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“I had an amazing time, it was an amazing crowd, and an amazing club,” says DJ Escape of his debut at Cobalt last month. He swears he doesn’t say that about every club he plays, noting, “some experiences are better than others.”
DJ Escape sensed the crowd at the 17th Street stalwart, where he’s a monthly resident, was getting into his sound, which begins from a standard base of what he calls “bass-driven tribal tracks and vocal anthems.”
He distinguishes himself by throwing in new, hard-to-get remixes of old, popular songs, such as a friend’s commercially unavailable remix of The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.” Escape also incorporates several of his own remixes and productions, which he creates in conjunction with DJ Gomi, a former programmer for Junior Vasquez.
It was, in fact, Vasquez who inspired DJ Escape to begin with. Ten years ago, DJ Skribble (of MTV fame) snuck the 17-year-old Jeff Jonas — Escape’s given name — into New York’s Palladium nightclub. Hearing Vasquez spin, and seeing how the crowd responded, instantly hooked the future DJ on the sound and aura of dance music. And Jonas, who is straight, saw his future in gay clubs, where he says he spends 95 percent of his working hours.
Now a Billboard-reporting DJ helping the magazine compile its influential Club Play chart, Escape hopes to soon gain a residency in New York, a feat that has thus far eluded him. He plans to continue touring, playing the bigger gay circuit parties, and to continue regularly releasing his own mixed compilations, such as last year’s accomplished Bangin 03, which simulates a night out at the club with him at the decks.
“I try and please the crowd,” he says of his musical choices. “If you’re a DJ that plays only what you like, you don’t go over that well.” — Doug Rule