Miami's underground dance music scene owes many hard-working local promotions visionaries, many of which have come and gone. But one crew that has stood the test of time, while standing out for its bold, forward-thinking musical programming, is SAFE.
Since launching in 2006, these trailblazing tastemakers have introduced Miami to many of electronic dance music's great iconoclastic luminaries, including DJ Sprinkles, Optimo, Ben UFO, Martyn, and Joy Orbison. Put simply, SAFE parties are more than mere dance floor hedonism -- they offer a musical education.
Ahead of the crew's seventh anniversary celebration at Electric Pickle with DJ Sprinkles on Friday, Crossfade caught up with SAFE's Diego Martinelli to chat about SAFE's evolution and seven essential records.
Crossfade: Seven years is an impressively long tenure for any nightlife promotions group in this city. How do you feel you've evolved since first launching?
Diego Martinelli: We're growing inwards. Time is relative. We're simply guided by what we find inspiring. We spend a lot of time listening to music, and love to discover new artists and projects. We aim to keep inviting artists to Miami whom we feel are putting out exceptional music. There is no question that the surrounding dance music world has changed in crazy ways since we started this project. For us, the evolution of SAFE has felt pretty natural, and thankfully very positive. Early on, we learned about the importance of embracing changes and the challenges that may come with them. It's been a hell of a ride so far, and it continues to embolden and motivate us. It has not been easy, of course. Seven years in, the experiences and people involved have made it all beyond well worth it. We are fortunate and grateful.
What are some of the most memorable moments from these last seven years for you? Any favorite artist performances or parties?
I would say that almost every single show was a memorable moment -- it's impossible to narrow it down to just a few. So many nights have been high-intensity and high-emotion. If you're asking that I select one show memory that I'd take with me on the "desert island," it would probably be James Holden's set during our fifth anniversary closing. I always say that he is whom I'd want DJing during the end of the world.
The shows have all been uniquely special in their own ways. Equally valuable as those memories, has been the meeting and developing of relationships with incredible artists, patrons and supporters of our team. What we do is, and will always be, a community-driven project. I should also mention that Miami is very lucky to have the Electric Pickle. It's a favorite venue to play for so many of the most brilliant acts in our realm. What has gone on there is important, and we would not be the same without it. It is an institution in today's world of independent dance music.
You've booked an eclectic variety of artists over the years -- representing styles ranging from house and techno to post-dubstep and future bass. When push comes to shove, what do you think defines the type of music SAFE is interested in showcasing? What are the sonic elements or artistic qualities that you're looking for?
The single thing we do always look out for is a sincere intention behind the work. We care to function as an extension of the artists we work with and feature. We want people to experience the music as close as possible to the way its creator intended for it to be felt and received. Integrity, kind, open-minded people, and a great sound system -- it's simple. We also like leading the people who trust us into the unknown.
See also: Miami's 25 Best Electronic Music Acts
In honor of SAFE's seven years of curating quality electronic dance music, which seven records do you consider most essential to what you do?
Mission Control's "Outta Limits"
"This here is a pre-Murk Ralph Falcon production from 1990, originally released on Miami's Deep South Recordings label. It's a seminal classic that was part of many of my warm-up sets for a very long time. Bonus fact: the spoken word sample is Timothy Leary."
DJ Qu's "Party People Clap" (Levon Vincent Remix)
"This is an ultra-deep and dark basement chug by two of my favorite minds from the Tri-State area, not to mention a very hard record to own. It has a distinct hypnotic effect when applied in the appropriate context. Levon and Qu are two geniuses that we are elated to work with."
DJ Sprinkles' "Grand Central Pt. 1" (Motor City Drum Ensemble Remix Dub)
"The first time I heard this record, Joy Orbison was playing it. It gave me chills and activated my tear ducts. It's perfection and it means a great deal to me."
Tobias' "I Can't Fight The Feeling"
"Here is an indispensable piece of elegant, emotional techno by the masterful Tobias Freund. It's understated and haunting at the same time. Another of my favorite recordings ever."
Omar S' "Day"
"Omar S represents our balance well. We will always have a strong connection to Detroit. Without what came from there, we would not be doing what we are doing."
Silent Servant's "Invocation Of Lust"
"This piece serves as a post-peak cinematic floor burner, or just a beautiful listening record at its original tempo. Silent Servant is one of the brightest minds in dark music today."
Breaker 1 2's "2"
"My favorite record of 2013. It's been called retro-future. I think it tears at the fabric of space-time. One YouTube commenter called it an 'existential life crisis soundtrack.' Breaker 1 2 is another hyper-brilliant mind that may have dipped at least a toe in another dimension."
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Safe's Seventh Anniversary. With DJ Sprinkles, alongside Diego, Will Renuart, Gabriel Alexander, JC Santana, and Klauss. Presented by Safe. Friday, August 15. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $15 plus fees via residentadvisor.com. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.