JOSE GONZALEZ of FRESH SOL MUSIC. FROM GRAFFITTI ARTIST and HIP HOP DJ to MUSIC PRODUCER and GRAPHIC DESIGNER!!!! recent release on DISTANT MUSIC with JON CUTLER called THE MARS EP 2014.
Fresh music is what it is. New Jersey’s Jose Gonzalez, one half of Fresh Sol Music provides some of the history behind the label and his role with some of the biggest house artists like Masters At Work. He is a multi-dimensional creative artist ranging from graphic design to music and has the credentials to add to his legacy. You probably have some records in your crates with his graphic imprint on it. So I caught up with Jose with an exclusive interview and he gives us the deets on his roots and label.
PG: How did you get into music?
JG: I got into the music business many, many years ago as a Graphic Designer in the mid 1990′s. I also came up in the B-Boy era. I’m a grafitti artist as well. I DJ’d in high school in Newark and would make money selling mixtapes. With that money I would buy my records in downtown Newark at THE WIZ, FAMOUS RAMOUS, STEPHENS RECORDS, MUSIC VILLAGE and ROCK n SOUL (NYC) and I would buy my gear at MEG RADIO! All the NWK/EAST ORANGE and IRVINGTON people know what I’m talkin’ about! LOL!!!
PG: As a graphic designer, tell us who you’ve done work for in the music industry.
JG: MASTERS AT WORK, TRAXSOURCE, DEF MIX, DISTANT USA, TOMMY BOY RECORDS, PURPLE MUSIC, UNDERGROUND COLLECTIVE, SOUNDMEN ON WAX, BOBBY & STEVE, OPEN BAR MUSIC, SOLE CHANNEL, DEFECTED RECORDS, STRICTLY RHYTHM, 4TH FLOOR RECORDS, SOUL CREATION, BASSCLEF RECORDS, SOUL GROOVE RECORDS, FUZION RECORDS, DOPE WAX, KAY DEE RECORDS, SAM RECORDS, KING STREET SOUNDS, OMI TUTU RECORDS, DEEPA GROOVES, PHUTURE SOLE, SOULFURIC RECORDS, PIOZE MUSIC, NEWLITE MUZIK and I’m sure I’m missing a few. I also did a lot of work for many of these labels during the Winter Music Conference (WMC) from 1999- present! Including the MAW 1oth ANNIVERSARY PARTY at OPIUM GARDEN during the WMC.
DJs/producer and artist wise: KENNY DOPE, LOUIE VEGA, HECTOR ROMERO, JAIME LEWIS, JON CUTLER, MR.V, ALIX ALVAREZ, SANDY RIVERA, AARON ROSS, KENNY BOBIEN, ARNOLD JARVIS, STEPHANIE COOKE, SHUJI HIROSE, ANDY WARD, ANANE VEGA, DUCE MARTINEZ, JOHN DAVIS, HIPPIE TORALES, ADAM CRUZ, OSCAR P., DAVIDSON OSPINA, BRIAN TAPPERT, MARC POMEROY, EMAN, LOLA, RUBEN TORO, RAY VAZQUEZ, JOSE BURGOS, HIPPIE TORALES, DAVID TOBON, GEORGE MENA, LOU GORBEA, NEF NUNEZ, JAYSUN MERCED, JUSTIN IMPERIAL, FRANKE ESTEVEZ and CAMERON DA DJ just to name a few.
PG: How was working with Masters at Work back in the day in regards to having a hand at marketing their brand?
JG: It was a great experience. I worked closely with VICTOR VEGA who I believe ran the MAW offices during that time but I owe my meeting with KENNY DOPE to ALIX ALVAREZ which I knew for a couple of years as he started doing the DJ circuit in the late 1990′s. Alix was interning at MAW and put in a good word for me. Then KENNY DOPE had me come up to MAW STUDIOS on 6TH AVE. NYC. I was MAD NERVOUS! Then Kenny came through the door and I was star struck! We spoke for a bit, I showed him some of my work and we realized we both came from a background of grafitti. On that day, Louie and Kenny were doing sessions and Kenny introduced me to BE BE WINANS and JAMES INGRAM… and the rest is history. I would sometimes be up at MAW working on album covers while Alix and Mr.V were manning the phones. A lot of my work came because of my affiliation to MAW. Working for KENNY and LOUIE was a great learning experience because they both had different views on things making me more aware of different styles, how to accommodate certain individuals, and trying to put their vision through my mind and onto the final print. I still do design work for KENNY DOPE till this day. I’m also one of the designers over at the mighty PURPLE MUSIC!
PG: The market has pretty much been saturated with producers and labels. How do you go about standing out from the crowd?
JG: I don’t believe in standing out at all. I have learned, in this business, that you have to stay in your lane and play your position as best as you can. I strongly believe in paying dues and putting in the work before demanding a thing. Luckily, I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to do design work in a field that I have recently begun to produce music for. The transition hasn’t been easy but It shouldn’t be anyway. This all goes back to playing your position and staying humble, but at the same time, fiercely hungry! I learned how to produce on my own for nearly 5 years now.
PG: How much does the marketing aspect play an integral role today compared to the 90s?
JG: I think people need to invest in themselves as they did in the past. I think the internet and social websites are GREAT! I love it. At the same time, I’m an artist and designer who likes to see a nice package with my music purchase. I really miss this aspect in the vinyl sense and record shops. There’s nothing like a great piece of artwork to promote yourself and your brand. I mean fashion is still such an intricate part in our lives. Lets put some of that same energy into our brand to sell it better! There’s your answer. We need to sell ourselves to the public as was done in the 1990′s and beyond!
PG: How did your label, Fresh Sol Music start and what inspired you to start it?
JG: Fresh Sol Music started with a close friend of mine that I DJ’d with for many years, LUIS ROMERO my label partner. In the 90′s we had a crew called HOUSE FUNKTION where we did events in our hometown in NEWARK, NJ. We had our in house DJ’s including our good friends and mentor’s JOSE BURGOS from BASSCLEF RECORDS and SOUL CREATION and Eddie Rodriguez from Soul Seekers/Company Men. We also featured guest DJ’s in which some cases were or became SUPERSTARS like HIPPIE TORALES, DJ CAMACHO (RIP), BRUCE JEFFERS, SANDY RIVERA, ALIX ALVAREZ, LANCELOT and DJ SWEET (THE CANDY STORE NYU RADIO), MR.V, ADAM CRUZ and DJ RATED M to name a few. We also had people like JON CUTLER and PHIL TURNSPEED show up to our events to chill when we had our residency on 14 St. in Manhattan.
There was a point where we grew apart from hosting events because it really wears you down. We have all stayed friends but Luis and I wanted to take a shot at creating music so we started FRESH SOL MUSIC.
PG: How much of the production do you do yourself and what kind of gear and software do you use?
JG: At the moment I’m the sole producer for FRESH SOL while LUIS handles things behind the scenes to make sure we run our operation smoothly. In the studio I recently upgraded but its simple and to the point. I use LOGIC and ABLETON LIVE as my software and also use a few M-AUDIO keyboards, AKAI APC40, AKAI LPD8 and a FIREWIRE 410 Interface. Then I have my DJ set up which includes my precious TECHNIC 1200′s and PIONEER EFX 500, plus an assortment of CDJ’s and a standard mixer. In the Digital DJ realm I started out with SERATO many years ago but Im a TRAKTOR guy now! I run TRAKTOR 2, the KONTROL X1 controller and the TRAKTOR S2 controller from www.djtechtools.com.
PG: Were you trained as a musician or is it all self taught?
JG: Its all self taught. As cliché as it may sound… lol… As a kid I played with congas, timbales, and the guitar because my uncle was in a soul funk band in the Newark/East Orange NJ area, so I would sometimes accompany him to sessions and jam with them.
PG: What is your perspective on house music today and how would you change it?
JG: I absolutely LOVE IT! I’m a fan of all kinds of music and I see a lot of mainstream music using HOUSE MUSIC as a part of their sound nowadays. I think its great for the scene.
I believe in progression and technology. I have played on turntables, CDJ’s and now DJ controllers, but I’m also a digital producer and not ashamed to say it! When I was in full fledged studios in the past I wasn’t a producer but I was always into the music and constantly asking questions. JOSE BURGOS and DUCE MARTINEZ really played a BIG/HUGE part in my life as a producer/remixer. I would sit in on their sessions and meet people like KENNY BOBIEN and others, but I would just soak up the moment. I wish I had more knowledge of the hardware studio but that’s not my reality. I started producing on my MACBOOK PRO in LOGIC and I still use it today. The only thing I would change is to have people be more open minded with the scene today. The scene whether its progressive, trance, tech, etc., all stem from our house music roots! Its called life! We need to excel and progress. House music has provided that for many, many people!
PG: How can new fans reach you and buy your music?
JG: Our music can be heard, played and purchased on TRAXSOURCE and BEATPORT under FRESH SOL, FRESH SOL MUSIC, JOSE GONZALEZ or SAGA.
Selected discography Jose Gonzalez
You can check out my production history at
OPEN BAR MUSIC: