Vikter Duplaix Biography
Moreover, even those of you familiar with Vikter’s staggering catalogue of work in each of the latter three areas - as a sonic specialist he’s been involved with over a hundred different tracks by numerous artists in the past 10 years or more, including Erykah Badu, Eric Benét, Jaguar Wright, Jazzanova and King Britt’s Sylk 130 - will be delighted to experience a vocal style that places him somewhere between Sade, Peter Gabriel and Sting.
“They are the singers I feel most connected to,” explains Vikter. “I think I use my voice to fit whatever song I write, like another instrument. I’ll never be Whitney Houston and cover a song and make it my own. No, this is more like Sade on Love Deluxe - except seen through hip-hop eyes.”
Thirty-year-old Vikter was born in Philadelphia but split his upbringing between the city and Augusta, Georgia. [“A real Mason-Dixon child,” he says.] At age 10 his involvement in the local Philadelphia Boys Choir led him to sing for Prince Charles at Windsor Castle. A little later he sang with Pavarotti and then Teddy Pendergrass. “That made the biggest impression - because when the curtain went back and I saw all those women screaming at him… that was it! I knew I wanted to do this.”
Philly turned out to be a good place for an aspiring DJ to be when hip-hop took off, local heroes Will "Fresh Prince" Smith and "Jazzy" Jeff Townes turning out to be important figures in the city’s musical development. Their hit "Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble" had everybody in Philly scurrying to the studio to record their own tunes, Vikter included. Once there, he found himself in gadget heaven: “I started working inside this local studio, programming for different artists. I could do drum tracks in 10 minutes or less and that increased the studio owner’s business so much that he gave me the keys to the studio. I learned how to do everything from that. By the time I was 19 I’d cut rock ‘n’ roll, hip-hop, R&B-- all kinds of music.”
Jazzy Jeff had taken a shine to the eager kid who wanted to absorb all he could and, when Will and Jazzy brought home their millions, Vikter was Jeff’s first choice to help him establish A Touch Of Jazz studios, a state of the art complex in which Philly’s local talent could express itself.
Vikter’s production and business skills were further developed when Jeff introduced him to Kenny Gamble, the Philadelphia International Records co-founder inviting Vikter and his new-found writing/production partner James Poyser down to his studios to work on sessions with Phyllis Hyman and Billy Paul and to write new material. “We studied what Kenny had done, how he and Leon Huff had done it. We even got to read the original contracts they’d signed with people like The O’Jays. We picked up so much,” reflects Vikter.
All of which accounts for Vikter the DJ, songwriter and producer, but what of his emergence as an artist? In true City of Brotherly Love fashion, it came about through another meeting with one of the Philly’s modern day musical standard bearers - King Britt. “Until I met Britt I didn’t know that DJs traveled first class and got paid 20,000 to play records for two hours, or about the Miami Convention, or about Ibiza,” admits Vikter. “King Britt exposed me to all of that and the dance culture that went with it. So the challenge for me as a DJ was, could I go into that realm of dance music and dominate there too?”
A study of the scene and some avid record collecting later, Vikter stepped out as house DJ and did exactly that. Like all the other top jocks, he quickly realized that making his own tracks would help keep him ahead of the pack. So with King Britt, trading as Scuba, he released the first dance track to feature Duplaix on lead vocals. He followed that up fast with “Messages”, the first 12-inch under his own name. “That was funny,” says Vikter, “because that track was just something I threw together in a few minutes to test out the new studio that James and I had set up. I couldn’t believe it when Masters At Work picked up on it.”
By that time subsequent singles, “Manhood” and “Sensuality” were filling the dance floors. People started asking when the album was coming. Vikter decided to take himself and his artist career more seriously and went for it. The result is International Affairs.
“I’m very proud of my album,” he concludes. It probably sets me outside the kind of ready made categories they like to put most artists in, but that’s OK because I want to emerge as a leader of the pack, not just another member of an existing order. I believe people can hear quality. You just have to expose them to it. We’ll just have to find a way to let them hear it.”