Unless you’re a big-label boss or a local, your chances of playing a DJ set in Miami twice in one month are pretty slim. The amount of talent — both local and international — that flows through our electronic paradise is simply too vast.
Yet Ariel Corley, AKA DJ Holographic, is gearing up for her third Miami show in just as many weeks — this Saturday, December 21, at Floyd. The Detroit-born DJ, who'll be appearing as the latest guest of honor for Klangbox.FM's recurring Extra Credit party, refuses to be pigeonholed into any one genre and devotes herself instead to three pillars of dance music: house, techno, and disco. The quick-to-change sound of her sets has distinguished her from her peers and leaves crowds wanting more.
“I know that if I love techno, then I love disco,” Corley tells New Times by phone.“It makes no sense to me when I hear someone say they love house and techno but can’t stand disco. That’s why it’s easy for me to switch sounds: House and disco go hand-in-hand; same with techno and disco.”
To say 2019 was a successful year for DJ Holographic would be a major understatement. The Motor City stalwart made her Miami debut during Art Week, during which she played at Club Space for Jamie Jones’ Paradise party and the Delano Hotel for Bob Moses’ Inner City Odyssey. Additionally, Corley played at the Dirtybird Campout in California, Luciano’s Vagabundos series at Amnesia in Ibiza, and the crème de la crème for any DJ: Berlin’s Panorama Bar. Asked about her goals for 2020, Corley quickly quips she's eager to return to Panorama Bar sooner rather than later.
“Definitely play Panorama Bar one more time — or a couple more times," she says. "That set was magical, especially the crowd.” Corley also opened for Jamie Jones at another Paradise takeover in New York City earlier this year and has warmed up the decks for the Black Madonna.
As the birthplace of both techno and herself, Detroit has had a profound influence on DJ Holographic and her career. Although she found herself absorbed by the sound and the city that bore it while she was growing up, techno wasn't the only genre that shaped Corley; numerous influences helped her refine the diverse sonic palette she shares with listeners today. She counts the early soul music of Motown Records and the immaculately produced hip-hop beats of the late J Dilla as major influences and even found her high-school self mesmerized by the gritty electro sounds peddled by the likes of Justice and Boys Noize.
Because her father was a fan of house music, Corley also fondly recalls listening at a young age to songs touched by the late dance music legend Frankie Knuckles.
“As a Detroiter, we listen to everything," she says. "We are blessed to have techno and Motown, but we also have punk music, funk, and country; everything is very grassroots here.” Though Corley has already played the Terrace at Club Space, she will be an initiate to the more intimate downstairs venue, Floyd. Even as a newcomer to Miami nightlife, she already has an understanding of the vibe: “When I played at Space, I got to move around a bit and was able to check out Floyd. I definitely heard a certain Cuban and Latin-house feel, and that is something I would like to dive into more.”
The vibe DJ Holographic brings to each show is as diverse and unique as her track selection. Corley lets a more natural and organic approach inspire the music she'll deliver to the crowd of clubgoers: “I usually go by how my week has been,” she admits, “and my week just started, so I am feeling pretty loving and creative. I am actually going to go into the studio today. I’m working on a project close to me. It’s something along the lines of Robert Hood — something disco and church-like. He lets you open up your heart.”
Despite Corley's rise to stardom after three years of DJ’ing professionally, she has yet to release a debut album. Oddly enough, her album is ready to go; instead of haphazardly posting it on SoundCloud or Bandcamp, Corley respects the process and wants to wait for the right label to bite: “Me and my friend Alex Wilcox actually finished a bunch of tracks for the album earlier this year, but the goal is to find a home for them and have them dispersed throughout different labels. We could just put them out on Bandcamp, but right now, we have the goods; we are just waiting for the right house.” In addition to angling for a return to Panorama Bar, Corley’s goals for 2020 include the imminent release of three original tracks and to continue playing more shows and festivals around the world.
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As a Detroit native, DJ Holographic is familiar with the issue of big development and the challenges it brings to dance floors around the world. Miami is no stranger to this malaise after witnessing some of its most cherished clubs, including the Electric Pickle and Heart, lose the battle against development. “It depends on the speed. I realized it’s a much slower process in Detroit,” Corley says. “To do certain kinds of development, you actually have to live in the area. I don’t know too much about what is going on in Miami, but the fans, management, and industry workers should all put their foot down and talk to their city council. You outnumber them, and your voice matters.”
DJ Holographic’s style and flair are uniquely refreshing to the local scene. She will never second-guess a track once it's played, and her joie de vivre regarding music is one of inclusivity and, most important, an unimpeded groove. It makes perfect sense for her play a set at Floyd, where the close quarters and intimacy tend to bring out the best in selectors and audiences.
“I felt the love in Miami last time, and it was great,” Corley says. Her career trajectory shows that with just a little persistence and some elbow grease, you can break through and bring the techno, house, and disco machine to your neighborhood and then the world.