The word “veteran” gets tossed around a lot these days, but when it comes to DJ Earic Patten, the word barely scratches the surface. Washington, D.C. based Patten began DJing in 1989 and quickly became one of the D.C. area’s most important and influential DJs. With a residency at the legendary Tracks D.C. nightclub, Patten played for thousands every Thursday and Friday night and catapulted Tracks to become one of the most popular nightclubs on the East Coast throughout the 1990s.
Most DJs would call such a stint the pinnacle of their career, but Patten takes a humbler approach stating: “It is my career as a whole that I relish the most…those that come to see me play and enjoy what I do make my career my moment.”
Melding everything from house to techno, Patten would take club goers on what he liked to call “a journey.” Patten describes his DJ style as “the ride,” during which he bases his mixes not on a predetermined list of songs to play, but rather the vibe of the venue he’s playing. “I take pride in the fact that I don’t, and won’t, ever pre-record or predetermine what is played. I come prepared to play, and play in a way that the crowd dictates where they want to go. I let THEM be the conductor, and I’m the fuel and vessel to take them there. At times, the crowd concedes and allows me to take them to a place they didn’t know they wanted to go until they got there! It’s ALWAYS about those in front of me on the dance floor. They are my true inspiration and their reactions to what I am doing on the decks give me my life!”
During his residency at Tracks D.C., Patten introduced his crowds to new music and artists, including co-productions of original music released on prestigious labels of house music such as Strictly Rhythm and Dancefloor Records. He has also been credited by many in the Music Industry for “Breaking” new genres in the United States and by Artist for catapulting their careers to the next level.
Among the producers and DJs who have influenced Patten over the years are Maurice Joshua, Todd Terry, Junior Vasquez, David Morales, Oscar G, Sam “The Man” Burns, BT, Dubfire, Victor Imbres, Hex Hector and Armin Van Buuren.
Personal and family commitments prompted Patten to step away from DJing and the music industry in general in 1998, but he is now staging his return, and has been making waves throughout 2013, playing key venues and festivals. Patten readily admits that the dance music scene has changed significantly thanks to a combination of radio embracing electronic dance music and making it ubiquitous. Recognizing that a lot of nightclubs have replaced dance floors with plush sofas, lost focus of the importance of the connection of the light show, and adding bottle service presented with sparklers. “Once this happened, nightlife shifted from true club goers DANCING and FEELING the music to people standing or sitting around, more concerned with being SEEN and buried in their smartphones,” Patten says.
Patten adds that he is encouraged how dance music has evolved against this backdrop because of how many subgroups of dance music have be created allowing him to once again take people on “the ride.” “I love a lot of what’s out there and I am also happy that dance music is now considered a radio format,” he said. “I enjoy playing festival style music at EDM events just as much as I do house music in an intimate club environment. It is because of the evolution that electronic dance music has made over the years that I am able to play so many different kinds of events without pigeonholing myself into being a certain kind of DJ. This is what I love most, this is what music is all about, all styles of music reaching everyone, regardless of color, race, sexual orientation or economic status. With music we are all able to come together, even if it’s just for that moment…..free of any judgment, to feel the vibe”
2014 will mark Patten’s return Washington, D.C., a “homecoming” of sorts and where he will do his part to restore order in D.C.’s nightlife and return it to its former glory. If history repeats itself, great things are in store for the lovers of music and seekers of an “experience” when going out at night.