|Origin||New York City, New York, United States|
|Genres||Dance, New Music, 80s, new wave, synthpop, EDM, hip hop, pop rock, spoken word|
|Labels||Elektra Records, Arista-Ariola, Wounded Bird Records|
|Members||Ned "Ebn" Liben
Robert "Ozn" Rosen aka Dada Nada
Ēbn-Ōzn (pronounced EEBEN-OHZEN) was a 1980s New York based synth pop duo composed of Ned "Ebn" Liben (synthesizer) and Robert "Ozn" Rosen more popularly known as of 1989 as Dada Nada (organ, vocals). The unsung pioneers of modern-day computer sampling, looping and white rap, the synthesizer/vocalist duo made the first commercially released and charted record ever produced on a computer in the United States, the 1983 hit single and award-winning, MTV smash music video "AEIOU Sometimes Y." An absolutely bizarre mix of rap, spoken word, computer sounds, sampled instruments, huge orchestral arranging and a New York dance beat all supporting the narrated tale of OZN's Robert Ozn aka Dada Nada encounter with a gorgeous Swedish tourist in early 80s Manhattan. The video made OZN a bona fide rock star and EBN Ned Liben the reigning mad scientist. computer geek musician of the New York music scene of the early to mid 80s.
Ēbn-Ōzn formed in 1981 in New York City when Rosen met Liben through record producer and recording artist Jay Aaron Podolnick (who later founded Villa Muse Studios in Austin, Texas), a friend of Ozn's Australian fashion-model girlfriend.[who?] 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 from 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 range of musical styles and a sense of humor throughout; it also featured Latin jazz percussion legend Tito Puente.
First played as a test in 1982 at New York's The Roxy via cassette tape by the Godfather of Hip Hop, DJ Afrika Bambaataa, who shared EBN/OZN's fascination with Kraftwerk, the record ushered in the era of music sampling, particularly in the 80s New York music scene of which Ebn-Ozn were "the musicians' musicians." Computer music sampling as a major element in contemporary music continues on into the 21st Century and Ebn-Ozn are rarely, justly credited as the fathers of such a huge shift impacting the global music world.
In 1983, "AEIOU" was remixed by disco legend John Luongo, and became an international MTV and dance club hit, reaching # 20 on the Billboard Club Chart. The single also received significant black radio play and 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 1981-1982, "AEIOU" has the distinction of being the first commercial single ever recorded entirely on a computer (a Fairlight CMI) in the United States and the subsequent album, Feeling Cavalier, the first such album. Ēbn-Ōzn's use of the Fairlight CMI's "sampling" functions makes them true pioneers of sampling, a music recording process, which was then revolutionary and is now common practice in 21st century sound music recording. Incorporating significant elements of white rap, by OZN, EBN-OZN preceded Eminem by 13 years.
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 Club Chart, and a minor radio hit in the US, while gaining hit status in Canada and Europe.
A darling of the American music press, EBN/OZN garnered outstanding reviews for their album, singles, videos and live shows. Covered in Time Magazine, People, US, The New York Post, Ozn was declared the "greatest white rapper alive," by Playboy Magazine in 1984, Ebn was featured in Guitar Player Magazine that same year, and The Boston Globe called Ozn the new American "sex symbol."
Sadly, the duo split up in 1985 and went separate ways. EBN went on to play with Arif Martin and Scritti Polliti, while Ozn recorded under the alias Dada Nada breaking the Top Five on the Billboard Club Chart and becoming a legend in the American and U.K. House Music scene of the late 80s and early 90s. He made a comeback with the peace protest, LGBT Anthem Je Suis Paris-I Am Orlando which put Dada Nada back on the international dance music map hitting Number 13 on the Music Week Magazine Commercial Pop Club Chart in October 2016.
"AEIOU Sometimes Y" was the focus of a Beavis and Butt-head episode that was repeated throughout the 90s and has been released on numerous "Best of the '80s" compilation albums. 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 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 music 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. Robert "Ozn" Rosen officially changed his name to Robert Ozn and went on to become a Hollywood script analyst, award-winning screenwriter and producer.
- AEIOU Sometimes Y (single reverse). Ebn-Ozn. Elektra Records. 1983.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 86.
- Dave Grohl (2013). Sound City (Motion picture). United States.
- "Ned 'Ebn' Liben Dies: College Fund Set Up For His Young Son." February 23, 1998 @MTV.com Retrieved 11-7-2015.