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Mario Vasquez the Nuyorican Idol Merges Styles
8/23/06 - exclusive interview


Mario Vasquez of American Idol

Bronx-born Mario Vazquez has already had the kind of exposure most new, and for that matter, established artists dream of. The talented young Nuyorican has literally been seen and heard by over 30 million people nationwide. As one of the Top 12 finalists in the 2005 season of the television’s ever-popular “American Idol,”


Mario scored millions of votes week after week before choosing to leave the show. The day after the show’s season ended last year, Mario found himself auditioning in person for Clive Davis and his A&R staff.

Davis took less than twenty-four hours to sign Vazquez to Arista Records, making him the first young male Latin artist on the label’s prestigious roster.  Mario spoke with about his new album with its smash hit "Gallery" with rapper Baby Bash in this exclusive interview. What can you tell us about your new album?

People know me more by the whole drama, non-drama with me leaving American Idol. One of the reasons I left Idol was because I felt restricted by the sound I wanted to put out as an artist. On Arista Records, Clive Davis, they were the most lenient with me. Basically they said do what you do, I just felt so much freedom working on this album. The plan I had for this record was to get all the sounds that I've been influenced for as long as I know. Its a bit of R&B, Hip Hop, Reggaeton, Pop, got the love ballads on there. A bit of everything for everybody, we also do a bit of Spanish on there. We have the Spanish version of Gallery and a Spanish rendition for For the One. I'm just really happy with this record, I've accomplished to get everything that I listen to such as Hip Hop, R&B, reggaeton, pop, we were able to weave it all in. I think its really hard to do.

Have you considered doing an all-Spanish R&B album?

Of course, there's always a possibility of that. I definitely come from the culture, the Nuyorican culture, as I describe it. Its definitely a bit of English and Spanish, not the proper Spanish, more slang. In time I definitely see singing in Spanish, I definitely see it for the next record as well, a lot more. As far as doing an album all in Spanish, its not the plan yet, but we'll see how that goes.

Who are some of the guest features?

Akon rocking his thing, Daddy Yankee, just working with some really great amazing producers such as Scott Storch, people like Swizz Beatz. This is what I always wanted, an eclectic mix of everything, it just worked out like that. I'm glad they were able to match me up with those people, it worked out great, its power packed.

You had a big collabo with Baby Bash, how did you connect with him?

That came through my A&R through the company. They had signed him as well, they thought it would be a great idea, it worked out great. The single I have out now is definitely more of a pop ballad, but Baby Bash adds his own rhythm. Getting Baby Bash on it, the whole swagger. It definitely complements the record. Baby Bash himself, off the hook, its refreshing to see Latino rappers doing their thing and doing it big.

You mentioned the producers, overall the sound of album is mostly what?

Know what, I definitely think its a mix, brother. Its got its core of rhythm, its much more rhythmic than any Idol album out there, grittier and edgier, that's what I wanted. As far as calling it a Hip Hop album or R&B album, I don't want to label it, its a good mix of everything. I don't want to label it, know what I'm saying. Even though sometimes we need labels just to get people to understand, but if anything its an eclectic mix.

Are you doing any promotional touring?

I am, actually, right now I'm involved in a nationwide promotional tour for the single "Gallery", I'm going to do that for two months or so until the next record, the second single. "Cohiba", that's the Scott Storch track featuring Daddy Yankee, which is hot. It definitely shows another side of me being a little more edgier, a bit of innuendo as well. This is something I'd be able to do now, I would never have had the chance to do with Idol.

When does the album drop?

The release is September 12 on Arista Records, that's the deal. I'm also involved in a Teen People Magazine tour, its called the Rock and Shop tour. Every weekend we perform in a different city around the country, we hit the major malls in those areas and do our thing. Its actually lined up with cats like Accent, a rapper, Cherish on board. I keep busy, doing my thing, I'm just happy, its really doing well. Each show we do it keeps getting bigger and bigger, people are really digging it.

I'm sure you get asked this all the time, but there was confusion over why you chose to no longer participate in the show, can you speak on that?

One of the reasons why I felt it was time for me to go, I wanted more freedom, I felt restricted of doing the music I wanted. I felt they had a different direction. Even if I did win or didn't win I felt like they were interested in picking me up as an artist. From what I saw, with other idols, I felt I was gonna be restricted. At age 28 I don't want to be restricted in doing what I love to do. I've been doing this since I was 13, I feel like I've evolved to the sound I want to put out there, I don't want anyone else telling me how to sound like.

What do you predict would have happened if you had stuck in there?

Its great that people say I could have won, that means a lot to me, I feel like they really believe in what I'm doing. But I have conspiracy thoughts on that, every winner has been from the South, brother (laughs). Every winner has been from the South, so I'm thinking the Southerners really vote. I just felt progressing in the competition, you befriend all the contestants, all your competition, you realize that everyone is different. Everyone has their rock thing, country thing, pop thing. I'd rather not be numbered, we all strive to do something different. We're no better than each other, we had our own vibe. Id rather be known as the guy who got away (laughs).

So had being on the show benefited you?

Of course. American Idol's a phenomenal thing now. I definitely know that being on their stage, being seen by 30 million people is a phenomenal thing. I know so many talented artists in New York city alone that have never had an opportunity to be seen by a phenomenal number. I'll be the first to say it, Idol put me on the map. I would like to think that sooner or later I would have gotten signed. American Idol's great, I'm grateful for the platform they gave me to showcase my talent. But another thing is I want to control that talent.

So you consider yourself Nuyorican, repping for Puerto Ricans on the East Coast?

I feel like I'm representing a Nuyorican vibe Not necessarily Boricua... Me being Latino, I'm representing Latinos. For myself, I just wanna get clear that I'm a musician, no matter what I am. Latino, Chino, I'm a musician first. That's my love, I want to make beautiful music for everyone. I want to represent my culture right, but I just want to represent myself as an artist. I want to evolve, that was really important to me, longevity. My opinion of other idols and how the show works every season. People get caught up, its like a factory, now that I see it. It's a catch 22, you gotta impress the people because if you don't, it will eat you up and spit you out. This industry's real hard, you gotta make sure you stand out.

What else is going on right now?

Once the album drops, we're going to be on a major tour. Right now we're trying to book an opening act spot, I'm hoping maybe Christina Aguilera when she decides to do a tour. That's someone I like and am interested in working with in the future. As well as Alicia Keys, hoping maybe that will come back out since she's my labelmate. We're gonna do the whole promotion bit. I feel like I was born to sing, the most comfortable I feel is on stage, if they want me they can have me.

Are you doing anything other than just the music right now?

Right now the focus is on the album, but don't be surprised if you see me in some TV or movies, I've always had an itch for it, an interest in that. You never know, do some TV, maybe some hosting work for MTV (laughs). I love the arts in general, singing dancing acting. Whatever it is, I enjoy it, I appreciate it for what it is.

Any last thoughts for the fans?

Log on to Talk about American Idol, myspace is a phenomenal thing, its crazy. I want to thank the fans, pre-idol, post idol, all the new fans. I hope they dig the album because I love it, I feel really proud of it, I feel like I'm getting away from the backlash that Idol had. I'm proud of the Gallery single, that it worked out. It was a risky thing by me leaving, I thank God for blessing me, that I got my right direction.

Mario Vasquez on Myspace: 


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