Growing up in Bristol, Eli Brown was exposed to a proper underground dance music scene. These experiential days sparked an appreciation for music production, so much so that he decided to start a career of his own.
Entranced by drum & bass, Brown began his music career under a different alias, creating songs in the genre for 15 years. Due to the frenetic nature of drum & bass, "There are limitations in what you can and cannot do," Brown told EDM.com, which left him feeling uninspired.
He ultimately decided to pivot and began experimenting with new sounds, discovering a love for house and techno. "With house and techno you can do more as there is less of a constraint within a tempo and genre," he explained.
Producing music in a new domain was a major undertaking, but Brown gained recognition early on when he sent his first house track to electronic music legend Skream in 2016. Brown's Can You Feel It/Acid Test EP was then signed to the Of Unsound Mind label. This initial validation sparked motivation for him to continue writing house tracks before eventually branching into techno.
In the past few years, Brown has produced massive collaborative pieces with some revered names in the industry, including Solardo, Green Velvet, and Calvin Harris, among others—not to mention remixes for the likes of Tchami, Gorgon City, Fisher, and Dom Dolla. Despite the mainstream popularity of some of his track releases, however, Brown strives to create underground sounds.
On March 18th, 2021, Insomniac announced a new imprint called Factory 93 Records. Dedicated to showcasing underground music—specifically house and techno—Brown represented the quintessential producer to launch the new label with the release of his latest EP, Escape.
Prior to the release of Escape, Eli Brown caught up with EDM.com to chat about the story behind the EP and debuting Insomniac's new label.
EDM.com: Let’s talk about your new releases. Can you tell us about the three tracks in your Escape EP, and specifically the inspiration behind each one?
Eli Brown: These tracks were written over the span of 18 months, “Morning Light” was the first one. I just started off really inspired by the melodic techno sound and I have done subsequently quite a lot of music that is similar in terms of its sound.
"Escape" is a much harder tune, dance-floor heavy techno. Again, one of the first tunes that I have done that was this hard. Like I talked about earlier, it was nice not being confined by any boundaries, so I really enjoyed having the freedom to experiment and push myself in that direction and "Escape" is what came out.
"My House" is the most recent one, I wrote that during lockdown so I have never played that one out. I just wanted to make a high-energy, jacking, rolling sort of tune that fit somewhere in between techno and tech house because my sets usually deviate between those. Having this sort of tune to bridge the gaps are very useful. I enjoy playing that sort of music because it is rolling and you can have lots of tunes playing at the same time. I really wanted something to fit in my set, and "My House" was the one that fit the bill and makes up the rest of the EP.
I think it’s a really exciting EP for me because it is quite diverse, its got three very stylistically different tunes, but I think they represent this Factory 93 sound pretty well which is why I thought it was a great thing to give these releases to the label.
EDM.com: Your Escape EP is set to be the debut release on Insomniac’s brand new underground label, Factory 93 Records. How did this opportunity come about?
Eli Brown: I’ve been playing for the Insomniac guys for some time now and as my music has got a little bit harder. I’ve moved into the Factory 93 sound at these festivals. When they were setting up their label, they reached out to my management to see if I was interested. I just sent them some tracks and it all fell into place really easily.
It’s wicked because I love playing at their events and I love the guys at Insomniac. I have been a part of playing there for some time under my drum and bass alias, so it’s been a long standing relationship. It’s great to finally release some music with them.
EDM.com: What excites you about working with Insomniac on this?
Eli Brown: I think launching a label is always a great thing and to be the first release and artist to grace the label is a wicked opportunity because in North America, particularly, Insomniac is such a big brand. Everyone will be looking at that label to see what they will be bringing, so it’s great to be that first act that they release on there. I think the tracks are really well suited for the label, and I think it's a strong EP, so I am excited to get it out.
EDM.com: In having a label devoted to underground music, do you feel this defeats the purpose by making it more accessible, or is it exciting to share these underground treasures with the world?
Eli Brown: I love underground music and I class most of what I write as underground to an extent. I think any producer wants people to hear their music. Certainly for me, I want my music to reach as many people as possible, whether it’s underground or not. It doesn’t change the fact that I still want people to hear it.
I think someone like Insomniac is a great brand to do that because they totally support the underground in a really credible fashion. The brand is so big too that it opens up people like myself who do play more underground sounds to a wider audience, which is ultimately what we want.
EDM.com: Speaking of the world, how has your approach to the studio changed during this period of isolation?
Eli Brown: It's been good, I’ve always been quite prolific in terms of writing music, even when Ive been traveling and DJing a lot. But, it's definitely given me the freedom to experiment and explore a lot more.
Initially, when it first happened, it was a bit of a difficult transition in terms of not having clubs to test music. I get a lot of my inspiration from DJing and playing out and hearing other DJs and that sort of thing, so that side of it has been difficult. But, I think overall it's been a really productive year because I’ve pretty much got releases lined up for the rest of this year. Just keen to get back on the road now.
EDM.com: What have you been doing to stay motivated and inspired?
Eli Brown: I love writing music and I am always inspired by something. I was watching a movie the other night, and there was a soundtrack that was inspiring. I still download music and still do sets for the radio show that I have once a month, so I am consistently listening to things and that keeps my inspiration levels pretty high.
You can find Escape on streaming platforms here.