By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Grand Prairie native Vincent Sliva knows there's a good chance you have no clue who he is. And he's perfectly OK with that. Because, for one, super-producer Mark Ronson—the man behind Amy Winehouse's powerhouse 2006 release Back to Black, among many other U.K. hits in recent memory—knows his work. Digs it, too, turns out. And that's a mighty fine notch to have on your belt.
Back in April, on his U.K. radio show Authentic Shit, Ronson played a remix Sliva, known throughout the blogosphere by his performer name, LehtMoJoe, had created for "Hold the Line," by Diplo and Switch's dancehall/reggae project Major Lazer. In fact, it was more of a mashup than a remix; Sliva combined elements of Major Lazer's Santigold- and Mr. Lexx-backed track with elements of Toto's 1978 hit song of the same name. A simple combination? Sure, but a clever one too, and one that infused the new track with an immediately recognizable hook.
It's no wonder Ronson took a liking to it, really—but that doesn't mean the love didn't come as a surprise to Sliva.
"Just to hear him think highly enough of the song to put it on his show was great," says Sliva, whose other unsolicited remix projects for acts like Passion Pit, Peter, Bjorn & John and Au Revoir Simone have popped up in adoring posts on various blogs throughout the Internet.
Of course, for Sliva—whose stage name is a mashup, too, of sorts, combining the names of his favorite Dallas Stars players of all time, Jere Lehtinen, Mike Modano and Joe Nieuwendyk—the attention Ronson's show offered him created something of a demand for his work. "After that, a lot of people started messaging me, saying that it was really cool. So I started to do it more often."
As a result, over the past few months, Sliva's production rate has been something worth marveling at; almost each and every week over that span, Sliva's released a fresh remix track for his ever-growing Internet audience, including his takes on works from Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Common and, for obvious reasons, Michael Jackson.
It's a fun running project to keep tabs on, sure, but there's an ulterior motive here—namely, promotion (of course). This week, LehtMoJoe will release his debut solo album—a disc devoid of any remix songs—called Spaghetti Western. Still, for those who've been following Sliva's efforts in recent weeks, the overall feel of the disc won't come as a surprise. The lack of remixed and mashup tracks notwithstanding, Spaghetti Western remains a disc that smartly combines various rock, hip-hop and electronic elements into an impressively cohesive unit or, in simpler terms, a prepackaged dance party, readymade for rump shaking. In fact, the whole thing comes off like a DJ set mix—only, there's no beat-jacking going on here. Instead, it's all LehtMoJoe originals (with a few samples mixed in), with some scattered vocal help from area MCs such as Anonymous???? and Anthony Sass.
So it makes sense then, that, to celebrate the disc's release, Sliva is, fittingly, throwing a dance party. On Friday night, Sliva will make his live debut as LehtMoJoe with a free CD release party held at the Granada Theater, with some support from Anonymous???? and Grapevine's impossibly cheery faux-marching band outfit, Mount Righteous. It's a calculated if somewhat brazen move on Sliva's part, taking the monetary risk of renting out the Granada for his CD release show.
"It's pretty ballsy, yeah, I've gotta admit," Sliva says. "We knew we wanted to do a CD release party, and it just kept kinda gaining steam and we said, 'Let's just go with it and make it free.' A lot of people support these bands [Mount Righteous and Anonymous????], so it's a way to give back and also a way to gain some recognition for myself, because the name recognition for me isn't really there yet—especially locally."
On Friday, while performing his tracks live—some with a backing band and some on his own—Sliva hopes to change all that. And with other electro acts from the region, like Dallas Observer Music Award Best Dance/Electronica Act VEGA, gaining recognition beyond the local scene, he thinks this is the perfect time to give it a go.
"Dallas is finally pulling itself together as far as creating a music scene within a music scene with its electro projects," Sliva says. "Hopefully that's what's happening in Dallas right now—and I want to be a part of that."
The fact that his debut comes at a venue as well-respected as the Granada—and that, even better, it's free—should help Sliva establish himself in that regard.
Or at least, it could, if the crowd numbers are there on Friday, justifying his renting out such a large space.
"Whatever happens with it happens with it," Sliva says, somewhat hedging his bets. "I'm not expecting too much out of this one show. But if you're gonna do it, you might as well do it big."