Eric Louis has had a pretty charmed life. Growing up in Central, New Jersey, he was a car ride away from the greatest club scene in the world, but after experiencing The Tunnel and Limelight in NYC, it was the new Sound Factory on 46th Street which really lit the flame and after Eric secured an internship with luminary New York DJ Jonathan Peters studio, a life in music was his goal. Around that time – 2002 – Eric began to learn to DJ and buy vinyl. Through his internship he also got to grips with a new studio software called Ableton, making bootlegs and edits for Jonathan’s marathon sets and live recordings; his own DJ career took a different path.
With complete musical freedom Eric entertained diners at a New Jersey restaurant where he learned the invaluable lessons of the art of DJing. However, music had to take a back seat for a few years as he pursued a new career. Fast forward to 2013 and we find a rejuvenated Eric with a track signed to seminal NYC label Nervous Records reaching number 19 on the Traxsource Tech House charts and a competition winner remix for American House institution Victor Calderone.
UK Editor Simon Huxtable spent some time recently chatting to Eric about his career, that internship and his favourite record shops.
Hi Eric, congratulations on winning the Mix of the Month competition for July, we really enjoyed your mix. It’s a combination of vinyl and digital tracks, right? How long did it take you to do?
Big big thanks for running such a high-quality magazine and giving people like me a chance to be heard!
Truthfully it didn’t take long. I did it in one take on the night of my birthday July third after dinner and a bourbon. However, in many ways, this mix was 13 years in the making. I come from learning on turntables, skipped CDJs and went right for Ableton and later sort of dabbled with Traktor.
I recently switched over to Pioneer/Rekordbox as controllers are falling out of fashion so I picked up the recent XDJ-RX (I don’t have a laptop) so that’s what I did the mix on. Learning the new kit didn’t take long, but for a while, I’ve done the things like record my sets and listen back. So yes the mix contained about 5 records, the rest were all files analyzed in Rekordbox. I can beat match but also embrace the sync button as needed. Purist trolls can eat my shorts.
Tell us about growing up in New Jersey. It gets a pretty hard time from native New Yorkers…
I’ve never gotten a hard time and real New Yorkers have always been cool to me – I learned my way around NYC before there was GPS so I’d ask people for directions – no big deal.
Hipsters and posers who move to the city and think they are cool because they have a beard and a yuppie job may throw attitude around but whatever. The places I frequent are mainly about the music. If you want to catch flack for being an outsider, you can get it if you like the fancy VIP type spots.
Kerri Chandler and Erick Morillo are from Jersey, so is James Gandolfini and Glen Danzig. I wouldn’t change being born in NJ. Better to be Bridge and Tunnel and proud of it, than a wannabe New Yorker. But yeah I can see how Joey Cafone “The Landscaper” types Driving to Belmar could catch some flack. Jersey is great but still has cheesy tendencies.
Can you remember the first time you went to the Sound Factory? Who was playing and what was it like?
I was a late bloomer to the club scene. A lot of my friends and even my wife made it to places that closed by the time I started going out like Twilo and Palladium.
It was a Friday night and Fridays at Sound Factory were 18 to get in and it was usually the Friday night residents Luv and Lodi who spun. I thought the space was cool and everything was on point but it didn’t have the urge to go back soon. Some time later, I went back on a Saturday night and had a much different experience!
In the intro, I mentioned your internship with Jonathan Peters. How did that come about and what was Jonathan like as a boss?
So a good year or so after my first Friday at Sound Factory I made the trip again with a friend from town – it was like late January early February. We were also in Montreal just before that for New Year’s eve doing some serious partying at Club Sona which was excellent and I think Stereo now resides in that space.
Anyhow Jonathan’s party was another level than the Friday night. I mean his Saturdays were in general but this was his birthday party which was one of the key theme parties of the year on par with Classics, S&M, and Halloween (If you know you know). We got there at like 2:30, lost my friend in the AM. He took the train home at like 9am. I was like “I wanna stay” and I just hung there and made friends till like late morning. It was still going strong when I left.
The internship came about because a grade school friend who also DJ’d met one of JP’s producers and got a business card, so I called the number and asked. 3 Days a week I’d help with whatever was needed, at first, it was getting coffee and running errands and stuff. Later I did more edits and production assistance but never enough to be credited on records. I was ripping vinyl samples to an MPC and organizing them to be used by the team. It was all good though, in the span of a year I went from Sound Factory newb to making edits Jonathan was playing for thousands of people.
Jonathan or “JP” as he’s known was really cool. He definitely has a rock star vibe – like anOzzyOsbourne/Ricky Martin hybrid. But he’s also a very smart guy. And as a DJ accomplished a lot at a young age. He had a picture of himself in his office as a kid with a big trophy. I thought it was for like soccer or something but found out later he was a young chess champion. He always said, “You’re only as good as your last party.” And he worked hard prepping for parties! I later spent 6 years in software sales and sales people live by the same rule. “You’re only as good as your last sale.”
He also said, “When I’m good I’m good, but when I’m bad I’m the best.” I’m not 100% sure what he meant but I took it to mean that you’ll never be considered great or different if you play by the same rules as everyone else. While I missed out on the original 27th street Factory my “rare mix” folder has some stuff from Junior and Frankie Knuckles.
Production and DJing seemed to start around the same time for you. Did you find one more to your liking?
I like them both the same and they kinda feed each other. The more you DJ the more you get a feel for how your own tracks should evolve. Anyone can make a nice 8 bar loop, but how do you turn that into a fully fleshed out song? That’s the hard part! So the more the flow and phrasing of electronic music gets in your system, the easier the arrangement part can be. It’s never a cake walk and finishing a tune is where discipline is needed.
NYC is famous for many things, it’s record shops might not be at the top of the list though. I’ve been to a few myself and was amazed by the depth of knowledge of the staff and the range of music on offer. Where did you most like to shop?
I did like 8 Ball the best it was near Astor Place on East 8th. It may have been the smallest but it had the most of what I liked – and those white labels tho! Right now I’m in the process of making a sample pack that pays homage to NYC 2001-2003, my formative years in the scene and buying records. I love the sounds of that era! The sample pack will rely heavily on vinyl samples. This will feed my own productions and will be for sale when complete.
Tell us about your Friday night gig playing in Hoboken… It wasn’t an Appleby’s was it!? Or an IHOP?
Hahaha it was IHOP all the way! I can mix songs and some wicked pancake batter!! It was really at a sushi bar/lounge called Sushi Lounge. Not sure theres even opportunities like this today, but it was a good gig for 5 years. And sometimes I’d go play in the city right after.
Your release on Nervous Records – Thirteen – did really well. Did you follow it up with any more tracks?
Yes. I released another track shortly after on Nervous and in the process of putting out another tune with Nervous. I’m so NOT clever at witty descriptions for my own music so let’s just say it’s techno, big energy, and with lots of percussive elements and rumbling low end. It’s called “Friction.” And it’s about how you react to the stress or friction in life. You can let it wear you out, or it can polish you – it’s all about how you react.
It seems our MOTM comp isn’t your first win. Can you tell us about the Victor Calderone remix competition?
That was a great win! Victor and collaborator Mike Frade chose mine out of over 300 entries. Also some nice prizes from Beatport. If you’re entering these contests or releasing your own music – Get it mastered by a PRO – If you want to put your best foot forward. Victor is very cool, I had a chance to chat with him at his recent event at Governors Island for MATTER+ Beach. He was walking through the crowd with a photographer taking pics to do a meet and greet with fans – what DJs do that these days? Probably not many!
So how is life treating you these days? We understand you’re married with kids, so has music become a hobby again?
Life is good. Music never totally went away. Even those years where I wasn’t actively DJing or making tracks I still bought tunes from Beatport that I liked. “Adult-ing” kind of forces you to get shit done. It’s funny how I get do more with less free time and less gear. Tons of DJs have kids/families and it’s just what I’m into. You won’t find me watching a ball game – I hardly watch TV. Several nights a week me and the wifey get the barbell, kettlebells & PA speaker out in the driveway and work out. Squats, pushups, sprints and stuff all while blasting proper “house” music. Not sure what the neighbors think, as passers-by cross the street as they get closer to our house. Oh well. When my daughter gets a little older I’ll start teaching her.
Eric, it’s been a blast to get to know you. I hope everything works out and I’d love to see more music from you. In closing is there anything you wanted to add?
Once again big thanks to you and the Decoded Crew – it’s been a blast for me as well. You won’t have to wait long for music. A new track called “It’s Yours” out on IQ140 August 22nd. Also look out for “Friction” on Nervous Records in the near future. The best way to get updates and exclusive content is to sign up on Band Camp. Sign up and I’ll send you a free copy of one of my original tracks that was in my Decoded Mix. Readers in the NYC area can catch me August 20th at Key Bar in New York City.
01// Danny Howells & Dick Trevor – Kinkyfunk (Slow Mix)
02// Da Sunlounge – Cocaine (Katakana’s Diesel Wash Dub)
03// Danilo Vigorito – I Saw The Light
04// Guti – The Hustler
05// Pan Pot – Kepler (Julian Jeweil Remix)
06// Bedrock – Voices (Saeed & Palash Remix)
07// Radio Slave – Grindhouse (Nick Fanciulli Remix)
08// Airmale – Clear
09// Citizen Kain & Phuture Traxx – I Want You (Dustin Zahn Monolith Remix)
10// Santos – Metal Boogaloo
11// Eric Louis – You Don’t Even Know
12// Dani Sbert – Psychological