Today we’d like to introduce you to John and David Vargas.
John and David, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
John Vargas: I’ve loved music ever since I was a child. I distinctly remember the radio stations playing Jobim’s “Girl From Ipanema” every day. Eventually, my teenage focus became Rock and Roll. I sang with a rock cover band for nine years. During that time, I discovered Smooth Jazz playing at a tiny FM station in my neighborhood (KPEN). They also mixed in that Jobim classic along with many other Bossa Nova songs that I had never heard before. From that point on, Smooth Jazz was all that I listened to. While taking vocals and jazz-combos classes at Ohlone College in Fremont, I started sitting-in at Jazz Jam sessions around the Bay Area. I assembled a jazz band (510JAZZ) comprised of classmates and like-minded musicians. I hosted two separate Jazz Jam sessions in our area. In 2011 my son David was composing rap songs, and he inspired me to compose my own songs. After two years, I decided to take 510JAZZ to a new place – performing original songs that David and I composed together. Our first album “Bossa510” was released in December 2015, our second album “January 16” was released in February 2018 and we’re now working on our third album,
David Vargas (aka “D-Varg”): My musical journey started in college, I loved listening to hip-hop music, sharing stories with friends about the latest musical albums. I would hear songs playing while out and about, which really inspired me to write my own songs. It helped that my best friend so happened to have the itch too. Making beats on Fruity Loops was his creative outlet. We combined our talents and created our first song. The next question for us was, “How do we record this?” After a bunch of strategies taken for dialing in our sound, we found the method that worked best for us; investing in a home studio. Over the next few years, I grew as songwriter, rapper, and engineer. The process was and is truly a blessing. I have created a handful of albums that have been self-released under my D-Varg and Trinity Deep artist names. The albums are titled: “California Dreamin’”, “Night Vision”, “Cali Livin (Mixtape)”, “The Cali Way”, “Billboards & Skyscrapers”, and “Skybound”. My latest album has not been titled yet but is expected to drop this year. It is a Christian Hip-Hop album I put together with fellow rapper Zak1.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
John Vargas: The road has not been so smooth for us. Our first Jazz Jam ran smoothly for 18-months and then a few days after our last session, the venue caught fire and the management couldn’t afford to rebuild. One year before our first album “Bossa510” was released, we were awarded a recording contract. After five recording sessions, the producer passed away. It took us five months to get past the legal hurdles. We decided to go it on our own and we formed our own independent label – 4Play Records. We set up our own music publishing company with BMI – Hortensia Music. We record all of our songs in our home studios. As all Indie artists know, there are hundreds of tasks involved in releasing a record album. After completing all of these tasks, we spent one year reaching out to radio stations all over the world, striving to get airplay which would lead traffic to our music stores. This same cycle took place with our second album. While music sales have not been what we had hoped for – our love of the music spurs us on.
David Vargas (aka “D-Varg”): My favorite thing about creating music is collaboration, I have worked with many artists all over the state of California. One of my favorite female emcees I have worked with is Queen Kandi Cole, out of Los Angeles. Challenges come in waves, delays in projects being released (which builds character and patience), the ebbs and flows of everyday life that can hinder progress, and procrastination. All of which I need to work on. Thankfully working on music consistently with my father John Vargas has brought new light to my productivity. He’s been great with making and keeping deadlines. I sure seem to work better when there is a deadline that needs to be met!
Please tell us about 4Play Records / 510JAZZ.
John Vargas: 4Play Records is an independent music label currently featuring our artist 510JAZZ. Our business was formed by my son David Vargas (Rapper, Composer, Engineer, and Producer), my son Andrew Vargas (Promotions Manager), my wife Carolyn Vargas (Marketing and Sales Manager) and myself – John Vargas (Vocalist, Composer, Executive Producer, and A&R Manager). We currently are marketing our 510JAZZ music products on our Website (510jazz.com) as well as iTunes, Amazon Music, GooglePlay and Spotify. We are voting members of the Recording Academy (Grammys). Our long-term goal is to bring other indie artists into view. Our 510JAZZ discography specializes in a mix of Smooth Jazz, Bossa Nova, Rhythm & Blues, Neo Soul, and Hip-Hop. I’m most proud of 4Play Records’ penchant for enlisting new local musicians for our music releases. We stand apart from many other labels in that our entire catalog is 100% original music composed by David and myself.
While 4Play Records and 510JAZZ are Bay Area-based, we have a solid connection with the Los Angeles area. We have been Blessed to have our music played several hundred radio stations around the world – where 26 of those startions are in the LA area. We have visited the studio at one of those stations on-air (KUCI Irvine). We have seen extensive airplay on LA’s “HTR Jazzy”. Our music Professional Rights Organization is LA’s Broadcast Musicians International (BMI). We work with BMI throughout the year as they collect royalties for our music publishing company Hortensia Music. Each year we attend the North America Music Merchants (NAMM) convention in Anaheim, and we have met many amazing music professionals there.
David Vargas (aka “D-Varg”): My greatest contributions to 4Play Records and our artist 510JAZZ come by way of songwriting, recording and mixing, and my rap contributions to various songs. I really pride myself in engineering and producing the music that we create. I am a constant life-long learner in the area of music, especially the area of recording and mixing. I have taken courses in music technology at the community college level and have learned so much by doing. Not to mention great YouTube tutorials, one of my favorites put on by Los Angeles mix legend Dave Pensado; “Pensado’s Place”. While attending the annual NAMM Convention in Anaheim, CA I sat in on a few live tapings of “Pensado’s Place.” Dave happened to award me a free copy of Avid’s Pro Tools recording software. This was the gift that changed my life; surely a blessing. With the Pro Tools software that he gave me, I have been able to record the last six musical albums I’ve worked on. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving!
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
John Vargas: I was a shy child and was unpopular with most of my classmates. I developed a love for drawing illustrations of cars, which led to a small popularity in my high school years. I always loved the popular rock and roll being played on radio stations as a teen. I always strove to try and sing just like Glenn Frey (Eagles), Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Sting (The Police) and all of the other popular male vocalists. Some co-workers liked my singing, and that led to a nine-year stint playing local parties in a cover band. My interests were in becoming a professional musician.
David Vargas (aka “D-Varg”): I loved playing basketball, hanging out with friends and family, and listening to hip-hop music. My interest surely shifted from having hoop-dreams to being a musician. It’s been a fun journey, more to come!
- 510JAZZ CDs: “January 16” (2018) $15, “Bossa510” (2015) $12: https://510jazz.com/
- 510JAZZ on iTunes: “January 16” (2018) $9.99, “Bossa510” (2015) $9.99: https://510jazz.com/
- 510JAZZ on Amazon: “January 16” (2018) $8.99, “Bossa510” (2015) $8.99, individual tracks $0.99
- 510JAZZ on GooglePlay: “January 16” (2018) $9.49, “Bossa510” (2015) $9.49, individual tracks $0.99
- D-Varg on iTunes: tiny.cc/dvarg-itunes-
- D-Varg on GooglePlay Music: tiny.cc/dvarg-
- D-Varg on Amazon Music: tiny.cc/dvarg-amazon-
- D-Varg on Deezer: tiny.cc/dvarg-deezer
- D-Varg on IHeartRadio: tiny.cc/dvarg-
- Website: https://510jazz.com
- Phone: 510-320-3637
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: 510JAZZ: http://
instagram.com/bossa510/ D- Varg: http://instagram.com/ dvarg510
- Facebook: 510JAZZ: http://www.
- Twitter: 510JAZZ: http://www.
twitter.com/510jazz/ D-Varg: h ttp://twitter.com/dvarg510
- Yelp: D-Varg Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.
- Other: YouTube: http://www.
Photos courtesy of Noel Aquino, Roy Reyes, Carolyn Vargas