III Points Festival

III Points 2017: Jacques Greene on Loving Miami and Montreal's Music Scene

Jacques Greene at III Points in 2014.
Jacques Greene at III Points in 2014. Photo by Ian Witlen/theCameraClicks.com
click to enlarge Jacques Greene at III Points in 2014. - PHOTO BY IAN WITLEN/THECAMERACLICKS.COM
Jacques Greene at III Points in 2014.
Photo by Ian Witlen/theCameraClicks.com
Few think of the club as conceptually as Jacques Greene. On his new album Feel Infinite, the Canadian DJ and producer paints a vivid picture of clubbing as utopia, the lone shelter of a pure and unspoiled hedonism. But he admits that such images can be the stuff of dreams, or the stuff of nightmares.

“The club is at its best a utopia,” he says. But at its worst? “It is utter dystopia. It’s bottle service and the plebs waiting on the sides and crashing into each other and girls getting date raped. It can be the worst environment in the world.”

The conversation takes place in front of the Bass Museum at Collins Park in Miami Beach, perhaps the most unspoiled place in a city where the worst aspects of the clubber’s dystopia manifest nightly. Yet Jacques Greene, whose real name is Philippe Aubin-Dionne, isn’t here to DJ one of those bloated South Beach mega-clubs. He’s here to play III Points, which he’s done every year since the festival’s creation five years ago. He’s the only artist to have been on all five lineups.

“I love coming here to play music,” he says. “I think before I did, I was really reticent. There was always this side of me that was like ‘Oh, I make leftfield electronic music, they’ll eat me alive!’”

Through III Points, Greene was able to see a side of Miami’s music scene that's known mostly to locals. The first time he played, he wasn’t enticed by the promise of a huge paycheck, but by the opportunity to share billing with artists he respects.

“The first III Points was like, one stage in a Wynwood warehouse, me and Jaime xx into a James Murphy DJ set,” he recalls. “I remember getting the offer like, Oh my god, I’m gonna play with, like, really cool names, in Miami of all places. That’s awesome. And that show was amazing.”

Since then, the festival has grown bigger and more impressive by the year without diminishing the quality of its yearly lineups. Thanks to III Points, Greene has shared bills with not just Jaime xx and James Murphy, but LCD Soundsystem and the xx. And as he’s furthered his profile as a DJ, he’s also become closer to the festival’s organizers.

“One of the first people to really put me on was (III Points chief) David Sinopoli,” he relates. “To me the event and the people behind it is just a perfect cocktail of good vibes, good direction, good everything. Of course, every time he asks me to do anything, I’m like ‘Yeah David, I’m there.’”

Some of that good direction has led III Points to look toward Greene’s hometown of Montreal for talent: fellow DJ Kaytranada performed at the indoor Main Frame stage on the festival’s second night. In the decade since Arcade Fire took the world by storm from Montreal, the city’s electronic scene has become one of the most active and interesting in North America.

“Montreal’s always been kind of a party city, because there’s a lot of universities and stuff,” he says. “As it’s grown, it’s really cool to see. A lot of kids I’ve known who were in indie rock bands now have, like, modular synthesizers and make lo-fi techno.”

Greene says musicians are freer to work in the city due to “insanely cheap” rents kept low by frigid Canadian winters. It’s the polar opposite of the beautiful, sunshine-and-palm-trees Miami Beach setting he currently finds himself sitting in – but maybe that’s a good thing.

“I feel like in Miami, even in the harder parts, there’s this idea that the way the city is laid out, you’re meant to be aspiring to live around here,” he says. “Montreal has quite the Bohemian streak. There’s only a certain part of the city and a very specific type that would even want a Ferrari.”

Jacques Greene. 8 to 9 p.m. Sunday, October 15, on the S3ctor 3 stage at III Points at Mana Wynwood, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-573-0371; manawynwood.com. Tickets are sold out.
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Douglas Markowitz is a former music and arts editorial intern for Miami New Times. Born and raised in South Florida, he studied at Sophia University in Tokyo before earning a bachelor's in communications from University of North Florida. He writes freelance about music, art, film, and other subjects.