Personal reinvention is as American as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. Maybe that’s why former award-winning adult film actress Lupe Fuentes (a.k.a. Little Lupe) didn’t think twice about transitioning from starring in porn films to a second-act career in music. While the path she decided to embark on isn’t atypical, — Traci Lords made a similar musical leap in the ’90s, and Sasha Grey is now a legit actress and works as a DJ — challenges come with the territory.
Born in Colombia and raised in Madrid, Spain, Fuentes made her entree into music in 2012 fronting The Ex Girlfriends, an all-female girl pop group. The group’s brand of sugary music connected with audiences, but Fuentes’ ambition was to be closer to the genre that was closest to her heart: house music.
After learning the production ropes and figuring out how to put her ideas into tracks, Fuentes’ effort came to fruition in a big way with “So High,” a dark, bass-heavy production issued on Junior Sanchez’s Brobot Records. Conjuring the stark, impactful vibe of early Murk records, “So High” hints at even bigger things to come from Fuentes, who has been DJing all over the place in recent months (check out her DJ mixes on SoundCloud). In this exclusive interview, Fuentes talks about music’s role throughout her life and why DJing and producing music are important to her. “For me being a DJ and producer is the ultimate form of expression,” Fuentes says, “it’s so personal connecting with your audience.”
The field of entertainment is a tough business. What are the similarities between the adult film industry and the music industry?
Lupe Fuentes: The truth is that from my personal experiences, the adult and music industries really have nothing in common. They are completely different worlds. Music is about passion, heart and soul. Music is something bigger than all of us that brings people together. Porn is just porn…nothing more than a fantasy. Music is real. The only similarity between the adult and music industries is that both are multi-billion dollar industries that have taken a huge hit from piracy if we want to be technical about it.
“Obviously, not everyone is going to love what you do or accept you, but I just try and focus on the positive and people that have love for me. If there is any negativity, no one has ever said anything to my face, but also, everyone knows that it’s the real cowards who talk behind your back and smile to your face.”
You’ve worked as an award-winning adult film actress before transitioning to music. What role has music played in your life? What led you to want to pursue music with The Ex Girlfriends and on your own?
Music has always played a big part in my life, ever since I was a little kid. My mother always played a lot of Latin music in the house and classic rock too, from Celia Cruz to The Animals. Growing up in Madrid, I found house music and fell in love with it. Going to see DJs like Erick Morillo and Roger Sanchez really made me discover another side of music. Throughout the hardest times in my life — and believe me I have had some really hard times — being born in Colombia and growing up in a tough situation music has always been the only thing that has always been there for me. I believe that life is really short and that you should only be doing what you are really passionate about. It was an amazing learning experience being in a music group with five other girls [The Ex Girlfriends]. I feel like it was something I needed to get out of my system, and I feel that a lot of my production skills were picked up along the way working with some amazing producers and engineers on The Ex Girlfriends. To me there is nothing better than to be completely free and autonomous to create whatever kind of music that I want. Being a solo producer and artist right now is what’s best for me right now — not having to be complicated by group decisions, especially when other people have ideas that are not exactly what you want to do. For me being a DJ and producer is the ultimate form of expression, it’s so personal connecting with your audience.
When did DJing and music production become something you knew wanted to do? How did you learn to DJ and produce?
Producing and DJing is something that I always wanted to do, but I dove into producing about three years ago and DJing about two years ago. I haven’t looked back since. I was producing music long before I started to DJ so I had a good base in the fundamentals. I have had the good fortune to always been surrounded by musicians and creative people. People like my husband [musician Evan Seinfeld, of Biohazard, Attika7 fame] who has taught me a lot about the music industry. Also, when I used to be part of a music group, I was fortunate to work with a diverse group of producers and engineers who I learned a lot from! Lastly, my good friend DJ David Steven and all the guys at Pioneer have really supported me and helped me a lot with sharpening my skills!
Who are your DJ heroes?
I have the deepest respect for the original school — I don’t like using the term old school with them cause they are more than that. House DJs like Todd Terry, who I was honored to spin with at WMC at the Brobot Records party at Hyde Beach/SLS Hotel (pictured below). When I hear the way people talk about OG DJs like the late great Frankie Knuckles, it inspires me. These are/were/will always be amazing human beings on top of being incredible DJs. To have even some of the love and respect in people’s hearts that they have would mean more than anything.
When was the last time a DJ changed your life?
Not that long ago. A few weeks ago I went to see Moby at Sound in L.A. It was really interesting because I didn’t really know what to expect from his DJ set. Moby played a two-hour techno set that was incredible. I got home at 4:30 in the morning and went straight to my decks to practice! He was that good — he just blew my mind!
DJing is a boys club and can be very insular. Have you encountered any backlash or negativity to what you’re doing now?
Even though I agree that DJing has been a boys club, I’m very fortunate that there are a lot of people that support me in this industry. People like my Brobot crew: Junior Sanchez, Alexander Technique, Blaqwell, Human Life, Todd Terry, etc. Also, Roger Sanchez has been really supportive of me, my music and my productions. Obviously, not everyone is going to love what you do or accept you, but I just try and focus on the positive and people that have love for me. If there is any negativity, no one has ever said anything to my face, but also, everyone knows that it’s the real cowards who talk behind your back and smile to your face.
“So High” has made quite an impression with a lot of people. It’s dark, sexy and reminds me of early Murk tracks like Liberty City’s “Some Lovin’.” How indicative is the track of the others you’re about to release, and how did you connect with Junior Sanchez’s Brobot Records?
Thank you so much for the compliment! I had been working on producing a track that would really define my sound for a long time and I really feel like I found the perfect recipe with “So High.” The other tracks I will be releasing soon are definitely in the same lane of dark, deep and funky, a lot like “So High.” It is true that of course your sound is always changing and evolving and the last two tracks I have completed are a little more tech-house with an even darker vibe. I really love to play my unreleased tracks at my gigs to see how the crowd moves to them, and I have to say there is one that I feel really strongly about! It’s interesting that you mention Murk because I am a really big fan of Murk, and I play it at a lot of my gigs. It was great to meet those guys in Miami because I feel very inspired by their sound!
Regarding Brobot Records, I recently read an interview with Junior Sanchez on how we connected from his perspective. He said that there was this guy from a hardcore band that he was a big fan of growing up — my husband, Evan Seinfeld — who told him that he had to check out female DJ, who was doing some really cool production. Junior was like oh boy, here we go, but when he heard the music, he called me immediately and said “YO LET’S PUT THIS OUT ON BROBOT, ASAP!” Junior is like a brother to me. I will always remember that he was the first person to step up and sign me as a new artist to release one of my original mixes. Look for me to for sure to be releasing more records on Brobot this year!
Your husband is a notable musician, albeit from a different genre of music. What’s the best piece of advice he’s given you about your music career?
The best advice my husband ever gave me regarding my music career is, “Always make the music you want to make, from your heart, regardless what anyone else has to say about it.” I have to remind myself of that all the time, to stay true to myself and my passion for the music.
Say we meet in a year…what will you have hope to have accomplished by then?
My goals for this year are to continue to establish myself as an artist by releasing records and for sure working on my production and continuing to develop my sound. I also want to play as many shows as I can in front of the kind of audiences that appreciate my music. Lastly, I really look forward to getting some collaborations with some cool producers and just enjoying the path that I am on!
“So High” is out now on Brobot Records.