Electronic Directory represents Underground Resistance, featuring interview with Esteban Adame, half of ICAN.
Esteban Adame Biography
Esteban Adame started his musical career at age 15, Djing at local house parties in and around Los Angeles. He would soon be introduced to underground music. There he was turned on to the house and techno sounds that intrigued him at the time. Soon he found himself producing his own beats and would eventually be inspired by the keyboard solos that he heard on several of his records and wanted to do the same. He began his formal training in music at the age of 19 and took a hiatus from DJ’ing and producing. At 21 he just focused on his instrument, the Piano. Since the age of 23 Esteban has played with and accompanied some of the top Latin, Jazz and Soul acts in Los Angeles and abroad.
Interview with Esteban Adame by Kazuumi Ishii
Let’s start with something stupid. Explain how you first got started with electronic music as well as electronic music production.
I started DJing when I was 15 which lead me to start producing tracks. Not knowing anything about music I decided to take a piano class at the University. That is how I fell in love with the Piano and started studying music fomally which eventually lead me into production.
Are there any non electronic influences you have that are reflected in your electronic productions ?
Oh Yeah. I’m a big jazz head, so harmonically I’m constatntly influenced by it. Of course funk and soul also play a huge roll, but I try to take as much as I can from my own Hispanic heritage and incorporate it into my music.
As an artist who has delved in both electronic and non-electronic music, how would you say that the two relate to one another and in which ways are they different ?
Since electronic music lends it self to many genres of music, I would say that they that the non-electronic genres relate to electronic music in that way. In other words, you can incorporate in one way or another a Samba, a Tango, even Native American music (like Mad Mike has done) into electronic music, and if done tastefully, you can come up with a successful fusion of the two worlds. This is what Mad Mike likes to call "Electrifying your roots." That’s one of the many lessons I learned from him.
For those out there unfamiliar with your productions, please describe them in one sentence or less.
My (our, ICAN) productions are a fusion of Latin rhythms, Soul and Jazz, with Techno and House.
How did you guys meet and get ICAN together ?
We met when I was in college, I was working at a record shop that Santiago frequented. We both shared an interest in House music and techno so this lead to us trying to produce music at the same time. This was before the computer days. We had really crude studios. I had an MC-303, an old Alesis drum machine, and an Emu Sampler. We kept in touch even when he lived in Detroit and in the end we decided it was time to start our own lable.
The ICAN spirit is almost one of anything goes musically. With this in mind, which artists and/or records have made a hefty impression on your own over the years ?
Mad Mike, Kerri Chandler, Gerald Mitchel, Masters At Work, Claude Young. Carl Craig, Kraftwerk, Jeff Mills, Lil’ Louis, To name few.
On some of your tracks like "Echo Park" and "Caminos del Niño", it also credits Dan Caballero. How did this collaboration came about ?
Santi and I came up with Dex (Danny Caballero). He also moved to Detroit and lived there to work for Submerge and UR. We wanted to give the track to some one with great mixing skills, and Danny was the guy for the job. He did a great job.
What direction have you guys taken for your (ICAN) forthcoming second single on Planet E ?
We collaborated with Cuban Vocalist/Percussion Jose "Perico" Hernandez. It is a track that fuses a Cuban call and response concept with techno and soul. I hope track does well. It should be out in September 2008.
So, when did you first meet Mike and/or Gerald and join the UR/Los Hermanos roster ?
I meet Mike in 2003 when I went to visit Danny and Santiago in Detriot, on that trip I met Mike and Gerald. Mike found out that I played Keyboards and asked me to be apart of the band. Since then he has had me working pretty consistently.
How would you describe the relationship with UR/Los Hermanos ?
It’s a brotherhood. I look up to them as mentors as well as friends. We still work together and hang out when we can. Its fun being in the band with them and being on the road with them.
You’ve been playing in a few different bands, such as Tuesday Night Squad, The Echo Park Project etc. What’s the difference between each of them ?
Yeah, the Tuesday Night Squad is a Jazz Funk group that Ive been working with for the past year. We just recorded our first album entitled "We are the Squad" which should be out at the end of 2008 or early 2009. In it we have a live version of "Hi Tech Jazz," which has Mad Mike’s stamp of approval. The Echo Park Park prodject is a salsa group whose sound is very 70′s New York. I have recorded on the their two albums and I perform with them regularly. There next album comes out late 2008 early 2009. Look out for it.
How do you put Tuesday Night Squad in a Latin context ?
Hmmmm. The squad is not really a latin band. We have one tune that has the latin tinge but not really. The squad is more Jazz Funk based. Although we are not opposed to doing Latin tunes I think that one will arise eventually.
How did you all hook up ?
I meet the Bass player, Akio Martinez, and the guitar player, Andres Torres while I was at the university. We were class mates and we were constantly playing together. They asked me to join a live hip hop band one day and I agreed. The band was trying out a new drummer but eventually we all left that band and formed the squad. It was a good move.
How similar do you feel your musical styles are ?
The cool thing about the Squad is that we all come from different musical backgrounds and in some ways different cultures. But we share a common interest in Jazz, Soul, Funk, Latin, and Electronic music that brings us together. I think that is how we get our sound.
How well do you all get on ? Any punch-ups yet ?
HAHA ! Naw, no punch ups yet. We have had some disagreements but we are like brothers and siblings do disagree from time to time. That’s about it though.
What was it you were doing on Iris Sandra Cepeda’s new album ?
I have worked with Iris in a latin setting for a long time, and we came up with the idea to do an album for her outside of latin music.
How would you describe the sound on Iris Sandra Cepeda’s new album ?
I would describe it as R&B in Spanish. That is the angle we are going for. It’s a fusion of modern soul with Latin elements. We are hoping that the album does well. It should be out the beginning of 2009.
What are 3 things that float your boat besides electronic (dance) music ?
I love to jog. It has been a love of mine for a long time. I even get a lot of ideas when I’m out jogging. It’s a great stress reliever. I am a huge baseball fan. I try to make the Dodger game as much as I can and I play it as well. And spending time with the family definitely floats my boat. They are my biggest fans.
Would you ever want to produce a score of music for a film ?
Oh Yeah ! In fact I did two years ago. The movie was called The Big Deal. It was my first time scoring a full length feature film and it was a lot of fun. I’m actually in the process of reading a script for my next film that the writer/director Vic Cabrera wants me to score.
Alright Esteban, thank you very much for this interview. Any final words ?
I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to do this interview and I hope that we can meet when I am in Japan. Also, I would like to thank all the people at Underground Resistance, Planet E, Underground Gallery, Cisco, ICAN and all those that support what I do….. Hi MOM !!!!!!!!
Hot on the heels of their hi-tech-latin masterpiece "Caminos del Niño", ICAN boys return to Planet E with Jose ‘Perico’ Hernandez
Ican – Pa’ Mi Gente [Planet E]
Absolutely stunning "Chiclet’s Theme" – I have been playing this for months now. Oh oh ! Santiago and Esteban deliver a stunning eight minutes of analogue techno wonderment. A real techno soul with a gorgeous strings hook that really rocks the spot on a visceral level. One of the best things Ican boys have ever done. The A-side Pá Mi Gente is a fantastic dancefloor latin / techno hybrid thing as always, but it shows amazing maturity and class. And Carl Craig has delivered a corking dub mix for this BRILLIANT single too.
- A1. Pa’ Mi Gente (Vocal mix)
- A2. Pa’ Mi Gente (C2 Dub mix)
- B1. Chiclet’s Theme
A Quien, 12"
Planet E (2006)
Si Se Puede – E.P., 12"
Ican Productions (2006)
Echo Park – E.P., 12"
Ican Productions (2007)
División Del Norte E.P., 12"
Ican Productions (2007)
Caminos del Niño E.P., 12"
Ican Producitons (2008)