Inside Eli Escobar's 'Happiness' Album
We had the pleasure of having one of our favourite NYC DJs (and all-round nice guy) Eli Escobar playing our Traxsource stage at Defected Croatia 2016. His influences are visible in his sets as he draws on everything from early Disco to Hip Hop and 90s House. His productions also share the same rich and varied texture and he digs into some absolute gold for his latest release, dropping 12 deep and interesting cuts on his new album ‘Happiness’ – via the Classic Music Company. This one’s got us so hyped that we sat Eli down to run us through the album from start to finish.. Let’s delve ‘Inside the Album’ with Eli Escobar..
“Happiness” Album is available on Traxsource: ‘HERE’
Happiness Pt 2
So I woke up one day and basically decided to start my second album. This is the first song I made. I definitely wanted to continue where the last album left off in terms of feel and sound. I’m pretty sure the whole song was done in about an hour. It came very naturally and I didn’t mess with it at all afterwards. I felt like retouching it would do a disservice to the light, happy feel it has. This is obviously not how I always work but for this song it felt right. I listened to it a lot all year while walking around or making breakfast in the morning and I felt certain that it was the perfect song to open the LP with. I wanted this album to more or less reflect the last year of my life, which has been filled with joy. My son was born, and I got to travel to so many amazing places to play music for people. Who could ask for more?
I Need You
Another one that came really fast. I played that rhodes riff and really liked it and then built the rest of the song around those chords. I’m a really big fan of Wayne Gardiner and I can hear that in this song even though it wasn’t intentional. It’s a very 90’s inspired House track in general. Nothing more, nothing less.
In The Dark
This is the third song I made within the same day or two as the two previous songs. This has a lot in common with the last album. I’m very inspired by the first A Tribe Called Quest album which to me felt like a journey. There’s a song on there called “After Hours” that I was particularly obsessed with and I wanted to make a dark sounding track that has the same vibe. Another song I’ve always been crazy about since I was a kid is “Give Me Tonight” by Shannon. I remember hearing it at rollerskating rinks in the 80’s and always being a little scared of the lyrics. I had no idea what she was singing about but it sounded dangerous and even sad. So I asked Nomi to sing the “Echoes in the darkness” line and she nailed it. I couldn’t be happier with this one!
Just a fun banger right here. A good track to pick up the mood after “In The Dark.” I called it Chaka Khan because of the intro sample and also because I love her.
Miss My Luv
I made a huge chunk of this album on the road. What I would do is sample tons of stuff at home and then mess with it in hotel rooms or airplanes. I was going through samples and there was one that was just a guitar chord. I suppose at some point I heard something in the chord that sounded worth recording. So I just spread it out on the pads and played this melody with it in one take and that’s basically the song haha. I put in some Kerri Chandler inspired keys towards the end as well. I never thought of this as a club track but the other night I heard Tony Touch play it in the club and it actually went down really well!
Next To Me
I’ve grown to really like this track for its looseness. From what I remember, I just looped up some drums and played some random stuff on a few different synths and somehow stitched it all together. It is a bit abstract and doesn’t follow much of a typical structure of any kind. But that’s good right?
One thing that irritates me a bit is the current trend of sampling loads of vocals but not really telling any kind of story with them. DJ sets like this are also a bit frustrating to me. When it comes to vocals I need to be spoken to. I want to learn something or understand how the person DJing or making a track is feeling. This is basically a love song being told by a few various sampled vocals. I searched for the right ones to tell the story I had in my head. It wasn’t just a matter of “Ok I have a bassline and some drums, let’s find a vocal that we can throw on top…”
Can’t Stop Dancing
This is the disco bomb on here. I looped up some drums by The Brothers and played a funky baseline and sent it to Nomi. She had a record out at the time called “Tastes Like” where she was just whispering the whole time. I was like “Can you whisper on my record too!?” cause it sounded so hot on that song. Luckily she sang a little too and killed it! I was also, at the time, playing “Mirror Dance” in my sets a lot again and I think I subconsciously ripped off that xylophone line a little for this track. Shhhhh!
This came together quick and I really didn’t overthink it. Just some deepness that came out of me on a grey day. A synth line and some warm chords are all you need sometimes. I sent it to my label partner and he said “This sounds like it could be the anthem for this Winter.” So that’s how I named it.
One day I was walking down 12th street in the east village and there were all these kids playing outside and I suddenly heard the “Happiness” chords playing over the sound of their voices. I recorded them with my iPhone and brought it home and knocked it out in 5 seconds.
This is one of those accidental songs I never meant for anyone to hear. It started as a dj tool for my sets. It was basically 3 samples and a kick drum. I sent it to Andy from Defected (maybe by mistake) and he was like “That should be the first single.” Who knew? So I touched it up a bit and got Vanessa D’aou to re-sing the sample from “Surrender Yourself” which was really cool.
This is my favorite song on the album along with Happiness pt.2. I had this track all finished exactly how it appears on here except it had drums that sounded a lot like “My Jamaican Guy.” After we finished doing the vocals, I started feeling like the drums weren’t good enough. I muted them so I could think of a new pattern and was surprised at how much I liked the song without any drums at all. Nomi wasn’t into it at first but I think it grew on her. The original version of my first album ended with a song called “Up All Night” which was very uncertain and lonely. So this time I wanted to end with a hopeful song. I
really love it.