When we announced our second annual Ultra Music Festival spinoff, we never imagined we would receive a staggering 87 submissions, 54 of which were sent to Miami New Times and 33 to New Times Broward-Palm Beach, from both established DJs and relative greenhorns. Amazingly, we managed to listen to them all.
Many of the submissions consisted of progressive house, hard house, and trance, so we deliberately looked for an entry that stood out from the pack. Too many of the discs sounded like someone spinning records in his bedroom, alone, whiling away the hours. Word of advice, DJs: If you want to play at a major event like Ultra, play as if you were in front of an audience of thousands. Bring some energy to your mix.
But anyway, out of all those submissions, we narrowed it down to a final six, three from each paper. There was Four 4ths, who mixed up the likes of Tiefschwarz and Soul Mekanik. DJ Soozin, whose name should ring familiar to many of you, charmed us when she used a Radiohead remix in her entry. Reza Rafaty went even further, mixing up all things house, including IDM. DJ Speechless's breaks CD bears mention, as does Oliver Macdonald's exploration of hard-house and main-floor hits on his disc.
But Michael Trukz Ramirez claimed the prize. Born in Texas, raised in Puerto Rico, and living in Miami, Ramirez's disc possessed an effortless and energizing style, marked by his use of tracks from Mylo and Jori Hulkkonen. I just wanted to do something different, he says. In the past, I've mostly played funky house, progressive, and trance, and I wanted to give [this one] more of an electro sound.
The 26-year-old Ramirez got his first taste of electronic music as a student at University of Florida, but not until after he graduated with an architecture degree in 2000 did he focus on DJ'ing. That's when I got back to Puerto Rico and bought my first equipment, he says. By late last year Ramirez had stepped up to some big-time gigs back in Puerto Rico, including opening spots for DJ Cue, DJ Roland, and Infusion. Eventually, Ramirez moved back to Miami in January and started as a junior architect. I'm dying to get a job in nightlife, but it's hard to break into the scene here, he admits.
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To that end, Ramirez realizes the magnitude of winning a slot at Ultra 7, which takes place Saturday, March 26, at Bayfront Park. It's America's premiere dance event, so it's great exposure, he enthuses. This is my fourth year going to Ultra. I used to save my vacations just for this. I've always loved the scene.