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[whitespace] DJ Nobody Like Nobody's Business: DJ Nobody is among the who's who of the L.A. underground sound.

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As his latest album proves, multitalented DJ Nobody is somebody to watch

By Marianne Messina

ELVIN ESTELA, better known as "Nobody," is a live DJ, an online radio programmer (www.dublab.com), and a producer with a new CD called Soulmates out on Ubiquity Records. When he performs around the Bay Area this week, he will wear most of these hats. First, he'll be DJ-ing the CNN-covered tenth anniversary party for Ubiquity, a rising San Francisco indie label that's a little urban, a little West Coast, and a lot progressive.

"While I was working on the record, they were never like 'yo,there's not anything dancy; there's not anything hip-hop enough,' " DJ Nobody says of his label. "They really pushed me to just do whatever I want and take it out there, so they're pretty cool." It was also Ubiquity who encouraged the artist to don his second hat, that of producer--actually reproducer--and attempt to render the heavily engineered Soulmates live.

"What you don't see often," says Ubiquity spokesperson Vinnie Esparza, "is a producer like that actually taking the show live with real musicians. Usually with a record that's created solely in the studio, while it can be possible to create it live, oftentimes it's really difficult. Sometimes it doesn't work out."

Soulmates will certainly provide some challenges. Five parts spoken-word and 13 parts instrumental, the album's 18 tracks put ambient flesh and blood on hip-hop bones within the spirit of jazz. As a result, Nobody's been deemed a scion of Sun Ra (renegade snare and high-hat events, flyaway instrument sounds), and the music's been dubbed "shoegazer," (moody, like a blend of hanging the head and contemplating the navel). In any event, DJ Nobody's production puts severe torsion on the commonplace, creating a lexicon of sounds reminiscent of anything from trash cans to broken glass to submarine hulls creaking.

One of the most evocative tracks is "Sun Child," a diminutive song (43 seconds) with a diminutive voice echoing prettily over dreamy piano chords, while a bass glides--lost, fretless, erratic--between the ambivalent cymbal rhythm and the odd snare that skitters through it. Timing issues alone would make this piece a monster to reproduce. Add the multilayered effects and dueling scratch tables of other Soulmates cuts and you have a glimmer of what DJ Nobody has taken on. "I have to do the records, I have to do the samples, and I have to mix live, so for me it can get kinda hectic," he admits, adding, "It's almost kind of cool 'cause every time we do it, it comes out just a little different."

And it involves three other musicians (bass, keyboard and guitar), plus psychedelic videos. For many hip-hop producers, making music is a solitary affair, man and machine. "As far as making tracks and stuff," says DJ Fresh, "I do everything on my computer." Fresh, a local talent who has himself produced a CD's worth of tracks, will be wearing the DJ hat when he opens for Nobody's San Jose show at the MACLA Gallery.

So far, the transition from hermit/wizard to group performer is going well for Nobody. "I've never done this ever before in my life, so it's really fun." Not to worry. DJ Nobody still thinks very much like a producer. When asked if he will bring MCs along to cover the five songs with lyrics (Soulmates guest stars include the Freestyle Fellowship crew and award-winning lady MC Medusa), Nobody replies, unconcerned, "We might have someone." And when asked in what direction he's taking his music, does he say writing lyrics, working with a crew, a band, an MC? Hell, no. "I kind of want to do a lot more processing with the samples ... The same kind of sound I get but get a little more technical with it. Lots of distortion and weirdness."

Nobody is DJ-ing for the Ubiquity Party at Bimbo's in San Francisco, Thursday, Nov. 30. He plays his live show Friday, Dec. 1, at 10:30pm at MACLA, 510 S. First St, San Jose. Tickets are $7. (408.998.ARTE or 408.295.7374)

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From the November 30-December 6, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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