By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
DJ Ani Phearce is a man on a spiritual journey, a shaman in the world of house music. The music that he creates and spins varies from Latin-influenced dance music to progressive and tribal rhythms. "I believe that we are all spiritual beings," says the DJ and producer. "The music I create and the records that I mix together is a byproduct of my spirituality manifesting itself at a particular moment in time."
Phearce records under the names Soul'amour and Iago's Rule exclusively on his own label, Phearce Musica. Each moniker represents a different side of his personality. The former refers to the positive side, while the latter expresses Phearce's dark side through his passion for Seventies-era electronic and rock music. The two identities, says Phearce, allow him to express his mood swings more vividly through music than he would in his own daily life. "For me, it's all about controlling both sides of my personality," says Phearce. "Once a record is complete, it's hard to accept the fact that I produced it. There is a separation. It is as if I entered a zone."
Released in June 2001, the first Soul'amour single, "Alegria," was a strong Carnaval-esque dance number that conjured up visions of the famous Rio festival. It quickly became a favorite of South Beach DJs like crobar's Juan Mejia and Nikki Beach's JP Rigaud; it has been featured on several compilations worldwide. On the darker side, there's "Sinner Man" by Iago's Rule, where local vocalist Alan T. delivers a litany of evils while synth melodies inspired by Giorgio Moroder play in the background.
No matter which "personality" he chooses, Phearce definitely doesn't make music from a traditional perspective, preferring to work with live guitarists and percussionists on his recordings rather than programming drum machines and sound modules. He says he's inspired by what he feels in his heart, noting, "The concept is born in the mind through what is felt in the soul."
Originally from New York, Phearce has been involved in dance music for over a decade. "I first started DJing with my brother Nick when I was twelve," says Phearce, who later helped market and promote the mid-Nineties group Reel 2 Reel. That experience found him working alongside mentor, childhood friend, and superstar DJ/producer Erick Morillo, who then enlisted Phearce to help him jump-start his Subliminal Records imprint as a general manager. "It was a great experience," remarks Phearce. "I was involved at every level of the music business."
But after earning the respect of many top players in the house scene, including Louie Vega and Josh Wink, Phearce decided to strike out on his own last year. "I threw away all of my furniture, packed my studio and records in a truck, and headed to Miami," Ani explains. Now he runs his recording studio and the Phearce Musica label out of his home in Coral Gables, crafting songs like the recent Soul'amour single "Babalu," a track marked by a soaring trumpet solo and Latin-flavored piano riffs. Like most of Phearce's recent work, "Babalu" is infused with the energy of South Beach. "I'm inspired by everything tropical and Latin about Miami," he says.