Around the World with A-Trak, Part XVI: WMC in Miami

April 02, 2009

Sorry for the late report folks! I usually do these blogs on Mondays but this week has been nuts. The madness really hit overdrive when I went to Miami for Winter Music Conference last week. I was just coming off of two press days in LA where my personal highlight was the combination of driving in the city of cars for the first time, twittering about how bad I drive especially in a rental Jeep, and getting @replies warning me that I'd get a ticket for texting and driving! As you'll recall, WMC marked the final stretch of my Infinity +1 tour, having been on the road for 2 weeks.

I've been going to Miami for WMC for over a decade. My first trip there was in 1998, at the ripe age of 16, accompanied by my then-chaperon brother Dave to do gigs with the Invisibl Skratch Piklz and the X-Men. That's actually the first time I met DJ Craze, he was just starting to come up and I played a gig with him where he had an intro that used Run-DMC's "My House" to claim his Miami hometown. Ah, memories. I also remember staying in the same hotel as Big Pun, seeing him in the lobby and thinking "whoa that's a big man" (ayo). Fast-forward a few years later, I used to go to WMC and stay at Craze's crib, who had become my partner in crime in this DJ game. For some reason I have a distinct memory of DJing in Miami the year that the Blueprint 2 came out. I was still using vinyl and I have a mental picture of that double LP in my crate. That night I lost my 2-way in the club (yes I had one) and some dude found it, said he'd return it but never did. Asshole.

In the last few years as I started playing more club music I entered a new phase of my WMC experience, even more so since I started Fool's Gold as it became a platform to showcase my artists. When I only played hip hop, we really used to feel like outsiders in this celebration of dance music. That said, even though I play my share of untz-untz now, it's not as if I played commercial house and walked around in flip-flops so honestly I still feel like we're marginal at WMC. But the difference is, 1) I'm more curious than before about the mainstream house stuff that goes on, and 2) I'm noticing more and more of the mainstream guys watching what our little scene is doing. I guess that explains how Mehdi and I got booked to DJ at Diddy's party this year... But I'll get to that in a sec.

None of this really explains how I ended up with 9 gigs packed in 3 days this year. It's not as if I really tried to go all out this year. I think it boils down to the fact that I work with a varied bunch of people so there's all these offers that came in from different places and even when I only accepted the ones that were interesting to me, I still ended up with this ridiculous schedule. I flew in on Wednesday evening and settled into the Gansevoort hotel. A whole bunch of my friends were all staying at that hotel, which led me to label it the Gansevortex. It looks like a cruise ship from the outside but it's actually really nice. The rooms (pardon me, the suites) are luxurious and there's a shark in the lobby.

My first full day in Miami was Thursday and I started with a bang: 4 shows! 2 in the afternoon, 2 at night. Unfortunately my entire stay in Miami was marred by blackberry problems. It's my fault though: a few days earlier in SF I put my *new* phone down next to the turntables at my gig and then realized that it was in a puddle of beer. (Don't they have a new album?) As a result my phone would shut off and restart without warning 10 to 20 times a day from that point on. Moving right along, my first gig was at the Beatport pool party at the National hotel. It was also my most forgettable gig. The attendance was, how shall I say, emaciated. From there I headed to the Fountainebleau for Bacardi's big B-Live party. That one was fun! Well, as fun as a corporate party in Miami can be. I really did enjoy playing. We were outside by the pool and my set was in the late afternoon when everyone still had a lot of energy. My brother landed and came to join us for his own DJ set later in the day. I stayed with him and when we were all done I headed back start off my evening. Craze threw a hip hop party at Rokbar with Klever, myself and a bunch of friends on the bill. I had to play really early though because I was also booked at Laidback Luke's party, tag-teaming with Diplo. That gig was at a rather bougie club (hello, a staff of "little people" and plush paintings of royalty?) but we managed to turn it into our sort of thing. When I was done I went back to Craze's party to catch the end, where Dave Nada played an awesome go-go set. One of the highlights of the week for me. It's funny showing up at the tail end of a party when your friends are drunker than you. Lots of I-love-you-man's are exchanged.

On Friday I had 3 shows, all of them with Mehdi. As nice as this hotel was, there was no peace. If you wanted to have lunch by the pool you had to endure loud tribal house beats. I started the day off with a meeting and some interviews for Scion radio. In the afternoon I went to this "BBQ" (thinking back now, there wasn't an actual barbecue) shindig that Diddy was throwing. He got there pretty late and danced circles around the pool, airhorn in hand. I just enjoyed the free Cîroc cocktails. There wasn't much to it. Then I came back to the G-Voort to play at Annie Mac's beachside event. Mehdi and I were fresh off our Brooklyn tag-team 2 weeks ago so playing together was a breeze. We then headed over to Diddy's big party at Cameo, but they didn't have turntables for me so I didn't even play. To be honest the whole point of that booking was to be on the poster! In Miami most people don't even really see your sets, nothing goes as planned, it's like 80% about positioning and 20% reality. From there we walked to Shore Club to play at the Windish showcase. I ended up doing that set by myself since Mehdi held it down at the previous one. Once I was done with my commitments I reconvened with P-Thugg and Armand and we went back to check out Diddy's party at the grimy hours of the night. There were more people in the VIP than in the room. A strange mix of industry folks, guidos, bimbos and semi-hood dudes. I got a nightcap of chicken wings and hit the hay at 6:30am, my bedtime every night of WMC.

Saturday I finally had a bit of time to go to the beach. Meaning one hour. In the afternoon my brother and I did a tag-team set at Stones Throw's annual Hella International party, which has become somewhat of a tradition for me. When I played Schooly D's "P.S.K.", Peanut Butter Wolf grabbed the mic and was like "you're not gonna hear this anywhere else this week!" Then we had a big Fool's Gold dinner and got everyone in team spirit mode before our party. The waiter kept saying that the food at this restaurant was "family style". I'm not sure what that means. After a while I was saying that even the bread and water are family style! Water, just like grandma used to make it. Sorry, I digress. The Fool's Gold party was at White Room, the same spot as last year. Last year's party was memorable and we kind of christened that venue, no one knew it. This year there were many events there, which made it easier to tell people where to go. And once again the party was such a highlight for us. It was different from last year's. Last year was more of a show and our guests merked it. Who doesn't remember Boys Noize playing Proxy's "Raven" for the first time? Everyone was asking "what was that song?" for months, literally. But this year was more of a real party where people enjoyed themselves the whole night, and for me the most gratifying aspect was no one got the short end of the stick, everyone played great sets. Sure we had guests again. Annie Mac played a surprise tag-team with Fake Blood. Mehdi played a classic house set. Steve Aoki got sweaty. And when Craze went up for his unannounced set, I even joined him for an improvised DMC-style scratch-off. But what I remember most from that night is how the crowd refused to leave even at 6, 7 in the morning and didn't stop dancing. You don't see that much in Miami.

Finally on Sunday I came home to attend a wedding with dark circles under my eyes. Monday was my birthday! And here we are... I actually just landed in London. The adventure continues.

From The Collection:

Around The World With A-Trak
Posted: April 02, 2009
Around the World with A-Trak, Part XVI: WMC in Miami