Culture / featured-column

Justin Vega: Writing thesis statements that rhyme

Justin Vega knew at a young age that he was different. Music, he says, would just come to him.

“As a kid, I used to make music in my head and I would always get made fun of for it,” said Vega, who grew up in a small town on Long Island. “At a certain point I realized this was something I’ve been doing my whole and I’m going to keep doing for the rest of my life.”

Now at Hunter, he takes classes during the day and performs alongside his music collective at night with his stage name, Apollo Vega, in an attempt to juggle the life of being a college student and rising Soundcloud rapper all at once.

“It’s a lot of picking and choosing when to make certain sacrifices,” said Vega, “a lot of late hours and sleep deprivation,”

Vega, a media studies major at Hunter, says he draws a lot of inspiration for his music from his life, movies and anime. “It’s all about coming up with that first line, that one catchy first line that catches attention. It’s like the thesis in an essay but it rhymes.”

It wasn’t until around the age of 15 that Vega began taking music editing classes at his local Apple store. There, a woman named Leslie taught him how to use the Logic Pro, an audio editing software, to create music. “I was there almost every summer for a few years to just work on music in the store. She helped me channel my imagination from my mind into the actual program,” he said.

During his time at Hunter, Vega became involved with a music collective named Visions through another Hunter student who invited him out to one of their shows. “To me this was such a big deal ‘cause all I’ve ever wanted was a community of people that made music, that I could focus on music with.”

Visions is a close-knit group that produces shows in partnership with the Brooklyn Knitting Factory. “We’re just a bunch of weirdo 20 something year olds who make music. We started two years ago, and we drive each other absolutely insane talking about music all the time,” said Vega.

The collective serves as a means for the musicians and producers to network, to perform and to have a space to be appreciated. Although they mainly book EDM artists, they’re open to all genres, Vega said.

After two years of putting on shows locally, Visions was booked to perform at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Vega was able to perform there in two shows and DJ two shows in what was his first tour.

It wasn’t until recently – until after he had met the collective and released his first song, “Tiger Woods,” — that he came up with the stage name Apollo Vega. It is one he hopes will be with him in the industry for a long time.

“Apollo comes from a lot of things. I used to be really into space growing up. I was always told that you know you’ve made it when you play at the Apollo Theater. Also, in Greek mythology, Apollo is the god of music,” said Vega. “I wanted a name that was bigger than me, a name that I could grow into and not grow out of.”

You can now stream Apollo Vega’s music on Apple music, Spotify and Soundcloud.

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