beyond what was available back in the day. The cost of a production is minimal now. You can pretty much complete a track on a plane ride, from laying the first track to mastering. That’s amazing stuff. But even with all the technology that’s available now, in my opinion, the old school producers are most creative compared to the new school. I think the 70′s through the 90′s were the most musically creative times in dance music. The most memorable songs, classics and anthems come from those decades. With the limitations in technology, you had to be really creative back then when it came to producing, remixing, editing and even DJ’ing.
RV: What makes you passionate about the music you create?
LE: There is something fulfilling about getting a song out of one’s head and into another, and having them enjoy it. I love the creative process, seeing the project go from one lonely track, to multiple tracks playing all these wonderful sounds in harmony. It’s a feeling that I can’t really explain, only creative artists understand this feeling, it needs to be experienced.
RV: Artists usually have a creative process, things that they do in order to get into a “creative mind”. Do you have such a process? Or does it just happen?
LE: It’s in my head; I’ve got to get it out. Sometimes I have a rhythm bouncing around in my head; I would whip out my iPhone and human beatbox it into the voice recorder. Other times I would sit in front of my DAW and start laying down percussion or drum tracks and see where it takes me. Nine times out of ten, the impromptu sessions produce the best tracks.
RV: You Dj’d at an event in Harlem NY this past summer and it looks to have been your first since your (let’s not call it a) comeback. How was that experience for you after being away from behind the decks for so long?
LE: I was nervous at first, but I think most DJ’s are. Getting behind the decks felt like being home again, it was like riding a bike, only this time it was a hovercraft. It was a great time; I’m looking forward to doing it again, hopefully a bigger venue. My set was amazing by the way.
RV: How have changes affected your perspective of the Music Industry from vinyl to CD to digital format and mobile devices from the standpoint of a DJ and that of a producer?
LE: Technology is a wonderful thing. As a producer and label owner, the convenience of distributing music without having to run to the post office or having to keep massive inventory is a blessing. Being able to purchase music while on the go via different devices is a plus for both, consumers and label owners. Digital distribution changed the game in the music industry. Although major labels still have massive muscle in the business, majors no longer have a strangle hold over independent labels. As a DJ, the convenience of carrying your entire catalogue of music in your computer or on a memory stick was unheard of back in the day. Analog sound is still king in my opinion, cd’s and digital files can’t compete with the sound of vinyl.
RV: How do you find that music balances other aspects of your life? How much of an influence does music have for you, beyond the business side?
LE: Music has always played a key role in my life. From strapping a transistor radio to my bicycle when I was a child, to listening to tunes in my earphones while working out. Music sets the mood; it prepares you for what’s coming or relaxes you from what was. Everyone has their own life soundtrack.
RV: For all the budding DJs and producers out there, what wisdom can you share to get them on the road to following and accomplishing their dreams?
LE: The key is to be consistent, persistent, get your music out there, be prepared to have the door slammed in your face, get knocked down, disappointed, praised, critiqued, etc. The most important thing is not to stop. Never stop learning; there is more to DJing and producing than just DJ’ing and producing. You must brush up on publicity, promotions and marketing. Get your name out there to as many people as possible. Find creative ways to promote yourself. Keep up with technology in music production as well as social media. Build a fan base, than keep growing that fan base. Associate, make contacts, make friends and most important, have fun. The grind is just a grind if you’re not growing and having fun.
RV: As an artist and independent business owner, where do you want to grow from here?
LE: The sky is the limit, but for now I would like to focus on building that fan base, getting my music out to the masses and establishing a strong presence. It’s a slow process, but I’m in it for the long haul.
RV: Anything you’d like to add?
LE: I gotta have more cowbell!!
Learn more about PhaseShift Ent and Luis Evangelista: http://www.luisevangelista.com/