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words Ali Raymond
Back in 1991 a young b-boy and DJ by the name of EASE, aka George Evelyn , shook the dance world with his debut A World of Science: The First and Final Chapter. Released in partnership with close childhood friend Kevin Harper on the then fairly unknown Warp records, it was a project from the point of view of two teenagers growing up with a passion for hip hop but drawn by the changing face of electronic music.
“When we made that first album we were more then just about one piece of music. We made something from everything that ever influenced us. We threw it all into a melting pot and that’s the album.”
Consequently Nightmares on Wax was born, but it wasn’t until after Harper had left and four years later with the second album, Smokers Delight, that the true power of Nightmares on Wax sound was really felt across the world. With Robin Taylor “The Big Band” on keys, the album placed EASE as a true master of stimulating sounds, elevating his brand of cultivated sonic madness.
“With ‘Smokers delight’ we were fortunate enough to be dj-ing all over the country” With a strong Yorkshire accent, EASE remembers the thought process well “it came from all these beats I was making for my friends that we’d listen to after all these illegal raves and night long parties. It was about writing what was around you.’
There are few iconic producers as important to the progression of dance music in the UK as EASE although he’s not one to gloat.Modest and charismatic, it’s the honesty in his music, a wind down soundtrack in the life of a raver at a point in time, that makes his music is so popular
“Isn’t that ironic though. When we started on this hip hop-electronic-dance revolution what was going on socially? We were all burning weed, dropping bills and partying. So it’s [the music] a mirror of what’s going on socially.”
It was also an album that profoundly changed the then very young beatmaker.
“The real major shift for me in all areas of my life was Smokers Delight. To actually experience success and be in position and not worry about bills it had never happened to me.”
“I was at that position where I could work with great people, an orchestra and be educated and learn of top engineers. I was just on this sonic mission to make things the best they could be. Bigger and phatter beats.”
“Looking back it did take me of the beaten track. But it’s part of the journey. Because at the end of the day, to me now, there is one basic way of making music, and that’s making what you feel.”
Smokers Delight also contained arguably his most famous track ‘Nights Introlude’ – a reworked cinematic version to ‘Nights Interlude’ found on the debut. It’s a track that Contrary to popular belief proves the Ease was the first to sample Quincy Jones’ Summer in the City’ before The Pharcyde.
“This is the one thing I’m very proud of. Every time we were going to do a gig I would make these 90 min cassettes called the ‘Experience’ because of my name EASE –Experimental Sample Expert. I found the Quincy Jones sample and looped it. When we did the World of Science album I thought maybe we should include these tapes in the album, that’s why there’s a few down tempo Hip Hop tracks on there. The first one was ‘Nights Interlude’, but after I started working with musicians I remade it to become ‘Nights Introlude’. The Pharcyde track then dropped and everyone was relating our stuff with them. But all you have to do is check the label and date. I know I dubbed that sample before anyone” (laughs).
Inducing characteristic goose bumps amongst enthusiastic crowds for years, till this day it’s a joint he still opens his live sets with.
“Its an amazing song. If people asked me who would you name as your favourite producer I’d have to say Quincy Jones. He’s the one. He lived through different shifts in music. Check the Quincy Jones story. His whole life is inspiring.”
With over eight albums to date and nearing twenty years at the forefront of experimental music, EASE’s story is pretty inspiring too. The Nightmares on Wax discography reads like a chronological boogie though the changing face of dance music in Europe and the UK. From early on is nerdish knack to scope out the delivery van in search of the right record meant he has always had a special talent to recreate inspiration, setting his sampling apart.
“I used to be in the record shops every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday mornings because those were the delivery days for the van with the vinyl. I knew what time the van were coming. And I would be there when that box got opened. I was there always on the money” (laughs).
Past albums like Carboot Soul and In a Space Outta Sound, which contained greats like ‘Le Nuits and ‘You Wish’ (Beatnik favourite), show how he has continued to explore the idea of mixing grand instrumentation with idiosyncratic samples and electronic touches.
Fusing everything from reggae, soul, jazz and funk under an Electronica banner, his music has been described from everything to Down Tempo, Electronic and Trip Hop.
But when you look at EASE’s attachment to the beats and rhymes you wonder how an ardent Hip Hop head gravitated towards electronic music in the first place.
“I always say I’m an old skool B-boy. If it wasn’t for Hip Hop I wouldn’t be here having this discussion.’ He laughs as he highlights some things have little explanation.
“You know it’s only on reflection you can talk about these things. Because at the time, it was literally going with what you were feeling I suppose. All along there was something in me that wanted to go a certain way.”
“Really a lot of things tell you when everyone is going one way you should go the other way.”
“That’s the one thing I try and get across, create your own bubble, believe in what you do and stick to your guns – all the old cliques are actually true.”
He tips of his hat to hip hop whenever the occasion but it’s ultimately Electronic music is where EASE with Nightmares On Wax has created his home.
Since 2005 he started his own record label, Wax On Records, and between making new music, mentoring signed artist and running his club nights he now spends his time smiling at the sun in Ibiza. There, a long way from his native Leeds, it seems his music has found a fitting spot to rest its knobbly knees.
It’s clear it’s a place where he also now feels most comfortable. With years of experience behind him and all the extra roles he plays though it’s also a destination thankfully where he has found new inspiration to do what he does best, master the wax.
“Now I can say twenty years on I’ve gone back to making music like I did when I first started out. My approach is very basic and fortunately I have the knowledge too. I feel I’m truer to myself now more then ever.”
Find DJ EASE spinning at his night – Wax the beach or Catch his radio show every Thursday 5-6 (UK time) Wax The Box Radio Show. For more details check Wax on Records.
Wax Records presents Nightmares On Wax vol3 release date and all tour enquires check the myspace.