We here at Crossfade are proud to introduce our new DJ podcast series today. Each month, we will be showcasing exclusive new mixes by those who call the 305 home -- from local nightclub residents to up-and-coming talent.
The first installment in our series comes courtesy of Miami clubland mainstay Jason Baez, New Times' pick for Best of Miami 2013: Best DJ. His signature deep, slow-burning sets have made him one of the most beloved residents at house and techno hotspots like Electric Pickle and Treehouse, and he's also made waves as a budding producer with releases on labels like Wehppa Music and Fade Records.
Stream Baez's new mix for Crossfade is after the jump. Get to know more about this talented local.
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Crossfade: How long have you been in Miami? What's your history here?
Baez: I moved to Miami from the Dominican Republic during the summer of 2001. I came here to pursue a bachelor's in computer animation at Miami International University of Art & Design (back then it was called International Fine Arts College). However, I never finished the program, and immediately started working for a real estate developer, and later with a marketing agency. I did, and still do, a lot of creative work for both companies.
What kind of music did you grow up listening to? How did you first get into electronic dance music?
I was a total '80s and '90s new wave, alternative, and post-punk aficionado. Anything and everything from those genres that were popular on the radio, I was enjoying. And let's not forget about my native sounds of merengue and bachata. I know it sounds cliché to mention the obvious pioneers of electronic music like Kraftwerk, Front 242, and Depeche Mode, but I truly was obsessed with that sound, especially D.M.
My first electronic dance music experience came to me sometime in 1999, when a friend visited my house with a mix by Sasha. In this beautiful masterpiece, there was a track titled "Xpander." The feeling of being on drugs, while being on drugs and listening to this track, was amazing! From that moment forward, it just became obvious to me what my new phase in music was.
So when did you first start DJing?
My first official gig was at Laundry Bar in 2005. It was a local's night, and I recall being extremely nervous a few days leading up to the event. As an aspiring artist, you often think about what it would feel like if you were behind the decks, like these bigger artists. But the truth is that you don't really think about the work that has to be done in order to have a successful show. I think that's what made me a bit nervous back then, the fact that I didn't know how to prepare or what to expect. At the end of the night, it wasn't too bad. I was invited to play once again a few weeks later, and everything officially started to roll for me.
Has your musical style or technique changed much since you first started DJing in Miami clubs? How do you think you've evolved as a DJ?
Absolutely, everything has changed for me! I feel like my taste in electronic music has matured with time. I am patient -- I like sounds that evolve gradually. Maybe this does not appeal to all, but I like when a song is simple, consistent, and provokes a message of curiosity, what will happen next? This typically translates nicely in the bigger picture and in a mix. I remember when I first started as a DJ, I was into trance, then slowly got into progressive and tribal. I even explored breaks and D&B. I can proudly say I have enjoyed almost every genre of electronic music.
What do you think are the pros and cons of Miami's dance music scene and nightlife? What are some of your favorite and least favorite things about being a DJ or even just a clubgoer here?
There is so much to love about the nightlife in Miami: the different options for venues, the weather, the after-parties and 24-hour liquor license, the constant booking of talented international artists! I could go on and on about Miami's potential, and I believe this city can take the underground scene and make it something like how Detroit was in its prime.
As a local DJ in Miami, it's very exciting. There are a lot of opportunities and people willing to give you a chance to play, but it's also extremely competitive, and that's a good thing. The moment you slip, there will be another person willing to fill in your space. For me this stimulates more effort on my behalf. I am constantly trying to find ways to improve my sets and keep it different every time.
One of my least favorite things about Miami is that some club owners, promoters, and even artists, don't want to take responsibility when it comes to executing a positive experience
for clubgoers. For me, it's all about creating an experience that people will remember and talk about with friends and family.
Executing an enjoyable experience is not easy and needs to be planned proficiently; event production, programming of talent, set times, the environment and most importantly, the quality of the sound system all play a role in creating this ultimate experience. If we can manage to create a better overall experience, we can have a better scene.
Outside of club gigs, what do you have going on in the creative front? Any forthcoming musical projects or releases?
I am really excited about my forthcoming Gorilla Tango EP, out in August on Chris Fortier's imprint, Fade Records, and a remix titled "Slyde" on one of my favorite local labels, Wehppa Music. As far as my future project with my own label, well, I can't say much about that for now. But I can share that the concept behind it is simple. It's going to be a collective of like-minded friends with the intent to grow together as family from the ground up, just how a tree grows from its roots.
After reaching out to a key group of friends about my project, I am very pleased about the early support I'm receiving. I feel that in this particular point in my career, I can manage my own imprint and do so efficiently -- especially when you surround yourself with the right people, everything becomes much easier. Lastly, I've always been curious about the business facet of our scene. I'm a marketer at heart, so at the end of the day, I would like to be able to expand the label and start managing up-and-coming artists. Only time will tell how far I can go -- it won't stop me from trying.
Tell us about the mix you made for Crossfade.
All the songs on the mix are my favorite of the moment. However, not all of them are necessarily something I would play at a party. But that's the beauty of podcasts: there's not a written rule on how one should express them. One song that particularly stands out for me is a remix by Frank Wiedemann, titled "Stone On Your Back." Every time I play this track, it seems to get everyone's attention. I also started the mix with one of my experimental songs "Home" which you can download for free on my SoundCloud page. I hope this podcast tells a story that will resonate with people. Thank you Crossfade for sharing this moment with me!