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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Monday Morning Wrap-Up

We liked the new wave tunes Oliver Heldens put on on Friday at Story. Cocodrills kicked it at Treehouse.

If you didn’t know, Friday nights at Space is still a thing for the 18+ crowd. The downstairs housed Waff, which packed in all the young ones, and the upstairs hosted Trance on the Terrace, headlining Gabriel and Dresden, who were every bit as good as expected. However, the turn-out at 3am was alarmingly disparate. G&D were killing it, and the terrace was almost empty. From a Gen Z perspective, our 20-year old scout, Chronos, says, “the younger generation loves dubstep, riddim, and bass house, and older is more techno, deep house.” G&D have been promoting their new album (“The Only Road”), and in other places, such as Chicago, debut 7-hour sets. Miami is clearly not ready for that kind of trance phenomena outside of MMW.

Flight facilities played an early DJ set Sunday morning, and Victor Calderone brought in the sunrise. Vibrations were high as Victor brought out everyone’s best.

Dirty South also promoted his new album (“XV”), who played Sunday night a pool party at SLS Hyde Beach. Perhaps a pun to line up with his new song, “Night Walks?” The crowd here was also sorely lacking, and everyone seemed way too drunk from partying earlier in the day, but there were some dedicated fans who danced with arms wide open. A great DJ and producer, he chose Temper Trap’s “Sweet Disposition” as the tune to interweave throughout his set. Some versions we hadn’t heard before. He displays an uncanny ability to make old songs sound new. Last night, his set included a nuanced version of “Phazing” and a little bit of “Let it Go.” Twelve years and more we have been hosting this DJ, and we need him around more often. He is one of the ones that is dedicated to moving the genre forward.

Robbie Rivera played at Racket in Wynwood for a late afternoon Sunday party. (This will be interesting to watch. If it develops into something more, we could have a new 1-800-Lucky on our hands.) Speaking of which, Roger Sanchez closed out the weekend at 1-800-Lucky with a special birthday celebration set. He is one of the best deep house/vocalist DJs out there, and his sound fills any space that he plays. It’s almost as if you have to breathe harder because the music is competing with the oxygen. He closed up shop for the summer in Miami and is headed to Ibiza! He’ll be back in October for the next Tribe of Denial event. The past two months, 1-800-Lucky has hosted the best free party on Sunday nights. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you definitely should.

Gabriel & Dresden: A long-time love

These two have produced stellar hits without reaching today’s hallmark fame, as is the case with Tiesto or Above and Beyond. But do not be fooled. Their lack fame does not indicate a lack of success. In fact, I would hail they have been wildly successful in carrying on an identity that is truly their own since 2001. Whether it’s their first released remix “Travelling On”, the timeless tune “Tracking Treasure Down”, the journey of “Arcadia”, or newer tracks such as “Waiting for Winter,” it’s been a pleasure to know and hear the production of Gabriel & Dresden.

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Monday Morning Wrap-up

Odesza was the best show of the weekend, kicking us off Friday night. The heavens seemed to agree as the rain stayed away. Their music brought out the soul of Miami at this all-ages dance party. The venue was packed, and attendees were more likely to rave than shuffle. The duo played their hits, some of which were slightly nuanced to make the performance feel special. A colorful, neon stage paired beautifully to the music, and the finale ceased with unexpected confetti and an overwhelming, dreamlike feeling that the show never even happened.

Three blocks north, Justin Timberlake performed at AAA. It seems the future for him lies in guitar-playing melodies that seem to rightly fit his maturing journey. The Michael Jackson dance moves feel old and repeated.

Later on in the evening, Afrojack played at Story. He delivered the same drops and beats we’ve been hearing the past five years. The DJ looked like he was having a good time, and the crowd was sentimental after hearing a tribute of Avicii’s “Hey Brother”. But what about the music? “Take Over Control” was released almost eight years ago, and Afrojack is still playing it. Also, there are good, grinding sounds, but his sounds are a screeching, makes-us-want-to-cover-our-ears type. (See his new release “My City”.) Here has to be the worst performance of the weekend.

Saturday and Sunday mesh together. If you were in it for the long haul, Saturday started with an uplifting set by Galantis at LIV. Their set sent some good vibes throughout the place. No one wanted to go home at 5am, unless you had tickets to Loco Dice at Space. Then, the trip over the bridge brought upon hours and hours of loony-bin activity. Loco Dice wore a long-sleeved shirt for this marathon set, with “HELAL MONEY” on the sleeve, which is “Hello Money” in German. And yes, the set was certainly money. It was hard to break a dance move at sunrise due to capacity. He along with the crowd were having a great time. And we knew eventually that long-sleeved shirt would have to come off.

Cocodrills wrapped up the weekend at 1-800-Lucky for a chill, warm, tech-house kind of evening. I think Miami was all tapped out by weekend’s end. Luckily, we have a little hiatus with Memorial Day weekend! Where is everyone flying? 🙂