Saturday Night Session 011: EJ scores the most unconventional residency there is, and talks being the anonymous musical face of Formula E
Few moments are more sacred than the reprieve Saturday night provides from the daily grind of school and work. Its importance is meant to be emphasized, and thus, a feature dedicated to “doing the night right” was born. Saturday Night Sessions are set around energizing mixes meant to get the party started. New or old, each episode has one cornerstone thing in similarity: they serve as the perfect backdrop for the weekend pregame.
Becoming a resident DJ is the goal for many looking to achieve a fruitful and lasting career in the insanity that is the music industry. While locations like Vegas and Ibiza are the known industry hotspots, and the goal for many looking to cement their brand as a world renowned performer, high profile residencies also exist in other forms, which DJ and Producer EJ knows all too well. EJ is currently the resident DJ for Formula E, the global electric car-racing league that makes event stops throughout the world.
Previously, EJ was a Ministry of Sound veteran, but with his Formula E residency, he has turned ‘anonymous’ and chooses to perform in a mask not dissimilar to the racing helmets of those competing around him. His anonymity is a new dynamic for the artist, who has spent his entire career performing with no disguise.
EJ speaks about reinventing himself as an anonymous producer, stating, “originally, I wanted to create a DJ persona that could grow with the Formula E brand when I first started working with them, and bring a new audience to the championship through my music and performances.” He continues, “It was a bit of fun to be anonymous. I have worked in the scene for quite some time with Ministry of Sound so wanted a bit of a fresh look.”
What might be one of the most interesting things about his Formula E residency is how he performs, which is varied and non-traditional compared to the club and festival circuit many electronic producers perform within.
EJ mentions, “I play to the race itself when the cars are on track, creating the atmosphere to the grand stand spectators.” He continues, “Then there is the gaming zone which is pretty cool, creating the music backdrop to fans and the drivers racing each other on the computer game. Finally, there are my main stage performances. It all depends what country you are playing in with what style you go with.”
EJ has released a 19 piece soundtrack that is set to take center stage at the global street racing championship. He has released it on Ashley Wallbridge and Gareth Emery‘s Garuda, and both of Garuda’s founding artists have tracks included within the compilation.
While the Formula E residency has consumed a substantial amount of the DJ’s time, this has not stopped him from pursuing his DJ and production career in the more traditional sense. When discussing what his plans are for the new year, EJ comments, “It’s fantastic playing at Formula E, but I want to be on the festival stages such as Tomorrowland and Ultra. Headlining one of them would be fucking unreal! Also would love to get a number one.”
EJ also plans to release a full length album before the end of the year, which certainly bolsters his plan to reach number one. His Saturday Night Session proves him more than worthy for the mainstage with its collection of hit tracks like Cristoph and CamelPhat‘s “Breathe” and his own originals. As EJ puts it, the mix is certain to get listeners ready for “A good old rave up!” and it’s the perfect hour to get a good night going.
Photo Credit: LAT Images
Why do you choose to produce/perform masked and anonymously?
Originally, I wanted to create a DJ persona that could grow with the Formula E brand when I first started working with them, and bring a new audience to the championship through my music and performances. It was a bit of fun to be anonymous. I have worked in the scene for quite some time with Ministry of Sound so wanted a bit of a fresh look. It’s not so anonymous now as I have been performing without the helmet on a few occasions and have also been in the press without it. The secret is out!
Can you tell us more information like, where are you from? What got you into music production and what inspired you to start producing trance music specifically?
I’m from London and still live here, but travel quite a lot. I love London. It will always be my home. I worked for Ministry of Sound for 10 years before working with Formula E, and have got to play at some incredible venues around the world. Before that though, I worked in Ibiza. It was Ibiza that really got me into music and DJing, however before living there, I was massively into the original trance scene. Although I have moved around genres through my career I have always still loved the energy of trance. Strictly though, I am not just trance. I play a lot of progressive house and even though my most recent productions have all be labelled trance, they kind of sit in the middle a little. I like to be able to move around between the genres. You will see a lot more of my progressive side in 2019.
You’re the resident DJ for Formula E, which is an unconventional yet very high profile gig. What is it like performing in that environment versus performing in a club environment? Do you have a preference?
Yeah of course it is very different. I have a few roles at Formula E when it comes to performances. I play to the race itself when the cars are on track, creating the atmosphere to the grand stand spectators. Then there is the gaming zone which is pretty cool, creating the music backdrop to fans and the drivers racing each other on the computer game. Finally, there are my main stage performances. It all depends what country you are playing in with what style you go with. Some are more commercial than others. With all of this you have to remember that essentially people are there for the racing not just the music, however I just played in Santiago and the crowd was awesome, actually coming to see me rather than just the racing. Clubs and festivals for now will always have the more dance music crowd, but it looks like this could be changing. I do love a fucking good club though!
Are you a fan of a particular Formula E team or driver?
Am I allowed to be biased? I’m always asked to be neutral, but I get along really well with Sam Bird from Virgin, Mitch Evans from Jaguar, and Antonio Felix da Costa from BMW. They are all good lads, and the teams are pretty cool. Sam’s at the top of the table at the moment though so let’s go with him!
Musically, what are some goals you currently have for yourself?
I really want to showcase my style of music and get it out there to the masses. It’s fantastic playing at Formula E, but I want to be on the festival stages such as Tomorrowland and Ultra. Headlining one of them would be fucking unreal! Also would love to get a number one. All my last releases have gone top 20 on the Beatport Trance chart, but wouldn’t it be cool if music swung back round again, and my music was in the main charts. That would be wicked! Some collabs with some sick singers would be great as well.
What can we expect from you in the new year?
Lots more music. I have a compilation out on 8th February called Formula E – The Soundtrack which is selection of tracks that you would expect to hear me play at a Formula E race. We have a Garuda night at Ministry of Sound in London on 1st March where I’ll be playing alongside Gareth Emery, Ashley Wallbridge, Kolonie and Nash. I have an artist album out some time before the end of the year, depending when its finished as I am also on tour with Formula E until July heading all over the globe to some fantastic cities.
What kind of a Saturday Night is your mix getting us ready for?
A good old rave up!