Each February, tech-house producer Loco Dice makes a pilgrimage to Thailand, where he spends nearly three weeks training under muay thai masters and with pro fighters from around the world. He also meditates and cleanses his body in preparation for playing more than 100 concerts per year.
He did muay thai and other forms of martial arts as a teenager but says he fell out of practice once he became a full-time musician. Life on the road gradually wore him down.
"Somehow the music killed me," he says. "I was completely physically and mentally exhausted after my residency [in Ibiza]." He hit a wall in 2013 but didn't necessarily see it himself. "My friends told me I had to do something with myself, to maybe go back and do martial arts. I tried it, and it relieved me right away."
Dice was born in Tunisia and raised in Düsseldorf. In Germany, he's preparing for his Miami Music Week appearances next week. He plans to train with Grégory "Cheetah" Choplin, a two-time world-champion muay thai kickboxer, during his off-time in South Florida. "It'll be like a mini-camp for me before all the madness starts," he says. "I'm too old to be a pro fighter, but it's interesting to prepare like I'm going to fight. It keeps me fit; it keeps me focused on DJ'ing, producing, talking to people, and performing."
He's been coming to Miami since his early days as a rapper in the late '90s, and he views Miami Music Week as a glorious melting pot of all things electronic music — a real international draw.
"For me, it's completely amazing," he says. "It's got it's own flair. It's a paradise for music. I don't know about rock, but I'm pretty sure the hip-hop guys and the electronic guys love it."
As an artist, Dice says he'll probably revisit hip-hop again someday, but he acknowledges it would be a challenge to pick up the mike again after so long.
"I can still DJ hip-hop, but rapping with these new techniques? I don't know," he says, laughing. "Maybe if I sit down, I can get it back... but I have to concentrate on what I do best at the moment, and that's being an electronic music artist."
Dice recently dropped "Roots," the first single off his forthcoming album, Love Letters, which is set for release in July. True to the title, the song represents a return to his origins as an artist landing somewhere between house and techno. This time around, he used all-new equipment and concentrated more on "sketches" — keeping his musical ideas loose and not trying too hard.
"I was full of love and positive energy," he says of the recording process. "I was not moody. It had a happy vibe. Track by track, the title for the album was already there. I was like, 'You know what? This feels like a bunch of love stories — love letters.'"
As Dice ramps up for another summer of hard touring to support Love Letters, you can bet his body and mind will be up to the challenge.
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"You can play three sets a day if you're strong enough," he says.
Hyte Miami. With Loco Dice, Josh Wink, Danny Tenaglia, Chris Liebing, and others. 11 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, at Space, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 786-357-6456; clubspace.com. Tickets cost $30 to $60 via ticketfly.com.
Loco Dice. 11 p.m. Friday, March 23, at Ora Nightclub, 2000 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-912-1010; oranightclub.com. Tickets cost $30 via nightout.com.
Miami Monsters. With Loco Dice, Caleb Calloway, Luciano, Francisco Allendes, Deaf Pillow, and others. Noon Saturday, March 24, at Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel, 1717 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-532-7715; surfcomber.com. Tickets cost $55 via electrostub.com.