Once you’ve made it in New York, you can make it anywhere, they say. And they might not be wrong. Eli Escobar has been in the city his whole life, and is consistently touted as one of its hardest working DJs – however, it’s only in the past two years that the acclaim from his home town has begun to reach territories further afield. He’s spent 20 years grafting away in the New York scene, from growing up through the ‘golden era’ of the 80’s and early 90’s New York clubbing where he experience legends like Danny Krivit and Frankie Inglese on a weekly basis, to DJing around the city every other night of the week. It’s the sounds of his home town that have permeated his style, where he strives to connect the classics with today’s club sounds. Indeed, he does it with some skill.
Following a long player (‘Up All Night’) on his own Night People imprint back in 2014, he turned the heads of the powers that be at Classic Music Company (now a Defected sub-label, but founded by scene legends Derrick Carter & Luke Solomon). But things have changed since 2014 for Escobar. While his parties every Wednesday in Le Bain and his summer party Tiki Disco have become NYC institutions, the international spotlight has also begun to shine on Eli’s talent as a producer. In the past 12 months, he’s featured as a remixer on two EPs on now-resurrected Strictly Rhythm, as well as notably having had a track licensed and featured on the latest DJ Kicks outing from Jackmaster. Things are moving forward.
Indeed, the release of ‘Happiness’ is a welcome one. While the album format is a contentious one in the dance music world, it’s an issue that Escobar is well aware of. He counters the single-oriented nature of the genre by a simple fix; sequencing. Indeed, opening track ‘4 Luv’ is the perfect warmup to an album laden with his signature disco house sound, with influences from Chicago & New York abundantly evident from start to finish. The album builds, with the hypnotic ‘Winter’s Anthem’, with its lush, echoing chords. It keeps the listener engaged with a peak in the form of ‘Phreeky’, the first single off the album and a Traxsource #1 – we can see this one creeping into many record bags over the next couple of months. The jazzy, low slung house of ‘In The Dark’, and the minor chords and juxtaposing euphoric vocal sample of the title track sit well alongside the classic New York & Chicago sounds of ‘I Need U’ and ‘Chaka Khan’ respectively. This one’s got the individual tracks that will appeal to DJs from all over, as well as the flow and nuance that will have Escobar’s third LP on the record players and in our ears for a while to come yet.
Happiness is forthcoming on Classic Music Company on September 9th.
Words by David Gray