Mario Vazquez shocked the nation when he suddenly walked away from his position as the only Latino in the top 12 of “American Idol.” Many thought he was a shoe in to win, and why not, “Idol” has never had anyone on the show like him before. In a bold move to take back control of his musical career Mario left without telling friends and family, and took destiny into his own hands. This decision has worked in his favor, as the Bronx native is set to release his debut self titled album this July. Mario tells nocheLatina why it is time for a Boriqua from the Bronx to make a mark on the music industry, and more importantly, why he wants to be an inspiration to young Latinos aching to be an inspiration to other young Latino.
nocheLatina: What were the reasons behind you leaving 'American Idol?'
Mario Vazquez: It came down to creative control, and man it’s been great. I have way more control where I am now.
nocheLatina: So now you are signed to Arista Records, how was it auditioning for Clive Davis?
Mario Vazquez: It was really nerve wracking. It was actually the last interview I had, because when I left ‘Idol,’ I had many offers. Nothing was in contract, just a lot of offers to have meetings. The last place I thought would want to meet with me was J Records just because they have a relationship with ‘Idol.’ When I heard Clive wanted to meet me, I was for lack of a better word shitting bricks! I was just really proud of myself too. This man who is a legend maker has seen something in me that I’ve seen and my family’s seen for awhile. Now I have the opportunity to do it on a big scale.
nocheLatina: How long has your album been in the making?
Mario Vazquez: It’s been about nine months or so.
nocheLatina: Who are some of the producers you worked with on this album?
Mario Vazquez: I worked with some amazing producers such as Soulshock & Karlin, The Underdogs, Krucial Keys, and Luny Tunes. With these producers, it’s very faceted in dealing with hip-hop, R&B, pop, reggaeton, it’s everything I wanted for this record.
nocheLatina: Is it difficult as a new artist to deal with all these different directions, you have everything from hip-hop to pop to reggaeton going on?
Mario Vazquez: It’s hard for new artists dealing with all those directions, but we did, and I think it is coming out great.
nocheLatina: How would you describe your album?
Mario Vazquez: It’s very rhythmic. I definitely feel it’s very unlike any other ‘Idol’ record out there. Its very dance oriented so that’s going to be refreshing to the ‘Idol’ fans.
nocheLatina: How did you tell your family you were leaving?
Mario Vazquez: I couldn’t! Fox got to my mother first before I could tell her. So she was like ‘What do you mean?’ They then used her sample of ‘Ay dios mio’ on every radio station, all over, Ryan Seacrest, everywhere. They would use it for commercial breaks, like ‘Back after this commercial break, ay dios mio.’ So I told my mom just to be popular for a little while, it’s all good. It was really hard, I couldn’t tell my mother because it would’ve been a guilt trip and I would not have liked that pressure. So, the way things worked out I think worked to my benefit, because it kept people more aware of me. Then it was ‘OK he left, but why?"
nocheLatina: What other artists do you have on this album?
Mario Vazquez: I worked with Akon, he’s on one track. I am also working with Trina and I have Alicia Keys singing background on the last song I performed on Idol, 'How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?’ Basically it’s all me.
nocheLatina: Were you able to get any of your own writing on this album?
Mario Vazquez: I have a couple of co-writes in there which I am very happy about. For a new artist, with debut albums it is very hard to get your own writing on there, but fortunately I got one. So I hope to evolve as a writer through this process and maybe on the next album I’ll have whole songs of mine on there.
nocheLatina: How did you begin singing?
Mario Vazquez: Since the age of five or six, my mother would make me get up at family gatherings, like a typical Boriqua family, and sing. I was influenced heavily by Motown, Doo Wop, classic Latin jazz, and Eddie Palmeiri, which is all reflected on the album. Everything I have been influenced by just living in New York City, from calypso to rock, we wanted that to come across in the album.
nocheLatina: Is there anyone you would like to work with in the future that you did not get to work with this time around?
Mario Vazquez: Yes, one person I would love to work with is Christina Aguilera. I would love to work with Alicia Keys more, as well and Mary J. Blige. She has been a huge influence for me ever since her What’s The 411 album came out. I remember in high school during a vocal class these girls were passing the Blige tape around and I was like ‘Who is this?’ I listened to it and fell in love with her from day one. Her vocal styling and the feeling she puts into her music, all a big influence on me. So it would be those three in particular.
nocheLatina: Who has been your favorite person to work with so far and why?
Mario Vazquez: Ne-Yo because he’s down to earth and very genuine. That’s very important to me. I like to filter out the bullshit and get right to point. With him that’s what it was all about. The first recording I did with him was ‘Gallery’ and it’s the first single off the album.
nocheLatina: What is most rewarding aspect of the music industry?
Mario Vazquez: Having people come to me and say they were inspired by my work. That means a lot to me.
nocheLatina: What do you have coming up next?
Mario Vazquez: The video for ‘Gallery’ is coming out in the next few weeks, so we’ll have a TRL thing going on. I feel that’s definitely going to launch the single as well.
nocheLatina: What do you think you are bringing to the game?
Mario Vazquez: We need a Latino from New York City to represent. It’s definitely time.