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Egyptian Lover

King of the 808

Egyptian Lover emerged in the 80s as a pioneer of electro with tracks like ďEgypt, Egypt", ďWhat is a DJ If He Canít Scratch", and ďFreak-A-Holic". Now, nearly 25 years later, the Los Angeles-based DJ/Producer is celebrating a resurgence in popularity in the United States with club dates, including an opening slot on M.I.A.ís recent tour. Egyptian Lover returns to San Francisco with his 808 drum machine -- a piece of equipment that he helped introduce to the hip hop masses -- for a performance at Mezzanine July 11th. He spoke with SF Station during a phone interview from Los Angeles.

SF Station (SFS): How do you keep from getting burned out after doing late-night club gigs all these years?

Egyptian Lover (EL): Just seeing all of the different kinds of people dance. Iíve seen people from all over the world -- from different cultures and religions -- dancing to the same type of music. Itís a wonderful feeling.

SFS: Are you surprised by the recent resurgence of electro, especially among the rock crowd?

EL: Iím not surprised, because radio stations and mix shows always include a little old school hip hop and electro funk. Itís what everyone grew up on, so when DJs and producers like Timberland put it back out there, itís because they love it. Itís a wonderful feeling for me because everything goes in a circle, and itís that time again.

SFS: Are a lot more people coming to your shows?

EL: Definitely. In Europe it was always a phat crowd, but now, in the United States it is more of a younger generation -- people that have never heard it before. Itís cool to see a new generation.

I just did a tour with M.I.A. and her whole audience was all young college kids who had never heard of me. It was a really great response. All of these kids would say, ďMan, these are some bad beats,Ē and then I would tell them that Iíve been around for 25 years.

SFS: How did you link up with M.I.A.?

EL: Iím getting ready to produce some songs on her new album. To get a feel for who she is and what she does, I went on tour for five or six shows to check it out.

SFS: Did you hear that she said she is retiring at Bonnaroo?

EL: I doubt it.

SFS: Do you still make beats with an 808?

EL: Oh yeah. When Iím at Mezzanine on July 11th, Iíll bring the 808. The 808 is an analog drum machine and there is nothing that can duplicate it. It sounds so good in the club, especially at a club with a good sound system like Mezzanine. It makes people just want to dance and get on the floor. It has soul and everything else is like a clone. Iím bringing it and itís gonna be rockiní.

SFS: And then you are off to Europe.

EL: Iím in Europe probably every three months. I have a big following out there so I try to get to them when I can.

SFS: Why is your following so big out there?

EL: I think itís because electronic music probably was invented out there by Kraftwerk. They are huge out there -- probably bigger than in the United States. All the young kids out there follow the music from the United States and the pioneers from the West Coast. They really do their homework and they truly love the producers. When I go out there itís a true welcoming, and I really like that.

SFS: What do you think when you look back at some of the videos that are popping up on the Internet, like ďFreak-A-HolicĒ?

EL: It was cool. People are loving it; itís old school and vintage. You had to be in that era to really appreciate what it is. We really had fun growing up in that era. It was great time to live.

SFS: What do you think about the rap and hip hop that is coming out now?

EL: Thereís all kinds of rap -- I really like certain rap and there is rap that I can hear once or twice before Iím done with it. I think we need better producers and songs that donít sound exactly the same over and over again. We need producers that really feel the music.

Egyptian Lover performs July 11th at Mezzanine with Newcleus. Admission is $12 and doors open at 9pm.