Philadelphia is home to some of the best in music from John Coltrane, The Roots, Bilal, The Fresh Prince, and Grammy Nominated producer/singer/DJ Vikter Duplaix. Entering the scene in 2002, Duplaix has made a name for himself through several projects ranging from solo projects, compilations and mixtapes, as well as leanding his expertise to projects for other artists like: Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Esthero, Erkyah Badu and Eric Benet just to name a few.
Now, as one of the DJ’s selected for BET and Centric Network’s new reality show, “Master of The Mix” Duplaix is competing with other DJ’s to prove that he is the best. While working on the show, Duplaix is also gearing up to release his new album, Love Machine, in the first quarter of 2011. Duplaix allowed Rawe to ask him some questions about “Master of The Mix,” his reputation as a lover, the life of an independent artist and why he does so much.
Bella: So are you ready now?
Vikter Duplaix: No, but yea.
Bella: So the first question I had is how would you explain yourself in terms of being an artist and when did you first discover that you wanted to do producing, and dj-ing and singing?
Vikter Duplaix: How would I describe myself as an artist? I am a music lover, that’s how I would describe me. And part of getting the vibe out there means that I do a lot of different things. I’m a vocalist and a songwriter and a producer and that allows me to convey a certain emotion and a certain musical vibe. But I’m also a DJ and that allows me to play other people’s music to create an even different or more interesting vibe because now its things I didn’t even make up, its just things that I appreciate. Somehow, I eventually became a promoter as well so I now know how to, play the music and then create the space where everyone can enjoy the music.
Bella: Okay, and do you think being able to do all the elements have helped you even with your own music like to develop it more I guess?
Vikter Duplaix: Absolutely, because when you play other peoples music you get a chance to see what’s special about what they do. You can incorporate that into what you do, but you can also test your own music out to see if it’s working. Especially from a dance floor perspective, in a way that a lot of producers don’t get a chance to see, unless somebody puts their record out or their song is on the radio.
Bella: What genres or sounds in particular inspire you the most?
Vikter Duplaix: I’ve been involved with music since the first day I was born. It isn’t like one day I started to gravitate towards one thing more than other. I just really like sounds and I like being of better quality. So, at the end of the day, I think I have developed an appreciation for all things that are of significant quality. I think there is a common denominator or common thread between all those forms of music.
Bella: So right now you are on Bet Centric’s show Master of The Mix. How did the show come together and how did you get selected.
Vikter Duplaix: The show was created by two guys who were doing urban marketing, Carl Carter and Campbell Tom and they had open auditions for DJs at the winter music conference this past year. I’ve been screen testing along with 100 or so other DJs if not more and they were doing this in conjunction with Smirnoff. I passed the screen test, and I got a call in July, they said I needed to be on set in two weeks, and the rest is history.
Bella: I know for other reality shows, they say it’s invasive because people are coming to their world basically. I know for you since you’re actually a dj, has it been hard to be judge for something that you have so much notoriety for?
Vikter Duplaix: Well yeah, I think that’s what’s interesting about this show. Some fans complain about “we wish was about the up and coming DJ, you guys are already established”, blah, blah, blah. Most of the people on this particular show have never been judged at all. They have never been in a position where their reputations or careers can take a blemish because a lot of times in DJ culture it’s all about being perceived as the best or the greatest. So many other DJs refused to sign up because they were fearful of having themselves exposed or being perceived as not being as great as they say they are. So the DJs on this show were really bold in a sense of putting their reputations on the line and also running the risk of being humiliated or being embarrassed or not really performing well under pressure. So, for me I take my hat off to anybody who stood up and joined the cast because it was definitely challenging. It was not an easy thing to do.
Bella: So a fan of yours wanted me to ask that you have the reputation of being a lover. Why do you think you got this label and how big of an importance do you think love has itself plays in music?
Vikter Duplaix: I don’t know why people say I’m a lover. It’s probably just a crazy rumor, but nine times out of ten it’s because the music that I make as an artist is very sensual and geared towards a person who is really looking for something soothing and seductive and moody. It plays a major part in my artist space because that’s the energy I like to be in. I like to be very laid back and feel good and a little bit dreamy and a little bit of escapism. I like those kinds of themes and feelings in my art.
Bella: Just another fan question, this one is actually from a fan that lives in Philadelphia. They wanted to know how Philadelphia has such eclectic culture music wise, there’s neo-soul, and there’s hip-hop. They wanted to know how do you think being from Philadelphia has kind of widened the perspective of the type of music you make and how has it influenced your music style?
Vikter Duplaix: The interesting thing about Philly is that it has a massive amount of music history especially in terms of popular music going all the way back to Coltrane, to the present day artists. But, the city itself is not really a reflection of the music. The city is very hard edge and kind of raw so what you get is this musical knowledge that’s very sophisticated and forward thinking and the musicians are several grades ahead of other musicians around the world. But, then after you leave your music space you have to deal with this real edgy kind of cut throat social environment. So I think what it does is it creates a very special or unique perspective as it relates to the rest of the world because we have to deal with so much on a daily basis to learn and go and make this great music.
Bella: So your new album, The Love Machine, is coming out next month so what can people expect from the project and what was the concept behind the name of the album?
Vikter Duplaix: The album is basically about a man’s journey. He is looking for the perfect machine, or trying to create the perfect machine to satisfy a woman. Through his experimenting and trial and error he finds out that the perfect machine is the man. What it really is, is a very introspective self exploratory journey into a man’s mind and what he can do to be a better partner to his ultimate companion which is a female. Musically, it’s going to be more of what I’ve done—that beautiful, seductive, rhythmic, melodic, groovy type of thing. I’m not going to change that to much.
Bella: So what’s the actual release date for Love Machine?
Vikter Duplaix: It’s not actually set, but it’s coming in the first quarter.
Bella: You have so much stuff that you put out whether it’s a mixtape, or compilation, producing or your own music, why do you do everything instead of just focusing on one thing?
Vikter Duplaix: A part of it is because I have creative ADD. Also, I think a more curious or real reason is that a lot times when you’re independent you’re not at the liberty to focus on one thing at a time because you have to do several things to survive. And rather than make music at night and work on Wall Street during the day, I’m working different elements of my musical ability for survival. And sometimes one aspect takes off and pushes you further and you have to ride that wave till you can find an easier way to do the other. To be quite honest because I’m so genuinely connected or interested in all the things that I do sometimes I just lose interest in one aspect over the other and I need to take turns doing all of them.
Bella: Being that you’re an indie artist, you have such a huge fan base because a lot of people know who you are. I guess if you had to give any tips or words of encouragement to people who want to take the same route you’re on, what would you tell them?
Vikter Duplaix: I think my fan base is not as broad as I would like it to be. There’s some pros and cons of being independent. I think the main thing is you have to really love what you do for the love of it and it can’t be about some financial gain because the independent lifestyle is definitely not a profitable lifestyle. It can allow you to feed yourself and pay your bills, and have a relatively decent life, but the amount of work it takes to do it is rather extensive and it takes a lot of dedication, without any type of regret. You can’t do it half heartedly. But the other thing is, really paying attention to the people who support you. Like constantly engage them, if you’re not making new music at least from time to time have some type of dialogue some type of blog. Find areas or cities that you have a very significant fan base and try to get there as much as possible to build those relationships and build that momentum so you can launch that into different areas.
Bella: Also being that you’re such a musical person, with the year coming to an end—what were the projects that were in heavy rotation for you?
Vikter Duplaix: This year I was listening to Quadron from Denmark. I was listening to Japanese called Marter and believe it or not I was trying to catch up with all the stuff in hip-hop.
Vikter Duplaix: (laughs) Yes. As part of my DJ duties it’s very important that I stay up on what’s going on or I’ll be a dinosaur really fast.
Bella: That’s true. If people want to get connected with you, I know your new mixtape For Players Only just came out, where can they find all of this at?
Vikter Duplaix: Pretty much everything I have recorded before is available on Itunes. And some of the videos are on Youtube, and I’m working on having all of my music available on my website, VikterDuplaix.com. That’s coming in the top of the year as well.
Vikter Duplaix: In five years, I would really like to be in the position in where I have established a very solid live touring base. I’ve done a lot of DJ touring and that’s great and I’d like that to continue as well. But I feel like I can really offer a unique musical experience for people from a live performance space. I haven’t been able to do as much of that as I’d like to, and that’s my goal.
Download Vikter Duplaix’s For Player’s Only mixtape here.