Wax Da Man: DJ Ease
DJ Ease has been an enduring face of the down-tempo camp since the 1990s. A chillout purveyor with nods to soul, funk, hip hop and electro, he (and his collective, Nightmares on Wax) is one of Ibiza’s most industrious artists and his Wax Da Jam parties at Aura have become the most popular Tuesday night gig north of the island.
“IT’S very intimate” he says. “And you have to make the effort to go there, which then attracts a certain sort of crowd, in a good free and friendly way.”
Leeds-bred and Ibiza-based Ease, aka George Evelyn, first started DJing aged 14 in 1984, influenced predominantly by hip hop greats like Grandmaster Flash, Chuck Chillout, DST and Red Alert. He’s had an eventful summer playing his Saturdays at Sands shindig, Wax Da Beach, this year, hosting the likes of Shovell on percussion and Massive Attack’s Daddy G on the decks.
Originally from a “small neighbourhood called Hyde Park, Burley” in the UK, he first came to Ibiza in 1988. “For me it was all totally a new experience being abroad, going to big open air clubs like Amnesia. Feeling that sense of freedom and wildness was mind-blowing! And the summer of ‘88 has a lot to answer for, I think, for a lot of people, not just in Ibiza but in the UK too.”
At the moment he’s finishing up his seventh Nightmares on Wax album for Warp Records, he will be heading into the studio this winter to work with Wolfgang Haffner and Shovell and he is working on new releases for his Wax Da Label with artists Marcel, The Planty Herbs, Hungryghost and Negghead. “And brainstorming more Wax Da events on and off the island.”
What is something surprising about you that most people don’t know?
‘At the age of 17 I worked at McDonald’s in Leeds on litter patrol for about two weeks to try and raise money for Christmas, but when it was time to collect my wages I had already eaten over my lunch break allowance, so I never got paid and left. Which was a blessing in disguise. The message? Don’t eat McDonald’s, it will cost you in the long run.’
Tell us about your very first Ibiza experience…
‘It was my first time on a plane and my first trip abroad. I knew nothing about Ibiza, just that it had a great club scene. Me and my old DJ and production partner Kevin Boywonder Harper, who travelled with me, stayed in San Antonio in some crummy hotel, had an amazing time but ran out of cash after three days!’
How has Ibiza changed over the years?
‘It’s changed massively, but where in the world has not? I believe change is good and the only constant. In Ibiza all the clubs have changed, and have had to, based on the licensing laws that have been put in place. The beaches have changed also, and that attention towards VIPs has never been so prominent. But also musically there are more alternatives than there has ever been before, which is so, so good for the island.’
Can you recall your most legendary Ibiza night out?
‘I would say performing the first ever PA on the opening of the Space terrace back in ‘93 or ’94. I can’t remember the year, that’s how good it was. With Shovell, who I had just met, Brandon Block and Alex P, Erick Morrillo’s Real 2 Real performing I Like to Move it Move it in the discotheque – all legendary and very, very funny!’
How would you define your sound today?
‘Soulful – not the genre, more the feeling. I like to think I play hip hop and anything that ever influenced it, which is twisted into the good groove, the groove of feeling good. Hip hop is the leader and founder in sampling that includes all elements of electronic dance music. So quite a large scope really.’
Who do you think is the most exciting DJ in the world right now?
‘Wow! That is a really tough question, as all DJs have their thing for me. Jazzy Jeff has his amazing melodic scratch mixing skills. Luciano has his loop thing which is great. Mr Scruff is a leader in what he does. Ricardo Villalobos pushes boundaries in his field. That’s just to name a few. There are so many ways to play music that feel it too naive to choose one.’
What have been your personal highlights of the summer season 2011?
‘Bringing Bonobo, Daddy G of Massive Attack, to the island for the first time and watching them fall in love with the island. Always a highlight experiencing that with anyone; really special!’
Are there any acts or parties that particularly stood out for you this year?
‘Aphex Twin at the We Love… closing party; mind-bending stuff, as to be expected from Richard. Visually amazing! I also enjoyed Cadenza at Pacha, Carl Cox at the Funk & Soul party at Sands beach bar and our own Wax Da Beach at Sands beach bar.’
In your opinion, what was the best party of Ibiza 2011?
‘I’m gonna say Wax Da Jam at Aura for me, as I’m involved and being part of something collectively that is making people happy is such a great feeling, and using the power of music to achieve that is just a blessing. I like to hit Cocoon a couple of times in the season. I enjoyed DC 10 this year for the first time actually, really good vibe and great music this year, and the Underground is always a great spot.’
How do you feel about the new hip hop scene on the island this year with American acts like Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent and Usher making appearances?
‘Well first what these guys are doing now is not hip hop. I have to say this! They’re working their way into the dance market for obvious reasons, which is good for them. And Ibiza is the place to be in the summer, so why would they not want a piece of the pie? Like I said earlier, the more alternatives there are musically on the island the better it is for everyone! I’m sure they will be more surprises in 2012.’
In light of the summer’s tragedy at Ushuaia (where a barman was killed by a member of security) do you feel that Ibiza is becoming more violent? And how do you think we can keep the peace?
‘All incidents should be looked at individually. Any form of violence is born out of unhappiness. I feel for the families that suffer any form of loss, I really do and my heart goes out to them. Once we start to debate these things we must remember it’s not the place that creates these problems, but the personal issues people bring to any environment. Club security is not an easy job. Historically it has its inherent problems all over the world. Communication on all sides is the key to any of these issues.’
What direction do you think Ibiza will take next?
‘It will just keep evolving with more different cultures coming to the island. A new generation of clubbers , as always. I think it will become even more open musically from a live performance side of things to more varied styles.’
What do you think makes Ibiza unique?
‘It has a certain magic that can pull you in or spit you out. It magnifies all aspects, good or bad. Learning to use this energy can bring great things. You hear all this and think it’s just some mystical stuff, but when you live here I think you can’t ignore it. There are so many unique things about this island, you can travel five minutes by bicycle or car and be somewhere totally different. This place has many terrains and worlds to it. What it is really known for is about 10 per cent of what is really here. And for a small island that’s quite amazing!’
Looking back on your career, who would you credit as being your key inspirations?
‘I would say my upbringing, my mum and dad and my hometown Leeds. All these elements gave me inspiration to express myself.’
What do you get up to in Ibiza in the winter time?
‘It’s more about the real villa parties in the winter and having dinner with friends. I really like Santa Agnes in the winter; such a beautiful valley. I find the island very difficult to leave, as I never want to! But when the touring and gigging calls I have to go. But I like to use the winter for writing music in the studio and chilling with my family here.’
Where will we find you next summer?
‘I will most definitely be here in Ibiza with the whole Wax Da Crew blessing the island with more delights and surprises, taking Wax Da Jam and Wax Da Beach to another level, and travelling around promoting my seventh Nightmares On Wax album.’
First published on I Voice, Ibiza, October 2011.
© Abbey Stirling