For many locals and tourists, overpriced bottles and $80 cover charges at South Beach clubs are losing their appeal. Low-key venues like Trade and Treehouse, once industry hangouts, are becoming the new nightspots. According to Hugo Bianco and Danny Tory, two of the minds behind the city's most popular underground parties, people are finally starting to pay more attention to the music.
"If you look back just three or four years ago, it was very difficult to find maybe two good underground parties, and now we live in a city that can sustain five or six great events with DJs from all around the world," says Tory, a co-owner of LINK Presents and the marketing director for Treehouse.
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After seven years of bringing international techno acts to Miami, Tory and his longtime friend, accomplished producer and DJ Hugo Bianco, noticed a void in the music scene.
"We felt Miami was grossly underrepresented as far as talent that's brought up here," says Tory. "We wanted to harvest that and represent something really Miami, something homegrown."
To fill that void, Bianco launched Clock Recordings, a label built to be an incubator for the kind of emerging artists who embody the "all-about-the-music" mentality that Bianco and Tory have always fostered.
"As a DJ and producer, I was inspired by the prospect of finding new talent that still hasn't been unearthed by the industry," says Bianco. "There are a lot of underground labels, but not with the brand of techno and electronica we wanted to showcase. Right now, this is all being discovered in Miami."
Bianco's ear as an artist and Tory's own experience with the business side of nightlife and music proved the perfect combination for managing a label. As Clock's owner, Bianco has final say over material while Tory handles artist relations as the label's director.
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With six artists signed to its roster, Clock is still in its infancy. The label's essential character, however, is concrete.
"We try to make sure the tracks we release have a lot of artisanal sounds, not so many loops or samples, but a more handmade feel," says Bianco.
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Tory describes the label's aesthetic as "minimal, but very avant-garde and danceable." Above all, he says it has to represent Miami's underground talent. "We're going to push the envelope a bit, always go a little futuristic. That's definitely a word we'd like always to be associated with Clock."
He says the biggest difficulty during Clock's early stages has been having to loan out the label's "babies."
As he points out: "When an artist is up-and-coming and still developing their sound, you have to relinquish some of your hottest tracks to prominent labels in order to boost your profile."
The sacrifice has paid off, though. Of the releases Clock's artists have put out on Stickrecordings and Suara, six have hit the top 20 on Beatport's techno charts. They've also had releases supported by This Is Hot Audio, Be One Records, and Baseware Presents.
Bianco has big dreams for Clock. "We want to be one of the biggest labels in the U.S., a firm that puts out music and does events on a global level. Maybe even start our own festival brand."
But ultimately, he says the end goal for Clock Recordings is more than mere notoriety. He and Tory want to change the current reputation of Miami's music scene.
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"We like to think Miami is on the cusp of becoming one of the bigger electronic and underground music cities in the States," says Tory. "We want to see ourselves in the same sentence with Chicago, Detroit, New York."
-- Amanda Mesa
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