Best Electronica Artist 2015 | Niko Javan | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Any music lover with a laptop can be a "producer," but it takes true skill, vision, and perhaps a touch of madness to be an "artist." That's a moniker that's earned, and 24-year-old Niko Javan has done more than most to claim the rights. Not only is he an inspiring musician but he's a mind-melting visual artist. He creates all his own music videos, packed with mind-warping visuals. For the title track of his latest EP, Pornicopia, he put together a smart-but-WTF-worthy NSFW clip depicting fruits and vegetables doing truly unmentionable things to each other. And he even made an iPhone app for the album! Musically, he's a chameleon, constantly changing his colors to fit the vibe. He can rep trap, moombahton, electro, hip-hop, house, and everything in between. Before Pornicopia's ass-shaking, feel-good island vibes, he dug into sexy house atmospheres on Dream Boat, and before that, he went deep and dark on Trench. Javan's a man defined less by genre than by personal motivation. Always pushing himself toward new sounds, boredom is the only enemy and stagnation the only sin. The one constant in Niko's world is the element of fun individualism. In other words, he may be a serious artist, but he's never to be taken too seriously. He's the kind of guy who wears Cheetohs T-shirts and takes press photos in furniture stores. In short, he's very Miami.

From the ashes of Bella Rose and the Boom Boom Room rose the littlest club that could, Do Not Sit on the Furniture — or as it's more commonly known to Miami clubbers, Do Not Sit. The name is a mouthful, but it's also an apt reminder of the club's M.O.: Whatever you do, keep on dancin'. The people behind the mini nightclub in the heart of South Beach include San Francisco DJ/producer Behrouz and his wife, Megan Nazeri. And since 2013, Do Not Sit has been packing the space thanks to smart bookings like Nic Fanciulli, Seth Troxler, and Josh Wink. As reliably great as the music is, Do Not Sit's best attribute is its relaxed vibe. For once in SoBe, worries about being pushed aside by bottle-service demands or dealing with overly packed dance floors go out the window. A simple but hypnotic disco ball revolves over the flood, while a sound system capable of rearranging your internal organs pumps out the bass. Drinks are moderately priced (for the Beach, anyway), with beers going for around $5 and well drinks ranging from $8 to $10, depending upon the night.

Readers' choice: LIV

Whimsical, quirky, captivating — no other band captures the Magic City's hot burnin' soul quite like Bluejay. Although all the members are Miami natives, the "indie soul" trio first coalesced in Tallahassee at Florida State University, where lead singer and guitarist Jay Thomas met cellist Oscar Quesada. Thomas' sister, JoJo Sunshine, later joined the boys as the pulse of the group, adding percussion — snares, a floor tom, and kick drum — and, eventually, the synth. The trio finally came to fruition in 2009, when Thomas, Quesada, and Sunshine performed their first gig as Bluejay, eventually releasing their debut studio album, Mercury, followed by their sophomore production, Goblins. Their latest work, Bluejay Mixtape Vol. 1, includes live recordings and reworked and rerecorded versions of their older songs. But what really makes Bluejay stand out is its live shows. No matter where it plays, whether at small, intimate venues like downtown Miami's Railroad Blues or at outdoor music concerts like this year's Heineken TransAtlantic Festival, Bluejay bridges the gap between Miami's rock and electronic-music scenes, bringing a new sound of acoustic folk and warmth to the 305.

Readers' choice: SunGhosts

Yes, the Jellyfish Brothers are actual brothers. They're also the dudes — Greg and Eddy Alvarez — behind Audio Junkie, the much-loved series of experimental music documentaries about mostly local bands. For the past few years, the Alvarezes have ceaselessly toiled away on their film and music projects, becoming minor celebrities among the folks who frequent Wynwood and Little Haiti's rock clubs. Yet they remain unknown to most Miami music fans. Maybe that's the way Greg and Eddy like it. But we sure as hell wouldn't mind if their new album, Hyperlight Drifter, a trippy dance-punk piece of work with nods to freestyle and street rap, scored the Jellyfish Bros a gig reworking Pitbull's next ode to culo. And hey, don't say it can't happen. In a world where the 305's ambassador to the Bermuda Triangle, the eminently weird Otto von Schirach, has helmed an official remix for Gloria Estefan, anything is possible.

There's more to Hialeah than agua, fango, y factoría. In fact, the City of Progress is home to "the José Martí of Miami's Latin funk scene," Electric Piquete. Rumbiando their way through the Magic City since their first appearance in 2008 at Churchill's annual HialeahFest, EP has become a staple in the 305's Latin music scene, performing everywhere from Little Havana's Ball & Chain to Coral Gables' Carnaval on the Mile and to national television audiences on Fusion TV. The band released its debut self-titled album in 2011 but is currently working on its sophomore production. While los músicos definitely know how to make la gente bailar with their jazzy Latin tunes, EP prides itself on its Cuban (and Puerto Rican) roots, as revealed in its latest tracks — "En La Playa Girón," which was inspired by the Bay of Pigs invasion, which bassist Michael Mut's grandfather and the band's trumpet player, Rich Dixon, were a part of — and "De Cara al Sol," taken from Cuban poet and political activist José Martí's Versos Sencillos. Though Electric Piquete turns up the fuego everywhere it plays, it never forgets where it came from.

Not quite classifiable as hip-hop, rock, or pop, Twelve'Len's Zach Fogarty, Vares Joseph, and John Falco insist, "We're creating our own genre." With four collections of carefully crafted, stylistically nuanced cuts, this threesome is exploring the kind of heady future tuneage that blends all of Miami's essential yet disparate music scenes into a single mercurial sound. On Yellow, their debut EP release, Fogarty, Joseph, and Falco experimented with indie pop and alternative rock while still taking the occasional side trip into hip-hop. Next, they turned Blue, venturing into moody electronica. And then, for Silver, they transitioned toward soulfully ambient singer-songwriter stuff, shapeshifting again. Now the Twelve'Len guys are prepping their latest effort, Pink, and it is a refined, streamlined take on their so-often sprawling aesthetic. Track to track, verse to verse, Fogarty, Joseph, and Falco cross-fade between hip-hop, rock, pop, dance, soul, R&B, and the multitudinous other sonic shades of Yellow, Blue, and Silver to finally achieve the synesthetic vision they've been chasing since professing to be "a different kind of indie band for the Miami scene."

Bass, booty, house music, Spanglish phone sex, and Calle Ocho motel hookups. Those are just some of the archetypal aspects of life in the 305 — from its streets to its clubs to its darkest pay-by-the-hour rooms — that inspire Little Havana's own Jesse Perez to bump dirty beats till each and every ass is bouncin' from la esquina to the VIP. As a Dade County dude who grew up on Miami bass and homegrown house, he is the heir to Uncle Luke and DJ Laz, Oscar G and Ralph Falcon. Commanding a flawless feel for definitive South Florida party sounds and a deliriously NSFW sense of humor, Perez makes brainy hump music that could come only from Miami, with track titles like "Hialeah Chongita," "Bukkake Challenge," and "Still Slangin' That D." He's nasty. He's shameless. He's hilarious. And his debut full-length slab, 2014's Kama Sucia, is a 305 masterpiece made for bumpin', grindin', and sippin' warm rum in an Executive Fantasy Hotel bed that hasn't been made for two days.

Video may well have killed the radio star, but Shake 108 FM is bringing that music back to life one killer track at a time. The nonprofit radio station launched last year thanks to the 2010 Local Community Radio Act, which gives small-time radio operators a shot at starting their own community-based station. Local music junkie Peter Stebbins had plotted everything from going pirate radio to opening a station in Bimini with a giant antenna before the new law gave him a legal — and more realistic — shot at radio glory. With only three available frequencies in the Magic City at the time, the chances for a newbie like Stebbins launching his own radio station were slim. But the man shakin' things up in Miami got lucky. And now the rest of the city finally has a musically tasteful radio station that not only leaves the Taylor Swifts, Sam Smiths, and Meghan Trainors of the world to Y-100 but that supports the local community. More so, local music. With tunes that range from Miami's Suénalo to Jack Johnson to Daft Punk, Shake 108 lives up to its mission: "to provide a wide variety of music that makes you wanna shake your booty!"

Readers' choice: Y100

Experience, technology, and a legacy of amazing production: Those are the rock-solid foundations of the Studio Center in Miami Lakes. After all, the studio has been helping musicians on a local, national, and international scale get their dreams out of their heads and onto the master tape for more than 30 years. In that time, it has earned eight Grammy Awards for its work with artists including Shakira and Ricky Martin. It's got an award-winning video-production studio too whose work you may recall on hit shows like Flipper and Smokey and the Bandit. Whatever kind of groove you want to lay down, Studio Center's got state-of-the-art equipment tailored to your sound, from hip-hop to rock, pop, Latin, folk, jazz, and punk. These storied halls have graced the world with LPs from everyone from Kool & the Gang to Ginuwine to the Game. Even Scott Storch and Madonna laid down some vinyl magic in Miami Lakes. With four studio options packing multiple rooms and vocal booths, who knows what you'll cook up in here? You can't make that solid-gold hit unless you put in the work.

DIY will never die. Especially if outfits like Miami's Limited Fanfare Records continue to crank out kick-ass independent music on vinyl, cassette, CD, and digital formats. Launched in 2011, this local label, run by band manager and music-industry veteran Brian Kurtz, has released dozens of albums, EPs, compilations, and singles by both national and local acts, from Los Angeles garage rockers the Ettes and Nashville's Denney and the Jets to Miami rock bands Ex Norwegian and Lil Daggers. The imprint was initially funded by selling off Kurtz's beloved record collection. And though the operation has since achieved fiscal balance through the increasingly dicey business of music sales, the boss' decision to cash in his most treasured worldly possessions in pursuit of a dream job is an obvious sign of how deeply and personally invested he, the bands, and the rest of the crew have been since the beginning of this collective endeavor. "Limited Fanfare is all about putting out quality music," Kurtz says. "Not money. Not hype."

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®