It's the summer of 2000 during the Love Parade in Berlin, and a million people surround a party float that slowly crawls its way across the German capital. On its widow's peak stands a 35-year-old Sven Väth.
Come nightfall, Väth's wavy blond hair, olive green top, and baggy red pants sway while he drops his mix of Wassermann's "W.I.R." The abrasive bassline rubs the crowd like steel wool as their feet stomp the streets.
It's daunting to think where techno would be without the German producer.
Väth hasn't changed much since the 2000 Love Parade or his time spinning at Frankfurt nightclub Omen, which closed in 1998. The DJ/producer still spins on vinyl and plays like a dynamo, and he still entrances crowds, whether dropping classic techno or going more melodic. He aims to do the same when he stops at Club Space's terrace on Friday, September 23.
"I'm always looking forward to performing at Club Space," Väth tells New Times via email. "The club is ideal for me to let off steam musically. The crowd is very dedicated and ready for anything good, especially in the morning hours when the daylight rises."
As a techno trailblazer, Väth has been spinning in Miami for decades.
"As far as I can remember, I was in Miami for the first time in 1987," he recalls. "Miami Sound Machine could be heard everywhere. That was also the beginning of Miami house music [via Murk Records]. Miami has always been a magnet for me. I did some great club shows in the '90s. From 2000 onwards, I played at Club Space, Winter Music Conference, Ultra Festival, and many Cocoon music showcases in different clubs."
While the city has played a vital role in Väth's career, his earliest years were spent cutting his teeth in the Frankfurt club space in the 1980s. With nothing to lose, Väth and his two partners opened Omen in 1988 at 24 years old.
"The Omen club was a pure techno club from the very beginning," he says. "The energy and radicalism were just unique and one of a kind."
A decade later, Väth launched his Cocoon Ibiza party series in 1999 and the legendary record label of the same name in 2000. The series became a staple on the Spanish party island before closing in 2019.
"We closed our Cocoon season with Kraftwerk live on stage — a dream come true," Väth notes. "Seth Troxler and I were also performing — and then came the pandemic."
During the lockdown, Väth took on the behemoth task of producing his first album in two decades and nearly 30 years from his seminal debut, Accident in Paradise.
Released in February, Catharsis marked Cocoon Recordings' 50th release. Half of the album's 13 tracks are bonafide party starters, while the other half is devoted to telling a story. Among brazen bass, techno measures, and splashes of synth-ridden mysticism, Väth tells you where it all began and all the watershed moments.
In "What I Used to Play," Väth narrates his decades of playing like some feverish audiobook: "My musical footprint/From different decades/Sound waves that became my DNA/What I used to play."
"During the pandemic, I devoted myself to many private things, and also to my past, my music and photo archive. After a year of pandemic and lockdowns, my inner voice asked me to write a song. That's how the song "Feiern" (German for celebrating) was born," Väth explains. "So I called my friend and musician Gregor Tresher and asked him if he would like to work on that song with me. I brought some field recordings and inspirations from my travels and musical influences. We had a very good flow and creative time together, and after three months, the album Catharsis was the result.
Väth also plans to release a compilation album, What I Used to Play, in November.
"The idea was to document my musical beginnings as a DJ. My favorite tracks from 1981 to 1989," he explains. "It will be a special vinyl box with 12 vinyl discs and a total of 37 songs from Kraftwerk to Frankie Knuckles to David Byrne and Brian Eno to Juan Atkins to Sly & Robbie and many, many more."
Even after all these years, Väth serves as a blueprint for the scene. He's still striving to spin in dark clubs for hours — chasing that elusive connection between himself and the crowd.
"I am a proud father of two children, and I am still totally enthusiastic about what we have achieved with our music," Väth says. "We are an important part of our culture. We create spaces and events where we gather and dance to our music together, like a ritual. This is essential, especially now in our crazy times we are going through. Our music stands for freedom, tolerance, and respect."
Sven Väth. With East End Dubs, Ms. Mada, and Thunderpony. 11 p.m. Friday, September 23, at Club Space, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 786-357-6456; clubspace.com. Tickets cost $20.40 to $37.48 via dice.fm.