By Jacob Katel
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On the corner of Breakbeat and Bass, in the town of Danceville, there hangs a cat whose scratch is surely as deep as the hiss of some vintage vinyl. I'm not talking about some throwback turntablist trying to revive the art of the back-cue, mind you — hell, most of the time those guys don't even use vinyl. And I'm not talking about someone playing your plain ol' everyday Miami bass either (though the cat in question doesn't hesitate to throw that down when necessary).
No, what I'm talking about is a sound-slinger going well below the surface of what goes down in beatitude — and coming up with the next big swing. I mean the dubstep, and the electro that goes down better with more drums. And if you're looking to hear a little new-fashioned drum 'n' bass as well, there's probably no better slinger of the sound than Miami's own Juan BassHead.
Alongside the UK-based producer A Sides, BassHead is behind the label of the same name. The imprint counts among its top signings the L.A. whiz-spinner 12th Planet (a.k.a. John Dada, a.k.a. Infiltrata), whose "Control" was recently sickeningly remixed by "King of Dubstep" DJ Skream. Coming up in '09, BassHead (the label) plans to unleash the likes of Miami sonic mastermind Otto Von Schirach, Seattle's Noah D (who teams with Jamaica's heavyweight MC Einstein), and Chi-town's hip-hopping Total Science (remixed by the infamous DJ Sneak).
With his sister, Mariana, BassHead co-owns the DJ dive known as Black Sheep (formerly Laundry Bar). The place recently blew out Basel by bringing down Breakbeat Science's DJ DB, and where every kind of sonic cacophony is not only welcomed but also encouraged.
We're here to cover BassHead's DJ skills, though. Born right here in the MIA, schooled out at USC, and trained in the classical, BassHead began his head-spinning where most of the underground's finest got their start — at house parties, in both Miami-Dade and Broward. Sure, there were the occasional club gigs (Lauderdale's Atlantis, Miami's Lounge 16), and yes, there was the eventual roaming party (Infrastructure) and a few outdoor fests (Zen, Beyond). But 10 years ago, the places where a drum 'n' bass-head could ply his or her trade were few and far between.
Snap forward to now, and the available venues still are in short supply. Perhaps that's why he opened his own. Yet BassHead continues to drop his patented concoction of "bass-heavy dance-floor underground" at any place that'll dare have him. If you missed the recent Candyland 13 shebang, you can still catch BassHead holding court every Friday at Black Sheep. If you dig your breaks big, you'll break off a chunk of your calendar and make it. If not, hey, the easy listening stations could always use an audience. Beat that, sucka!
Juan BassHead's top five of all time:
1. "Flashlight," Parliament
2. "Security," The Beat Club
4. Wormhole LP, Ed Rush and Optical
5. "Nessun Dorma," Puccini