Let's all take a second to thank the good folks at Red Bull for bringing us people jumping out of shady planes, hurling themselves at mach speed through the snow, and a DJ competition that combines the science fair aspect of DMC's with the "what are they actually doing?" factor of club rocking. Without this great competition many of us Yanks would have never come across the atomic ball of DJ prowess that is Eskei83. In 2014 he took the ThreeStyle title with a wonderfully balanced display of skill and swag that most aspiring jocks would do themselves a favor to learn up on. As you will come to find out this is no overnight success. We had the chance to sit down with this monster of the mix and gain some insight on his history, philosophy, and of course the hottest debate of 2016, Button-pushers.
We read that your first club DJ venue was at a place that had a vinyl collection built into the booth. What kind of records did you discover there? What were some specific things you learned about selecting music and DJing a set while at that club?
That's true! First gig I came with my records, only hip hop like Rawkus, Wu-Tang, Gang Starr, etc the club owner said I won't need those songs. He showed me some of his crates. We played together some nights, then I took over. It was everything RnB related in his crates - from Chaka Khan, to Next, 112, Michael Jackson, and some more unknown material. The club was so famous just because he had some tunes that nobody else had. That was really cool from him to share his knowledge. But he also benefited from me because I brought records in he probably never ever has gave attention to, like some rap: Jay Z, Neptunes, Notorious BIG, etc. They sampled some of the classics he was playing.
How did you first learn how to DJ? Did you teach yourself or did someone help you out?
I learned all by myself. I listened to the DJs on the weekly radio show on Radio Fritz from Berlin. They had DJ mixes playing once a week and I tried to figure out how they do this and that. A couple of months I had no idea what to do with the pitch fader on the turntable before I saw a DJ East (local DJ from Dresden) mixing hip hop records seamlessly. Before that I was just cutting between songs.
What was your exposure to music like before you started getting into DJing and producing?
I was a kid in school and had friends listening to German & US hip hop all the time. I wasn't so interested in music till German hip hop became really large. I spent all my youth on the soccer ground trying to become a pro. I did well but after a while I had more fun with the music, so I focused more on that.
How would you say being a DJ affects your production?
Every time I start a track I want to make a club track. I want to make songs that I can play in my sets. So it affects me a lot. Also I add DJ elements to my tracks. Scratches, etc.
When you started Crispy Crust with Drunken Masters, what was your mission with the label? What have you learned about yourself, the music industry, or DJing from running a label?
We needed an outlet for the music we wanted to support. We were receiving so much cool music all the time and noticed there's only a few labels that are going in our direction in our area. There's so much talent in Germany and Europe and we want to push it! Our scene here isn't that big yet, but there are definitely great artists we want to support that get no attention world wide. We believe that when we create a platform and support the good artists, it will make it also easier for us to play good music on our shows everywhere we go. I was working with Ching Zeng from Düsseldorf for my first official release last year and I feel associated to the guys as well and support their releases and sound. They supporting our stuff too and so we were able to bring a lot of good music into people's ears.
What is your favorite routine that you've performed yet? Why?
When I play live I always do my "Get Down" routine. It's working for every crowd because the track works so well - it's in between trap & hip hop and even if you're not watching me doing it, it sounds natural, like a remix or something. The routine I'm most proud of and my personal favorite is "All Day" that I did for Serato in Amsterdam last year. I think it has everything in it that I was able to do at the moment we shot it. It's at some point technically and in my opinion not danceable no more. That's why I play it at the end of my set all the time. People get always hyped when I do the slicer mode part & the scratching part.
As someone who's constantly trying to find new techniques and incorporate new technology, what's something that you look forward to with new technology or technique wise that isn't possible yet?
At the moment I'm super happy with my Pioneer DJM S9 mixer & 2 turntables. I always wanted to be able to do a lot of things live, but in a way that the regular audience at a club won't get offended while dancing. Over the years I experimented with all kinds of stuff, brought tons of equipment, USB hubs, own mixer, extra soundcard, 2 laptops, etc.! With the S9 mixer I travel just with a laptop, control vinyls, needles, headphones. That's it. Mixer is at the club and I can do everything what I have in mind. Cue point drumming, custom effects, samples, looping. At the moment I'm really interested in the pitch play mode that is on the new Denon controller for Serato. Would love to see this on the DJM S9 for sure. I also tried Rekordbox with CDJs (no laptop) but that's not for me at this point. It's cool for DJs that play music and mix, but for performance wise I see Serato wide ahead to a non laptop solution.
As a master level DJ, What's your take on "button-pushers" and people getting paid huge sums of money to fake it behind the decks? Do you think this will last forever or will fans begin to demand more?
You can't blame those DJs. If there are clubs that pay for it, they’re allowed to take it. I think it's bad that some producers are called DJs, when it's not the case. I understand that a producer has to "perform" his songs live and I also understand how hard it is to bring a Ableton rig, or tons of equipment to a show that might mess up your biggest hit, because it's damn hard to keep all elements in Sync while playing instruments live. So there has to be a kind of playback running. Especially if you need to sync it with Pyro & light effects. So I think it's cool if they play with CDJs and just press play. If I like the music or not is a different story. I also understand why big name EDM guys earning more money than a 5 x DMC world champ - because what the DMC world champ is doing is not understandable for a random guy that has no clue about DJing. He's not interested in the skill, he don't understand what is going on and that is ok. It's not for the masses. It's for a scene of people.
Since you won the Thre3style in 2014, what if anything has changed?
I was touring a lot before this already. The destinations have changed. 3style gave me a big platform and I was ready to take advantage of it. I made a lot of new fans all around the globe because of the title I was more trusted by companies & clubs everywhere. But the style I'm playing hasn't changed drastically. I'm still doing things I did before my win. The really cool thing is that a lot of my gigs turn out as little DJ concerts where people come to see my routines live. That's so cool when you get a reaction to the way you mix two songs instead of just playing some hit records.
What has been some of the toughest parts of your career up this point, and what advice would you give to those facing similar difficulties?
It's really hard to come home after a successful tour or even 2,3 weekend shows. I'm full of adrenaline, because DJing is so much fun. I'm so hyped up doing my stuff on stage, the feedback from the crowd, etc that it is hard to come back and enjoy normal things in life with same enthusiasm. It's like a drug. If I have a weekend off I feel like something is missing. I was on tour with my label Crispy Crust for a 2 week club tour and the only off day really killed my whole vibe for 3 days. It may sound funny but that's something that's really hard for me - taking time off. We all know it's essential.
1. What is your favorite movie of all time?
The best thing I've watched lately was the Daft Punk documentary. I can't wait for the DJ AM documentary to come out. I donated money to them, but the release got postponed. I hope it will come out some day.
2. As a young DJ, who was the one DJ you looked up to?
German DJs like DJ Stylewarz, DJ Mad, Marc Hype, Mirco Machine. Mirco is talking shit on socials about me lately. Times have changed.
3. As a DJ, what's your biggest pet peeve?
If they don't read my rider. Some things are essential for my performance. Why do you book me when you can't supply what I need to do my things?! And also people putting a phone I my face to request a song. You don't go on stage when a band is playing to request song, right?!
4. What is your current DJ / Production set up?
At home it's technics 1210 M5G & DJM S9, in the studio PLX 1000 & DJM S9.
Studio setup is UAD Apollo Twin, Ableton Live 9, Maschine, KRK RP8G3 Rokit speaker
5. What's your favorite record of all time?
I hate this question at the moment Kanye West "Real Friends"