An industrial-sized fan, huge enough to cool off hell, whirred across from Jerry, AKA the Gamma Bot. About to perform some awesome '90s R&B-influenced electronic tracks, the guy's glorious mane was not even mussed by the manmade gusts.
Originally he and the other members of XYZA (pronounced zi-zuh) were planning to play their III Points Festival showcase outside. But after lugging equipment to Wood Tavern in this heat, they opted to stay indoors.
See also: III Points 2014: Miami New Times' Complete Coverage
The XYZA collective is relatively new. Two previous attempts to launch the project fell through before it was officially up and running in early 2014.
The mission is "focusing on the growth of [Miami's] local solo-electronic-artist music scene." The name is "a Gothic (Germanic/Teutonic) female name, which means 'by the sea.'" And there are 12 members: Brightwing, Jφhny†iger, KAI ZEN, _Lautlos, MANJA, P∆ZM∆L, Phantasman, Second Nature, Telescope Thieves, the Gamma Bot, Tidur., and Tyord.
Gamma Bot linked up with the group when he and Telescope Thieves happened to be playing the same London radio program. "Two weeks later, they were just like, 'Hey, you're part of the crew now. Get ready for shows.'"
Meanwhile, staying true to their slogan, "D.I.Y., together," many of the other members met through local self-promotion.
Now XYZA is one happy family. More than one of the showcase artists referenced to one another as "brothers."
But even if they are all metaphorically related, the performers' music remains diverse. From dubstep to ambient influences, they each bring their own style. And the differences are a strong suit -- depending on the atmosphere of a given night's space, they can pick and choose who goes on.
Gammabot says, "It's kind of hard with 12 dudes. You'd think we'd always fight for it. But honestly, everyone's really cool." And the focus is always on making sure the audience enjoys the show.
Putting on a show is something Phantasman did really well at Wood Tavern, playing his set while donning a hoodie over a silver skull mask.
"I like giving the mask to people and letting them put it on and go in a completely different direction," he says. "So some dude will be like 'Oh, it's Phantasman!'" All the while, the real act laughs off to the side.
Phantasman maintains that he is not a DJ. And he makes certain it's understood, stating, "I'm not morphing. I'm performing a song, and then it's over, and then it's another song."
Of course, this prankster isn't above occasionally perpetuating the misconception by incorporating transitions into his sets. "I have to trick people [into thinking I'm a DJ]," he jokes. "It's the only way they'll think I'm cool, man."
One of XYZA's first members was _Lautlos. He likes to describe his songs as electronic lullabies. "I put people to sleep," he says. But that's not always the effect.
If you want to get technical, he runs each individual track of a song, percussion and then everything else, through parallel processing before completing the final piece. This creates otherworldly distortion, as heard on the snares from his track "Subliminal Criminals" -- and that won't leave anyone snoring.
As the XYZA showcase and happy hour wound down, people whooped from all over Wood Tavern. The crew was proud. And they'd recruited a few new fans into the family.
Meanwhile, gazing around the bar, Gammabot was simply bewildered by how it all just comes together.
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"Everyone in XYZA loves music," he marvels. "It's all about working towards the same goal."
-- Alexandra Noghaven
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