Esa: The ‘Wednesday Alternative’ Mix

5 Minute Read
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Recorded live at Sub Club on a raucous Saturday night – Esa does the business.

Esa is a producer, musician and DJ who has never been one to sit still. He is always working on something exciting and seems to draw strength from collaboration and the creativity of others as much as he does himself. Over the years he has released music on the likes of Highlife, Local Talk, Dekmantel, Bronswood, Endless Flight and many more – his sound evolving based upon his external influences and discoveries of late.

Based in London, he is incredibly well travelled and has worked alongside a number of musicians and bands, seeking to broaden his musical horizons and draw upon the roots of the sound and cultures which have informed his tastes.


As a DJ Esa is well versed, honing his craft on dancefloors in Glasgow where he held his first residency at the infamous Subculture. It is here that this mixtape was recorded, his return to the party earlier this year was a triumphant tour de force showcasing just how far Esa has come as an artist.

This mixtape spans a wide variety of styles and sounds but most importantly is destined to keep you moving and dancing throughout. Sometimes live sets don’t make much sense out of context, yet in this case there is something special captured in the sound which makes you feel like you are right down the front banging that old Sub Club booth.

Listen and read the interview below:

Who are you, where are you and what are you?

My name is Esa Williams currently at home in London. I’m a DJ, Producer, and Band Leader.

How would you describe your music, and can you provide a visual representation of it?

My music is diverse and influenced by various cultures from around the world. It revolves around rediscovering the past, contextualising the present, and creating a path for the future.

Where was the mix recorded?

This mix is a live recording of my DJ set at Sub Club in Glasgow earlier this year. It was special for me as it marked my return to Subculture, the club night where I held my first DJ residency with Harri & Domenic and where I developed my skills during my formative years.

What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?

Since this is a live recording from the Sub Club, it provides a glimpse into what you could experience when you visit the venue. Additionally, I have begun a new residency there, the perfect club to further showcase and share my music, with a focus on the incredible body-sonic sound system.

What should we be wearing?

Dress to sweat.

What would be your dream setting to record a mix: location/system/format?

My dream location to record a mix would have been the Paradise Garage, on the sound system that revolutionised the clubbing experience. It was a high-fidelity sound system on its 5,000-square-foot dance floor fine-tuned using scientifically researched acoustic principles. The format would have been vinyl to reel-to-reel in that legendary booth.

Which track in the mix is your current favourite?

While all the tracks in the mix are great, from the classic Detroit techno favourites, to my friend Mim Suleiman’s club tracks, but my personal favourite is – Blast, a track which I collaborated on with Narch Beats and Pendo Zawose released in 2017. Not only is this a great club track, but it was also the first time I played it at the Sub Club. It resonated well on that sound system and with the crowd that evening.

What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?

It would have to be my 2017 Boiler Room set at Dekmantel festival. It was very different from this mix, a personal story telling affair which included music from South Africa, Haiti, Zanzibar, Guadeloupe, Brazil, Kenya, Uganda and Cuba.

If you could go back to back with any DJ from throughout history, who would it be and why?

Having mentioned the Paradise Garage and its legendary sound system, I cannot help but think of Larry Levan. He was a pioneer and a true master of his craft. To have had the opportunity to play back-to-back with him would have been a dream.

What was your first DJ set up at home and what is it now?

The very first setup I owned was my father’s custom sound system, two Telefunken TT100 direct drive turntables and a formula sound mixer. I now own and use a Condesa Carmen mixer, Technics 1210’s, and Genelec 8010 speakers for home listening and recording.

What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on?

Both the starting and ending track hold equal importance, and it’s ultimately depends on the context, the crowd and the event. Sometimes it’s beneficial to reset the dancefloor and similarly leave moments of anticipation at the end. As a performer, I always take the time to assess the situation and read the crowd.

What were the first and last records you bought?

The first record I owned was “Deep Inside” by Hardrive. The last I bought was “Staggering Heights” by Singers & Players from my local Oxfam.

If this mix was an edible thing, what would it taste like?

It would undoubtedly taste like various types of mushrooms 🙂

If it was an animal what would it be?

I’d say a lion – a majestic and dominant creature that exudes strength and power. Just as a lion prowls and hunts with purpose, a well-curated DJ mix should vibe with intention and direction, guiding the listener through a journey of soundscapes and emotions. This mix builds and drops like a lion stalking its prey, with each transition creating a sense of anticipation and excitement. A lion is also known for its roar, which serves as a warning of its presence and strength.

One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything?

I have many records that are impossible to mix because I prefer listening and enjoying them from start to finish. I’d say most of the new jazz artist/records coming out of South Africa, and one I’m currently enjoying is Malcolm Jiyane Tree-o – Umdali on Mushroom Hour Half Hour.

Upcoming in the world of…

I’m currently planning my upcoming Afro-Synth Band tour show for 2023 where we will be joined by South African kwaito legend – Kamazu again. We’re excited to expand our horizons performing in Australia, also showcasing at Potatohead in Bali as a Band for the first time. Additionally, I am proud to announce the launch of my record label, Aweh, which I’ve already released two 7” singles with new music forthcoming.