“I’m not averse to a bit of shuffling but I wouldn’t say I’m a professional shuffler,” confesses Irish nu-house producer Garry McCartney. “But, when you’re DJing, seeing any form of dancing is good, isn’t it? It’s better than having nobody dancing. So, yeah, I’m all for it. Although I prefer the chicken dance myself.”
If you’re a fan of '90s-influenced house and garage music it’s quite likely you’ve done the shuffle — or indeed the chicken dance — to one of Garry’s releases as Ejeca. And it’s more than likely you’ve heard the title track from his ‘Horizon EP’, released in October last year on Needwant. ‘Horizon’ was Pete Tong’s Essential New Tune: a concoction of heady synths, rave stabs and cut-up vocals that remains one of the anthems of the ongoing '90s house and garage revival. ‘Horizon’ might have made the hallowed slot on Tong’s show but the b-side ‘Dazed’ — a bass-heavy house tune — got oodles of '90s garage style reeeeespeck.
“A few weeks ago I was out and someone played that while they were DJing,” says the 26-year-old Belfast native. “That EP had a housier track, a garage track and a rave track on it, so it was a bit of everything, and it felt good that all three tracks went down okay.”
‘A bit of everything’ is a good way to describe the music that Ejeca makes. He’s got an EP coming up on Moda Black that he says is “a bit more techno. It's called the 'Alone EP', including a remix from David Jach”. And while he’s being tipped as the enfant terrible of the garage house revival scene — part of a troupe including his pals Waze & Odyssey, Citizen and fellow Belfastian and musical collaborator Bicep (check out ‘You’) — Ejeca is far too busy turning his hand to podcasts that blend self-produced house, garage, disco, techno and ambient tunes, crafting techno tracks and doing cheeky bootlegs to worry about what review section in a magazine his music might fall into.
One of his best bootlegs is ‘Music Sounds Better With A 303’, his version of Stardust’s 1999-released disco house hit. “I remember when it first came out, it was on the radio, and I’d always had it in my head about doing a remix,” he says. “And because it’s an uplifting track I thought it’d be good to do something sinister. That remix is actually four/five-years-old. I played it out once, in the Boiler Room, and it went down well so I thought I’d give it away on the Soundcloud.”
And, since the success of ‘Horizon’ last year, the releases have been flying out. When Pete Tong made ‘Horizon’ his Essential New Tune, Ejeca was still doing a day job, working in IT. “I came home from work one day, turned on the radio and heard him play it,” he remembers. “The label had an inkling that it was maybe going to be the Essential New Tune but no one knew for sure. And everything changed, career-wise, pretty much the next day. People were contacting me for tunes. I was getting offered DJ gigs. It really did seem to happen overnight.”
Ejeca’s been making music ever since his mum and dad bought him his first keyboard — a Yamaha DJX — when he was 10-years-old. “House music was in the charts, all over the radio,” he says. “I loved tunes like ‘Music Sounds Better With You’, Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’ and Modjo’s ‘Lady’ and I knew this keyboard was one of the basic bits of kit that you could make house music with. As soon as I got it I started fiddling around with it and got the idea of the basic elements of a dance track — the drum patterns, basslines, synths.”
Inspired by the music he’d hear his older brothers playing, he set about making his first rudimentary tunes. “I had them on either side of me — my bedroom was in the middle — with these basslines coming through the walls. The musical influences I got from them do come through into my sets. When I DJ I’ll often start with some French house and then finish up a bit more techy. I do owe a lot to my brothers. And they helped me get into clubs for free, too.”
OLD SCHOOL METHOD
The first freebie was when he was just 15, and he got hold of fake ID to sneak into Shine, in Belfast, while Sneak was playing. “It was unbelievable hearing Sneak at that age,” he remembers. “He didn’t call what he was doing gangster house, back then, but it was jacking. I think all those American DJs, they have a particular vibe about them. The way they cut up tunes. I still DJ like that now. I’ll chop and cut. I do spin-backs. I lived on vinyl, when I was a teenager, so when I DJ now I use CDJs — the old school way of mixing.”
You can hear '90s house and garage influences in everything Ejeca does. And there’ll be hints of that future-retro flavour coming on his new label Exploris, that he says he’s focusing on now — part of a bigger plan to release some fresh-sounding “house and techno” tunes. “I’m looking forward to winter because I can spend more time working on new music, as well as the label,” he says. “As well as house and garage stuff, I’ve been really inspired by artists like dBridge, Burial and Four Tet lately. Then, after hearing Skream do a disco set at ADE in October, I’ve also realized that anything is possible, whatever genre it is.”
Next month Ejeca’s moving to London, his first time living outside of Belfast. It’s a move, he says, that’s been a long time coming and one that he hopes will put him in the right climate to produce his debut album, and work on a live show. The live thing, he says, will be the connecting thread that ties together all his musical influences.
“I’d mix up the genres and maybe include some ambient stuff,” he says. “Maybe play d&b, house and techno and do it all live. So, a proper show, rather than just a DJ set with MIDI controllers and loops.”
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