Manfredi Romano — or DJ Tennis to clubgoers — is relishing a quiet night at home following a string of continent-crossing tour dates that saw him showcase his twisted, hypnotic song selections around the globe. The Italian-chef-turned-tour-manager-turned-booking-agent-turned-artist-and-label-head relocated to Miami in 2013 and resides in a cozy color-splashed home north of the Design District. Decked out in vintage action-figure collectibles and eclectic decor, Tennis' house is an external expression of the psychedelic mind behind many celebrated left-of-center house and techno productions.
Though he spends most of his downtime in the Magic City, he summers in Amsterdam, where he shares a flat with fellow techno purveyor Danny Daze — a dyed-in-the-wool Miami native born Daniel Gomez. Daze’s hip-hop-indebted style of DJ'ing and electro-fueled productions have made him one of the city’s most respected DJs, as well as one of Tennis’ biggest influences. The two Miamians will descend upon the Space Terrace decks Saturday, February 8, for a marathon performance where they'll invite their devotees to revel in the culmination of a decade of personal and professional synergy.
The two beatmakers first met at Damian Lazarus’ annual Miami Music Week bacchanal, Get Lost, and immediately bonded over their mutual eclecticism. They both share a passion for IDM, quirky cuts, and breaking through their comfort zone as sound selectors. In 2016, Tennis released the four-track EP Convex on Daze’s label, Omnidisc, and Daze returned the favor the following year by contributing his song “Orb” as the closing track on Displaced Soundtracks, a compilation on Tennis’ label, Life and Death.
“When I release on somebody’s label, I don’t think it’s about the brand or the image the label itself has,” Tennis says. “I more believe in the human relationship that I have with the people working there, and I know that people like Danny were really appreciating the EP. For me, I was not even thinking about releasing [Convex] anywhere [else]. Some of the tracks were collaborations with Life and Death artists Sebra Cruz and Margot, who are artists that Danny likes.”
While Daze takes his cues from a two-step, breakbeat background, and Tennis’ sonics stem from an industrial, disco, noise, and punk rock–filled upbringing, both producers see songwriting as an interrogative experiment. Their musical pedigrees allow them to cherry-pick unconventional sounds that result in mesmeric, Frankenstein's monster-like mishmashes of genres that surprise both the artists and the listeners; anyone who has danced through either of their DJ sets will attest that they're rarely straightforward affairs. Tennis and Daze consistently reach outside the realms of house and techno for musical ideas, spin sets with wild abandon, and seem to have sipped from the same psychedelic-spiked cup.
“When Manfredi released on [Omnidisc’s] Polyester series, it was just very cohesive,” Daze explains via FaceTime while touring in Brazil. “It was a cross-pollination of our sounds, between both of the labels.”
Outside of their reciprocated studio outputs, both DJs have spun at each other’s label showcases, including last year’s Omnidisc Miami Music Week event at Space, and Life and Death’s Rakastella Festival on Virginia Key. Daze is excited to headline Life and Death’s tenth-anniversary party in New York the weekend following the upcoming Space show, and he reminisces fondly about last summer’s Life and Death soiree in Barcelona.
“At the Barcelona Boiler Room, I was able to do a pure experimental set, and Manfredi was totally fine with it, while some other label owners would be weird about that,” Daze explains. “But he wants the weird stuff, just like the way that I want the weird stuff for my label, so this marriage that he and I have of being homies and playing together a lot, it just works.”
Daze mentioning his counterpart’s appreciation for wonky sounds reminds Tennis to tell him about new tracks he’s working on with his side project Redrago, a collaborative effort alongside Israeli duo and Life and Death fixture Red Axes. Tennis continues on the tangent while excitedly describing the work-in-progress productions, and the two effectively set plans for a listening session. This genuine, off-the-cuff moment speaks to their natural affinity for sharing music and soliciting each other’s feedback.
When the interview resumes, both artists explain the palpable aural alchemy in the room when they share a stage for a rare back-to-back appearance. Last summer saw the two rabble-rousers spin back-to-back sets at Berlin clubs Else and Robert Johnson, where their similar music tastes and overall outlook on DJ'ing gave way to hours of congruous transitions and song selections.
“When we play together, it’s always a ride, and it just free-flows,” Daze explains. “We don’t have to tell each other: ‘Oh, we’re going to do this now, or we’re going to go into this sound’. We just understand that we’re both fine with bending the set. If he’s playing something disco-y, I can come in and play something completely different and blend it together in a way that makes sense, which is rare to be able to do with another DJ, and it’s because we’re friends.”
Tennis echoes Daze's sentiment. “We’re both extremely eclectic, so it’s very easy for us to pick up on what the other is doing and transform it into something else. Mixing our two sounds together is surprising for both of us, not just for the people watching and listening. Beyond the genres, our flow is about instinct and creating together.”
Tennis boasts about Daze’s friendliness, loyalty, and unique perspective, while Daze compliments Tennis’ positive attitude and overall character. They spend their summer evenings swapping tunes and sharing thoughts on their pasts as well as their futures, and enjoy taking breaks from backstage mingling to hit the dance floor together. Tennis endearingly recalls DJ Nobu’s psychedelic journey of a set at Movement Music Festival 2019 in Detroit.
“The approach we like to take is to be simply free, open-minded about anything, and having the chance to connect with people,” he says. “Sometimes we pick a show to go see together in the crowd — not hanging out backstage or as part of the DJ community, but as listeners. This is something pure that I think should be happening more in the DJ environment: to go, listen, enjoy, dance, discuss, and talk.”
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Their shared passion for psychedelics is reflected in the Space show’s flyer artwork, which pays homage to Bicycle Day, the April 1943 date when scientist Albert Hofmann became the first person to ingest LSD intentionally. Tennis clarifies that the flyer isn’t about taking any particular substance, but possessing a kaleidoscopic mindset.
The hometown heavyweights are ready to bring their raw dance-floor grit and runaway imagination to a party that's expected to extend well into Sunday afternoon. The show will mark the first time Tennis has curated his own lineup on Club Space's Terrace, as well as the first time Daze will start a set at the venue past sunrise.
“Space is a very special place to me, and I wanted to book Danny because we’re both locals in a way, even if I’m adopted,” Tennis beams. “And Danny is the best person to share this special experience with.”