EZ does it! Garage legend jets in with Jaguar Skills for Dubai show
What’s On and Hype to bring you an interview and profile with DJ EZ, the Pure Garage legend who will play with Jaguar Skills in Dubai, at Warehouse.
Saturday night at last year’s Bestival festival in the UK and as Snoop Dogg wrapped up his headline set on the main stage, tens of thousands of people streamed to the festival’s new late night den, The Port. It took ten minutes to get through the overspill and within earshot, and with at least half of the festival’s 55,000 people seemingly crowded around the ship-styled stage, it felt like watching the final scenes of Titanic, only in reverse.
Richie Hawtin attracted a much smaller crowd the night before, and rather than the strains of the latest big house or techno records booming from the area’s hefty sound system, or the latest 19-year-old superstar DJ in the booth, it was the familiar sound of Daniel Bedingfield’s 2001 No.1 I’ve Gotta Get Through This. The biggest DJ draw of that particular festival was a former pirate radio DJ who’s been plying his trade for over 25 years – DJ EZ.
Over the past 18 months – from Bugged Out! Weekender to Outlook – one of the biggest draws at festivals and club nights across the board has been the UK’s Kiss FM DJ and Pure Garage compilation curator, real name Otis Roberts.
“It’s been crazy,” he muses. “It got so busy I had to jump in the office myself, sharpen up my typing skills and help with the bookings.”
While EZ was DJing on pirate radio stations at an age where most boys are only just growing out of the Beano comic, it wasn’t until the late ’90s that he became something of a household name, when the UK garage phenomenon coincided with him starting his show on Kiss in 1999.
EZ, who says his lifelong love affair with the genre is based on the way it combines everything from soul and R&B to jazz and funk, soon became known as one of the best garage DJs in the game for his fast-paced DJing style and crowd-pleasing track selection. When the garage phenomenon started to fade, EZ stuck with the sound, finding himself mixing multiple editions of the Pure Garage compilation series and playing nights like Garage Nation at Liquid in Romford.
But when things came full circle, thanks to the likes of Disclosure, Dusky and SBTRKT ploughing garage’s fertile soil for inspiration, EZ found himself more in-demand than ever.
“I was lucky in that even when garage faded away I was busy, as I was the go-to man for the genre; but after I did Boiler Room [live stream], things really opened up. I’ve been playing places I’d never played before like Romania and Italy and festivals like Bestival and Outlook,” he says.
In person, EZ has the relaxed nature suggested by his DJ name, as well as the affability and sense of fun that playing records like So Solid Crew’s 21 Seconds and Sweet Female Attitude’s I Bring You Flowers most sets indicates.
But his popularity isn’t so much based on ’90s nostalgia as on his ability to illuminate the golden thread between classic ‘first time around’ garage and its more recent renaissance, joining the dots between records like Disclosure’s You & Me, SBTRKT’s 2011 track Living Like I Do and DJ Pied Piper’s 2001 No.1 Do You Really Like It.
With a FabricLive mix released last year confirming his return to the top, check out EZ’s garage vibes at Warehouse Dubai this weekend.
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EZ and Jaguar Skills at Warehouse, 41st Floor, Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City. Friday, 9pm to 3am, Dhs80 early bird, Dhs100 in advance. Metro: Nakheel. Taxi: Media One Tower.