I've been doing some thinking, amongst everything that I'm actively trying to breathe life into and thought:
Who is Louis Vaspar?
BEFORE I CONTINUE:
So everything I am going to say next may seem all over the place, but these points are both valid and coherent.
What's on my mind?
I have been confronted with the possibilities of what kind of sound I bring and what my niche would be. I've always wanted to be a Classical Musician...but it's not at all valued coming from me. The problem is that I am so hung up on the racial optics and the prestige of being a Black classical pianist because there aren't any prominent figures to speak of (and Andre Watts doesn't count, he's biracial, fucking stop it.) I always thought that I could carry on the legacies of Quincy Jones, Nina Simone, Art Tatum and be great and remembered like them. I still want that, but where do I really fit?
Unfortunately, I might not be amongst the great Black musicians of a past lifetime, but I find that my sensibilities are rather lighter in tone. I can be great, and Black, but I find that I would also be more in-line of the likes of Sergio Mendes or João Gilberto. In terms of Black artistry, I'm a Dionne Warwick, rather than an Aretha Franklin.
Fuck. Listen, I don't appeal to my own demographic! Trust me, race has everything to do with what I'm saying. I hate that I had to bring it here, but the reason it's a staple is because the "confrontation" (when I use this word, I don't mean "hostile" but rather "pointed" if you get what I'm saying) came mostly from White people who are curious about who I am supposed to be.
The Race Angle
I have met people from London, Manchester, Boston, Chicago, and Toronto and every last one of them didn't look like me...but they took an interest in me. Why? Because I lead in with Classical pianist. Why? because it's kind of a showstopper, they hear it and immediately assess that 1) I'm Black and 2) Classical piano?! They're not used to that kind of association. As opposed to saying "I'm a jazz pianist", then of course it wouldn't be so hard to believe. It's essential to say "Classical" at all costs, because it gets the intrigue. But I'm not regarded as a Classical musician because of my versatility; If I play anything outside of Classical then the claim is no longer valued, and it happens all the time. I could play Bach and Chopin all day but if I do anything out of that realm, I'm now an artist of that particular genre (recently, I got R&B for the first time) because it's easier to assimilate and categorize.
I remember going to a meeting last month with a good friend and her husband, and her husband kept making this remark toward the end to me that rubbed me the wrong way every time he said it. He said something along the lines of "[What you did was] WAY different that Classical" regarding a performance I did last year. The part that bothered me first was his blatant disregard of me already explaining earlier on that I also perform other genres; namely Samba and Soul. For some reason he must've forgot that I mentioned this tidbit because he continued to bring up that same remark another two times. He is White. He saw for himself that I played Classics as well as a few of my originals and some covers (there's a backstory to this btw) and somehow only focused on the covers (Alicia Keys, Sergio Mendes, and Nina Simone). This is all very important because it cross-references my earlier statements: I appeal to mainly White audiences, and If I play anything outside of Classical (my lead-in), it's no longer valued and I am reassigned into another genre.
The NEW Marketing Strategy
Which brings me back to the beginning, who is Louis Vaspar? How do I market myself? I can't strictly say I'm a Classical pianist, because I'm held to it (until I decide to switch it up, then I'm suddenly something else and only that). I am versatile, but then I'm only allowed to be one thing. SO I have decided how to market myself: I am a Lounge musician.
According to the components of Lounge, it blends Bossa Nova, Jazz, Exotica, Cha-Cha-Cha, Big Band, and Mambo (there's a couple of other genres but I'm just going to stop there) and it's a perfect representation of what I do. I always tell people "Samba" as an umbrella term although Bossa Nova is more in line with my work because I want to avoid "Jazz". I love Jazz but the assumptions are what I want to get away from, and yes, being Black plays into it every time. It's happened enough times for me to realize that I don't want to be easy to categorize, I want to stand out. In this climate of all these overnight celebrities doing the same kind of music, I want to be that "fresh rebirth" of an era. I want to be sexy, but with a touch of class. I want that elegance, to be the picture of cool and glamorous.
I've already made the conclusion that my market consists mostly of Caucasian (in both the Americas and in Europe) descent, White Americans who are in their 30's and higher to be specific. But I want to branch out and reach the Japanese and Portuguese, and Spanish (and Arabic) audiences as well. I've also concluded that I compose cocktail [drinking] music, I make (what a relative once said about me) "elevator music" (Fun fact: it's called Muzak, yes there's an actual term for it), I make mellow music to smoke to, I make music for slow "vanilla" lovemaking. You don't have to be of...a certain color persuasion (so I don't have to keep saying it, although I said it like 50 times already), I also appeal to those out of that target who indulge in these kinds of activities.
I represent something else now, what I'm doing is NOT new, but it's definitely a breath a fresh air.
So, when you see Louis Vaspar, please associate the name to Lounge; a cool breeze, smoke from a cigarette, a smooth glass of liquor, the walk of a cat. That's who I am.