In the deep house with da Vinci
The Godfather of deep house, Vinny da Vinci, celebrates his 10th release in his Deep House series. He speaks to Therese Owen about his journey as the forerunner of one of South Africa’s biggest genres.
THE story of Vinny da Vinci is well documented from his enduring friendship and business relationship with DJ Christos to his pioneering work with House Afrika to his unwavering belief in the potential popular power of deep house. Now he has reached a milestone with the release of Deep House Vol 10 which, as the title indicates, is his 10th in 15 years.
“I remember the first one in 1998,” recalls the reserved DJ. “It was the first legitimate compilation in terms of what the market really wanted. This album, however, is the last I am doing. After 10 albums I need to move to a new chapter. I want to revive my production side and make my own music in 2015.”
Vinny da Vinci has been a constant on the scene since those early days. But why did he stick to this genre from day one, when it was still considered a niche genre?
“People accept this music because of my endeavour to pioneer it in South Africa,” he says.
“I grew up listening to all types of music. Once I caught the house bug I never looked back. It was the first sound I heard that I enjoyed at a club. I used to go to raves because I wanted to see what it was all about, to see all the kids going off.
I marvelled at the fact that this music makes these kids go off. Pioneering this music was a struggle but I stuck to what I believed in and today it is what it is, and I thank God.
“Deep house has longevity. It is still relevant. It is musical. You can hear solos and you can hear someone wrote proper lyrics. It has a lot of soul.
“The tracks from those early days are as relevant today. However, I feel like the youth have lost that spark to do something new. Nobody is unique any more. If we continue going this route we are going to lose music.”
There is criticism from people outside of house (like myself) that it all sounds the same. Vinny shakes his head and smiles: “What I like about deep house is that it’s broad. You can have four DJs on the night and they will have four different styles.”
He cites his latest album as an example. “This album took longer to compile and I should have released it in 2013. However,
I struggled beacuse there was so much out there. I did not want to play the popular tracks on my normal sets. I wanted to make a mark as it is the last album in this series. I went a bit edgy and gutsy. With a lot of the tracks, in the beginning of the album the pace is slower, but when I play them in the clubs people are dancing and I wonder to myself if this could be a new beginning in the evolution
of deep house styles.
“The album starts slow as it is a journey which is why people should forget about individual tracks and just listen to it as
As one of the members of DJU with Christos, Fresh, Oskido and Greg Maloka, Vinny da Vinci runs the annual South African Music Conference.
Having attended nearly all of these conferences, I have observed he gives information freely and genuinely wants to help for the betterment of the industry.
“I tell young DJs to choose a genre that they like and make it count. The fact that I have been doing this for over 20 years and having seen the highs and lows, I like to preach that if you love this industry then show it. I love this industry. I don’t want it to die. Young people must have the guts to do something new. Most of them get into it for poppin’ bottles but it is up to them to try and change the industry for the better. I can only do so much.
“One of the problems nowadays is that it’s here today, gone tomorrow. By December you don’t wanna hear that track from six months ago. However, if I play a track from Deep House Volume 1 you should see their faces light up.”
While that album was a best seller at over 100 000 Vinny says his favourite is Volume 2.
“The first one had the hits but Volume 2 was ‘we have arrived now let’s cool off and school you a bit about deep house’.”
South Africa is the only country where you can hear deep house regularly on daytime radio dedicated to the genre. “South Africa is the only country where you can get away with playing deep house the entire night”
He also says that it is enjoying increasing popularity in Ibiza which is the dance trendsetting capital of the world.
“Deep house is not rowdy or loud which is why I like playing intimate venues. If you take a pic of a David Guetta gig with the kids and their hands in the air and then you compare it to a deep house gig, it’s totally different.”
In terms of his career he now has the national platform of Metro FM, after having started off on YFM back in the day. Metro FM’s mandate to Vinny was to play his brand of deep house. “This opened doors for me because I now have a national platform. My name was known in places like Cape Town but when I played they would just stare and go ‘okay, that’s Vinny. Next’.”
With his reputation sealed, the release of Deep House Vol 10, his radio show and with House Afrika still dominating the dance scene, Vinny da Vinci’s success is set to go on for quite a few more decades.