Eli Escobar Interviewed
We’ve been trying to get Eli Escobar booked in Miami for months now so we’re SUPER PSYCHED to hear him play this Thursday at Bardot for Nightdrive’s One Year Anniversary. Many of you know Eli from his Stevie Nick’s remix of “Stand Back” although he’s remixed, re-edited, and produced tracks by people like Diplo, Heaven 17, James Brown, Midnight Magic, Nacho Lovers, Amanda Blank, and Ali Love (the list goes on).
I had the chance to catch one of his sets last October during CMJ at the Standard Hotel rooftop and the guy was AMAZING! Not only is he an extremely skilled DJ but his music selection is impeccable and he’s ridiculously nice. We definitely wanted you guys to get a taste for Eli and his music so we sent him a few questions to answer.
ND: Tell us a bit about your upbringing in New York in the 80s-90s and how that influenced the music you make/ play?
EE: Well I became pretty obsessed with music when I was very young and in the early and mid 80’s New York was really exciting because Rap and Electro were just getting started. We had WBLS which was the station most attuned to the street music that coming out. Now most my exposure to this stuff was actually in the streets and the subway and at school because my mom hated it and played Stevie Wonder and the Beatles at home. Of course this stuff ended up influencing me just as much. I guess my point is the music was all around you and it was hard not to be affected by it. I suppose no matter how far into House or Disco music I steer, the Hip Hop, Freestyle and Electro influences are always rearing their heads.
By the time the 90’s came around, I started clubbing and that’s when I really learned about House music and Disco. And of course becoming a DJ in the 90’s forced me to learn about different genres and what songs I needed to have in order to keep a NYC dance floor going for 5 or 6 hours. Back then you had to be at least somewhat well versed in Hip Hop, Reggae, R&B, House and Disco (we called it “classics” back then). Things are a bit different now of course!
ND: Was there anyone that really helped you get ahead or jump started your career when you started working in music?
EE: Yes, Bobbito Garcia who was from my building helped me a lot. He put me on the radio at a very young age and also put me on at some clubs. Opening and subbing for him led to my first residencies. He knew everyone worth knowing in the club scene at the time which is way more than half the battle breaking into nightlife here.
ND: You have obviously thrown, spun, and attended a good amount of parties in your day, what do you think are the key ingredients in producing a successful event?
EE: I’m still trying to figure that out! I think people really like to see and hear a DJ or DJ’s who are enjoying themselves just as much as the crowd. Some serious dude staring at a laptop all night is the worst shit ever. You also have to always make sure you’re a part of the same scene you want at your parties. Community is what a good party is all about. And, of course being a good DJ can help. Not in the technical sense but in the sense that you know your crowd and what they want to hear. No matter what anyone says, it’s fun to hear familiar songs and sing along to them! I’m the first dude to run into the booth and request Chaka Khan. I’m so not above that! I love to hear deep sets too of course, but a well-timed anthem never hurts.
ND: What’s the best way to find new music?
EE: GO OUTSIDE AND SHOP! Trust me. I buy music all the time on Beatport, and I have hundreds of CD’s with songs on them and I could not tell you how one of them goes or who made it! And it’s because I never had any real emotional investment in them in the first place. But every record I’ve bought I know exactly which mix to play, where I got it, what year it came out, and most importantly, how to play the song.
Obviously I’m overlooking the fact that most cities don’t have record stores that sell current dance music and even if they do, 12 inch records are absurdly expensive these days. So this is not an option for everyone. But, I still think it’s the best way. Plus you get exercise!
ND: Favorite track you’ve ever worked on and why?
EE: I did a remix for a group called Stay Gold out of Stockholm that has not come out yet. I really love it. The song is called “Justified”. Another one I love is “Count Your Lovers” by Clubfeet. I did a more old fashioned Extended Club Mix kind of thing for that one because I thought the song was so lovely it didn’t really need much.
ND: How does the re-edit work as far as sample clearance and licensing? Have you had any issues in this department? Do bands approach you to rework their music or do you find something you like and take it from there?
EE: Most of the people who are pressing up bootleg vinyl with re-edits are selling at the most 500 copies of a record. So there is not much attention brought to these re-edits and I don’t think anyone has had any problems. Now for a song like my “Love Thing Pt 2” in which I used a Whitney Houston vocal sample, that would be an issue for licensing. A Trak played it on some TV show but we had to make sure he played a part of the song without Whitney in it.
As far as remixing, usually I get approached. I did ask Midnight Magic if I could remix “Beam Me Up” though because I wanted to have an exclusive mix for my DJ sets. I did that with Mark Ronson’s “Somebody To Love Me” also ’cause I was so jealous he got to work with Boy George, I HAD to have the acapella!
ND: What’s next for Eli Escobar?
EE: More music and DJing. It never stops! I have a new single about to drop called “Desire” with Nomi from Jessica 6 singing on it. It’s sick!
Bonus: (stream only)
Midnight Magic – Beam Me Up (Eli’s Properly Replayed Mix)