LE BAIN: I can't believe you have a new album out! I mean, your previous one, Happiness, was released more than a year ago, so it’s not yesterday... but still. How do you manage being so productive?
ELI ESCOBAR: I was quite surprised myself! My creativity seems to really come in bursts. I’ve barely made a thing since I finished the album. The album’s been done for almost a year already, so you can see I’m not that productive. [Laughs.] But being able to put together demos on my laptop when I have downtime in hotels and on flights is really a bonus. I don’t seem to have that kind of time at home anymore!
"The music just came out of me."
Last time we chatted, you said, “There are not really political dance records these days, whereas in the
’70s, disco could be extremely political.” What was your state of mind when working on Shout?
I made this album immediately after Trump won the election. I left NYC two days after and was feeling so depressed and upset. The first half of the album as well as the last song and all the interludes were all made in about four days, which I spent in Zurich and Paris. The music just came out of me. I always have my hard drive with me with tons of samples, and I can get demos together while I’m on the road. But as it turns out, these songs appear on the album pretty much just as they sounded within an hour of making them. I wanted to keep the feeling there and not mess with them too much. I wouldn’t have ever thought to go and actively create a record that was a political statement. But I’m happy with it because it is a genuine reflection of how I was feeling in that short period of time.
Do you think the new
political environment had an impact on the NY nightlife?
I definitely felt a difference in the following month or two. I did a fundraiser party called Love Is the Message last December and an amazing group of artists and people all came together. We raised over $5,000 for immigrant and LGBT youth advocacy foundations. The vibe was so positive and communal. I think I have been able to feel a bit more of a sense of togetherness in nightlife. Not always, but I think we all realize how much of an outlet music and dancing can be in these trying times, and there are certain nights where it seems you can feel all the pent up stress and anger being released on the dance floor.
Eli Escobar's "American Sorrow"
How does the word "sanctuary" inspire you?
It makes me think of the song “Music Is My Sanctuary” by Gary Bartz. It’s produced by the Mizell brothers and features Syreeta Wright on vocals. It’s one of my favorite songs ever and of course the title is very much my truth! Since I was a young kid, music and drawing have always been my sanctuaries.
One of my favorite tracks of yours is "Body and Soul."
I sampled this one line from Donna Summer. I don’t really want to spell out for the listener what each track on the album means to me, but I wanted to make something that could maybe capture a little bit of the sorrow I would think I would feel as a woman, seeing a person like Donald Trump, who obviously has such little regard for women in our society and as human beings. Someone who used the language he used, still being able to win an election. It’s just shameful. So anyways, I used this sample and I thought "Body and Soul" was a good name because it also references the song "Let No Man Put Asunder".
Would you share with us an anecdote about the NYC party Body & Soul.
I wasn’t really thinking about the party to be honest! But I will gladly tell you how much Danny Krivit has inspired me as a DJ. His ability to effortlessly jump from genre to genre is such a big influence on me. One time, way long ago, I heard him play "Over and Over" by Sylvester and he extended the breakdown for what seemed like one hour and worked the EQs in such an amazing, effective way. Everyone was going crazy for it! I was in awe!
What is love? Do you think you know what it is?
Last night when my two-year-old fell asleep in my arms, I definitely knew what love was!
Eli Escobar, every Wednesday night at Le Bain
alongside DJ mOma for their party Dance Dance Dance
The Standard, High Line
Photo by Kenny Rodriguez