You can never really know where an Eli Escobar DJ set will take you, but some ingredients are guaranteed. Whether he’s spinning hometown house, disco and hip-hop or diving into electro (Drexciyan, Phantasy-fuelled), funk and techno, his taste for a soulful vocal, an emotive melody and a sizzling acid bassline will always cut through. A diligent figure on the New York club scene since the ‘90s, his knack for layering tracks, switching-up moods and building momentum have affirmed his credentials in making dancefloors move again and again.
“I like to keep busy when I’m DJing,” he told DJ Mag back in 2018. “I think that’s an old-school New York mentality. No time for putting your hands in the air or looking up at the ceiling and swaying back and forth!”
It’s a versatility and skill that’s comfortably translated into Escobar’s productions, which have been released on labels including Classic Music Company, Razor N Tape, Phonica and Plant Music. His latest, the ‘Still Searchin’’ EP on his own Night People NYC imprint, finds him stepping into deeper territory. Across five cuts, he swerves through moody electro, tough melodic techno and noirish acid house. From the velvety grooves of centrepiece ‘I Miss Someone’ to the lo-fi crunch of closer ‘Grab N Go’, the EP conjures images of New York City by night, with Escobar as your learned guide.
In his Selections, Escobar gives us a sneak peak into his record bag, spotlighting recent favourites spanning stomping house, acid scorchers, vocal and electro gems and more. Dive in.
“This track feels custom made for me. It sits somewhere in the electro, freestyle and EBM side of things but also sounds very current. It’s also a perfect tool. I find myself playing various acid tracks over it in my sets. If the voices are in key, it can be pretty magical!”
“This goes hard. Deceptively simple synth bass and dubby drums stuff. Good for layering acapellas over! The drum version is also sick. Reminds me of their earlier ‘Droid’ EPs that were huge for me.”
“I’m a really big fan of Erol Alkan. I love how his music always blurs the lines between techno, house and disco. Just makes-you-dance music!”
“I love how the frantic main keys keep building and building, opening up little by little. It’s subtle, no need for any big drop or whatever. And I’m a sucker for synth choir sounds!”
“I’m so addicted to this beat. It reminds me of that really early raw Chicago shit like ‘Donnie’ by The It. This is some red light basement 4 AM music!”
“One thing about me is I’m always searching for vocals. I don’t understand DJ’s who play instrumentals all night. The voice is the most emotive instrument of all! So I get super excited when I find a good vocal track and this one is really great.”
“I tend to approach each set differently than the last but some tracks I play every night no matter what and this has slipped into that category. It always goes off.”
“A catchy vocal and some acid is all you need sometimes. Most of the time!”
“This is really cool. I love the percussion and the industrial feel but then this guitar comes in that sorta sounds like ‘Walk The Night’. It’s slightly spooky and really funky.”
“I heard this playing at A-1 and had to buy it immediately. It’s somewhat mind-blowingly well produced and I’ve been really into playing electro recently.”