Nathan Barato takes his craft – DJing and producing — seriously. It’s something he’s been honing for nearly two decades, and it has taken him around the world several times. Naturally, as any experienced electronic music artist ought to be, he’s well-acquainted with the norms of Miami nightlife.
“I feel like [they're] just a mélange of disregard for health and well-being,” Barato says, fondly reminiscing about Miami Music Weeks gone by. “Every year is a shit-show; you sleep when you can, a couple hours here, a few hours there. You want to try and be at as many parties as you can... You’re just constantly running around.”
Barato’s dead-on assessment of Miami’s most glorious shit-show stems not only from 17 years spent in the thick of it, but from a genuine appreciation of what Miami has to offer. During his most recent MMW excursion, the Toronto-born and -bred artist played a b2b with wAFF at Ultra’s Resistance stage before spinning at E11even to close out the week. Like many of Miami’s most devoted club rats and dopamine junkies, Barato found himself in Club Space during the Martinez Brothers’ 24-hour party. It’s appropriate, then, that he’ll be returning to take to the decks himself this Saturday alongside Art Department.
Barato, who has lately taken a distinctly tech-housey turn, has worked with several celebrated electronic record labels. His latest release, February’s Freak Beater EP, came out on Jamie Jones’ Hot Creations label. According to Barato, working with Jones has been among the more fulfilling collaborations of his career.
“Hot Creations has come to feel like a home label for me,” Barato says. “I pretty much send everything I make to [Jamie] before anybody else.... I’ve sent him tracks that were unfinished just to see if he was interested in me finishing."
Barato’s voice becomes noticeably more lively and thoughtful when the discussion turns to the particulars of his occupation. It's clear he has spent some time pondering and cultivating the Unified Theory of DJing.
“You have to read the crowd; that’s what being a DJ is, and playing something at the right time,” Barato says. “You’re fulfilling an atmosphere."
Given the tendency of modern clubs to squeeze in as many DJs on an evening’s roster as possible, it can be difficult for even the most seasoned act to create a sonic journey. Barato is also acutely aware of the delicate balancing act involved in determining what an audience needs and what it wants; like the best of them, he manages it as deftly as he can.
“It’s not so much people are like 'Play this!' and you have to do what they say; it’s more like you just kind of ride a wave, and sometimes you don’t really come out of that wave,” he says. “[It’s like] we’re reading a book but I’m turning the pages; you have to know when everyone’s read that page.”
But Barato showed no concerns regarding his set at Space. If anything, he is eyeing Miami’s most exciting club with more anticipation than he would elsewhere.
“For me, it’s a special night, because I’ve always loved that club, and it means a lot,” Barato says. “I’ve played there once before on the Terrace, and it was an amazing experience… I don’t know what time we’re going to finish; there’s that mystery, so there’s some excitement there because you can’t plan anything. You have to just be ready in the moment, and that’s when the magic usually happens."
Art Department & Nathan Barato
With Danyelino and Ms. Mada. 11 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at Club Space, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 786-357-6456; clubspace.com. Tickets cost $10 via ticketfly.com