Junior Vasquez

 

Junior Vasquez, (born Donald Paul Mattern, August 24, 1949, Lancaster, Pennsylvania), is an American club DJ and remixer/producer who moved to New York as a young adult in 1971 with ambitions of becoming a fashion designer, briefly attending Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and working as a hairdresser for a while.However, Mattern soon became fascinated with NYC nightlife especially with the work of DJ Larry Levan at The Paradise Garage. After adopting the pseudonym "Junior Vasquez", he commenced his career in music production in the 1980s. Vasquez began to work with DJ and pop remixer/producer Shep Pettibone, and together they co-produced and edited numerous singles from such artists as Madonna, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, MC Hammer, Prince, Pet Shop Boys and others. It wasn't long before Vasquez landed a brief residency at Club Bassline, where he began to make a name for himself as a live DJ.

Many of Junior Vasquez's earliest underground hits were released under the name "Ellis D," including the seminal gay house track, "Work This Pussy." Vasquez also released the tracks "Just Like a Queen," "My Lolleata," "It's Scratched," and "Took my Love Away" under the name "Ellis D." The style of the tracks release under the pseudonym "Ellis D" are largely credited today with having influenced the sound of house music generally, and particularly the sound of most all subsequent "gay" house singles.

From 1989 to 1995, Vasquez gained national prominence, along with music industry influence — through his residency at the original Sound Factory, a club he co-founded with Richard Grant, which was located at 530 West 27th Street in Manhattan's Chelsea district. Vasquez quickly built a following of loyal fans who became known as "Juniorites". Devoted to Vasquez's musical style, personality, and the spectacle of his weekly Sunday morning after-hours parties, his fans made Vasquez one of New York City's most popular DJs. Soon afterward, major record labels began soliciting Vasquez to produce club-friendly remixes for their top singers utilizing his personal beat-driven house style. Due to a rise in demand from these labels, many singers and musicians such as C+C Music Factory, David Morales, Björk, Marilyn Manson, and Madonna were known to frequent his Sunday morning events. Working with many popular artists allowed Vasquez to create his own repertoire of exclusive "Private Collection" of authorized remixes (along with several unofficial remixes) which were not released to the market and thus made his live sets even more distinctive to his following due to the fact that they could only be heard at Vasquez's Sound Factory events.

Junior Vasquez was also closely associated at this time with The House of Xtravaganza, a gay ballroom "house" which enjoyed great prominence in New York City at this time. In the early 1990s, Vasquez released his single "X," which sampled Danny Xtravaganza saying the word "extravaganza!" (the voice sample was taken from Danny Xtravaganza's 1990 single on NuGroove records, "Love The Life You Live"). The track became a house music phenomenon, and was followed up soon thereafter with the equally as influential and successful "Get Your Hands Off My Man." More than any other two tracks, "X" and "Get Your Hands Off My Man" brought Junior's "factory sound" to even greater prominence in the house music scene.

After the Sound Factory was closed in February 1995, Vasquez held residencies at the Tunnel (1995–1996), and at ArenA (held at the Palladium) (1996–1997) where his suspended booth was custom-designed by designers Dolce & Gabbana. In 1997, he returned to the former site of the original Sound Factory, now called "Twilo". Remodeled to include a custom-designed DJ booth for Vasquez's exclusive use and fitted with new cutting-edge audio technology known as "Phazon", Vasquez's residency at Twilo lasted until May 2001 when the venue was abruptly shut down by order of the city. In 1997 Ian Jenkinson and Inner Rhythm Artists Tribal Gathering enlisted Vasquez for the Largest single artist DJ event in UK history at the London Arena. Problems with the venue saw the event split between the two largest clubs in the country, Ministry of Sound and Cream.

With the demise of Twilo, Vasquez began a new Sunday morning after-hours residency which he named "Earth" at the highest capacity club space in New York City, Exit Nightclub. Vasquez's gig at Earth ended without fanfare in 2002. In the years that followed, he held shorter-lived residencies at various clubs in New York, including Discothèque, Sound Factory (so-named by Richard Grant who retained legal rights to the name and opened in a new space located in the Hells Kitchen section of Manhattan shortly after the closure of the original site), Pacha (which opened in the site where the new Sound Factory once stood), Spirit (which opened at the former space where Twilo once operated), and The Roxy.

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