Exclusive Q&A with Ivano Bellini

Q. Since 1991, you’ve helped shape the Miami music scene. You began on South Beach at places like Opium Gardens and Nikki Beach, and when Space opened up, you became a resident DJ there. Are you proud of what you’ve helped to accomplish here in the 28 years of influence you’ve had?

A. Yeah I’ve been here a long time. I even started before the clubs you mentioned, like Le Loft, VanDome, Bash, and the Living Room. I think the Living Room was the first club that really mattered in my career.

I am proud, musically, to be a big part of the success of some of those clubs. I can look back and fairly say, “I’ve helped create something.” I put my mark on the South Beach club scene and music scene, doing my thing…I hope doing my thing the right way by keeping true to myself, playing the music that I love, and having people come and listen to me. I mean, I hope I DJ the right way for the right reason, which I think is kind of missing these days. But yeah, it’s been good. Thanks to that I’ve been able to do what I love, to travel the world, and make a decent living or a nice living. I’m proud of what I did. Looking back, it’s been pretty cool. 

Q. You’ve been spinning at 1-800-Lucky at some of the Under the Radar parties. How has that been treating you? Are you enjoying the Sunday night scene?

A. With Under the Radar, it’s actually the first party in a long, long time, where I’m really, really enjoying the vibe. It’s really cool. It’s a mix of the location, the neighborhood, the night of the week because it’s a Sunday, so it’s not the weekend crowd. It’s a little more local, a little bit better, a little more educated, musically i mean, and adult. I like the vibe because it’s outside. We start really early in the afternoon and build from there. I like the music programming that Roger’s been able to do. I’m having a ton of fun. I’m really enjoying myself there and the music that I can play. I can play a little more eclectic. I play some Afro-sounds, some Afro-latino-cuban sounds. Some Deep Stuff, a couple of classics. A couple of real house stuff, and grow from that. I go into stuff that will be a bit more chunky.  I’m really enjoying the vibe there, and the party. I think we’ve been doing something really cool there since we’ve started. I think it was April or May. I’m looking forward to my set, preparing the music, finding new stuff to play every week. It’s been really cool. I can’t wait for the next one.

Catch Ivano Bellini tonight at 1-800-Lucky and see what he means about the scene. See you out there!

2019: A new era

So what do we know? 2018 has left and Miami will never be the same. Art Basel was indicative of that.

A plethora of venues can now hold talent with sound-systems to match, but where are the parties now? Like myself, perhaps your concentration is biased towards the internationally recognized talent, the same names that frequent the same festival line-ups time and time again. So what is happening with Miami music? Our local talent is not getting the recognition it deserves. And many of the venues we saw populate during Basel are now once again quiet.

But not all.

Let’s talk about Wynwood Factory (not to be confused with the Wynwood Fear Factory). I knew I liked this place from the start. Their first night they housed Loco Dice. The venue is huge, and the rooms, including the outdoor deck all have feng shui. But you know what I found out? And it makes my affinity for this place all the more concrete…Louis Puig is the owner! Him along with three other guys. I saw him briefly in the DJ booth prior to Nicole Moudaber. And upon exiting to see Adam Port at Space (a beautiful set), the stars aligned and I saw the man outside. And there you have it. I met and spoke with Louis Puig, a nightlife figure we have not heard of or seen in quite sometime. I even had to verify it was him. “I feel like you’re a cool cat to know. What’s your name?” “Luis”…”Puig?!” (I’m nonchalant like that.)

Let’s rewind. In 2013, Puig announced he was selling Space. In a detailed letter, which many Space veterans will recall, he laments on the sad turn music was taking (which it did) and how his hopes were to create a new club. He wrote,

“It is time for a new space which will set the bar for the next decade.”

Well, guess what?! The nightlife club king followed through. Five years later, he made the new space. And it’s called Factory. This is a sign of the times in which Miami dance life will never be the same.

My first days of Space in 2006, I can chronicle about seven years of when Puig used to own it. He was the club owner, who also spun sick sets. There were also resident DJs – Patrick M and Lazardi, amongst others. These guys made the Space terrace, and then there were the occasional guest DJs, but you didn’t need to know who, or if there was a headliner – you just knew you could count on good music Sunday after Sunday.

Well, Puig has reintroduced this concept at Factory with what is now the Relic brand of music. The brand comprises of local DJs with fire sounds. And you can depend on a good Saturday night, whether there is a headliner or not. It’s the new Space. (Without any place ever being able to replicate what was.)

They are still pending a 10a liquor license feud with the city, which started during Art Basel. Likely, we can expect Factory to turn into an after-hours spot sooner rather than later.

It’s exciting to see where this will go and if other venues will pick up on this cue. Is Louis Puig the only one who recognizes the importance of showcasing local talent? No, the partners of Centro Wynwood have brought in the Housecats label, which is another local mix of DJs. They spin the reliably killer Sunday afternoon sets at Centro, a not-to-be-missed party.

But is it greedy of me to want more? No, diversity is good. It makes our dance culture more well-rounded and creates the best economic and artistic environment to foster better and more dance music. To improve our diversity, for example, I’d like to see a bigger drum & bass presence. Imagine a weekly D&B party to counter-balance the tech-house of Factory or the lackluster mornings of Space?

All this to say, change is here. Factory will become the new “it” club. III points will interrupt what has previously been a lovely February of dance, the only high-season month not littered with dance-crazed tourists, now gone. Ultra will be in a new location. How will it all shake out?

Stick with the people who have been here longest and you’ll be ok. Support your favorite local parties! And spread the word, Louis Puig is back!

(For a special insider look on Factory, take a look at this video published by World Red Eye.)

The Bang of Basel 2018

By Saturday, the dance scene was bubbling with energy. How? I do not know.

55+ notable DJ parties were listed in our Upcoming Events section over the 5-day span. These included: Richie Hawtin, Marco Carola, Solomun, Black Coffee, Erick Morillo, Loco Dice, Seth Troxler, Guy Gerber, Martinez Bros, Dubfire, Claude Vonstroke, and Nic Fanciulli – Twelve of DJ Mag’s Top 100 for this year. And to catch even all of these would have been a feat.

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Exclusive interview with Robbie Rivera

Hi Robbie,

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Miami has been a long time fan of yours now, and this Art Basel, we will get to see you twice! Wednesday at Centro and Saturday at Red Room in the Shore Club. What are you looking forward to most about Basel? How much of your new album ‘Twenty’ can we expect to hear on the dance floor?  I am not looking forward to the traffic but the parties should be great. I will be playing lots of new tracks from my label Juicy Music and some of the singles from my new album. Art Basel is not only about art anymore now it’s another music week with crazy amount of parties.

Let’s talk about this past summer. You stayed in Miami when most DJs abandon us for Europe. In fact, you launched a weekly Juicy party at Rácket. What led you to that decision? And are you happy with the outcome? I go where I am requested. I have been touring for 20 years and sometimes summer does take me to Europe.  Other times to South America and other times all over North America.  I’ve always wanted a residency in Miami so I tried doing a weekly Sunday event at Racket playing lots of classics and the first two events worked but I eventually had to cancel them because they were not promoted correctly.

Let’s go back even further. Since college, you found South Florida as a home. What is it about Miami that’s helped you develop as an artist? And what’s kept you around? I like Miami because I like living near the beach and I dislike the cold weather.  I have friends and family here so it’s a good city to live and work plus it’s easy to travel for gigs. 

What have been some highlights of your time here? (Certainly, the notorious Juicy Beach parties of Winter Music Conference…) I agree with you. Promoting the Juicy Beach yearly event has been a big highlight for me and the fans. Unfortunately the scene has changed a lot so it’s not like it used to be but WMC is always a great week for fans of electronic music. Other highlights from my time here is living in Key Biscayne for over 20 years.

Is there a particular event that stands out as being pivotal in your career? Performing at Pacha in Ibiza.  I do it almost every year and I love it.

Coming from Puerto Rico, we know your music has some Latin influences. What specific artists have inspired you? I grew up listening to many different styles of music in Puerto Rico. Here is a list of some artists or bands that have influenced me: David Morales,  Kenny Dope, Louie Vega, Danny Tenaglia and bands like Nirvana, Metallica, Pearl Jam so you can see why my music has lots of energy.

How do you feel about the direction of house music today? I like it a lot. House music is still popular and now it has that old school sound with cool simple piano chords and drum beats. It’s all about getting that right groove to get you on the dancefloor. If you like a little darker sound, tech house is rocking right now.

What would you like to see change or improve within Miami’s dance culture? Promoters need to start booking DJ’s based on their music and DJ creativity. Not on social media analytics. These numbers can be manipulated.

What is a fun fact you’d like your fans to know?  I have a twin.

Lastly, any advice for aspiring artists who are just getting started? I don’t know anymore this industry is brutal.

This Art Basel check out the legend Robbie Rivera. If you just can’t make it because baseling has you beat, you can also spend New Year’s Eve with him at Hyde Beach SLS.

Interested in his new album? Read this billboard article, and listen on Apple music here.

Thank you, Robbie!

Dirty South Resurrected

Dirty South came back this past Friday, as if resurrected from the dead. “Darko,” his new album and second release this year, has set him on a path of newness. And with it, we say good-bye to a youthful Dirty South.

As any good artist should have happen, his talent has ripened. There is a subtle, deep, and rich transformation from his earlier works. He still toys with heavy synthesizers and teases with the build, but there is a power that comes out of his newest album release. This power is in the audience’s identification with the music, which somehow reflects the sentiments, feelings, and moods of today. We’re not completely different, just as Dirty South is not completely different – our essence remains intact. However, just like his music, we all have evolved. So his music makes us feel connected, represented, and understood.

Thus, his art is our reaction.

There was a point late in the night, maybe 4am when there wasn’t a phone in sight. It was us dancing with the booth only a foot distance away. There was an energetic pairing between fan and DJ.  We felt it, and he felt it too. You can tell by the smiles, the singing along, and movement in unison. It was a beautiful thing. And in acknowledging on the dance floor that a youthful Dirty South no longer exists, I thought I might not hear another “past-life” song, such as “Sweet Disposition,” which he played at Hyde Beach six months ago. And he proved yet again that you cannot predict a Dirty South move.

He played it. And it seems like each time I hear it, it sounds a little different. I think he might still toy with the sounds of the 2010 song…(if I were to interview him, I would ask that question). But all this to say, I started crying! Tears of happiness. A lot of memories – of my first love (not Dirty South), of being really young – and then knowing this is the guy in front of me who created this beautiful-ass song.

It was special. And come to think of it, I don’t think this is the first time I’ve teared-up in one of his sets. Maybe there’s just that one DJ that does it for you. And that’s what I mean by his art is our reaction. Not many artists can bring you to dance like a maniac, cry like a teenager, or smile like it’s Christmas morning.

No doubt his music will be instrumental in shaping music going forward. I hope you all had as good of a time as I did! And spread the news: Dirty South is back!

Dirty South drips “Darko” honey

“Darko” is Dirty South’s fourth album and his second album release this year. After twelve years of following the artist, he remains the man of progressive house. In fact, Dirty South is one of the few progressive house artists from the mid-2000s that continues to develop and push the genre forward.

“Progressive” can leave a bad taste in the mouth for those who remember the dark ages of house (2013-2016). Artists within the genre failed to keep creating and started replicating. The list of sell-outs is far longer than those who have worked hard to develop new tastes and sounds, but there are some steadfast survivors. Dirty South is one of them Read More

Capriati. Wow.

It’s now Tuesday and the vibrations from Sunday are still being felt from Joseph Capriati’s marathon set at Space. No video can expose it. You just had to be there to get it.

This is the Year of Capriati. His sound at Ultra this March left onlookers wide-eyed and wide-mouthed, which is why his visit 7 months later was a must-see.

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Slow Summer: Where has all the music gone?

It’s been a few months since my last post, and for good reason. Slow season is ending and soon we will be hit with an onslaught of tourists from New York, Europe, and the Middle East. What does this mean?

Calendars will soon jam up where locals and tourists alike will be faced with a complicated selection of overlapping events. But this isn’t necessarily true of music. It seems the only clubs in Miami that offer grade A house music nowadays are Story, LIV, and Space. Story and LIV are owned by Dave Grutman, and Space is an Opium group venue as of 2013. That’s all the house music presented by two companies in the entire city. And with venues diminishing over the past 5 years – Grand Central, Will Call, Mecca, Mansion, Amnesia, Arkadia, Bardot, Heart, Trade, and soon to be Electric Pickle – what does this mean for the future landscape of Miami’s house music scene?

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