Unveiling his Underground Vibes and Unyielding Passion. Join us in an exclusive interview with electronic music artist Eric Ross. With a commitment to the underground sound and a career spanning two decades, Discover his journey, from the early days of the Rave scene to becoming a sought-after DJ and producer. Explore his unique style, influences, and insights into the ever-changing electronic music landscape. He shares memorable experiences and reflects on the balance between artistic vision and industry trends.
Interviewer: Where do we find you now?
Artist: You can find me hiding out in Dallas when I’m not playing in Dubai, Los Angeles, Tulum, etc.
Interviewer: Can you tell us a bit about your new record and how it came together?
Artist: The new label is my third label since 2000. I Love Sundaze came about when I started to concentrate on playing daytime parties or early AM parties. (Much like that 6am – 12noon vibe you find at Space Terrace in Miami.) I wanted to have a label dedicated to that daytime vibe, 122bpm to 124bpm, 4 on the floor vibe.
Interviewer: Can you describe a moment or experience that initially sparked your passion for music and how it continues to inspire you today?
Artist: It was during the Rave days in South Florida. I was friends with Kimball Collins, ICEY, etc., and would attend events across South Florida. Eventually, Kimball Collins gave me a chance to open up for him at BAD DISCO at Barbarella in Orlando, FL. From that point on, playing straight underground disco on vinyl, things naturally progressed to me playing “UK HOUSE” and from there ended up in Chicago playing with the best in house music, establishing a few residencies, and off to touring I went. What continues to inspire me is that feeling one gets when you can play a set that no one has heard, tracks that very few have heard, and the crowd becomes excited with anticipation of what new track they will hear next. That inspires me today.
Interviewer: Are there any lesser-known electronic music artists you feel deserve more attention, and why does their work resonate with you?
Artist: There are so many talented artists out there that are overshadowed that I would need a full page to list them all.
Interviewer: How do you maintain a balance between staying true to your artistic vision and adapting to the ever-changing landscape of the music industry?
Artist: I don’t adapt, personally. No reason to. I stay pure to the underground vibe. I have no interest in becoming a Diplo or playing major pop fests pushing EDM. I am a taste-maker, and I tend to gravitate towards more of the non-commercial sets rather than trying to make a name for myself. From time to time, I’ll catch the bug to sort of create a hint of a “commercial vibe,” but it’s very subtle. Hence my first release on I Love Sundaze, “Rock me Baby.” Basically, I don’t give a shit what the trend is, I don’t care about fame, and I don’t do it for the money. The only area I like to keep up with in the ever-changing music landscape is the “equipment.” I love all the new gear that comes out (as I use about 80% outboard gear in my production.) So that changing landscape I like to follow. The rest, I don’t pay much attention to.
Interviewer: What role does improvisation play in your creative process, and can you share a memorable instance when it led to an unexpected breakthrough?
Artist: Great question. Improvisation is something that comes to me when I have a set idea of what I’m going to do. When I sit down to write a track, I have an idea of the style, Organic, Deep, or Melodic. From that point, I can be working on a track, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere comes a bassline that totally changes the vibe of the track, or a hook that I write which just comes to me and takes the sound towards a whole new direction. An example is the track “Rock Me Baby” released on I Love Sundaze. I was writing the track and wanted a daytime funday Sunday track for the first release. I did not plan to have any vocal hook at all. I’m working on the bassline, then out of nowhere, I hear George McCrae in my head. His hook, “Rock Me Baby” hit me, and I just went with it.
Interviewer: Are there any non-musical influences, such as visual art, literature, or personal experiences, that have significantly shaped your work?
Artist: I would have to say, the whole original Rave Scene in the early ’80s I grew up with in NY and all the warehouse parties I attended across the country and in Europe as a fan of House and Techno. The experience of the crowds who loved the music they were hearing and the nonexistence of the famed DJ fad. I would not advise this today, but also the drugs we took, pure chemicals that allowed people to open their senses and release them from the pressure of “life” to allow them to receive the positive vibes that were part of that whole RAVE scene definitely shaped my work and still today, shapes it.
Interviewer: How do you approach the challenge of translating your recorded music into engaging live performances, and what elements do you consider essential for a successful show?
Artist: A live performance needs only one thing: a great taste-maker. The challenge of not playing the Beatport Top 100 or playing the trendy tracks, commercial tracks, or slipping into feeling that you have to play those tracks is the challenge. Because if you are “booked” to play, say Dallas, Texas, which is primarily a heavy commercial electronic music scene, you don’t want to clear the dance floor once you arrive. So the elements I use, I program my set, much like bands. This was taught to me by major DJs globally when we played all vinyl. I set the tone from the first track. I do not follow the crowd; they follow me. It might sound selfish, but in the end, my job is to make the event memorable and something that stands out, not just like all other shows. Once I have established the “tone” on the dance floor, I will observe the dancing, and I will have some key tracks that may be an underground remix of a popular track or one of my own remixes, as well as a few surprises to throw in the mix. It could be a breakbeat track that breaks up the 4 on the floor vibe or an epic vocal entry (thanks to Oakenfold for teaching me that trick!). But the main essential element for a successful show is to have fun! That’s it. Just have fun, send that positive vibe from the decks, and enjoy the crowd.
Interviewer: What advice would you give to aspiring electronic music artists looking to develop their own unique sound and style?
Artist: Great question! I struggle with this even though I’ve been in the game for 20 years myself. I would tell them, don’t worry about what is popular at the moment. Find a sound that moves you. Find a style that you love, and from there, reconstruct the style using your ideas. Do not be afraid to think outside the box. Finding a unique style is the biggest challenge. I can say that very rare cases do you have a fully unique style, one like Skrillex created with his Dubstep. But you can tweak and use your own ideas to make your production and DJ sets stand out from the crowd of DJs out there. Also, when picking gear or VSTs for production, learn to shape sound when using gear and VSTs and stay away from using presets as well as loops. If you use loops, reshape them, break them up, rearrange them.
Interviewer: Can you discuss the impact of technology on your music, and how do you see emerging tools and platforms shaping the future of electronic music?
Artist: This is an easy one. I was a vinyl-only DJ up until 2004-ish. The technology of the CDJs became the norm in every venue as the Technics were moved to the side. This was my first experience of the impact of technology, which made the process of beat mixing far easier and layering decks with 4 different tracks far easier than having to have 4 turntables. The CDJs allowed for easier process of sampling one track over the other, allowing you to loop a track for 4, 8, 16-bar loops to really create remixes on the fly. Then I started to produce, first using Reason for my first vinyl release with Chicago Artist SOMBIONX (Dr. Feels Good EP). Reason opened me up to being able to produce while flying on a plane rather than sitting at Vince Lawrence’s “SLANG MUSIC STUDIOS” working on massive boards, etc. I transitioned to Ableton for production and used Ableton to remix on the fly live at shows. The impact of all that technology allowed me to create a vibe outside that of just a 12-inch playing out. I still love vinyl, and now because of that new technology, I can use vinyl in conjunction with it. The biggest disruptor in our industry is going to be AI. AI is going to not only create dance music, but it will replace DJs in venues where the owners do not give a shit, which sums up 99% of the venues in the USA. Just like “technology” of the past opened the doors for everyone to be a DJ and producer, AI will eventually kill the DJ sets for most venues. Sure, there will be venues like SPACE Miami, Sound Nightclub in LA, SPYBAR Chicago, etc., that will still stay true to live DJ sets, but in my humble opinion, the nonsense of AI writing music and DJing will take over most. With that said, AI does not have soul or emotions. I don’t care how much the AI scene or Metaverse scene with AI will be pushed; any music created that lacks soul energy will not compare. So for me, the future of electronic music is dystopian for the most part. But the great news is, we will always have the underground!
Interviewer: What’s a project or collaboration that you’re particularly proud of, and what did you learn from the experience?
Artist: My first-ever recorded production with SOMBIONX. That record has a sound unlike any out there. The collaboration between myself and SOMBIONX (Adam Nelson), mixed with us living in Chicago, really came together. We created Tech House before Tech House became popular. SOMBIONX also guided me on how to produce, teaching me Reason and how to go from what is in your head to writing it on Reason. I would encourage people to check out the EP, “DR FEELS GOOD” on Qstudios (QS003). It’s a fun EP!
Interviewer: How do you stay motivated and inspired during periods of creative block, and what strategies do you employ to overcome them?
Artist: Creative blocks come to everyone. Sometimes you just gotta step away. I’ll fly out to California to surf or take my dog (Teshno) to Taos, NM, for a road trip if I’m in Dallas. Sometimes I just stop producing for a few weeks. I have a radio show on Studio Sounds Radio called DEEP TRANSMISSIONS L.A., so I will look for tracks to play on that show. Or I’ll have a few gigs where I go through hundreds of tracks trying to find ones I like. This process will start to unblock my creativity as I scan through tracks and get ideas.
Interviewer: What’s next for you?
Artist: Right now, I’m being very selective about where I play out. I’m throwing my own events with the label I Love Sundaze, having percussionist Wally Bravo playing alongside me, like years in the past when he toured with me. I’m also working with younger artists, having them open for me at my events. One such artist is a Dallas, Texas-based DJ, soon to be producer called I HATE WHEN GIRLS DIE. She is loving that Disco House sound, and it’s a perfect opening sound for our I LOVE SUNDAY DAY parties. I am working on tracks to be signed to some of the top labels out there, including Haustronauts, where I have 2 tracks just released. I will be heavily focused on production for the new label I LOVE SUNDAZE as well as looking for unknown talent to bring aboard. So, if you know anyone who produces that house vibe, I would love some demos to be sent to ILOVESUNDAZE@outlook or they can send links via the website ILOVESUNDAZE.com.
Written by: Alejandro Serrano