Optimo's Unpredictability Makes Them One of the Most Fun Acts in Dance Music

Optimo's JD Twitch and JG Wilkes bring the goods to Electric Pickle on May 21.
Optimo's JD Twitch and JG Wilkes bring the goods to Electric Pickle on May 21.
Photo Courtesy of the Artist

With 20 years under their turntable belts, Optimo's JG Wilkes and JD Twitch make one of the most enduring partnerships in global dance music. It's a partnership that has seen the esteemed Scotsmen evolve from hosts of a small local underground club night at the turn of the millennium to internationally revered musical tastemakers in 2016.

And as with any dynamic duo, it all comes down to chemistry.

"We always had a connection and good dialogue about what makes anything interesting or exciting — music, film, art, etc.," explains JG Wilkes. "But maybe what glued us together creatively is what we experienced by doing so many parties together — seeing what is possible when you really, really do what you want."

The fiercely independent DIY ethos that distinguished Optimo's famed club night has also come to characterize them as the international DJ powerhouse they are today — one probing the uncharted outer reaches of house, techno, and left-field electronica.

"We never concern ourselves with what anyone else is playing," says Wilkes on the pair's idiosyncratic style. "We simply put it out there amongst the party — the music we love and believe is right for what we see in front of us and feel back from the crowd. No matter how fucked up it might seem on paper, it works if you get behind it for the right reasons."

But it seems "eclectic" is too small an adjective to encompass the true breadth and depth of music you will hear during an Optimo set. 

"I have never been a big fan of the word eclectic," says JD Twitch. "There is an implication that lots of different music is being thrown together for the sake of it, which is not what we do. I guess we look for music that has character and always strive to ignore the generic. We are generally turned on musically by records that were made with passion, imagination, and where the artist wasn't thinking too much about trying to sound like everyone else." 

Of course, spinning records at the club is hardly the extent of Optimo's good work. Besides Wilkes and Twitch's own production forays, the pair also runs two prolific imprints, Optimo Trax being the more dance-floor-oriented counterpart to Optimo Music, which champions anything and everything from mutant disco to electro-rock: "No genre, no dogma, just music we love and want to share," in their words.

"The labels have been stepping up a bit every year for the past few years," says Twitch. "This year — pressing delays notwithstanding — there should be around 20 to 25 releases plus a new label towards the end of the year that will have quite a defined aesthetic."

Upcoming Events

At least a few of those unheard new cuts are bound to find their way into the sprawling six-hour set Optimo has in store for Miami at the Electric Pickle on Saturday.

"Right away, we’re excited because it’s the Pickle," says Twitch. "It's great to have stayed in touch with Diego [Martinelli, of SAFE] since first being there. And knowing the space a bit — and the approach they have there — means we feel super positive vibrations for the party. It’s going to be special.

"We always love to play long and in an intimate space like the Electric Pickle," he adds. "We can get really stuck in and play from the heart."

Optimo. 10 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at the Electric Pickle, 2826 N Miami Ave., Miami; 305-456-5613; electricpicklemiami.com. Tickets cost $10 to $20 via residentadvisor.net

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