Born and raised in Brooklyn, DJ Ricky Vaughn is one of the dopest artists you’ll ever encounter, with a sound that’s a cohesion of his many influences from different genres in music. And with singles “Smoke & Mirrors” and the title track “All Night Long” – off his new EP – Ricky is definitely on the brink of becoming every music enthusiast’s favorite as well.
GlobalGrind linked up with Ricky Vaughn to discuss what it means to be “Ricky Vaughn,” the new EP, his thoughts on trap music, hip-hop’s evolution, and more.
Check out the exclusive interview below!
GlobalGrind: Being that your actual name is Joshua Vega, how did you come up with the name “Ricky Vaughn?” Does it have anything to do with the Major League film?
Ricky Vaughn: Yeah, it definitely has to do with the Major League character that Charlie Sheen played. Basically his attitude towards baseball was like, he was the outcast. He came in, he was the best at what he did, and he didn’t give a fuck. And that’s kind of my approach to EDM/Hip-Hop-based music. I’ll just come in, and do what I do. I’m not really here to please anybody. I don’t want to play by anybody’s rules. I want to rewrite the game the way I see fit.
So you have an EP called All Night Long, it seems to have this feel-good vibe to it, but what is it that you want people to take away from the project when they listen to it?
My whole approach with that EP was to make more songs, as opposed to making beats. I want people to go through different emotions with every song and feel a certain way. Feel like they got a whole experience out of one song or four songs, in the EP’s case. It’s doing really good on the charts right now. I’m doing well on the Top 100 on Beatport.
Do you have a favorite song out of the All Night Long EP’s four tracks?
“Smoke & Mirrors” is definitely my favorite. That’s number 9 on the Beatport charts right now.
You’ve remixed a couple of notable artists. Do you have a favorite artist?
As far as up-and-coming guys, I love what Trinidad Jame$ is doing. He’s very left field for the type of music that he’s doing. It doesn’t follow anybody’s rules. I like what he’s doing. I like what Big K.R.I.T. is doing. I like what Action Bronson is doing. I’m actually submitting some stuff for his project. As far as EDM, I like Cedric Gervais. I like Calvin Harris, Ellie Goulding. Real melodic type of stuff, you know.
Who are some of your influences and/or inspirations in music?
Definitely Timbaland. I’ve been producing music since I was 15. I just turned 31. And Timbaland is the only reason I started producing music. He’s always been an inspiration to me, and seeing what he did on Magna Carta Holy Grail was incredible. In contrast to the music he’s produced before, compare that, there’s an evolution to his sound. To me that’s really inspiring. Hit-Boy is definitely an inspiration to me. Kanye West. As far as EDM, Etcetera, Etcetera on Mad Decent – who’s one of my best friends – he’s killing it right now.
Since you mentioned Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, what are your overall thoughts on it?
I think it’s an incredible rap album. If you want great hip-hop, you’d go with J. Cole’s Born Sinner and Magna Carta. Those are great hip-hop albums. And I think that’s what the scene needed. It was the right timing for both of them.
As far as trap music incorporating EDM with hip-hop, do you think it’s just a trend or something that’s here to stay?
I think if people create more songs than actual instrumentals, it can stay. There’s only a few people really doing it. And I feel like I’m definitely one of those people who’s actually trying to make songs as opposed to beats somebody could just rap on. I think if people stay along those lines, it can go farther. That’s why the rappers are trying to tap into those guys now, because this is something that hip-hop wasn’t doing. It’s something that’s not really dance music, but it fits.
When it comes to you as an artist, producer, and DJ, what is it that you want people to take away from you as a whole?
I want people to walk away from listening to my music or coming to a show and be like: “One, I had a great time” and “Two, it’s music I never heard before. I interpret it in a way that inspires me. It’s something I can find myself listening to over and over. It’s something that’s memorable.” From details like picking certain sounds on a track, I try to use software that nobody’s using. I try to use sounds that people wouldn’t normally use in these types of songs, so that it sticks out everytime you hear it…I’m trying not to follow the normal system or formula of making music.
What’s something about Ricky Vaughn that people don’t know?
Back when The Biggie Duets album was out, I had the opportunity to work on tracks on that album. I was about 20 or 21. I was working with Keisha Robinson. And she used to work at Violator management. I signed a whole disclosure contract and everything. I still have Biggie vocals that nobody heard, and if I ever put them out, Diddy would sue me. Yeah, I had the opportunity to work on four tracks for the album. That’s when I was heavily into the hip-hop stuff before anything else.
With trap music in the UK and trap music here in the US having their different nuances, what are your overall feelings about the genre as a whole?
I feel like it’s a breath of fresh air. I feel like it’s giving hip-hop itself another life in aspects of being different and trying new sounds. I know a lot of people don’t like Kanye West’s Yeezus album. Personally, I do like it. I know a lot of people don’t understand it. I think it’s going to bring a wave of people that are going to go there, and try to do it better. It’s forcing people to think and try different things. Somebody could sit and be like, “This is great, but he did this wrong, I should do it like this.” And they could go out and do better. But Kanye’s going to come back, and perfect it. You’re going to have a whole generation of these new guys doing experimental music with hip-hop, trying to re-write the rules. Hudson Mohawke from the group TNGT – who’s from the UK – worked on the album, and I think that everything he does is amazing.
Let’s say you were trapped on a deserted island and you could only have three albums, what three albums would they be?
Big Pun’s Capital Punishment, Nirvana’s Bleach, and the group Justice’s Cross. These albums are all different aspects: hip-hop, rock, and electronic, because those are all my influences.
With your project All Night Long already out, are there any other projects or anything in the future we should look out for?
I’m definitely going to release a remix EP for it, probably in a month or so. I’ve already started working on the fo
llow-up EP – which I don’t have a name for yet – but I’m two tracks in. It’s going to be even better. I tested one single out in Paris, and it sounded amazing in the club. I’m really excited about that. It’s definitely going to take what I did here, and bring it to the next level.
How is the scene out there [Paris]?
It’s totally different. It’s way more exciting, and they party way harder than we do. The party started at midnight. I played a party at 3 AM. And when I left the party at 8 AM, it was still jam-packed…they go in. It’s all about the music. There’s no ego. There’s no stigma. It’s like they came to the party to have fun and just dance. They don’t care what you’re playing, as long as it sounds good and they can have a good time. I went from playing trap music to house music, and flipping it to Outkast’s “B.O.B.” The whole crowd went crazy. Some clubs here [U.S.] you do that, and they’re like “What the fuck is this guy doing?”
Where are some other cities, aside from Paris that you’ve been to?
I’ve played all over America. I’ve played in Vancouver. I’m going to Bangkok soon, and Romania as well. There’s a few places in the works.
Do you have a favorite city that you’ve been to?
I love Atlanta. I love New York. I love Los Angeles and Paris. Those have been my favorite places because of the crazy responses.
Follow Ricky Vaughn on Twitter: @RickyVaughn_OFC