ESG perform in 2015
|Origin||The Bronx, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|Genres||Avant-funk, no wave, dance-punk|
|Labels||99, Factory, Soul Jazz, Universal Sound, ESG Records|
ESG (Emerald Sapphire & Gold) is an American band formed in the South Bronx in 1978. Trouser Press called it "one of the most dynamic bands that New York could offer at the top of the '80s." ESG has been influential across a wide range of musical genres, including hip hop, and dance-punk. The band's track "UFO" is one of the most sampled songs in history.
The band originally consisted of the Scroggins sisters, Renee (vocals), Valerie (drums), Deborah (bass) and Marie (congas, vocals) and friend Tito Libran (congas, vocals). The band's name stands for emerald, sapphire, and gold. Emerald and sapphire are Valerie and Renee Scroggins' birthstones, and gold refers to the record certification.Ed Bahlman discovered ESG while serving as the judge for a talent show and became the band's unofficial manager.
Tony Wilson from Factory Records approached the band after a performance at Hurrah in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and three days later they began recording with Martin Hannett in Manchester, England. They recorded "Moody" and "You're No Good" in the first take. Hannett had three minutes left on the master tape, so he had the band record "UFO". The recordings helped bring Bahlman's focus to the band. On December 3, 1980, he recorded ESG's performance at Hurrah, which became the B-side for ESG. Bahlman formed a partnership with Factory so that his 99 Records label could release the EP in 1981. By July, they made a second pressing of the record. It was received positively by music critics. Robert Palmer called it one of 1981's "freshest records".The New York Times placed ESG second on its list of the best EPs and cassettes of 1981, and The Village Voice placed the EP third on its Pazz & Jop critics' poll.
1982's ESG Says Dance to the Beat of Moody EP continued in a similar vein, as did their first album, 1983's Come Away with ESG. Renee Scroggins retains the rights to ESG's new music and publishing. The group's work had become popular, mainly among hip-hop artists searching for samples, with such acts as TLC, the Wu-Tang Clan, Kool Moe Dee, the Beastie Boys, Big Daddy Kane, Gang Starr, Junior Mafia, Tricky, Jay-Dee, as well as indie rockers like Unrest and Liars all sampling the group. The group addressed this issue on the 1992 12" EP Sample Credits Don't Pay Our Bills. The album, ESG Live!, was released in 1995 and featured both old and new material.
ESG announced shows in Sweden and France in September, 2011. An ESG show in March 2012 was announced as their final west coast show to promote their Closure album. ESG is still touring with shows in London as of June 2014 and has released a single called "Watching" from their upcoming release "What More Can You Take?!" due to be released November 2015.