Pianist-keyboardist and one of Detroit’s best kept secrets in the music industry, Luis Resto has been kicking ass and taking names for the last 30 years. The Detroit-based music producer has fused his creativity with a wide range of artists including Don Was, Patti Smith, and Iggy Pop to hip hop’s top artists including Jay Z, B.o.B., 50 Cent, and most of all Eminem.
Luis has earned both an Oscar and a Grammy for the film 8 Mile, composing the music and co-writing the hit single “Lose Yourself” which reigned the Billboard’s Top 100 List for an entire 12 weeks! Not only does Luis continue to work with Eminem in the recording studio, he’s also been known to perform on the keyboard at some of Eminem’s previous concerts.
Currently, Luis has a musical loft in the heart of Eastern Market in Detroit where he opens his doors to the public on occasional Saturday’s to jam out and provide open arms to Detroit with his musical talent, cheer and pride.
As a relative of Luis Resto, I’ve visited his loft numerous times and was obviously blown away by his talent and cheerful cadence. He has played some Jazz concerts over the years and is always up to something in the Detroit music scene.
After popping in his loft one Saturday for a morning of his musical stylings, chatting and exploring, I started thinking about his impact on the community. As I left, I realized how his talent and pride for Detroit is beyond amazing and how myself and others would really love to learn more about his successes. So I decided to ask him a few questions… here are his responses, which he was delighted to answer for us:
There seems to be a lot of hope and promise building in Detroit in the past few years. How is music going to play a role in that?
Music has always played an important role in Detroit’s identity both culturally and as a sound of its own in the industry and the world for that matter. I’ve worked all my life out of Detroit and have travelled to all the major music hubs to work in the US and performed around the world.
Detroit has its own special brand of expression and will continue to be heard and seen as such as it grows out of any current problems it is dealing with.
I find it's a mix of the work ethic everyone is brought up with, combined with a street sensibility that gives Detroit music it's grit.
The alchemy of styles including jazz, funk, rock and roll, classical that defines the Detroit sound cannot be heard elsewhere the way it is here. I find its a mix of the work ethic everyone is brought up with combined with a street sensibility that gives Detroit music its grit.
What originally brought you to Detroit?
My parents who are both Puerto Rican settled in Wayne County and raised me and my three older brothers in Garden City, MI. My brothers were avid concertgoers in the late ‘60s and ‘70s and would share with me their experiences going to the Grande Ballroom and clubs around Detroit. I began taking piano lessons from Irwin Krinsky, guitar lessons from Joe LoDuca, both who lived in Detroit when I was 16. It was through Irwin that I met music producer, now head of the Blue Note jazz record label, Don Was, and began sessioning on keyboards in the ‘80s in all the major studio that were around at the time.
What inspired the idea for a studio loft in Eastern Market?
I was working and collaborating with photographer Michelle Andonian on various projects beginning around 2009 and she introduced me to David DeVries, owner of the building the loft is located in. The building was built in 1887 by the R. Hirt family, whom David is part of.
David was reopening his cheese shop ‘DeVries and Company’ and Michelle thought half the third floor space would be ideal for some of the multimedia ideas we were toying with. I moved in three years ago and have been renting the space since. Throughout the past 35 years of working and performing I’ve built up quite a collection of musical instruments and equipment, enough for a recording studio, and moved it all to the loft space. Thus, the loft started taking shape.
From there, I began opening my doors on Saturday’s beginning two years ago around the Christmas season to play holiday music for people to enjoy. People would come in and be surprised at a recording studio existing on the third floor of a cheese shop. I enjoyed meeting the community as well as playing with quite a few folks who have passed through and decided to continue the Saturday open doors as consistently as possible.
How has your career changed since you opened this loft studio?
The loft has allowed me to focus on my creative vision in any form as I see it while I continue to work with artist’s in their studios on their projects and music.
You open your doors to the public on Saturday and Sunday mornings, can you tell us about the people you meet and the experiences you have with them on an informal note?
It is extremely gratifying to meet all the diverse people that pass through the loft. The range of folks from all lots of life, nationalities, musical styles with those who play and ideologies I’ve come across is something I find very fulfilling. Young kids are one of my favorite because it reminds me of why music and the arts was such and continues to be such a force in my life. It cuts across any separation we might have as a people and connects on a level words can’t.
As a distinguished musical artist you have had the opportunity to collaborate with other excellent artists, do you collaborate and record in your loft here in Detroit?
Yes I do collaborate on various projects that have come up. Mostly I will record my own music here but for example I’ve just completed a set of four night performances in collaboration with Feet on the Street, a touring organization here in Detroit that takes groups on tours of highlights of Detroit.
Each performance was quite different from the other. Saxophonist, Dave McMurray played on three of them. My brother Mario joined me for one along with Dave and I. Pepe Espinosa, cuban percussionist, and Eddie Caraballo, bassist, joined on another. We ended the run with Italian singer, actress Arianna Bergamaschi. A lot of fun.
When you think of the future of Detroit and the music scene, what is your advice for aspiring artists considering a move to Detroit?
I say the same thing to any aspiring artists I meet or wherever I might be speaking and that is to do it for the love of the art itself regardless of location or income to be made. I know not everyone can live by that criteria but if we are speaking about the art form and for me that is music primarily then one needs to regard it in that light. I’ve been lucky and blessed to make a living at what I do but I didn’t begin and continue for those reasons.
I love everything about music and what it brings to me spiritually as well as others when I play and share it. To have done it in and around Detroit as my home base is something I’m very proud of and find myself supporting deeper as time goes on.
As a Grammy and Oscar-winning musician, songwriter and producer how has your career changed and adapted and what are you focused on today in Detroit?
As I’ve said, I have had the good fortune of working with a lot of exceptional artists and have learned from each of them.
The process is never-ending in my search for new ideas to try out and new visions to try and pursue.
I continue to perform and write and through it all I’m continually adapting and learning from anything I hear or anyone I play with. The process is never-ending in my search for new ideas to try out and new visions to try and pursue. I’m lucky that I haven’t had to grow up in that sense and am able to play around in my musical endeavors.
- Oscar – Best Original Song 2003 “Lose Yourself”
- Grammy – Best Rap Song 2003 “Lose Yourself”
- Southpaw Soundtrack (2015)
- Eminem – Shady XV Album (2014)
- Eminem – Marshal Mathers LP 2 Album (2013)
- Bad Meets Evil – Hell the Sequel Album (2011)
- Bruno Mars-Lighters
- Eminem – Recovery Album (2010)
- Not Afraid
- B.o.B – The Adventures of Bobby Ray Album (2010)
- Eminem & Hayley Williams – Airplanes Part II
- Lil Wayne – Rebirth Album (2009)
- Drop The World
- Eminem – Relapse: Refill Album (2009)
- Eminem – Relapse Album (2009)
- Obie Trice – Second Round’s on Me Album (2006)
- 50 Cent – The Massacre Album (2005)
- 2Pac – Loyal to the Game Album (2004)
- Eminem – Encore Album (2004)
- Jay Z – The Black Album (2003)
- Eminem – 8 Mile Soundtrack (2001)