New York City DJ/producer Eric Duncan came of age in Los Angeles during the '80s in a home crowded with thousands of records and parents who liked to throw raging parties. So it's not a shocker that he developed into a key figure in today's clubscape. A crucial meeting with Beastie Boys producer Mario Caldato Jr. further broadened Duncan's knowledge. "Mario turned me on to tons of cool stuff in the early '90s: Latin records, Brazilian stuff, weird rock things," Duncan enthuses. All of which led to Duncan becoming a member of DFA Records group Still Going (with Olivier Spencer) and occupying half of the popular DJ/production team Rub-n-Tug (with Thomas Bullock), while maintaining a solo project as Dr. Dunks.
With Still Going, Duncan helps to create some of the world's classiest nu-disco jams. James Murphy and Pat Mahoney sagely selected the elegantly cruising "Still Going Theme" for their Fabriclive 36 mix, while "Untitled Love"—featuring a thoughtful, subdued vocal performance by ex-Seattleite Reggie Watts—reveals the duo's ability to craft more contemplative material à la Tangerine Dream's finer soundtrack work. Still Going reached a new peak with 2009's "Spaghetti Circus," on which Watts supplies robust soul exhortations and ex–Hercules and Love Affair bassist Andrew Raposo leverages a throbbing, urgent riff. The track evokes some muscular, pumping Frankie Goes to Hollywood–ish action.
As for his DJing exploits, Duncan—with Rub-n-Tug partner Bullock—earned the privilege to record a mix for prestigious British label Fabric (Fabric 30); the disc offers a hedonistic yet controlled array of foxy disco and slinky tech-house, including cuts by Claude VonStroke, Röyksopp (remixed by Emperor Machine), Âme, and Shit Robot's charming Italodisco remix of Dondolo's "Dragon." By contrast, Rub-n-Tug's Campfire mix from 2005 covers a lot of chronological ground but is possibly the sloppiest, rawest mix CD ever—and damn exhilarating, actually. Greek psych-rockers Aphrodite's Child and '70s pop-soul troupe Hot Chocolate share space with modern beat-masters like Daniel Wang and Mr. Cisco; it's far from seamless, but it is effective.
"The Campfire mix was done live at the Passerby, a now-closed bar/gallery in Manhattan where I played every Saturday night for about two years," Duncan explains. "That place was sooo crazy. It was a tiny bar with a full-on Saturday Night Fever disco floor. People would dance on the bar, falling all over the place... walls literally dripping with sweat. I would get there at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night and sometimes play the last record around 10:00 a.m. Sunday. That's the reason that mix is so all over the place. Now the Fabric mix, on the other hand, was geared more toward the clubs. Those were records we were playing out at the time of the mix, more current stuff, and it was mixed in a bedroom DJ setting, so [it was] much smoother and less hectic."
Expect a spontaneous combination of smooth and hectic—and eclectic—when Duncan hits Seattle.
Eric Duncan, Trouble Dicso DJs perform Fri Nov 27, Re-bar, 10 pm, $8, 21+.