Interview with Egon
[Conducted in May 2003]
He organises concerts, gets to fly around the world playing records, writes regular columns for magazines, works with Peanut Butter Wolf, and if you're not jealous yet, one of his remixes was included in the Beastie Boys Anthology DVD. Beastiemania has a chat with Egon...
Firstly, the name "Egon" - is it an obscure Ghostbusters reference or something totally different?
Bit of both, actually. Growing up, I would always correct those who misprounounced my name, Eothen. Thus, people tried out any knickname that would fit - Egon is the one that stuck, beginning at around age 10 (when the movie Ghostbusters was popular).
How did you get from being a radio DJ in Nashville (WRVU 91.1) to be a label manager at Stones Throw Records?
I was in contact with PB Wolf from the beginning of Stones Throw's run in 1996. I kept in contact with him over the years, and impressed him enough to get a job offer from him in my senior year. I guess he thought I was an organized, young go getter who would be able to help him with his label. I hope that's been the case.
I was, believe it or not, waiting in line at an NYC club to see PB Wolf. I was with a friend from college, who struck up a conversation with the folks standing in front of him in line. The converstation went from "What are you guys doing here" (waiting on PB Wolf, naturally) to "Where are you guys from?" When my friend answered "Nashville (though he's actually from Texas and I'm from Connnecticut)" they replied, "Wow, one of our favorite rappers is from there! Count Bass D." At which point my friend tapped me on my shoulder and said, "E, you should talk to these guys. They like Count!" Turns out that was Tick and another dude from Grand Royal. Our relationship sprung from there.
Was the track your choice or were you requested to do that particular track?
My choice. At the time I had this bugged out Canadian music library record with a phasing drum beat that I thought would be PERFECT for the track. Funny enough, I didn't end up using it.
How about censoring of the word "bitch" which was included in the original version. Was this self imposed or were you asked to leave it out?
The Beastie Boys asked us to leave it out. I think AdRock asked for it, through Tick.
It must be pretty satisfying to have your remix chosen to appear on the DVD. And surely it's upped your profile since.
Of course. I've been listening to the B Boys since I was young. Well, young-er.
You seem to have this fascination and awe like respect for the early jazz/funk players. Did your love of jazz/funk come from sample digging or did it come first and hiphop came as a progression afterwards?
After hip hop. Like many of my generation, I was enthralled with late 80s, early 90s production values and wanted to know the source from where the music sprung.
In 2000, you even organised a concert with Galt MacDermot & Bernard "Pretty" Purdie (2x highly sampled funk players who have been used by Run DMC, DJ Krush and others) along with modern day hip hop artists. A combination of current samplers alongside original sources. You must have been on floating on air after you pulled that one off.
Yup, that was an amazing event. It followed the first concert in 1999 - which was much of the same and featured late composer/pianist Weldon Irvine. Jr.
Do you have plans for any future events like these?
Yup. We've already done one in LA - The Funky 16 Corners record release party with Ernie from Ernie and The Top Notes, Butch Yates from Leroy and The Drivers, Cliff Palmer from The Highlighters, Spider Harrison and The Co Real Artists playing with the Breakestra. J Rocc, Cut Chemist and PB Wolf DJed. It was greatness....
Having met so many people in the music business that you admire, who would you still love to meet?
Believe it or not, it's one of my dreams to meet James Brown's late 60s, early 70s arranger and sometimes songwriter and musical director Dave Matthews. Homeboy was deeeeeeeeep. His work with Vicki Anderson ("Land of Milk and Honey") and Sweet Charles - alongside his own Grodeck Whipperjenny LP are so damn great.
You even got to meet Steve Stein of Steinski & Double Dee fame who created the original Lessons series (1-3). These mixes are now legenadry with people like DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, DJ Format and others creating their own subsequent lessons with a nod to these guys. It must have been pretty cool meeting him.
Amazing experience. Picture this. I'm DJing in NYC on the 2002 Stones Throw DJ tour. I've just doubled up the breakbeat of Fabulous Souls' "Take Me" while Percee P rapped "Lung Collapsing Lyrics" - live. Then Wolf comes up and says "Yo! Steinski is here. And he said you're a dope DJ!" It was like a dream.
Your Top 5 Past recording artists? And your Top 5 Current recording artists?
Past? In no particular order, Galt MacDermot, James Brown, David Axelrod, LA Carnival and The Meters.
Current? Madlib, Kieran Hebden, Cut Chemist, MF Doom and Edan.
You produced "The Funky 16 Corners" 2LP [Stones Throw STH2038] in 2001 capturing relatively unknown 60s/70s funk players. What prompted you to undertake this project? Was there any hassles in getting permission for tracks?
Every artist was generally happy to have their music heard, and be paid and appreciated for music that they had long moved past. Of course there were hang ups, but I've chosen not to dwell on them.
45 Collecting has taken off in a major way over the past few years, especially with high profile artists like DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist releasing and touring their Brain Freeze / Product Placement shows. Being a collector yourself, do you see it as a hinderance to your searches or do you appreciate the exposure some of these original artists and their breaks are finally getting?
I love the fact that full on compendiums for artists like Mickey and The Soul Generation are seeing the light of day. I love the fact that I can open an issue of Mojo and read an article on Black Merda or Power of Zeus. Of course, the hype is driving prices up - but it's also opening club doors for bona fide funk nights, and is also opening avenues for proper reissue of the most obscure recording artists from back in they day.
You have written articles for one of my favourite journals/magazines "Wax Poetics". How did you get involved with them. And what about this new magazine you're writing for "Grand Slam"?
I've known these guys since they started the mags - and, in the case of Wax Poetics, I knew one of the editors since I was in college. I love those magazines - the only ones (bar a few mags like Mojo) that are saying anything meaningful about music. Grand Slam is full of promise - it's by the homies behind Big Daddy.
How does someone get a position as a label manager, travelling the globe, chatting to old heroes and producing records they love? It sounds like the perfect dream job.
It truly is. It's full of stress and sometimes I feel really exhausted. But I'm so thankful that Wolf gave me the opportunity to work with him on such a great stable of talent. It really is the only job I've ever wanted to have.
Any plans for the rest of this year?
Getting our business structure on point. Getting my subsid label Now Again off the ground. Going to Brasil to drink mamao com laranja in Sao Paulo's galerias while searching for a mint copy of Boogaloo Combo's second LP. Enjoying life while I'm fortunate enough to live it.