Print | Email  

Eric Schwartz

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2004-12-07

Eric Schwartz

Eric Schwartz

Eric Schwartz aka Smooth-E is the brains and voice behind one of the most popular Chanukah tunes in recent years - Hanukkah Hey Ya! which parodies Hey Ya! by Outkast.

In an exclusive email interview with Eric, he reveals how the song came about, how he feels about the Flash movie that was created and what else he does.

When did you first realise someone took your song and put it into a Flash? What did you think? A paraody or a paraody?

A fan forwarded it to me to let me know what was going on. I thought it was the ultimate flattery for someone to be inspired by my work. At this point, I believe an Asain guy named Keeyhun did it. Whoever it is is probably not even Jewish because they put up incorrect words to some pretty standard Jewish phrases in the song like “L’Chaim.”

Are you amazed at the way the Hannukkah song has proved so popular?

There was a large reaction on a few stations last year, but it didn’t spread like this year. I put it out in late November of 2003. By the time it started heating up like a lit shamas candle, radio and TV shows were going on holiday for Christmas and Hanukkah. Most of the world has had to wait a year to “shake it like a kosherized pickle.”

Yes, I am surprised at how popular it is. I have several other songs like, “White Hurr” (a parody of Chingy’s “Right Thurr") and “Feminem-’Comin’ Out the Closet’” (Parody of Eminem-"Cleaning Out My Closet") for which I have created my own videos and have come close in popularity. But “Hanukkah Hey Ya!” is the biggest yet.

What do Outkast think of the song?

I would love to know.

How long have you been performing and how much of your material if Jewish?

I have been performing most of my life. My professional career started at age 14 when I spent all my Bar Mitzvah money on turntables. I am a product of the Los Angeles suburb of Thousand Oaks, CA, where my parents thought I should save for college. But I knew I had to start scratching records and rockin’ mics. That led to a very fruitful career as a DJ. I have DJed just about everything including Bar Mitzvahs, Spring Break in Jamaica and high-profile entertainment industry parties. I have yet to do a bris.

My stand up career started in radio, as I was an intern for a local morning show. I got to write and perform comedy pieces daily. Rocking crowds as a DJ made me want to put my bits in front of an audience. I began performing regularly at the dorms while in college, then moved to clubs in L.A. when I graduated.

It has all sort of gelled together into what I have going on now–stand up, music, acting, writing, etc.

I’m definitely not a strictly “Jewish act,” but I am known for rockin’ a Jewish bling from time to time. I do everything, though: “Urban” rooms, “mainstream,” “alternative,” etc. I put quotes around those words because I don’t really see them any differently. I love all types of people in the audience and love to invite everyone to the party.

How would you describe what you do?

The best job in the world. I get to joke, jump, sing, rap, and dance on stage and in the studio (with less jumping because of expensive equipment).

Is it only parody of songs you do?

No, I have many originals, but all are comedic.

Where are you from originally and where are you based today?

I am from a suburb of Los Angeles called Thousand Oaks, CA. I now live in Sherman Oaks, CA. I love oaks.

What are the plans for the future?

I have a bunch of projects in development, so you’ll hopefully see a lot more of me very soon. I am enjoying the biggest upswing of my career so far. I am the narrator of a syndicated, weekly kids’ series called “Animal Atlas.” I just did BET’s “Comic View.” and recently appeared at the New York Comedy Festival, where I performed in front of 5,000 people at Madison Square Garden Theatre.