The glitz. The glamour. The guest list: It's easy to see why many people strive to become Chicago's next big DJ or nightlife darling. But few have the foresight to look beyond the free drinks, like Matt Roan and Emilio Abadia (aka DJ E-SIX) did when they launched the company Crossfader King. Together, they bring cutting-edge club jams, throw fun parties and remain focused on the business side of things.
"We're not selling DJing," says Abadia. "You look at car commercials or shoe commercials, and there's some cute person with headphones and that's not really us. We're selling the idea of entertaining people with good music and fun music. We put a unique twist on it and that's our business."
Both Roan and Abadia, who blend genres effortlessly during their DJ sets, sort of stumbled into club culture from rock 'n' roll beginnings. Roan has been in what he calls "many terrible bands" but became interested in DJing after getting a chance to get behind the decks at a Puma store where he worked. Abadia moved from Daytona Beach to Chicago in 2004 for a band, and he immediately felt drawn to the DJing culture here. When the owner of Funky Buddha Lounge heard him spin at a loft party, he offered Abadia a residency.
Abadia approached Roan about working together after seeing him DJ at his former Saturday night Tuman's [2159 W. Chicago] party, Let's Get Physical. Now that they've joined together as Crossfader King, they play monthly parties in Atlanta and Milwaukee, and are in talks to start residencies in other states. They also DJ at Empire Liquors, throw the popular Dance Party Magic and Bottle Service events, and are the musical coordinators for the newly revamped Le Passage, bringing in hot DJs, like Morse Code and Eli Escobar, and introducing cutting-edge video technology.
"When Matt and I DJ together, it's not just a DJ duo, it's a two-by-four collaboration," says Abadia. "There's four turntables and usually two are video turntables. We can actually sync audio and video together. We have guests help us edit or curate videos, so that it's always fresh and original. We're using video, light manipulation and edited stuff to tell a story at night."
What's your favorite track of the moment?
Matt Roan: Don Rimini's "Let Me Back Up" Crookers remix.
Emilio Abadia: DJ Orgasmic remix of "Feels Like St. Tropez" by Kanye West.
MR: Graduation is really good.
EA: The Justice album [Cross] is absolutely insane.
What's your favorite hidden gem in Chicago?
MR: Village Pizza. Go see old man Johnny just swearing at that poor lady behind the counter.
EA: That's no joke. It's somewhere between a Saturday Night Live skit and The Twilight Zone.
If you could throw a party anywhere in Chicago...
MR: On a boat, on the lake with the skyline and fireworks in the background.
What's your signature drink?
MR: Anything and vodka, really. The girlier the better. If it doesn't taste like gum, I don't want to drink it. [Laughs.]
EA: Vodka and 7-Up with no lime or a straw.