By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
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The promoters and DJs of Safe Miami have been providing the soundtrack for the drunken shenanigans that go down at the Electric Pickle and other local clubs since 2007. And having played a pivotal role in Miami's music scene for nearly six years, Safe is the subject of a new mini-documentary filmed by Carlos Dominicis of Cafeteria Films.
The timing, however, is all coincidence. "A friend of mine, Carlos, originally called me and asked if he could shoot [some parties]," Safe cofounder Diego Martinelli tells us, "and I said, 'Yeah, of course.'
"Afterward, he said, 'I want to do something more with it. Would you be able to sit in front of the camera and talk?'"
Add a few extra takes and cuts, and you've got everything you ever wanted to know about Safe, summed up in just over five minutes.
Martinelli has been promoting and producing events since he was 19, but his love affair with music began much earlier. "I was that kid in middle school who would hog up the boombox and thought, I've got fucking cool music. I wanna play cool music for other people."
His career began when he was a senior at Florida International University. Offered a job by Louis Puig, the then-owner of Space, Martinelli became the booking marketing manager.
"I dropped out [of FIU] because I was offered a lucrative job with a lucrative salary," he recalls. "I never actually graduated from FIU, but things started happening to me and I never looked back."
After a marketing gig with Steve Lawler, several Winter Music Conference events, and a huge turnout for Richie Hawtin's December 2007 show at Pawn Shop (a night that Martinelli helped promote), he was ready to set up his own shop. "Fifteen hundred people showed up for Hawtin," he says, "and I saw it as a turning point."
Soon, Martinelli and Ramon Crespo (the pair met in 2002, when Martinelli was the music director at Space Miami) got together to embark on a crazy musical journey.
"We took some risks and brought some artists over, and Safe was born," Martinelli says. "We've had a really nice progression, and here we are. People consider us a brand they can associate with bringing really cool music to Miami."
And one of the keys, he insists, to luring world-class DJs such as Claude VonStroke, Maya Jane Coles, and Ben UFO to a small venue like the Electric Pickle is personal relationships. "A lot of these people we've known for years. They appreciate the little things we do, our vibe, working style, the way we feel about music," the Safe cofounder explains.
"With Safe, it's a passion gig," he adds. "A lot of my friends now get booked with Mansion. That's business. But with us, they can do something that is magical and their style. All those reasons is why we're able to bring out these amazing people."
Another reason is Safe's work ethic. "We've been very genuine. We're very picky about who we bring to Safe. We only invite people who really care about their work."
Of course, after so much local success, Martinelli admits he has been approached to work on a number of out-of-town projects. And while he hasn't ruled out those options, he plans on sticking to his 305 roots.
"I'm really proud of what we've accomplished here, and Miami is my home," he says. "I wanna follow through. I don't think I'm going anywhere anytime soon. The fact that Safe is small and boutique is the charm and why it's so special for us. It makes it what it is."