Few artists can be said to be responsible for producing genuinely classic tracks that defy aging and trends in any specific musical genre and even fewer artists can boast to have achieved that goal in two distinctly different musical scenes. La India is one such artist. Depending on musical preference and your geographical location you may know the songstress for different works. In the Latin world the ‘Princess Of Salsa’ has worked with a who’s who of the scenes biggest names, scooped countless awards and had a series of gold certified hits.
Surprisingly however these achievements are not why we’ve welcomed her the pages of DT, as so multi-faceted are her talents that we have been excited to welcome her back to the UK to see her perform a series of classic house numbers to which she lent her vocals back at the advent of the movement. Working with legendary outfit Masters At Work she quickly forged a reputation as one of the most gifted singers in the burgeoning house music scene and sang on a number of classic tracks that still move dancefloors two decades on from their release. Now returning to London to perform at Groove Odyssey’s House Legends at Pacha we caught up with the illustrious songbird to look back at her career, her love affair with London and what she has planned for the future.
You have some released some classic tracks with Masters At Work, and out of all the tracks you made from that era, do you have a favorite or a particular memory how one of them was put together?
It was an honour to work with Louie Vega and Kenny Dope Gonzalez, and I’ve known Louie since I was 9 years old. At 13 I saw him fall in love with DJing, and I was his neighbour and realised I was also in love with him. I would take him soup when he was sick, and I guess I conquered his heart when he found out I could sing. All of the projects we have done together have meant something special, and it’s always been magical, just to be in the room with them, to watch these ‘masters at work’. However there’s one that’s extra special for me. One night Louie said to me, “India, I have a track that I want you to listen to’ and I said “Louie no more tracks, as I had been laying a lot of vocals and I was tired. I just wanted a rest, I felt sick, I had flu, and he just looked at me and said ‘India please‘, with the little puppy eyes, lol, he said ‘please just go in and sing’, and I couldn’t say no to him, so I went in, put on the headphones and that’s how ‘I Can’t Get No Sleep Was Born’.
I had a feeling you would say that out of all the tracks, and where did the theme come from? Was it one of those weekends where you didn’t get any sleep?
I never got any sleep! We were always in the studio creating something, and Louie always seemed to know exactly what sequence he was looking for. I’ve always admired all DJ’s, especially in America, where they are really soulful, and they feel the music. I grew up around Larry Levan and David Morales in the 80’s and all their clubs and parties but I also love Kerri Chandler, Frankie Knuckles – in fact I love all of the early house DJ’s. When it became international and DJ’s started to fly to London, that was the era that began to really open the eyes of the world to what was happening in the States, and that’s when I first started traveling to Europe. All the songs I recorded with MAW always meant something to me – these guys were masters, I wish we could see them work together again, it’s real sad how they have grown apart.
I think everyone would love to see you guys work together again…
“We had a great time working together. We made did the Nuyorican Soul album, working with amazing artists like George Benson, Jocelyn Brown, Roy Ayers and of course, the great king of Latin music, Tito Puente, the mambo king himself. I also ventured out into Latin music, which has been really good for me also and I am known as the Princess of Salsa. My Latin music is really soulful but at the same time really jazzy with Latin rhythms, and funky – that’s what I am about.
For us in the UK, the songs you made still work on the dance floor without having to be reworked or remixed. What do you think is the secret to their longevity?
That’s what I love about London – you’re all so soulful. From the moment I set foot in your country I’m in love with you all. I see so many hands in the air, people feeling the music so much, I say to myself ‘wow, this is my kinda place where I can sing’. It brings me a lot of happiness when I sing, and I don’t need any drugs, my spirit moves me, and in London, it’s like we become one, they feel me
Speaking of London, are you excited to be returning to the capital? What can Londoners expect from India circa 2014?
Yeah, I’m really excited to be singing at the Groove Odyssey House Legends event at Pacha on February 1st and I’m set to blow it up on the night. I’m very proud to be a part of this amazing party, I know everyone’s gonna feel it and dance and party…we are just going to have a great time.
I’m sure everyone will be waiting for the classics…it’s music for the soul and I want to send a big hug and a kiss to everyone that’s going to be there