There are two things that have been Bardot's trademark since the venue opened its doors in 2009: intimacy and quality of sound.
Bardot is one of those rare venues that gives music fans the opportunity to listen to some of their favorite musicians play right next to them. And it is fair to say that Bardot has one of the best sound systems for a venue of its size. That might be the reason why many first-class DJs and musicians have performed there: Jamie xx, Nicolas Jaar, Erykah Badu, James Murphy, Hot Chip — the list goes on and on.
It's also one of those places that has a personality of its own, a classy spirit mixed with a downtown perfume. Hidden in a parking lot, the only obvious evidence that something is going on inside is the group of people clamoring to get in below a small red awning.
This week, Bardot is turning seven years old, and it will celebrate with family, friends, and a special DJ set by Toro y Moi. New Times spoke with Bardot’s music director David Sinopoli about the craziness he's experienced over the last seven years.
New Times: Did you ever imagine that you will be celebrating Bardot’s seven-year anniversary?
David Sinopoli: I came in a year into it, and it was already established as a hotspot that people would go to because the midtown/Wynwood area was evolving. When I was brought in, there was a lot of live music programing that was localized in Miami and it was going around in circles, the same acts over and over again. I was brought in by Erica Freshman and Amir Ben-Zion, Amir being the creator and the visionary behind Bardot — the concept, the decoration, the location, the layout. He brought me in, moved me down to Miami, and through Bardot we have come to work in many different projects. Seven years is a very long time, and I didn’t really ever look at it that way. I never really knew for how long we would be around. I just knew that we had to keep putting on quality music and stay true to what Bardot was, which is an evolving sound and an evolving model of different people that are moving into the neighborhood or leaving it. We kept it real.
Bardot has a very curated music selection when it comes to the acts that are booked there, and I think it's one of the reasons why it survived all these years. What do you look for in a DJ or a band when booking?
Quality. I know it’s a pretty broad term, but we like to always stay in a quality product. Fresh, innovative sounds that haven’t played in Miami yet or in a small venue like Bardot. It’s always like quality control. We do a lot of rock 'n' roll, a lot of house music, some hip-hop, a mixture of many styles of music. I think that what they all share is the quality and taste that we try to bring to the program of Bardot.
What was your first booking at Bardot?
I started working for Bardot right around Basel in 2010, and the first show that I booked was How to Dress Well and Toro y Moi. And it’s very cool because now in our seven-year anniversary, Chaz from Toro y Moi is going to be playing there on Friday night. It’s pretty cool — a full circle.
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome during these years working for Bardot? ?
Not being the shiny new toy, being the old established place with all these new places opening up. We are constantly having some of our clientele leave and go to other places and then come back. That’s a big challenge. Also the neighborhood changes a lot; sometimes [it's] to our benefit and sometimes it's not very good. The challenge of having a nightlife spot for seven years, always reinventing the sound, the room, and thinking about what kind of music to play in a different way. Always trying to keep it fresh.
What was one of the most memorable stories that happened to you at Bardot?
I think the first time meeting Amir Ben-Zion was a pretty cool story. I walked into Bardot to meet with him to talk about the possibility of working for Bardot. We go and sit a table, and soon there was this beautiful brunette that brought a tray with Don Julio 1942 and shot glasses, and she pulled out a humongous joint and she sparked it for Amir. I took the shot like a 26-year-old guy, and Amir looked at me and said, “No, son, you sip this type of tequila.”
I think that [it] is very important to mention that although I do the music selection, Amir is the lifeblood of Bardot. He is the guy that doesn't talk to the press that much, but he is the visionary that came to the neighborhood in the time he did, and most of the craziest and funniest stories happen in and around Amir’s table. He set the place up like a living room with his furniture and his art. It is really Amir’s room that he let us create in. So from all the artists who have played there to my ability to organize concerts there, to the chance to advance my career and to grow III Points out of it — it really was Amir blessing the carpet and allowing us to do it and not holding us back, always empowering us, always paying what we needed to pay to the artist to being taken care of and feel good. Just creating a very free place.
As the music director of Bardot and III Points, I assume that you also are a huge music fan. What was the act that you booked at Bardot that made you feel extremely happy?
Probably Nicolas Jaar playing for four hours. Jaar’s music is more like a feeling. You feel his music and that room at Bardot has a feel. You can smell the smoke, you can listen to the sounds, you can look at the art, you feel something there, and that connected very deeply with me. I think it was a Thursday night during Art Basel in 2012; people were making out in dark corners, people were dancing, there was this aroma. It was one of those moments that I always remember.
You guys are planning a big three-day celebration for Bardot this weekend. What can people expect?
[Tonight], we will have a celebration with the regulars and the Miami crowd with some of our resident DJs, Jeremy [Ismael], Lazaro [Casanova], and I’m gonna play a little myself. And then Saturday, Link Miami Rebels is going to come in and do a curated night with Byrdipop, Danyelino, and Thunderpony. But Friday will be the big celebration with Toro y Moi. Chaz plays in a rock 'n' roll band, produces really weird future beats and techno, and has a bunch of different other side projects that really have the essence of Bardot — a lot of rock 'n' roll, a lot of house, a lot of future beats. Toro y Moi is one of those very iconic figures that also pretty much resembles the diversity and quality of Bardot’s sounds.
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Who are you planning to bring when Bardot turns 10?
We are going to find Tupac hiding in some weird place in South America, and he will come to Bardot to play a one-night show.
7 Years on the Carpet: Bardot Anniversary Party
Lazaro Casanova, Legs Benedict, and Jeremy Ismael. 12 a.m. Thursday, October 20, at Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-576-5570; bardotmiami.com.
Byrdipop, Danyelino, and Thunderpony. 10 p.m. Saturday, October 22, at Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-576-5570; bardotmiami.com.