By Rebecca Bulnes
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By Chuck Strouse
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Edgar V. seems taken aback. Amid the quiet hum of the AC unit at the offices of Billboardlive, he's obviously surprised by the question of whether he's chosen not to pursue a more visible career as a global-circuit DJ.
"I want to," he says emphatically. "The opportunities just haven't been there yet." Yet being the key word. A Miami favorite on the club scene, Edgar had much to do with the success of Club Space, lording over Saturday nights for well over a year with his edgy take on trance mixed in with deep house, and will certainly have a similar effect for the revamped Billboardlive, where he is now the Saturday-night resident, having recently parted ways with Space.
When Billboardlive officially reopens in two weeks, just before the Winter Music Conference madhouse, look for Edgar to take full advantage of the spotlight. "It takes time, but of late I've been getting more recognition, playing Vandit in Berlin and Privelage in Ibiza," he says, ticking off trance hotspots. "It's definitely a path I want to pursue."
Like any game, DJing requires the "who you know" card, and Edgar is holding a royal flush: Both DJ legend Paul van Dyk and rising techno star Alex Gold are huge fans. Handpicked as the opener for van Dyk whenever he played Space, Edgar was invited to play the German star's club, Vandit, in Berlin. Likewise Gold saw Edgar's ability when he opened for him last year and invited him to Ibiza for a spin. "Those places were interesting to play at," Edgar says of his European tour. "Berlin is more techno-oriented, and at first the crowds weren't sure how to react to what I was playing. I play trance, but it's always mixed in with a lot of deep house. But they're very open-minded over there, and they got into it pretty quick." Just as the rest of the United States is catching on to the talents of Edgar and the Miami family of DJs.
"I think we're starting to get well-respected across the country," Edgar observes. "Everywhere I play, people know who I am and I think that comes with having a strong residency. When I was at Space, word got around the same as it did for [fellow Miami resident trance man] George [Acosta] and [former dance-crowd magnet] Shadow Lounge. When you have that weekly residency, people recognize you."
Album releases also help, and Edgar has just finished polishing off his latest CD, Trancemissions 2 (SFP Records), the much-anticipated followup to 2001's Trancemissions 1, a stellar compilation that began luring fans outside the Miami scene with its potent hooks, catchy vocals, and Euro aesthetic.
"Right now I'm incorporating more of the Dutch sound into what I play -- the Tiesto kind of style," Edgar confides. "I still get influenced by German techno, but Holland is really hot and it's having a big impact on what I and a lot of other DJs are spinning." The Dutch amplification of anthem breaks with heavy industrial backbeats is quickly becoming the flavor of the month in record crates across clubland.
Becoming so worldly was only a pipe dream when Edgar fled Union City, New Jersey, for the Florida tropics and found his interest in turntables. Confessing that DJing was just an "expensive hobby" when he first started, Edgar bided his time while working at local record stores until landing his first gig at Sammy O's swanky club at Washington and Sixth, Les Bains. From there he went on to work alongside George Acosta at the long-standing but now-defunct Euro institution Bash before securing his first residency at nearby KGB. The early fans of Edgar's style trusted him to steer clear of pop circumstance but knew he had to reach out with his deck techniques once his name began gaining recognition.
"Trance always had the best chance of being the commercial breakthrough for DJs," Edgar admits. "It incorporates melodies and has more space for vocals than say, something like jungle. I like it a lot, but I knew that to be original I would have to be open to other sounds as well."
As Edgar makes this pronouncement, local FM radio tiptoes into the field of electronica by watering down trance tracks with more commercial elements, as 93.1 (WTMI), 96.5 (WPOW), and 100.7 (WHYI) each take turns with tunes like iio's "Rapture." But, as is becoming evident, those who decry the soiling of such sounds also are the ones to blame. Hiding behind a chosen moniker only works when your sound is indistinguishable, but DJs are now becoming labeled for certain trends and won't be able to hide for long.
"I know a lot of the artists in Europe, and they'll have different names for different production credits," says Edgar of closet popularizers. "So if something does get overplayed and is somewhat mainstream, then their identity is protected."
Edgar himself doesn't see a problem with having a hit song, though. "Some songs are made for radio, but you also have underground hits that seep through," he explains. "Radio is always going to be commercial, but that shouldn't stop DJs from playing what they like."
And that doesn't mean DJs should get on the ego trip that has them spinning only their own remixes for hours on end. "I haven't produced as many tracks as I'd like to, but I'd never spin only my stuff anyway," he admits. "I'm very versatile with my sound."
Being more comfortable behind the decks than in the studio has kept Edgar from reaching that proverbial "next level," but in his opinion, such skills don't necessarily make one DJ better than another. "I'm starting to do more production, but I don't agree with the theory that in order to be taken seriously you have to produce a ton of tracks," he laments. "Personally I don't want to be tied to the studio and thinking, Oh, I have to pump out a track every week. This industry is too cutthroat anyway. Sometimes you'll do all this work and end up getting screwed over by the label, so it's all for nothing. I'm fine doing just a couple of records a year. Little by little I'm getting my foot further in the door."