Miami New Times' Mastermind Awards honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This year, we received more than 100 submissions, which our staff narrowed to an elite group of 30, and finally, nine. We'll be profiling those finalists in the days to come. This year's three Mastermind Award winners will be announced February 27 at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit the website.
He's unlike any other being on this planet -- nay, the universe.
Whatever dimension spawned this mad genius, it's Miami that's lucky enough to call him its own. Signed to Modeselektor's Monkeytown Records, Otto von Schirach is about to complete a new album the likes of which we've never heard before and will probably never hear again. But one thing is certain: It will be packed with that car-rattling, ass-shaking Miami bass that's brought him love from around the world.
"In Europe, I have some crazy concerts where they'll ask me to play in the town center, and they want me to reprogram my music for those mini organs they have in Amsterdam," the 35-year-old says. "We got to make experimental, crazy stuff, and people were into it."
No matter where his antics take him, you'd be hard-pressed to find a man prouder of his roots. A graduate of Coral Gables Senior High, Schirach began DJing house parties with friends when he was 12.
"We bought a sound system and then started buying records, real primitive stuff," he says. "We didn't know nothing, but it was cool because all the girls love that."
Years of playing parties and small clubs shaped his unique stage persona -- think German baron crossed with space-age creature from Mars. A stage act mixing costumes, elaborate dance routines, and a fusion of Caribbean sounds and European techno earned him a 2004 tour with industrial legend Skinny Puppy and his first wide release in 2006 on Faith No More frontman Mike Patton's label. Two years ago, he earned a nomination at the German Emmys and more recently nabbed a spot in an iPhone ad. As his legend has grown, he's kept the 305 at the center of his sound.
"I love that it's become almost the center of the universe, the center of Earth, or the Western Earth," he says of the Magic City. "It's between South America and Europe, this filter here in the Bermuda Triangle. We get all this madness, and it all filters through here."
As he works on his newest record, Schirach wields Miami's crazed mix of cultures as his weapon of choice to keep his sound unique.
"We have gotten a lot of attention," he says, "but then there's a lot of superfamous people who have already claimed Miami as their city when there's real Miami, with all the unique personalities that make the city superunique, all the cultures. I think the underground is definitely part of that. It's very important that they all get known, especially some of the characters we have down here."
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Wanna see more MasterMinds? At Artopia, sponsored by Miracle Mile and Downtown Coral Gables, you can check out work by 2014's ten MasterMind award finalists and watch as the three Mastermind Award winners are announced. And that's just the beginning. Artopia will also include live entertainment by Bottle & Bottega, CircX, and Flamenco Puro; local art by Tesoro Carolina, Trek 6, 8 Bit Lexicon, Hec One Love, Ivan Roque, and Jay Bellicchi; and DJ sets by Main Event Productions, Phaxas, Golden San, Skinny Hendrix, and DJ Supersede. Other sponsors include Rums of Puerto Rico (Official Rum sponsor), Car2Go, El Palacios de los Jugos, Beck's (official beer sponsor), and Vero Water (official water sponsor). Early bird tickets are available through Feb. 2. Visit the official Artopia website.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.
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