This Saturday at Le Bain, Eli Escobar takes control of Night People while the rest of the crew is out of town. A New York native who lives ‘for the night and the music’, Eli is just back from touring with Holy Ghost! and ready for a five hour DJ set. We met him for a Standard Q&A to make you dance.
Eli Escobar by Kenny Rodriguez
The Standard: How was the fun touring with Holy Ghost! ?
Eli Escobar: Touring with Holy Ghost! and Jessica 6 was really just a blast. Obviously I knew most everyone already and we are almost all native New York City kids so it was easy to get along with everyone. I basically opened up the night with a long set, then played in between the bands just to keep the momentum going, usually it would just end up being a dance party instead of just a show. My favorite thing about touring the way we did was having a tour bus. No hotel check in, security lines at airports and having to wake up early. We’d just crash whenever we wanted to and bam, you wake up in the next city!
The Saturday party at Le Bain, Night People, will be one year old pretty soon. It has been a nice - and sometimes wild - ride. What was the wildest thing you saw on a Saturday night at Le Bain? And the nicest?
I think everyone knows I’m the tamest member of the crew so I’m usually focused on the music and keeping the dance floor live. James and Lloyd could give you some interesting stories I’m sure. I think a night we all remember - or maybe not actually - was when our friend TK got married. A bunch of NP regulars all got in a party bus at like 11 am to head upstate and from that point on the drinking never stopped. Spending all day drinking in the sun is never a wise move and by the time everyone got Le Bain it was just a total disaster. People were being carried out… I definitely left early that night (Laughing).
Famous New York producer Nile Rodgers wrote ‘A great nightclub feels like the center of an otherwise cold and lifeless universe. It makes a seemingly frivolous night out feel necessary, life-giving - its a communal space where the people, the art on the walls, the art walking around, the conversation, the music, the theater of it all, hit the same vibration - and there you are, your whole being humming at the same frequency.’ What does that definition of a great club inspire you?
I like that. I love a great entrance that makes you feel like you’re entering a parallel universe. I can remember being young and heading into clubs, hearing the music thumping. For those of us who need that escape, it’s a very exciting feeling. I love Le Bain because you get in that elevator and then walk into this dark beautiful room but people are actually dancing and the music is underground. It’s like the total opposite of every other club in the area.
Eli Escobar featuring Nomi Ruiz ‘Desire’ (Plant Music)
You grew up in New York in the 80’s and then spent most of the 90’s out in clubs. Which clubs of the 90’s have that special thing Nile is describing?
I went clubbing a bit as a teen in high school but overall I’d say I missed out on most of what we think of as the end of the night life glory days. I went to Mars once and Limelight many times and a bunch of other spots but overall I remember going to Vinyl in the mid 90’s and it being really amazing. I went there once with my friend Peter Oasis at like 4 in the morning and there was a real music oriented crowd getting down to some deep music. I understood at that point the difference in a regular night out and the serious dancers who lived for the night and the music.
You also became a DJ in the 90’s and learnt how to deal with long sets of six hours, which has been a tradition in New York club scene, especially at that time. What can we expect from you this Saturday playing all night, compared to a ‘regular’ Night People night with Jemz and Lloyd?
Well, James, Lloyd and I really play well together and I don’t think that’s always the case when you have like 4 DJ’s in one night or whatever. It feels super fragmented and there’s no real rhythm to the night. I always tell younger people that all my favorite nights I used to go to never had more than 2 DJ’s and one was probably the opener as you were almost always going to hear ONE dude. When I play all night by myself I usually end up somewhere I didn’t plan on ending up at, so that’s always fun.
Benoit & Sergio said about their creative process “It is not like ‘Let’s sit down and write an electro funk track’ - it’s more: Let’s try to capture energy”, the energy you can feel in a club on a good night. Do you share the same process as a producer?
I usually try not to think at all. I work in weird bursts of inspiration and creativity. I can’t just wake up everyday and go to the studio and work until 5 or whatever. I’ll have a sudden idea and have to start working. A lot of times it’s based on hearing an old track and thinking “I wanna do something like that…” or hearing a record I want to sample. I’m not ashamed to admit that. It’s cause I’m a dj first, so I’m always thinking of - or maybe stealing - an idea I think would work good in a club. Which is ironic because I NEVER play my own music out!
It seems your track ‘Desire’ featuring Nomi Ruiz is exactly about capturing the energy of the night. Do you agree?
I think it does yeah! Maybe the pre-game part of the night. I made the instrumental with an acapella of Noel’s “Silent Morning” and started to play it in my sets as a kind of bootleg remix thing. Then I figured the music was tight enough on its own to make into a real song so I sent it to Nomi and she did the whole thing in like a week and sent it back to me. Really easy!
Eli Escobar’s ‘Work It’ (to be released on Dither Down Records)
If you had the power to live in someone else’s body for one day in the past or present, who would you pick and on what special day?
I’m not going to take this question too seriously and think of the perfect answer, I’ll just say any random person who got to go see Ron Hardy DJ at the Muzic Box on a Saturday night in 1985.
If you had the super power to change something in your great city, what would it be?
I would just like it to be affordable like it was in the 70’s and 80’s.
Your all time favorite movie about New York?
I can’t pick just one! I love An Unmarried Woman because it has some awesome footage of my neighborhood in the late 70’s. Annie Hall is probably the best movie ever period, not just for its use of New York. I also love Party Girl, Do The Right Thing and Klute.
Tell us something Night People’s regulars could do to make you happy this Saturday?
Like Nile Rodgers might say, “Dance, Dance, Dance”!