April 20, 2014

Miami Report: DJ Science & Champagne Splashes

Dim Mak Miami: Aoki & friends at Mansion. By Declan O'Driscoll

Dim Mak Miami: Aoki & friends at Mansion. By Declan O'Driscoll

Miami Beach, Fla.—We’re less than halfway home, but three days into our annual South Beach extravaganza there’s plenty to report.

Winter Music Conference at the new Beachplex on 21st Street has seen a good share of foot traffic for its exhibits, seminars and stage performances. Of course, DJ Times—along with manufacturers like Pioneer DJ, IK Multimedia and DJ Tech—is here with an exhibit booth, giving away magazines and talking up The DJ Expo (Aug. 13-16 in Atlantic City, N.J.). On the gear side, Pioneer broke out the RMX-1000 remix station, while IK showed its iRig Mix, a DJ mixer for iOS devices, like iPad. DJ Tech displayed its Dragon Two, 4-channel, DJ mixer/controller.

DJ Times has been participating in the panel discussions as well. After sitting on the “Social Media & PR” panel, which saw an overflow room learn some basics on promotion and creating sizzle, we became audience members for some other sessions.

One panel that dropped a lot of DJ knowledge was Wednesday’s “Dynamic DJs” session. Moderated by Joe Claussell (of Body & Soul fame), the sit-down featured jocks like house legend Todd Terry and German DJ/producer Moguai discussing new technologies and how it’s made DJing almost too easy anymore.
“I go to gigs and see some guys and I know they’re not really mixing, not really DJing sometimes,” said Terry. “How do I know? They’re having a conversation with me when the tracks mix! But, I can’t hate on them because they audience was going along with it, the party was happening.”

Added Yousef of Liverpool, England’s popular Circus parties: “At the end of the day, DJing is still about playing the right track at the right time, no matter the technology.”

Lee Dagger of UK electronic group Bimbo Jones admitted that the interaction with a great audience is worth more than anything. “When I’m DJing,” he said, “if I can get just one magic moment in a night, where I’ve really connected with the crowd, then I’m satisfied. It’s what I live for.”

Discussing breaking new tunes, Miami radio jock/turntablist DJ Fingaprintz offered this advice: “I go by the ‘Sandwich Theory,’ and that means that you sandwich your new tune between two proven, familiar tunes. You won’t lose anyone that way.”

On the topic of transitioning from the DJ booth to the studio to create your own music, Terry and Dagger offered up the technical advice—learn Ableton if you’re starting out, perhaps venture into Pro Tools and Logic if you want to explore deeper elements of songwriting.

But Claussell, ever the philosopher, dropped this on the room. “I believe it’s important to know why you want to make music before you get down to doing it,” he offered. “I believe that you should make music that reflects who you are. Dig deep inside and find your own voice and then you can make beautiful music, no matter what platform you use.” Right on.

Some evening highlights: On Monday night at Wall in the W Hotel, Seth Troxler and Guy Gerber turned a fairly hoity-toity room into a deep, dark, groove-laden cavern of tech-house delights. True underground vibes in the world of bottle service and bruising bouncers—who knew?

Then on Tuesday night at Mansion for the Dim Mak Miami party, it was a typical Steve Aoki throwdown—this time with an extra-fat lineup that included Datsik, Nervo, John Dahlbäck and Joachim Garraud. Of course, there were special appearances from the likes of Lil’ Jon and Afrojack—and, yes, those brave enough to crowd the stage got a big splash of sticky champagne, courtesy Mr. Aoki. Towel, please!

Next up: Ovum Recordings Party at Shine and Ultra Music Festival from Bayfront Park.

-Jim Tremayne