Though Otto Von Schirach has called Wynwood home for nine years, the musical provocateur's connection with the once-downtrodden but now-booming neighborhood goes back further. "Twenty years ago, I used to come here for Hoodstock. It was a '90s festival held in this hard-core neighborhood, but somehow the festivals were always peaceful. I would buy records there by DJ Raw to sample, and in one of them, he talks about his corner, which is three houses from where I live now."
That shared history makes Von Schirach a fitting and grateful Saturday-night (8 p.m.) performer for the third-annual Wynwood Life, a three-day street festival celebrating Wynwood's art, culture, food, and music. "This is the third year I've played it. Every year it gets bigger. The people behind it were at Wynwood from the get-go and are strong influences on the neighborhood. They give a chance for a lot of locals to shine. Plus they get big headliners, so last year was completely slammed."
Among this year's acts are Atlanta rappers Ying Yang Twins, local legend DJ Laz, and two local bands Von Schirach has gotten to know well over the years, Telekinetic Walrus and Afrobeta. "For a while now, it seems like festivals always book me, Walrus, and Afrobeta together. We just did the Okeechobee Festival. Now that we're hanging all the time, we decided to make some music together since we flow so well." Von Schirach is unsure when that music will be released, but he just finished a demo for an untitled solo album. Much of its inspiration comes from an unlikely place for a man who sports gold teeth while dancing around massive booties, because, ladies and gentlemen, Otto Von Schirach is mere months away from becoming a father.
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"Some of the new tracks I made are definitely love songs, not even necessarily love songs to my kid, but to the Earth. I'm feeling it now. You go through life and it hits you — you're making a human. You're giving him your blood. Your heart will be walking in someone else."
Impending fatherhood might make him slightly anxious, but he's trying to stay productive in the months before his bundle of joy arrives. "We just shot a video for 'The Pee Wee Herman.' It's a quirky song about the Pee-wee Herman dance. I recorded the song three years ago, but his new movie came out on Netflix and I was like, We've got to release the song now. We got all these vogue dancers to be in it, and we might shoot more at Wynwood Life."
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His set at Wynwood Life will feature all members of his Bermuda Triangle Posse, including Notorious Nastie and Mr. Feathers. "We're opening directly in front of DJ Laz, so we want to make a Miami bass force field of groovy Latin beats." Von Schirach credits his ability to hype the crowd to his vegetarian, mostly raw diet, which he has promoted over the years on his odd yet wonderful Instagram account. He often posts short videos of himself paying tribute to various tropical fruits and vegetables, as well as recording ad-libbed songs about papayas and mysterious aliens.
"I have at my house a papaya, avocado, mango, and banana tree. I'll buy exotic fruits like jackfruits and mameys from my friend in the Redland. Then Muña, a homeless guy who's lived in Wynwood for 40 years, scores me everything. He knows all the neighborhood secret fruit trees. He gets me avocados, he'll bring me 12 different varieties of mangoes, and right now, in my living room, I have 50 coconuts he gave me."
Now that right there is what we call Wynwood life.
Wynwood Life with Ying Yang Twins, Otto Von Schirach, DJ Laz, and others. 5 p.m. Friday, April 22; noon Saturday, April 23; and noon Sunday, April 24, at the RC Cola Plant, 550 NW 24th St., Miami. Admission is free.