Ibiza clubbing: Nightmares on Wax – Shaping the future
George Evelyn, aka DJ E.A.S.E. of Nightmares on Wax has come a long way since his days of sitting outside youth clubs in Leeds while the reggae sound systems inside were making the windows shake. Ultimately leading him to reside permanently in Ibiza, his musical journey is about to hit the three-decade mark, coinciding with the release of his latest album Shape The Future and the ninth season of his party Wax Da Jam at iconic Ibiza venue Las Dalias.
Brimming with old-school Ibiza vibes, Wax Da Jam boasts an almost festival-like atmosphere – yet in an intimate environment – and attracts a free-spirited, up for it community of music lovers. In 2018, the party takes a more conscious turn, with George banning all plastic straws from each event inspired by the Oceanic Global non-profit organisation. In addition, Wax Da Jam raises money for the Last Night A DJ Saved My Life foundation – of which George is an ambassador – to help provide access to fresh water to people in need around the world.
Those who follow Nightmares on Wax on social media will know George is a frequent user of the hashtags #ilovemyreality and #iamgrateful and for every blessing he receives, he almost certainly gives back more. Continuing with his commitment to the LNADJ charity, George plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in September to help raise funds to build a home in Tanzania for children with special needs in single-parent families. This is definitely an artist who practices what he preaches.
Do you remember feeling your first connection to music?
It happened in 1977, when I was seven years old. In my neighbourhood there were a few reggae sound systems and some older guys were building speaker boxes across from my school. They had this thing called an Octipad, an electric drum machine that made all these sound effects and I was just blown away. At the same time, I remember seeing an album by an artist called Scientist that had cartoons on the sleeve, and I was attracted to that as well…
Surely you were too young to be involved in the scene then?
We weren’t old enough to go anywhere the reggae sound systems were playing, so I’d sit outside and listen to the windows rattle, developing a fantasy about having my own sound system. I was always fascinated with electronics and realised I could take the speakers out of the backs of old TVs, cut holes in shoeboxes and Sellotape them together. I somehow blagged a Fidelity turntable, set up eight speakers boxes and had my very first sound system in my bedroom. I called it Echo 45 – I think I was about ten years old then.
Who do you credit as influencing your musical style?
My mum and dad always had music in the house, and I was listening to dub and reggae music back then – the sound systems definitely influenced me, but I also had curiosity for the music my brothers and sisters listened to because I’m the youngest in the family. My sisters would go out disco dancing and they’d win records, and one time my sister came home with a cassette. I’d sneak into their rooms and play it, and it was all funk and soul – I remember being wowed by it. What really blew me away was Buffalo Girls by Malcolm McLaren.
What was it about that track?
I can remember the exact Thursday that it went to number one, and it was on Top Of The Pops. It was responsible for so much. I went to school the next day and everything had changed. People were break dancing and body popping – there was all this stuff going on in the video, graffiti, scratching, street dancers, things we knew nothing about. People talk about Rapper’s Delight being an important record – and of course it was – but as far as hip hop is concerned for me, THAT was the record. It was like a shift in consciousness. Suddenly I’d found something I was really, really into.
At what point did you start mixing yourself?
When I was about 13, I met a guy with two turntables, a double tape machine and a reel-to-reel, and he had a lot of new Wave and gothic records, plus loads of film dialogue, like Casablanca and Laurel and Hardy. I brought my collection of hip-hop and reggae and we started doing these crazy bedroom mega-mixes, and he said, “It sounds like a nightmare!” And I said, “Yeah, on wax!” It seemed a bit dark at the time, but we twisted it to mean to turn out your wildest dreams on vinyl. Eventually, around the time I was 15, he didn’t want to do it anymore, and I managed to get Kevin (Boy Wonder, my original partner in NOW), who was an amazing beat-boxer, to start mixing with me and one day I said: “Why don’t we call ourselves Nightmares on Wax?” and that was it.
How were you building up your record collection?
Kevin and I were DJing at a club called Downbeat, we’d get paid on a Monday and then go to Manchester to buy records. At the time, we were buying lots of old stuff, because of the influences from our brothers and sisters, we had a real funk, soul and disco connection and we were building up record collections at a time when people were getting rid of that type of music! People talk about breaks and beats in hip-hop, but we were searching for cuts. Hearing ‘I, 2, 3, 4,’ and finding out it was James Brown, then digging out his records… it opened up a whole new horizon of music to us. I still have it all today.
How did it feel when you started to see some success?
There’s something to say about being naïve, there’s an amazing attribute to it, just doing things from the heart. It was never about selling anything for us – just getting your music played in clubs and seeing the house rocking to your music was enough. When people started talking about chart positions, it threw us – you become conscious of it and it affects the way you make music. I remember the first track we ever made, called Let It Roll. When we first played it out, we crouched behind the DJ box because we couldn’t handle the excitement – we were laughing, it was scary, it was exciting and emotional. The room went ballistic and we must have rewound the track about eight times!
Do you still feel that way today, with new tracks?
Well, touring always makes me feel like I’m at the beginning again. But this time I can be aware of what I’m doing. I’ve done some amazing things over the years, but I can’t remember it all – now I want to be there in the moment and absorb every little bit of it all. I want to appreciate everything. I think I got to a point where I lost the naivety and the connection to who I was – even though I’d always been told you should never forget where you come from, that ghetto mentality.
When was this point?
From the period between 2000 and when I moved to Ibiza in 2006, I felt alienated from where I’d come from, I was reaping the benefits of success and having security – I was trying to make music but I really didn’t know who I was, where I was or what was going on. I felt like everything was clouded, and now, looking back over that period and reflecting, I can see why it was difficult for me. Now I have the understanding and the appreciation for what’s going on around me.
What made you decide to relocate from Leeds to Ibiza?
After getting married, my wife and I went back to our ‘dream home’ in Leeds and said to each other: “This is just bricks – it’s not who we are. Where do we love? Ibiza. Well, why don’t we move there?” I feel like I’ve come home in some sort of mystical sense. I feel like I’ve lived here before, there’s definitely a connection. When we first talked about moving here, everyone thought it was because of the music and clubs, but hand on my heart, it had nothing to do with that. I was moving here for quality of life and to make music in a different space. Now I don’t envisage being anywhere else.
It sounds like you experienced another shift of consciousness.
The whole thing has been healing. It’s not easy to really recognise what you’re doing. A lot of the times on this journey, you don’t stop to think about what you’re creating. You’re making music for fun, it’s your craft and you’re expressing something – but once it’s out there, it’s gone and it is affecting people. I met a couple who’d lost a friend in a car accident and they’d played his favourite song, Flip Your Lid, at his funeral. It made me become more aware of what I’m transmitting. Do I really want to share it and is it the truth? I know what music means to me, but I also need to think about what it will mean once I’ve put it out there…
Has being in Ibiza changed your relationship to your music?
First and foremost, I’m a music fan. Secondly I’m a DJ. Thirdly I’m a musician. I’ve got to remember those foundations, to be able to see these layers that allow me to do exactly what I’m doing now. Being in Ibiza has allowed me to do that. I connect back to all these layers and they keep me centred and strong. I know what music means to me and I appreciate it on a more integral level. Each album to me has been a discovery and a reflection, a mirror of where I’m at in life over a period of time through writing an album and touring. It’s inspiring my reality or affecting my outlook on things. The music I’m making now is the music I want to make.
Tell us about the process of creating Shape The Future.
I’ve journeyed both inwardly and outwardly all over the world; both physically and emotionally. I feel like I had to mature making this record, as it posed a lot of challenges along the way – more than I anticipated. You’re a different person each day so I could never make the same album again. Expressions change. I’ve brought in a lot of outside people including musicians and a lot of orchestration. It’s brought a lot of enrichment.
What keeps you here today?
I know exactly what keeps me here. The fact that I can ‘be’. I love the fact you can be anonymous here. I don’t mean that as a musician, I just mean it as a person. Until I got here I never really thought about what paradise means to me, and now I think it is being content with who you are. It’s a really fine line, because in paradise, people either get lost or found. And that’s how I see Ibiza – you can really self indulge yourself here, in all sorts of things, or you can totally find yourself and be completely blissful.
Tell us about the evolution of Wax Da Jam in 2018?
This year, Wax Da Jam continues to fly the conscious flag, and the theme is Shape The Future – the title of my eighth album – and the message is about expressing the changes we can make through the power of music and dance. For the events we will once again be working alongside the LNADJ foundation, and adopting the Oceanic standard of going straw-free at all our events. The ethos of Wax Da Jam is crowd participation – the people make the party – so where better to spread positive messages of change than here?
And how do you feel about the prospect of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for LNADJ?
I’m looking forward to this challenge on many levels – the first is the need to get fit while creating as much awareness as possible to help these one-parent families. It’s time for a life changing experience whist helping changing other peoples lives for the better. My life has taken another step higher (literally) in this reality.
Your schedule is so busy – do you get to enjoy any downtime?
If I’m not at home, it means I am off the island, working and the funny thing I’ve realised is just how much time I do get to have off. I spend that time with my family. We are so lucky being here in Ibiza, and to have the amount of concentrated time with my family that I do is very, very lucky. Our home is our sanctuary and we love nothing better than being there – that’s a sign of true happiness, isn’t it?
Wax Da Jam takes place at Las Dalias on June 28, July 19, August 16 and September 6, 2018 from 8pm until 4am.