On The Record: DJ EP
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
DJ EP is a true OG of the underground dance scene in Honolulu, unafraid to claim it as his own. A music man of deep commitment with wisdom gained through experience, the Kalihi-bred DJ has developed his know-how by living in the now, whether it be behind the decks or behind the scenes.
“Djing has made a huge impact in my life,” he said. “I have made life long friends, doing what I love to do. Not too many people can say that they are doing what they love to do for a career. I don’t think any of the youngsters could walk my path, as most don’t have the drive and discipline.”
Eric Agustin’s turntable ambitions are more than 15 years in the making. Press the rewind button, if you will, to when Agustin entered the local landscape of dance music at a time when it thrived at parties of less than 100 patrons, far off the beaten path with no desire to enter the mainstream realm.
“I was into the weird, out there stuff like techno when house and trance just started,” he said. “I like the harder, darker styles, but I do play some feel-good trance and house when need be.”
At this juncture of his career, he has shifted his focus away from personal accolades to helping the scene move forward. In terms of electronic music diehards, there’s no question Agustin is proud to be a lifer. He calls his musical tastes “strange” and “far from the norm.” His fascination for the hard-hitting, contagious thumps of UK hard house has provided a connection to today’s generation.
“He’s always excited about everything and so animated,” said longtime friend Jae Aguinaldo, aka DJ Jae Gurl.”One thing I notice about when he spins is that he goes for it, not trying to find the best mix, but making the best mix out of two songs that normal people wouldn’t try putting together.”
If you told Agustin 10 years ago that underground dance music would now be known by a three letter acronym and be the object of radio and pop culture desires, he would have called you crazy. Especially during a time when artists like 50 Cent and Fabulous dominated much of the consciousness of young people.
At first glance, electronic beats may have strayed far away from the tight-knit, underground frames of reference of years gone by. But upon closer examination, parallels from the present and the past do exist, Agustin said.
“For the most part it’s the same, it’s just that now everyone wants to hear what’s on the radio or just the hits,” he said. “Festivals just reinforce that by having the top DJs all playing a special remix of the same song.
“If you dug around you would find that it has a very wide appeal and just the openness of the scene gets the attention of the kids that are looking for a place to hang out with no judgments.”
Along with being a key component of local dance music promotion Pure Coalition’s efforts to bring top producers like Dash Berlin, Andy Moor, Gareth Emery and Aly and Fila to Oahu the last six years, Agustin is also an established sound engineer and provides many island DJs with their gear as sales manager at Creative Sound and Lighting in Kaneohe.
“I feel that it’s a little strange for the new and upcoming DJs, with today’s advancements and how the pop culture moves at the speed of light … somehow find it harder to get a real clean break into the scene.”
Today’s wide range of music sub-genres hasn’t altered his perspective too much. His eclectic style won’t change just for the sake of changing, he said.
“Some of it is not my cup of tea, but if done right it can sound amazing,” said Agustin. “Never would have thought that the highlight of the scene would be drugs and that retailers would make it cool and trendy and promote it heavily as it is in today’s market. We will still be here after the trend (passes).”
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.