In the world of dance music, there are followers, and there are leaders. There are imitators, and there are innovators. There are DJs, and there is DJ Escape.
“I don’t just play records—I play with the crowd. I’m always teasing people with samples and cuts of classics, new tracks and FX,” Escape declares. “I’m all about keeping things fresh. I’m always doing mash-ups of old things and making them new, and I’m always on the lookout for the newest, hottest records. Even when I play the hits, I play them in a way I guarantee you haven’t heard them before.”
That unique style has led DJ Escape to rack up more accomplishments than most spinners aspire to in a lifetime: global residencies at some of the world’s largest nightclubs, original productions that got the attention of world-class disc jocks and remixes for legendary superstars such as Beyoncé, Donna Summer, Solange, Kristine W and Gwen Stefani—and he’s just getting started.
The down-to-earth disc jock still recalls his first exposure to clubland—a legendary night at the famed Palladium nightclub in New York City where the music of superstar spinner Junior Vasquez inspired Escape not just to be a part of the house music phenomenon, but to be a driving force behind it.
“Up until that point, I had been a hip-hop DJ,” Escape recalls. “But Junior’s music just blew me away. It opened up an entirely new world to me. For the first time, I saw that music wasn’t just one element of a party—it was the party, and the people who understood that best were the gay crowds who appreciated sets filled with music you couldn’t hear anywhere else.”
Escape carried that inspiration into the studio, where he created the blistering original hard house production “Wer*Ship” that had DJs from coast to coast singing his praises as an up-and-coming force in the dance music movement. Suddenly the fresh-faced spinner found in the same spotlight as time-tested industry veterans—and in the DJ booth at the helm of Liquid, Miami’s most popular gay club.
“That gig was a dream come true,” Escape remembers. “The crowd, the venue, the sound—I was able to give the crowd exactly what they wanted each time I got in that DJ booth. I didn’t plan my sets—everything just flowed through the night, and the boys in the crowd just couldn’t get enough of it.”
It wasn’t long before word of Escape’s prowess in the booth traveled beyond the savvy ears of the South Beach set and back to New York where Escape was offered a job as the A&R Coordinator at New York’s famed Groovilicious/Strictly Rhythm record label alongside industry executive extraordinaire Michael McDavid. During his time there, Escape became known as a prodigy of sorts: a young and sharp-eared aficionado who knew a hit when he heard it. “My time at Groovilicious/Strictly Rhythm exposed me to so much music,” Escape says. “I was signing the hottest new tracks during the day and then playing them at night in the clubs.”
Following the closure of Groovilicious/Strictly Rhythm in 2003, Escape’s attention shifted from signing new dance tracks to creating them. “For the last four years I’ve really focused on the studio,” he says. “It’s like my second home now.”
Teaming with soundboard dynamos Razor & Guido, Eddie Baez, Gomi, Dom Capello, Johnny Vicious & Tony Coluccio and his role model Junior Vasquez—all accomplished remixers in their own right—has elevated Escape’s career to the next level. “I bring what I do in the DJ booth into the studio,” Escape explains. “The same high-energy beat that you find on my dance floor is right there in my remixes and productions.”
From the studio it’s right back into the DJ booth and one of his resident spots in Brazil, Boston, Miami, or to play his signature style at a mega-party in Paris, Ibiza, Japan or Russia.
Wherever he is, if you’re on Escape’s dance floor, you’ll know it. There are dance floors, and then there is DJ Escape’s dance floor—and as anyone who’s spent a night moving to his high-energy sound can tell you, it’s not a place you’ll ever want to leave.