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Miami Music Week wrap-up

It's amazing how quickly this week comes and goes. DJs & producers find themselves cramming in as much time as possible in the studio in the weeks and months leading up, and then *poof*... it's all over. In my early conference years, I was one of those guys who came home paler and more tired than I was before I left. Luckily for me, I've finally figured out how to do Miami right. It's a delicate balance of planning, networking, beaching, DJ'ing, dancing, partying, sleeping, and eating (not necessarily in that order).

As most of you likely know, 2011 was the first year in quite some time that the Winter Music Conference did not coincide with Ultra. I opted to attend the newly-coined Miami Music Week at the end of March, as I'm more interested in the youthful side of the industry that Ultra represents. I heard reports that party attendance during WMC suffered, and I can confirm that the same was true during Miami Music Week. Sure, some of the high-profile events were still packed out, but for the most part numbers were definitely down.

I arrived on Tuesday with my good friends Caitie and Peter, both Massholes and WMC vets. We do it right and rent a condo on the beach that runs us about $300/head for the week. In keeping with tradition, we dropped off our bags and headed immediately to Wet Willys where we grubbed and downed two toxic drinks. I then made the right decision to go and pass out for a few hours, while Caitie and Peter continued their premature assault on their livers.

I pulled my arse out of bed a few hours later and headed off to Set (with two hammered friends) for the Saved showcase.  When we arrived, Nic Fanclulli, Stacey Pullen, and Mathias Tanzmann we're tagging together and laying down some groovy, chunky tech-house. The sounds were what one would expect from Saved, and set a promising tone for the week ahead.  Gary Beck hopped on for the last hour, but sadly most of the room had left at that point.

After a good nights sleep, I hit the beach hard on Wednesday. As someone who grew up on New England's frigid, rocky beaches, I make sure to find lots of time for sun and sand while on South Beach. Once the sun had set, we started our night off at the Deuce. This bar is the armpit of SoBe, and typically isn't visited until later in the week during early morning hours. It proved to be a nice stop, though, as I was introduced to Brad and Steve of Windish, two agents who represent many of the artists I book at RISE. After our beers and some chatting, we hit up Cameo for the Bullitt Agency Mixer, which boasted one of the most impressive line-ups I saw all week. While the numbers weren't through the roof, the music was great and the people friendly. Bullitt has really upped their game in the last few years, and it was nice to see the new family together in one place. We then dipped off to Treehouse, which occupies the one-hallowed Groove Jet space. There was a DnB and dubstep party going on, thrown by Embrace (who effectively took over Treehouse for the week). We decided to split after a mosh-pit broke out in the brostep room.  We peeked into Mokai quickly, which is a great room. Wish I'd made it back for some of the other parties there, as it was dark and punchy... just wasn't feeling the music too much. We were all spent anyway, so Caitie and Peter went home, while I went back to Cameo to catch Umek's closing set. To my surprise, Danny Howells and Satoshi Tomie we're playing in the other room at the same time. This stop-off proved to be one of the most serendipitous of the trip, as I was introduced to some really great people whom I have tremendous respect for (I'll spare you the name dropping).

Thursday started off at the beach again. This was perhaps an irresponsible decision, as it didn't take long for me to burn like a crisp. I dealt, scarfed some advil, then took off with Peter to a villa party at a mansion in N. Miami. It was hosted by some of the guys from VIVa. It was a pleasure to meet Diarus Syrossian and Daniel Dubb (amongst others), two super-friendly chaps who are doing great things and really moving up in the ranks. We then rallied back to the beach to catch Danny Howells' Dig Deeper party at Treehouse. Per usual, Danny built his set with patience and intention like you rarely find now a day. I've been going to his parties in Miami for years now, and they're always a blast. I was then convinced to keep the party going, and ended up on the Freaky Tikki hosted by Listed.  Based out of San Francisco, the Listed crew are some of the most friendly, clued-in, and serious party people/promoters I've ever met. Their resident Nikita played a brilliant opening set, followed by 4 more hours of luscious grooves courtesy of Cassy and Howells. I took full advantage of the open bar, then cabbed it home (with my original Howells party buddy Mike/Team J5) to the beach where I promptly passed out for the day. I needed a break from the sun anyway.

Friday night brought us (gasp) back to Treehouse. My roommate and long time friend Caitie runs Embrace in Boston, and was putting on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday parties @ Treehouse - hence our regular appearances there. On this particular night, Audiofly, Guy Gerber, and Steve Bug were in control. I was excited to hear Gerber and got into his set for a bit, but was still pretty burnt out from all of the sun and drinking. We decided to call it an early night and headed back to the condo for some more much needed sleep.

Saturday was a chill day... Some friends of Caitie's had the penthouse at the Shelbourne, which was a proper place to do some afternoon drinking and sunning (this time armed with 30 SPF sun block). I went back to the condo early to do some prep work for my gig @ Porterhouse, where I would be playing the closing set with Eli Wilkie. I ended up making an edit of Alex Kenji's "Gimmie Five" with audio from that YouTube clip of the Grammy reporter having an alleged stroke. I was pumped to play it... until I heard Steve Porter play the original version during his set! Boooo - but it's his party so it's all good.  :)  The club was rocking, and Eli and I had a blast playing the closing set.

I once again made the right/mature/boring/lame decision to head home after the gig, as did the majority of the people in my crew. This made Sunday much more enjoyable! We got up around noon, went back to the beach, then took off for Ultra where Porter was playing at 6 (in a dome that just so happened to have been built by Boston-native Blake Courtney - nice one bruv!). In my 8 years going to Miami, I'd never before been to this giant rave. After going to Electric Zoo this past Labor Day, I was excited to see what all the Ultra hype was all about. I must admit - it was a ton of fun, and it reminded me that there is a whole new generation that is falling in love with electronic music. The highlight of my afternoon in the dust was provided by none other than - get this - Armin Van Buuren! Now, I came up on trance in the Oakenfold-bathed late-90's, but lost my love for it long ago. That said, before Ultra I had never heard those huge synths on such a massive system, to thousands of people, with lasers and cryo. It was a total blast, and I'm not afraid to admit it! Finally hearing tracks like [Dash Berlin's edit of] PUSH - Universal Nation reminded me why I fell in love with this music in the first place. I found myself dancing with chills rushing through my body, just like the goofy 17 y/o I once was. It was great fun reliving my trance moments and am thankful to have experienced the energy of that party.

The final hours of MMW 2011 brought us to Shine, where Sander Kleinenberg was hosting his This Is party. The club had been renovated and felt a bit smaller, though the system was still rocking. I missed Rene Amesz' opening set, which was a bummer as he is an amazing artist and a wonderful guy taboot. I did catch much of Pleasurekraft's set, which was bouncy and funky, and appropriate for an opener. Sadly, I could only rally for a good hour of Sander's set before my legs could take no more. I used to live for Sander's Space Terrace sets, often building my Conference around that party.  The Sunday night showdown at Shine, however, was too much of a test for my endurance, and I had to bow out. From what I could tell, though, things were just getting rocking.

After another solid night's sleep and a typically expensive $17 sandwich and smoothie, Caitie and I we picked up by the limo to head back to the Miami Airport (this time with cast-away Eli Wilkie). We were in good spirits, perhaps better than we'd ever before been at the end of Conference. I was happy with the way I'd balanced work with pleasure, and was inspired to go home and get back to work in my studio and at RISE. I never take for granted how lucky I am to do what I do, and am blessed to have met so many amazing people along the way. Dance music (to me) is all about positivity, inclusiveness and a sense of community; hopefully next year will see WMC and Ultra join forces again so we can all reap the collective benefits.

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