|Origin||New York City, New York, United States|
|Genres||Dance, new wave, synthpop, hip hop, pop rock, spoken word|
|Labels||Elektra Records, Arista-Ariola, Wounded Bird Records|
|Members||Ned "EBN" Liben
Robert "OZN" Rosen
ĒBN-ŌZN was a 1980s New York based synth pop duo composed of Ned "EBN" Liben (synthesizer) and Robert "OZN" Rosen (organ, vocals). The duo is best known for the 1983 hit single and award winning music video "AEIOU, Sometimes Y."
EBN-OZN, pronounced EEBEN-OHZEN formed in 1981 in New York when Rosen met Liben through record producer, recording artist Jay Aaron Podolnick (who later founded Villa Muse Studios in Austin, Texas), a friend of Ozn's then Australian fashion-model girlfriend. Soon after meeting they started spending time together in clubs listening to different types of dance music. Ozn was a Broadway actor/singer in the original casts of Shenandoah and Marlowe and had just come off the road starring in a tour of The Pirates of Penzance with Karla DeVito. EBN was owner of New York's Sundragon Recording Studios, which he created at the age of 14. and was a founding member of the guitar band "Riff Raff" (Atco/Warner Brothers). In 1983 they were signed to the London arm of Arista Records-Ariola by A&R wunderkind Simon Potts and to Elektra Records in New York by Bob Krazno, who released their only LP, Feeling Cavalier, and singles "AEIOU, Sometimes Y" and "Bag Lady (I Wonder)". The album featured a wide and hard-to-categorize range of musical styles, and a sense of humor throughout; featuring a notable musical guest, the Latin jazz percussion legend Tito Puente.
"AEIOU" became an international MTV and dance club hit, reaching Top 20 on the Billboard (magazine) Club Chart, as well as receiving significant black radio play. It remains a modern rock radio and 1980s music staple. AllMusic writes that the song "combines intelligence, melody, and weirdness in just the right doses. Accompanied by a video that featured the multi-braided Rosen delivering a stream-of-consciousness rap about 'this incredible Swedish girl,' and with a more serious subtext about communication, it became a bizarre but deserved hit."
Recorded in 1981, "AEIOU" has the distinction of being the first commercial single ever recorded entirely on a computer in the United States, (a Fairlight CMI) (A reference is made to this fact in "Sound City", a 2013 documentary film by Dave Grohl.) and the subsequent album "Feeling Cavalier", ( Top 20 College Radio Chart) the first album. EBN/OZN's use of the Fairlight CMI sampling's functions makes them the true pioneers of "sampling," a music recording process, which was then revolutionary and is now common practice in 21st century sound music recording.
The second single was the uncharacteristically earnest dance-rock track "Bag Lady", the video for which starred Emmy- and Tony Award-winning actress Imogene Coca. The single became a dance club hit, reaching the Top 40 on the Billboard (magazine) Club Chart, and a minor radio hit in the US, while gaining hit status in Canada and Europe.
"AEIOU, Sometimes Y" was the focus of a Beavis and Butt-head episode in the 1990s, and has been released on numerous "Best of the '80s" compilation albums (including Warner Brothers' Richard Blade's 80s Hits). Feeling Cavalier was released on CD on October 17, 2006, by Wounded Bird Records.
Breakup and subsequent activities
The duo went their separate ways in 1985. Ebn went on to work with Scritti Politti and producers including Phil Ramone and Arif Mardin. Ozn formed House music act Dada Nada, released on his own label, One Voice Records. Dada Nada was signed to Polydor/London and distributed independently in North America by Ozn, who proved himself an astute businessman, going head-to-head with the major labels and gaining two Top 5 Billboard club hits: "Haunted House," the first House record by a white artist ever to chart in the USA, (co-written and produced with Bob Greenberg, and mixed by Mike "Hitman" Wilson) and "Deep Love," (co-written with Steve Wight, and mixed by Frankie Knuckles & David Morales and Bad Boy Bill).
Ned "Ebn" Liben died in 1998 of a heart attack in Manhattan, New York, and is survived by his widow Sallie Moore Liben and son Max. Ozn changed his name to Robert Ozn and went on to become a Hollywood script analyst, award winning screenwriter and producer.