It makes perfect sense to kick off the inaugural We Belong Here music festival in Virginia Key Beach Park with a headliner who has a connection to the waterways that goes well beyond social-media promotion.
Throughout the past decade, South African-born, Swiss-bred producer Nora En Pure (AKA Daniela Di Lillo) has graced festivals and clubs alike with her mesmerizing melodic spin on house music — bringing chilled pads perfect for outdoor venues with a fast-paced cadence and euphoric buildups for the clubs.
For the one-day festival on Sunday, February 20, Di Lillo promises to bring a hybrid approach, channeling warm sounds while keeping the foot movements speedy.
"The last outdoor venue I played here was my Purified Miami event in 2019, and out in nature has been even longer," Di Lillo tells New Times. "I'm really looking forward to playing at such an amazing location and will be playing a mix of my current favorites and some classic Nora En Pure sounds."
Anyone who's been to Virginia Key knows that despite its idyllic setting, the amount of trash, mostly plastic bottles and beer cans, that washes up on its shores is heartbreaking.
Last year, Di Lillo partnered with the nonprofit Beneath the Waves, an ocean conservation foundation helping to better protect the oceans and endangered marine life.
"I always love playing by the ocean," Di Lillo says. "It is definitely a very sentimental setting, and the music hits differently. I wouldn't say the partnership makes it more memorable, but my recent trip with Beneath the Waves was so fantastic, and any chance I have to be by the ocean makes me very happy."
Prior to 2020, Di Lillo toured seemingly nonstop. These days, while no event is guaranteed, she's seems back to racking up the frequent flyer miles. She played Club Space back in September and is set to return to South Florida later this month.
"Many events are still being postponed, many markets are still completely closed, so I'm grateful for every time I can share the love for music with a great crowd," she says.
In addition to the hectic touring schedule, De Lillo boasts a near-constant musical output. Last month, she released her latest track, "Reminiscing," via Zurich-based label Enormous Tunes.
Synths stab the track with vibrato and send the bass tunneling through the speakers to rub against the listener's bones.
"We always try to live in the here and now," Di Lillo says of the track. "Sometimes to move forward, you need to process and think of past things, possibly grow with the experience. It always creates quite an epic moment in my sets with the cinematic breakdown."
Breaking away from rubber-stamped deep house, Di Lillo cleverly adds a symphonic string section during the buildups — not to add tawdry melodies, but to enrich a track and cut through the decadence. Eschewing vocals in her production, Di Lillo allows music's universal language to speak for itself.
"More sentimental is perhaps not the right term, but at times, or at least in my productions, I feel instrumental compositions can speak for themselves," she adds.
Not that vocals are a deterrent. Last month, Di Lillo remixed German DJ/producer Claptone's languidly sung "Queen of Ice," splitting the difference and making two remixes: one stripped down, balmy to lounge around to, and another that captures the dance floor during peak hours.
"I initially worked on a chilled-out version that would complement the soft vocals and make it a pretty track. It was clear I would need a clubbier version too," she says. "It is common to work on different versions during the process, but to have them in quite a contrast to each other was like working two completely different tracks. It was a nice challenge."
Di Lillo is ready to drive her party series and label, Purified, more than ever before.
"We can't wait to finally have more events this year, which is what we were really missing out on while growing the label during the pandemic," she explains. "We have so much fantastic music signed as well, so our release calendar is packed until quite far down the year."
Instead of keeping her philanthropic efforts and career separate, Di Lillo intends to merge the two.
"I am really excited about the Beneath the Waves project," she says. "We are working on some short episodes that show more about our collaboration, the work that they do, and why it is important."
Nora En Pure at We Belong Here Festival. With Don Diablo, Purple Disco Machine, Lost Frequencies, Bakermat, Yotto, and others. Sunday, February 20, at Virginia Key Beach Park, 4020 Virginia Beach Dr., Miami; webelonghere.world. Tickets cost $149 to $1,500 via posh.vip.