When Fool's Gold Day Off rolls into Wynwood, it will have come a long way from its humble beginnings. "Day Off started as a party in a Soho parking lot five years ago," A-Trak remembers. He would know. The 33-year-old Canadian DJ has been there from the start. He founded the Fool's Gold record label back in 2007. Not long after that, A-Trak (born Alain Macklovitch) got the idea for Fool's Gold Day Off.
"It’s where we bring together all the music we listen to, from Fool's Gold extended family to artists we’re fans of," he says. For A-Trak, the event is as much a concert as a networking opportunity. "We’ve met people hanging out at Day Off that we ended up signing to the label — this is where the whole vision of Fool’s Gold comes together. And this year’s events are bigger than ever."
A-Trak, though, really never has a day off. While most people can’t balance the simple task of walking and texting, A-Trak has managed to balance being a working DJ/producer, running his own label, and even penning the occasional blog in his spare time. As a DJ in an almost constant state of touring, he created Infinite Legroom, a travel blog that included tips and tricks for those who love travel but couldn’t afford plane tickets.
"I blogged for a long time, for years," he says. "I think I was one of the first DJs to blog — I used to just call it tour diaries. Now I think Twitter and Instagram replaced blogging. But also, sometimes I write articles. I wrote for Huffington Post for a while. Medium.com too."
As a teen, he brought home every DJ title known to man, including the 1997 DMC World Championships. He was 15-years-old when he did that, making him the youngest (and only Canadian) to ever take home the prize. He was a whiz kid in the world of DJs, merging rap and electronic in ways few had before him. Kanye West took him on tour in 2004, and continued to work with A-Trak for the next few years on Late Registration and Graduation.
His older brother, David Macklovitch, is the frontman of the always-funky Chromeo. So we can chalk at least some of the talent up to genetics.
These days, he's still figuring out ways to connect with crowds. "Every show is different," he says. "Every audience is different. It's my job to figure out what to play, and when — to keep them happy." And when he says "them" he means everyone, not just the picky critics or the mainstream fans. "I'm not talking about what one person in a 1200 person crowd might want to hear. I'm talking about the shared vibe of the whole crowd. I mix up electronic music and hip hop — the dosage, the proportion of each, that varies from night to night."
The DJ landscape is much different than it was when A-Trak was a 15-year-old scratching his way to the top. For one, there's not as much vinyl. "Yep that's the main difference," he admits. "The equipment changed, the technique changed."
Though it's not necessarily a bad thing, as he points out. "But on the flipside, DJs express their creativity in different ways now. DJs make their own edits of songs, combining parts of two or three tracks into one. It's also a lot more visual now. I love the new styles too. I'm open to everything.
The Fool's Gold Miami lineup will feature names like Flosstradamus, Vic Mensa, Laidback Luke, Rome Fortune, Miami's own Denzel Curry, Alison Wonderland, and label newcomer Bosco, who A-Trak recruited via Twitter after hearing one of her songs.
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And, of course, A-Trak himself will be performing, adding another column to his already daunting to-do list.
"Finding time for everything is the great challenge of my life," he says. "But it also keeps things exciting."
Fool's Gold Day Off with Flosstradamus, A-Trak, Vic Mensa, Bosco, Laidback Luke, and others. 2 p.m. Sunday, September 13, at Mana Wynwood Production Village, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-573-0371; manawynwood.com. Tickets cost $30 to $45 plus fees via axs.com. All ages.