No two names are more Miami than Gloria Estefan and Otto Von Schirach. So when we heard that the king of Miami's electronic underground and the international queen of Miami Sound Machine got together on a track, we were seriously shocked. On paper (or sound systems), it doesn't seem to make sense. But for Otto, this is a perfect pairing.
Gloria's son Nayib wanted someone who understood everything about Miami to make the ultimate remix of his mom's upcoming single, "Wepa." He says, "[Producer] Pharrell did a good job capturing the early sounds. The 808s, like on 'Dr. Beat.' But me and Otto, we live that sound."
For his part, Von Schirach explains his profound Miami-ness: "Nayib and I, and anyone who grew up in Miami with a chonga mom — even though she may not know she's a chonga, she'd be like, 'I'm not chonga!' and she'd say it in such a chonga way — as kids we'd wake up in the morning and our moms would have Hot 105 blasting, and keep it on all day, trying to win a chance to get a new car."
Otto Von Schirach
When talking about "Wepa," Von Schirach and Estefan are full of pride and excitement. They liken it to the 12-inch singles they'd pick up in the late '80s by artists such as Uncle Al, the Latin Rascals, and DJ Funk. The A-side was usually the radio edit, while the B-side was the megamix. No surprise, Von Schirach and Estefan are all about the megamix.
"That's the one where they had the most fun," Von Schirach says. And he considers his Gloria megamix to be part of this good-times tradition. "On this track, I changed the song a bit, I took the best parts, I tried to add all kinds of styles that are happening now. There's a swag part, a Miami bass part, a Latin house part with wobble bass. There's a big conga breakdown. We kept it party and a lot of fun."
Von Schirach says we because he considers Nayib to be a co-writer on this remix. But Estefan is quick not to take any credit, saying, "Otto, my brother from outer space... This whole thing came from two friends wanting to give this kind of music justice." They reference Hot Wheels, Power 96, and house parties when they talk about the jam. Really, it sounds like Miami wrote the song for them.
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"This shit just comes out of you," Von Schirach says. "I'd hear Debbie Deb, Gloria Estefan, and Samantha Fox on the radio my whole life. That's what we grew up with. People here really appreciate that. It's blueprinted in our soul. The older I get, it comes out more and more with my music."
The track itself isn't available for mass consumption and re-megamixing just yet. But you can catch a taste of it on Gloria's web series documenting the making of her new album, Little Miss Havana. Watch Emilio Estefan and Pitbull talk about a time before having to dial local area codes and how to make the perfect mojito, as soundtracked by Otto.
We know Von Schirach well enough that he doesn't need to tell us. But he says, "We did this for love. We didn't do this to make a million bucks. I'm not trying to cash a check. This is another level for me. It's something I've never done before, and it's fun to just do it, to be a part of it."
It's so Miami that Estefan laughingly adds, "Maybe one day you'll hear it in DJ Laz's 411 Pain commercial. 'You got 'Wepa' Whiplash? Call 411 Pain!'"