Part of the New York electronic dance music scene for more than 20 years, DJ EBAR is a multi-genre-spanning producer and DJ. Creating and producing deep house, progressive, and techno under this name and as Indicant, DJ EBAR has shared the booth with many notable performers and spun in some of the city’s well-known clubs, including Cielo, Sullivan Room, Le Souk, and BED. He’s also performed in other U.S. and international locations, including in Thailand, Budapest, and Paris.
DJ EBAR’s career spans both mainstream and underground music. Since starting in 1990, he has remixed Deborah Harry, Ludacris, Boomkat, and other chart-topping artists and managed multiple independent labels, including Sifted for Techno, Central Park Records for soulful and deep house releases, and, more recently, Quarterlife Records NYC for tech and progressive house.
How did you get into producing house music?
DJ EBAR: How I came to produce house music was a confluence of a few different things, but if you’re asking… I grew up being trained in classical piano since age 5, that kid who was forced to practice an hour every day. I hated it at the time but still send a thank you card every Mother’s Day. In the ‘80s my oldest brother got me into some industrial and freestyle sounds, like New Order and Information Society, and at the turn of the decade, I started using a fake ID and a bad suit to sneak into clubs in Chicago like Crobar, Kaboom, Shelter, Jubilation, Cairo, etc. I immediately fell hard into house and techno, which was at its infancy. I remember hearing linear tracks like Speedy J/Pullover and Interactive/Elevator Up And Down, or deep soulful tracks like Cajmere/Brighter Days, which completely changed my way of thinking about music. It was counterintuitive to me that music could just repeat simple electronic sounds over and over to a 4/4 kick drum and still create an emotive and trance-like experience, but it did. I met DJ Psycho Bitch, who showed me the basics of beat matching. My brother gave me a pair of Technics 1200s (which I still have), so I started buying vinyl at Gramaphone Records and practicing in my basement. I had my first DJ gig at the end of 1990 and started studying house music carefully. By 1994, I was a baked college kid at Florida State University. I embezzled money from my parents that was meant for school expenses, and instead bought an Ensoniq ASR-10 sampling workstation (still have that, too). I fused what I had learned about observing and DJing electronic music with the foundational knowledge of my piano and music theory training, and I started releasing experimental tracks on vinyl, which played into Florida’s melodic progressive scene at the time. I kept writing and sharpening my skills and here we are.
For producing, why did you decide to have two separate alter egos?
DJ EBAR: EBAR is a high school nickname that fuses my real first and last name. I’ve used this for my projects since 1994, and throughout the 2000s, the name had been associated with my releases on soulful/deep house labels like King Street, West End, Central Park Recordings, Peng, and so forth. Around 2008, I found myself more interested in producing techno, tech house, electro, and progressive. It didn’t make sense to confuse my EBAR discography with these different sub-genres, so I started releasing those styles as Indicant.
Do you have any projects currently in the works?
Lots. I’m working with NYC vocalist Sarah Tracey and DJ/producer Ryan Negrin (half of the Samsara duo) on a very slick nu-disco EP. I’m working with San Diego vocalist Alexandria Tava on a leftfield nu-80s EP that is turning out to be super original. I’m working with Serge Sklyarenko (DJ and owner of the famous Sullivan Room clubs in NYC and Kiev) on some dope tech-house tracks incorporating classic 80s vocals. I’m working on some originals and remixes which will appear on Sullivan Room’s 10th anniversary mix compilation, which I believe will be released on Nervous Records. I’m working on an original piano-house project with vocals by Royal Sapien. I’m also working on some top secret stuff under a new moniker, Cuatro Tacos, which leans more into nu-disco and breaky indie dance stuff. I’m even working on a bootleg electro-bossa mashup between Gotye/Somebody I Used To Know and Tito & Tarantula/After Dark (remember that hot Salma Hayek dance scene in From Dusk Til Dawn?). So yeah. Keeping active.
You have been DJing and producing since the 1990s, being based in Chicago, Florida, Arizona, Paris and New York. From your perspective, how has the scene changed over those 20-plus years?
DJ EBAR: Musically, I’ve watched the scene proliferate from having two styles – house and techno – to the multitude of crisscrossing sub-genres we see today. What an incredible and inventive evolution. Right now, I’m personally deeply motivated by nu-disco and indie tronic tracks that take cues from ‘80s music, artists like Tiger & Woods, Gigamesh, PenguinPrison, Goldroom, Plastic Plates, Classixx, Zimmer, Chris Jylkke, and so on. What else has changed in the production scene… well, in the early ‘90s it was expensive to produce this kind of music – think about it, you needed proper studios loaded with pricey hardware to make the tracks, you had to have a ton of technical know-how, and then a label who was willing to invest a lot of money and risk in a vinyl pressing and distribution of your track. This made it so that only the committed and die-hard artists would make the music, and there weren’t a lot of people doing it for that reason. Today, any kid with an Internet connection and a half-decent laptop can get free or hacked software production tools that blows away ‘90s production technology. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. Good, because it levels the playing field and enables producers in every corner of the globe, regardless of their financial situation or geography. Bad, because everybody and their grandma is producing electronic music now, so there is a lot of noise out there (aka crap tracks). As far as the scene itself, it’s gotten much more commercial in America. I stopped going to the WMC four years ago. It’s a shit show.
House music has recently become popular in the U.S. What’s your perspective on this recent popularity?
DJ EBAR: It’s gotten popular? Where have I been?