It isn’t difficult to get Jeffrey Paradise excited about music. In conversation, the San Francisco-born-and-based DJ and musician is as relaxed and free-flowing as the music he makes as one-half of Poolside. He readily discusses everything from Bill Withers’ ingenuity and creativity as a songwriter ("Oh yeah, I'm just gonna [casually] write a song about my grandma's hands,” he jokes) to past glories during Miami Music Week.
“When I first began DJ'ing, some of my early gigs — like really big out-of-town gigs — were at Winter Music Conference in Miami when the whole electroclash thing was first starting, so I was playing with a lot of my heroes at the time,” Paradise recalls with a laugh, noting shows in the early 2000s with distinguished alumni such as LCD Soundsystem, Peaches, and his own former bandmates the Rapture. “I have really fond memories of Miami in general as a sort of musical city. The kind of Latin-freestyle influence there is pretty similar to San Diego.”
Given the similar beach-centric vibes the two cities share — at least in overt style if not in substance
— it’s appropriate that Poolside will kick off a limited set of North American dates tonight in Miami. In addition to opening for Tycho at the Fillmore, Poolside will also perform at Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival tomorrow, March 2.
Poolside is touring in support of last summer’s Heat, the long-awaited followup to the duo's 2012 debut, Pacific Standard Time. The project was conceived in 2011 by Paradise and Filip Nikolic — Poolside’s other creative half — as a relaxed reaction to the aforementioned electroclash and its more aggressive spiritual sonic successor, dubstep.
“[Pacific Standard Time] was literally made with zero planning, just two guys kicking it over the weekend making music, drinking mezcal, and going swimming. What we’re inviting people to do is let loose a little bit, but in a more laid-back or present way, not in that stage-diving kind of way,” Paradise says of the duo’s recording process and approach to dance music. “One of the coolest things, I think, about Poolside is that anything from [the techno and dub record label] Rhythm & Sound to J.J. Cale are all huge influences in every song — it’s kind of all over the map. I’d say we fit pretty well in that sort of record collector, music nerd, DJ stereotype.”
Arriving with a James Murphy-endorsed cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” Pacific Standard Time became a cult hit, coining the term "daytime disco" in the wake of its success, as well as earning Paradise and Nikolic a fan base and attention for which they weren’t quite prepared.
“We got really lucky in this unexpected way of Poolside becoming something that people like. It was truly shocking to us — not because we thought it was bad. We just didn’t really think there’d be a market for it,” Paradise says. “We were making slow indie disco when we had never even heard of anything like that.”
Accounting for the five-year gap between their first record and Heat, Paradise says it was a matter of channeling the same carefree energy and environment that went into Pacific Standard Time in a sincere, productive way.
“For the first couple of years, we were just really busy, and then once we started writing for the second one, it was less laid-back. It wasn’t high-stakes when compared to [the recording process for] a lot of other artists, but it wasn’t no-stakes like the first record,” he explains. “It took us a couple of years to really be like, ‘OK, let’s just do what we want to do and not fucking worry about it.’ And that’s one of those really obvious pieces of advice that you’d give yourself — and we kind of even knew it in the moment — but sometimes when you’re telling someone to relax, it doesn’t really help them to relax.”
Even with the second album out and in the ears of listeners, Poolside’s easygoing demeanor dictates that Paradise and Nikolic won't become a hard-living, constantly-on-the-road act overnight. Admitting to being relatively elusive when compared to other acts of their ilk, Paradise says all decisions made under the Poolside name are, and will continue to be, made with careful consideration.
“We’re not out there pushing people to like us or come to our shows. We just kind of exist,” he says. “We're not really engaging with people [on social media], but the cool thing about that is the people who are into Poolside are really into it, and they've sort of discovered and stuck with us and like us, so that feels really grassroots and really cool. More stuff is coming up, and I think we might want to be very tasteful about how we present that, but we don’t want to necessarily be silent about it either.”
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Seven years after Poolside’s founding, Paradise believes he and Nikolic are still most committed to the creative aspects of the band rather than the practical, industry-oriented ones. If Poolside continues to draw crowds and convert new fans, that's a bonus rather than an end goal unto itself.
“We both put a lot of pride into what we do. The main rule with Poolside is we both have to love every song. Coming from a pure place of creating music for the joy of it, we’ve really tried to keep that a core piece of the puzzle. So in that way, when things become tedious or don’t feel authentic, we just don’t do it.”
6:15 to 7:15 p.m. Friday, March 2, at Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival, 12517 NE 91st Ave., Okeechobee. Four-day passes cost $299 via okeechobeefest.com.