by Matt Kalkhoff

How is it that some DJs get booked for numerous parties around the globe yet still have trouble landing a gig in their own hometown? Such has been the case in recent years for New York-based DJ Escape, but that’s all about to change. On Friday, November 9th, Escape (a/k/a Jeff Jonas) will take his place at the helm of Joy’s turntables for the weekly Do It party.

The 23-year-old native New Yorker has been mesmerizing crowds for a decade now with his bass-driven blend of tribal beats and vocal anthems. Revelers in just about every major North American city can attest to his popularity, but New York has proven more elusive for Escape since his residency at Life ended a few years ago.

“I just don’t understand how certain promoters can book the same DJ week after week or even two nights in a row when there are so many other talented DJs out there,” he muses. “But I’m very happy that I finally have a chance to play here in New York City again.”

Perhaps Escape has been so patient because his already overflowing schedule keeps him immersed in Manhattan’s dance music scene. Despite traveling most weekends, he somehow found time to work in the studio with Junior Vasquez (Junior’s “Be Quiet” and CeCe Peniston’s “Finally 2000”), produce his own original tracks (“Everybody Get Up,” “People Get Down,” “Wer*ship” and “Music Take Me Higher”) and coordinate A&R for sizzling indie label Groovilicious (of the Strictly Rhythm family).

One of Escape’s more prominent signings is Sono’s “Keep Control,” a record that has dominated Billboard’s dance charts in 2001. Poised for similar success are Inaya Day’s new single, “Can’t Stop Dancin’,” and DJ Disciple’s “Caught Up” (“my favorite record right now,” Escape reveals). Expect to hear both at Joy on Friday, the latter freshly remixed by Guido (formerly of Razor ‘N Guido) and destined to become an anthem of the highest order (maybe even as big as Vernessa Mitchell’s “This Joy?”). Other new records to listen for are “The More I Love You” by Andrea Martin, Kim English’s “Everyday” and the Victor Caldrone remix of “Bring It To Me” by Dreamworks’ latin girl-group Soluna.

Escape is hoping to land another residency in New York City, but until that happens he’ll keep himself busy mixing the next Ultimate Afterhours compilation (Volume 1 of the series and his Party Time 2000 and 2001 CDs – all Groovilicious releases – are top sellers) and establishing a radio mix show in New York City similar to Pete Tong’s Essential Mix on the BBC’s Radio 1.

He is clearly enjoying his phenomenal success behind the scenes, but Escape is most animated when talking about his live DJ sets. “I love the reactions I get when I play gay venues,” he says. “Working the crowd and getting energy off of them, that is the best.”

© 2001 Matt Kalkhoff
This profile was featured in the Nov. 9, 2001 issue of NEXT Magazine