Phonica Mix Series

Phonica Mix Series 51:
Eli Escobar

PhonicaGuestMixEliEscobar-BlogFor more than two decades, New York’s Eli Escobar has been working the dancefloors of many of the most prestigious nightclubs across the globe. His energetic brand of soulful house and disco music has been picked up by such labels as Nervous, Strictly Rhythm and Classic Music Company over the years, and most recently his wonderfully smooth Nightshade Edits which have really caught our attention over here at Phonica.

Well known for being one-third of the Tiki Disco crew, whose parties have become near-legendary, Eli also holds a weekly residency at the New York rooftop venue Le Bain, where the following mix was recorded. Enjoy!


Check out the previous mixes in the series here:

Hey Eli, howʼs your summer going over there in the Big Apple?

Great! Lots of travelling and amazing parties at home as well.

First of all, can you tell us a bit about the mix? Were there any particular thoughts or themes behind it?

This is a live recording from my Wednesday night party Dance Dance Dance at Le Bain in NYC. I wanted to do anything but give you an Ableton mix or a mix of me djing at home with no real energy in the room. My partner DJ Moma and I have been doing this night for almost 4 years every Wednesday and in the process have built up a great following. I really have to give Le Bain props for letting us do a weekly and sticking with us even through the early slower days. They believed in us and in the idea of having the same resident djʼs play every week, building a night that would have an identity musically. Weʼve got one of the most diverse and fun crowds I think NYC has right now and the focus is primarily on dancing. This mix was recorded during the early part of the night. You can hear the energy pick up as the mix goes along, which is me responding to the dance floor and vice versa. We play a lot of modern African dance music during prime time but earlier in the night itʼs a little more varied.

Weʼre big fans of your Nightshade Edits series over here at Phonica. Where did the idea for these spawn from and do you have any specific guidelines for the series?

Well, people may not know this about me but I am an edit freak. Almost everything I play out, I edit for myself. Needless to say, I have a million edits laying around. We were struggling a bit as a label trying to find new music to release but we wanted to put out more vinyl and stay visible. So I just gathered a few disco edits I had and we threw it out and it did really well. This new one is more of a reproduction thing than an edit release but for continuity’s sake, we called it Nightshade Edits Volume 2. The way we came up with the name is funny (sorta). My mom, uncle and grandma were out for a walk upstate and came upon some greens which they thought were Lambʼs Quarters. They stir-fried it up and an hour later was in the emergency room hallucinating. I took the train up to the hospital and the doctor told us they had eaten Nightshade which is a super poisonous plant. When I texted my label partner about it he said “thatʼs kind of an amazing name for our edits ep!” PS: they are all fine now!

Letʼs talk about the clubbing culture over there in New York. With frequent shows in London and the rest of Europe – how do you feel things differ from the U.S?

Well first off, NYC is very different from the rest of the US! Most clubs in the US close at 2 am which is absolutely brutal. There are lots of great cities to play in America but whenever the lights come on at 2, it just feels all wrong. NYC is very healthy and Iʼm incredibly lucky to be able to DJ some amazing nights. Battle Hymn, Harder, Kunst and On Top, to name a few. Iʼm also a resident at House Of Yes which is a lot of fun. We have got so many clubs right now that it almost feels impossible to imagine them all being packed simultaneously on a weekend night! As far as Europe, the main difference I would say is sometimes the crowds are a bit more reserved. But this is certainly not always the case. London has been amazing. The last few parties I did at Phonox, XOYO and Shoreditch Platform were exactly what I love about nightlife. Dark rooms, great lights and sound and a crowd who isnʼt facing me! That feels the most like NYC to me. The best party Iʼve done this year is, far and away, Homoelectric in Manchester. Holy shit, if I could DJ a party like that every weekend I would be the happiest guy in the world! Things seem quite healthy all around… Iʼve had stellar nights in Helsinki, Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam recently. Iʼm a small dark room and intimate vibe kind of guy and so sometimes I struggle with the more festival type stuff. Not really my favourite. Plus the set times are so short. Ugh! Luckily Iʼm not famous enough that I just do festivals all summer long haha.

What does the future of New Yorkʼs electronic music scene have in store for us and who are the newcomers we need to keep an eye out for?

Itʼs hard to make a generalisation for the scene in NY because itʼs so vast. My favourite DJʼs to hear are ones who play music I havenʼt heard or genres Iʼm not up on. Some of my favourites are HD, DJ AQ and Michael Magnan who makes really dope tracks with Physical Therapy as Fatherhood.

Whatʼs your preferred method for finding new music – do you still enjoy digging around in dusty crates or are you more of an order online kind of guy?

I do everything. I am totally, completely obsessed with buying music and I have been since the early 80ʼs basically. I go to A-1 once a week to buy old records and I buy from digital sites at least once a day. Discogs, forget it, non stop. And I also order new stuff of course. I hit all the other vinyl places in NYC all the time and when Iʼm on the road, if I have time, the two things I do are find good vegan food and hit the record stores. Used or stores that sell new stuff. Iʼve always been equally as interested in the present as I am the past and I would never want to be one of those DJʼs who only plays one genre or music from one era. Itʼs too limiting and boring for me. Iʼve actually gotten a bit tired of getting booked to do all disco sets because I have no idea what mood I will be in when the night comes around and what if I want to play techno!?

Could you share with us a couple of your all-time favourite record labels?

My ultimate label is Prelude. Because it sounds like the New York City of my youth and I just love all the Francois K remixes and the beautiful records by D Train, Unlimited Touch, Sharon Redd, Visual, Nick Straker… I could go on and on. Plus the Master Mix compilations they put out are the foundation of house music. It doesnʼt get any better! And then the other one would have to be Sire (yes I am aware these are obvious choices!). My mom took me to see Stop Making Sense in the theaters back in 1984 and I became obsessed with the Talking Heads and at the exact same time Madonna was just out and I was living for her of course. Then I got really into punk and alternative and they had everyone. My favorite band The Smiths, Blondie, Depeche Mode, The Pretenders, Yazoo, The Replacements etc. They are the ultimate cool major label! Plus they released probably the best disco record ever Kiss Me Again by Dinosaur!

What else does the rest of 2018 hold for you? Are there any exciting releases coming that youʼre able to tell us about?

I took a little break since I made 3 albums in just as many years but Iʼve just started getting back to work. I have a lot of new music ready Iʼm just not sure when and how it will all be released. But it will be! Until then, Iʼm happy to keep at it with my true love, being a DJ!

Thanks, Eli! 


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