With his epically massive 'fro, it's pretty hard to miss Arremer Jack (AKA Allen Rodriguez) at the Electric Pickle. But once it hits your ears, you definitely can't miss the exuberant and decidedly soulful signature sound he's brought to the club's downstairs lounge as the resident DJ since 2014.
Suffice it to say homeboy digs deeper than most for those choice cuts. And it shows in sets that are as eclectic as they are reverent of dance music history, celebrating essential disco, funk, and rare groove classics alongside the edgier sounds of contemporary house, hip-hop, bass, and beyond.
In fact, it's not unusual for patrons to end up missing the internationally hyped headliners playing the Pickle's upstairs main room because they're instead stuck on the warm, feel-good vibes provided by Arremer Jack downstairs.
Find out what this beloved local selector had to tell New Times about his musical roots and meteoric rise on the Miami dance music scene. Then, peep the whopping five-hour-plus DJ mix he recorded exclusively for our readers.
New Times: How long have you been in Miami? What's your history here?
Arremer Jack: I've been living in South Florida for about 10 years — moved here from Queens, NYC, to stay with my dad. It was an odd transition between NYC and South Florida at first, but I've grown to absolutely love Miami and everything about it. Moving from one big city to another can be odd with getting to know the differences and becoming used to them. My first job ever was at Blockbuster, back after I graduated high school, which was a funny experience overall. I was then a security guard for many years before I got into DJing more on the full-time tip.
What kind of music did you grow up listening to? How did you first get into electronic dance music?
My parents had me young in NYC, so through my dad I mostly listened to hip-hop like Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Coolio, Jay Z, stuff like that. He was also big into the big Latin artists back in the '90s, like Marc Anthony, his absolute favorite. My sister, who was more on the rebel side, was my link to the current music at the time back in those days — could've been anything as long as it was on the radio or on TRL on MTV, back in the day. My mom would mostly put on radio stations with dance music back in the '90s, so I got some influences from that. My first real exposure to electronic music, honestly, was from video games. I absolutely adored how much they blended genres together in music for the video games I liked most, which were Sonic the Hedgehog, Mega Man, and Kirby. My first exposure to electronic music outside of that realm was Daft Punk on the radio back when Discovery was the huge new thing. I would tape-record "One More Time" from the radio and repeat it over and over again as a kid.
How did you land a DJ residency at the Electric Pickle?
I was just a clubgoer when I started going to the Pickle back late in the summer of 2013. Back in those days, I mostly went to SAFE parties, headed by the man I always call my big brother, Diego Martinelli. I was just a guy who came to dance all night in front of the DJ and cheer them on to give them energy to keep going even if there was nobody there. I'd stay until the end to meet the headliners, and I gave them gifts almost every time. I got to know all of the staff at the Pickle, gave them all music-related gifts,
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How do you approach the musical programming for your nights at the Electric Pickle?
I don't actually program sets. On nights, everything is on the fly in terms of order or how tracks are played for the night. I do, however, compile tracks I feel represent who I am in some way, whether it be my NYC roots or just me being a Miami person now... The key when I do this is that I try to represent who I am the most I can but also make sure it can resonate with people... That sax solo in that track can inspire a person who plays sax... That love song can make that couple who just had an argument make up and kiss... I try to help out in more ways than one when I program my music I use for my DJ gigs. I try to help the club make money, help couples love each other more, help friends connect, think, have fun, and most importantly, help people just get their groove back.
What do you think are the pros and cons of Miami's nightlife and dance music scene? What are some of your favorite and least favorite things about being a DJ or even just a clubgoer here?
One of the pros of the nightlife and scene is that the liquor licenses and everything at least cater more to nightlife venues more than other states. One of the cons is that the Miami scene in general is very fickle and close-knit. If you're not part of the crew or connected with someone in it, you're most likely out of luck with getting in. That is a thing in any big music scene in general, though. Just happens very much so here in Miami. Also, generally, people want more big names instead of just coming out to see local talent, but that's just the nature of Miami when this city has so much going on that people generally don't research who locals are or even give them a chance without knowing the name first... Another pro is that Miami is a melting pot like any other huge city; lots of diversity, new ideas, and new ventures coming out of every corner when it comes to art, culture, food, venues trying out different things to set themselves apart — everything. Another con, though, is lack of diversity amongst what the bigger parties in the scene have in terms of music and vibe. Miami in general is more of a city that likes to operate on trends. The hot trends right now are more on the darker techno side of things. That can be fine itself, but lots of people doing the same kind of thing can lead to stagnation.
So tell us about the mix you made for New Times.
This is without a doubt my most honest and raw set I have ever made. It's pure and unadulterated Allen. Since this feature is about who I am, I made a set that describes everything going through my mind and my life in general. I told many stories in this set. Some are about my family, some are about love, some are about amazing people I've met in my life, some are about myself. I channeled a lot of people and DJs throughout my whole music journey thus far in this. It is truly a special, memorable set for anyone who really wants to see how far my range in music really goes, since people think I mostly play house and/or disco music. It is a journey in the mind of a young afro guy.