Coconut Groove explained

Daniel Travieso, otherwise known as “Festi-Dan,” gives us a better understanding of his brand, Coconut Groove.

Q. What is Coconut Groove? And what was your inspiration in starting it?

Coconut Groove is just an outlet for musical artists to create high energy moments in an intimate setting. 

Believe it or not, Pearl Jam is where my passion for music and live performances stems from. Having attended 25 of their legendary shows, I grew appreciation for “live” music and “live performances” and the moments created and shared by everyone in attendance.  I began hosting an annual mini festival/ charity fundraiser called Festidan back in 2007 that featured live bands and DJs with all different types of music.  After 10 years of hosting this event, I decided to just focus on small parties (less headaches) featuring evolved progressive music that had completely taken over my ears.

In August of 2017, we hosted a small intimate island party off Dinner Key in Coconut Grove and through a mutual friend had asked local talent and Heart nightclub resident Fiin to grace us with music all day.  At sunset it began to rain and everyone huddled up under the gazebo.  That intimate moment where everyone danced together and the Djs took us into the night was an unbelievable and memorable night cap.  Recreating and capturing high energy moments in Coconut Grove became a priority and Coconut Groove was born.

Q. A year and a half later, do you feel like you’re achieving the objective that was initially set forth in creating Coconut Groove? 

Unfortunately, having a normal job with regular hours limits the amount of attention that can be allocated to this hobby.  However, it’s been an amazing run and string of parties that we’ve been able to put together, and I’m excited about the direction of the concept.

Our original objective was to bring evolved music and those who appreciate it to comfortable and intimate locations around the village of Coconut Grove.  I think we’ve been able to achieve that, and our tribe continues to grow with the right people who are responsible and understand that the focus of these gatherings is the music.

Q. What kind of events do you throw and how often? 

I try and emphasize that we host parties, not events.  These parties are not profitable and they are occurring for the sole purpose of creating good energy in our neighborhood.  With that said, each of our parties are different and we only focus on one at a time. 

Q. If a new-comer was to go to one of your hosted events, what kind of music can he or she expect?

We look to partner up with musical artists that play for the evolved ear.  New and fresh sounds that keep you moving and vibrating at a high frequency.

Q. What are your thoughts about the renovation of Coco-walk? Do you think a new venue space will open up there for music events?

I don’t support a lot of the construction and new buildings that are going up in our neighborhood.  The Cocowalk renovation, however, was overdue, and although I don’t expect for there to be an event space we can utilize, I’m excited for the energy and life that it’s going to bring to the Grove. It will be mostly comprised of office spaces with some retail, so we should see a substantial spike in foot traffic in the area.

Q. Lastly, your next event is February 8th at Tavern in the Grove. What is the scene like for someone who’s never been before? How should one dress for the part?

The Tavern Takeover is our most laidback party.  3 DJ’s, 3 different vibes, all sharing music, going b2b2b.  The Tavern is your traditional college dive-bar, so if you’re dressed, you meet the dress code.  Having worked there in 2003-2004, it brings back nostalgic memories and it’s a great feeling to be drinking again at this legendary spot I used to call home.

——-So if you find yourself in Coconut Grove tomorrow for happy hour, dinner, or a late-night rendevouz, be sure to swing by Tavern and get a pulse on the dance music that exists there too. See you out there!

More Q&A with the one and only Ivano Bellini

continued from an exclusive interview

Q. One of my favorite memories of you is at Club Space’s 10th anniversary in 2010. (Dennis Ferrer’s “Hey Hey” will forever remind me of that morning.) Here we are almost a decade later. What is one of your favorite memories performing in Miami? How does it compare to experiences elsewhere?

A. I remember that 10-year anniversary party and I remember the track that I played, “Hey Hey”. Actually it was a mash-up. I worked really hard for that party. I put in tons of hours making mash-ups for 3 weeks to a month beforehand. What I did was take a lot of the classic Space songs and mixed them with older classics, like “Hey Hey”, which I remixed with Depeche Mode’s “Lose Myself.” I worked with “Finally” and “Rapture”, and “Wonderland.” It was 15-18 songs that I mashed up with songs from that moment. It took me a long time. It was fun. It was fun because I could play the song, but it would sound re-modernized with the melody that people love. That 10-year anniversary party was really great. I can remember that. And playing those songs were awesome.

Miami has been incredible. There’s been up and downs. You can say Miami isn’t what it used to be, that the club scene was different. You could say it was pure, not innocent, but more local. Everybody knew each other at a point. When Space started, the original Space, everyone in that place knew each other. It was a small place, but the vibe was just incredible.

Miami is a special place. Was a special place. Is still a special place. Even though playing in other places is fantastic. (Europe, Ibiza, Italy, Turkey, South America, Colombia) But Miami…I’ve been lucky to have lived in Miami 28 years. And I’ve been able to play in some really cool places. 

The first three years of the Club Space terrace are special and priceless. Nobody can ever take that away from us. If you were there at that time, it is something you will never forget for the rest of your life. It was a really special place that will never be copied or duplicated.

Q. Almost 20 years ago, Danny Teneglia invited you to be a part of his, “Be Yourself @ Vinyl” parties in New York. Teneglia is coming back to Miami this weekend. Do connections like those made 20 years ago last in this industry? And if so, how do you show each other support while also being competitive?

Tenaglia was the most influential DJ probably in my career. Not just for the music, but more so in the way that he built sets. After I heard him play, which was the first time he played at Space during Music Conference, a 12-hour set, just a few weeks after Space first opened…it completely made me re-think the way I approached my sets as far as how you build the vibe and how you take people on a journey. It was amazing. I’ve been lucky enough over the years where we’ve played. I met him at Space. We ended up playing a few times together. He invited me to come play at his parties in New York, which were always fantastic. He’s a great guy. He’s as talented as probably no-one else. So yeah, we became friends. We’re still in contact. I just texted him today. I am going to see him tonight at the Pickle, of course. If I’m around and I’m not playing, and he’s playing, I always make a point to go see him, go listen to his music, say, “Hi.” We live in different cities, but we talk from here or there. Mostly that is the way it is. At least with me. There’s a whole bunch of DJs that I’ve met over the years, some that I met 25 years ago. And I’m still in contact with. We’re friends. We hang out when we’re in the same town. If they’re in my town, and they play, I go see them. If I’m in their town and playing, they come see me. Yeah, I know in some places, in some instances, there’s competition, but it’s never been my case. I don’t want to steal or get a job from someone else. I think there’s plenty of clubs and plenty of talent to go around. If someone wants you to play his party, then you play it. If he wants someone else, then someone else plays. That is how I’ve approached this job from the get-go. I’ve been lucky enough in all these years to meet people who share the same passion and the same job as I do. We’re in the same industry. We hang out. We’re friends. It’s cool.

Q. If there’s one thing you would like to see evolve in 2019 in Miami’s music scene or maybe in music in general, what would it be?

I don’t know. I think we need a refresh. It’s been a lot of the same clubs and a lot of the same music playing in Miami for a few years now. So it would be good to have a bunch of new clubs with new concepts and ideas. Not, we take the same people and we do it over again in another location. Just some fresh, groundbreaking thing. It doesn’t have to be big and huge and splashy. But really cool places where you can go and listen to music in a different kind of setting, a different kind of vibe, a different kind of sound. Bring DJs we haven’t brought before. Styles that we haven’t really heard about. I think that would be fantastic. We’ll still have the same clubs, the clubs that we know and love, or that we know and don’t love. Because you can’t love everything.

It would be cool to have a new breed, some new blood, some new parties. It’s the same for music conference. If you look at the line-up, it’s a little bit of the same. There’s some really cool parties, but there’s a lot of stuff that’s been going on and on for years. I love when the music scene gets creative with new concepts.

Q. How did you ring in the new year? Do you have any new year’s resolutions that you’re sticking to?

It was a long weekend because I played on Saturday and then I had two gigs on Sunday, which was the day before New Year’s Eve. I did like a 9-hour stretch where I had 5 minutes in-between. I had one gig where I played 5 hours and then I had to run to 1-800-Lucky which was a block away, where I played for another four hours. It was great. I had some friends from Italy from 13 years ago that were there. That Sunday was insane.

I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s. A lot of people who go out on New Year’s only go out once or twice a year. But you know it’s a part of what we do. So I played New Year’s and then I crashed for 3 days, where I didn’t do anything and that was fantastic.

My new year’s resolution is to get better at playing the piano. I’ve been producing tracks and mixing, but I’ve never learned how to play piano. I can play a couple chords here and there, but I decided this year to spend some time at home with tutorials to teach myself piano. This is something brand new, but I can put a couple songs together now with chords and chord progression. It’s been a long time dream of mine and regret of mine that I didn’t learn sooner. Not that I want to be a virtuoso, but I’ve always wanted to be able to put a couple songs together, sit at a piano, and play a few chords. So I’ve been getting into it.

Q. Lastly, what is your favorite thing to eat or drink at 1-800-Lucky, and why?

A. I love the food over there. I love the Asian ice cream. It’s probably not too good for your health, but I’m only there 2-3 times a month, so I can do it.

I’m not a huge drinker. I have one drink, maybe two. But my drink is the same drink everywhere. If they have it, it’s Zacapa, which is a rum from Guatemala. That’s been my drink of choice for the past few years. So when I’m at Lucky, and I want to have a nice drink, that’s what I’m having. A nice Zacapa, one big ice cube – life is good. Cheers to everybody!

—-Ivano Bellini is playing twice tomorrow and I highly recommend you see either one of his sets. You can catch him at a SuperBowl Brunch pre-party at No. 3 social, or you can see him opening up the evening at 1-800-Lucky. If you didn’t know, now you know! Cheers 🙂

Jan ’19 Recap

Listen while you read, my preferred monthly playlist…choose Apple Music or Spotify.

The zeal that came from this new year felt universal. Hello 2019. The month started off strong with many artists here for NYE parties. Jamie Jones b2b Marco Carola, Robbie Rivera, Benny Benassi, Alesso, Chus & Ceballos, and Cocodrills each had their own partyThe intensity did not taper down post-NYE. Shiba San spun four days later at Space, and unfortunately, someone died from an overdose there. I heard someone call the act, “selfish.” The only comment I have is that I can believe it. Shiba San came out of the gates swinging with his set. You had to be prepared for that one.

A stark contrast was the following week’s set with Ame b2b with Adriatique. I heard this was a “beautiful” party. The music they played isn’t typical for the terrace, but one source said, “As a musician, I can tell they put a lot of thought into it. At one point they teased a song, but didn’t play it for another hour. And in between, the songs that built up to it were extremely thoughtful.” Another source described the energy that morning as spellbinding. “Everyone was together and in harmony.”

The last two weekends, Space hosted Victor Calderone and Maceo Plex. Victor was a shoe-in, of course, and Miami locals knew it. His set kept getting better that by 10:30a many including myself did not want to leave. But the winner of the month goes to Maceo Plex, who closed us out last Sunday. I kept hearing people use the Miami marathon as an excuse to stay late (traffic was shutdown until 10a), but in my opinion, it was the music that made them stay.

The Under the Radar label threw its weekly Sunday night parties at 1-800-Lucky, hosting Kristen Knight, Ivano Bellini, Jesse Perez, Technasia, and Cocodrills. Their first-Sunday-of-the-month party was “Ladies Night.” Only women DJ-ed, beginning with Rita Valenti from the Relic label, then Kristen Knight who killed it in the booth with her long pink. Yes, even in DJing (or music blogging), the future is female.

The Housecats label threw its weekly Sunday afternoon parties at Centro, a personal favorite of mine. Centro was closed MLK weekend, but that’s when many discovered the lush, tropical oasis of Proyecto Tulum across the street. The setup is very different from Centro, but the musical vibes are just as good.

Mid-month, The Hangar started its Monday morning after-hours with Differ. The party starts 4am, so now you don’t have to go home after the Sunday parties of Tulum, Centro, or Lucky.

As for special events, the Groove Cruise set off at capacity for its 15th anniversary from the Port of Fort Lauderdale. Since it used to set sail from the Port of Miami, it’s still very much considered a Miami music event and is promoted as such. Artists included Kaskade, Aly & Fila, Hot Since 82, Markus Schulz, MK, Simon Patterson, Anthony Attalla, Chus & Ceballos, Cocodrills, Eli & Fur, Prok & Fitch, Roger Sanchez, Kristen Knight (Roger Sanchez’s girlfriend, previously mentioned), Carabetta & Doons, Kristina Sky, and others.

Loveburn 2019 also took place on Virginia Key. I haven’t heard much in terms of reviews. All I know is that I saw Dude SkyWalker on the line-up for Friday and that kind of made me wish I had a $300 ticket to the event.

Robbie Rivera started a residency at Hyde Beach club, but no news on when the next party is scheduled. Sharam came through at Treehouse. Story hosted Steve Aoki and LIV hosted Kaskade. I remember a time when I got excited for both these artists.

A special appearance was made by Danny Tenaglia at the Electric Pickle. This is the man who put Club Space on the map when he celebrated his 25th year as a DJ there in 2001. Needless to say, the event oversold and by 2am the party was packed. So much so, it made dancing difficult. One opinion of the set said, “It was a good house set, but not enough boom for me.” Another said they danced their ass off.

Oscar G keeps up his weekly Friday night parties at 1-800-Lucky, and also made a Saturday night special at Treehouse. Meanwhile, the Relic brand with Fiin as the mainstay puts Factory on the map each and every Saturday night.

Barter is a new venue in Wynwood owned by the same guys who put on Rakastella. This is where Cocodrills brought in the New Year. Personally, I like the outside area, but the state-of-the-art speakers inside are surrounded by some hideous decor. The many birdcages creep me out. But that didn’t keep music fans away from Jesse Calosso late on a Sunday night.

Overall, it was hard to catch a breather this month, and there won’t be any slowing down until Miami Music Week, which is less than 60 days away. Are you ready? Physically, mentally, financially? MMW plans coming up.

What was your favorite January event? And what about February has you pumping? For me, it is MAYA JANE COLES 😁 See you out there!

Maceo Plex version 2019

My first time witnessing Maceo Plex was in London at SW4 in 2015. It was Solomun, then Dubfire, then Maceo Plex. I could not leave that tent.

I was with my best friend, another Space cadet I had met six years prior. After dancing hard to Solomun, we stayed in the tent because the feeling was too good. We didn’t even know who the DJ was for the next two hours. (Usually a name flashes somewhere.) And at the end of the flashing white board set, Dubfire was revealed. It was his Hybrid showcase. I was in awe, no doubt gripping the sides of my head, running my fingers through my hair, mouth gaping open, saying, “Wow.” Then the side boards light up again with graphics you expect to see. They say, “Maceo Plex.” And although I can’t remember the specifics of the set, I know my best friend and I stayed when a lot of people left. Some might have taken that as a cue to leave too, but for us, we spread out. We weren’t leaving. Located front left, by the speakers, I was entranced by the sounds. And a warp hole came over the next two hours, that rainy evening on Clapham Common Grounds.

Four years later, Maceo Plex is still a conjurer of sorts, just now with more notoriety.

I was reminded of his powers to enchant last year at Ultra’s 20th anniversary. The set was passionate. He ended it counter-intuitively on the softest note in the Carl Cox tent with this song, which left goosebumps on my arms. This approach was very different from his Art Basel set a few months prior, where he drilled techno in a Wynwood warehouse. The scene was too dark and too late for me to bite into. So Ultra 20 really woke me back up to his capabilities.

The spell he casted at Space on Sunday wasn’t so unlike his Ultra set ten months ago, but he wove together a wider hodgepodge of sounds for this six-hour set. It was patchwork in a form unlike anything I have previously seen him do. He played techno, disco, old shit, new shit. The build was slow, over an hour of temperate beats. I wasn’t too sure where he was going. But once he played Donna Summer’s, “I Feel Love,” I think the crowd knew, almost in unison, that we were in it to win it.

Looking back, I believe a good chunk of songs were on the slower side, which is ironic as it didn’t take away our inclination to dance.

Now it’s interesting to note that the golden hour has always been between 6 and 7a, maybe up until 8a. But I’ve noticed that these guys come on and get even better past 9am. This was true for Capriati two months ago, Victor Calderon last weekend, and Maceo Plex this weekend.

I think an all-time favorite moment was past the 9am mark when he dropped, “Spin, Spin Sugar,” leaving us for 10 minutes singing the same words in some kind of crazed, caged animal high. It was pretty incredible. Then the song afterwards was just very…normal? My new friend joked that [Maceo] knew exactly what he was doing, that he took us to another planet. I joked that he dropped us off on another planet. He left us…but he’ll be back later to pick us up.

Now the dance floor was packed up until 11am, and I should have known the place would be littered late because for the first time, in a long time, I saw people just hanging out downstairs when I arrived at 4:20a, ironically the same time Eric Estornel, aka Maceo Plex, arrived. Is the ESP between me and my DJs that strong? Ha, perhaps. Anyways, kudos to you if you scored a VIP band because VIP was about the only place you could bust a move on the terrace for five out of six hours that he played.

Outside of the music, it was straight-up, just a party. Everyone showed up. The brat pack of promoters who have been here since 2012 were a bunch of looney tunes in the techno loft. They made me laugh. And people in general were just friendly (well in VIP, that I know of). The more I go, the more friendly faces I meet.

Needless to say, if you did not see Maceo Plex, it was a major fail on your part! I’m not left with a particular high days later like I was with Joseph Capriati’s set in November, but I am imprinted with the mark of Maceo’s dance-magic doings. He put us in an unsuspecting trance. It snuck up on us! And ultimately he delivered what we could not expect. How did we respond? Well, we took advantage of him! Haha I don’t think he could believe we were staying as late as we were. He would get on the mic and say, “What the fuck?” That morning for everyone who joined will be remembered.

SPIN, SPIN, SUGAR.


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.

Read More

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!