Ebb & Flow is a DJ duo based out of Los Angeles, composed of Ankur Bulsara and Nick Freilich. They have shared stages with the likes of Dada Life, 3LAU, Kap Slap, and Jai Wolf, and their Mixcloud Radio Show, with over 10,000 followers, is among the most popular in LA. In their most recent performance, they opened up Insomniac’s Dada Life headlined festival, The Voyage, where their set converted an empty field to a space bursting with nearly two thousand dancing fans.
For more insight into the DJ duo, check out this excerpt from an interview Ankur and Nick gave Harold Lee for Frog House Quarterly earlier this year:
First of all, I have to know - which one of you is Ebb and which one of you is Flow?
Nick: I’m the ampersand. I bring things together - people, ideas, plans.
Ankur: And I’m the negative space. I remove unnecessary ingredients - songs, notes, people. Most importantly, I keep Nick’s impulse additions out of our mixes.
Nick: Most of them. “Ebb” and “Flow” each refer to the music, the shape of our sets and the shape of the songs we play. Tension and release.
That’s a way more convoluted answer than I expected. How does that play into your sets?
Nick: Well our sets are built around the idea that a mix is a story, with a beginning, middle, and an end. We don’t just want to play a bunch of jams in a row - you could get that experience on Soundcloud.
Ankur: We’re also very focused on the third song moments.
You mean your sets have more than one third song?
Ankur: No. Third song moments are what happens when we seamlessly bring together two tracks during a transition, and they combine to create what sounds like a third, completely different song. It’s the kind of stuff the best DJs do, guys like Prydz, or Above & Beyond, or Moby.
Nick: If our mixes have a really nice, dramatic shape, with climaxes, releases, and grooves, as well as a ton of great third song moments, we’ve succeeded.
Ankur: And edits. Lots of edits.
Edits by other DJs?
Ankur: No. As part of embracing the negative space, I look for opportunities to remove excess bars from songs, to keep them moving better. It’s okay to have lulls in your sets - you need time to take a step back and talk with your friends a bit - but a lot of tracks have fat that slows down the momentum. Over two thirds of the tracks we play in our sets are custom edits of ours.
Far out. Let’s take it back a bit. How did you two meet?
Nick: Ankur is CTO and co-founder of a company I joined in late 2012 called Scopely. It was our - at the time - vegetarian diets that eventually brought us together, and during one of our walks to lunch, upon discovering I had experience writing screenplays, Ankur pitched me a movie idea. That night I sent him several pages of notes. It was then he warmed up to me, and eventually we started talking about music.
Ankur: We were a much smaller company at the time, so naturally everyone interacted more frequently with everyone else. If he had joined the company a year or two later, we may never have met.
Congratulations on the enormity of your company’s success. How did notes on a screenplay turn into teaming up to make music?
Nick: It all began with a drop in the desert. On an absolute last-second whim, Ankur decided to join me for Coachella. It was my third year, and I was camping alongside my sister, so Ankur went out, bought a tent and a sleeping bag, and joined me in my car. On Friday, we got deep in the desert heat and the music and eventually started talking about what we loved doing, and ways we - in particular I, as Ankur quickly identifies these things in other people - could have a bigger impact on the world.
Ankur: We’d both made a bunch of music before. Nick wrote experimental electronica and was a classically trained percussionist. I was a drummer for a touring band, and had studied a ton of jazz. We both appreciated rhythm, and the power of music to change and move people.
Nick: The next night, Moby melted our faces off, and it was obvious - we were meant to make music together.
Ankur: It only took us another year or so after that to really get started.
Coachella - where dreams go to get dehydrated, take drugs, and catch a cold that lasts four weeks. Speaking of, what is your dream gig?
Nick: Mainstage Coachella. Either as headliner or the sunset set.
Ankur: Calvin [Harris] played one of the best sets I’ve ever seen Coachella 2014. It was a sunset set.
Nick: I’ve seen all sorts of DJs tear up the mainstage. Swedish House, Chemical Brothers, Calvin, Kaskade… Axwell and Ingrosso were amazing this year even though they were on the second stage.
Ankur: Nocturnal Wonderland. Ultra. EDC.
Ankur: And we’d do the same thing we saw R3hab do in 2014…
Nick: Play the first five minutes of our set without appearing on stage.
Ankur: The ultimate ghost DJ performance.
That’s incredible. I’ve always wondered if R3hab was a real person. Well, thanks again you guys. I really appreciate your time. I would stay longer, but I have to take Avicii’s helicopter to Ibiza.
Ankur: Seems like a long flight. How does the helicopter travel that far a distance?
It’s powered by house music.
Festival: Dada Life Voyage Festival, 2015