Detroit's DJ Stingray strikes an imposing figure. His face is masked in a black balaclava, his black track jacket bears a large “D” in blackletter — representing his roots in the Motor City — and his sound carries an equally intimidating vibe: He plays a strain of electro known to surpass 130 bpm and can transform a perfectly normal dance floor into a raving mosh pit at a moment's notice.
Born in Detroit and living in Berlin, Stingray — real name Sherard Ingram — started out as a sort of apprentice to the multifaceted and stellar Moodymann. Ingram credits the artist born Kenny Dixon Jr. for teaching him how to DJ, and the two went on to collaborate under the moniker Urban Tribe. Although Stingray spearheaded the project, input from Dixon, as well fellow Detroit techno luminaries Carl Craig and Anthony Shakir, helped to make the 1998 Urban Tribe record The Collapse of Modern Culture a release ahead of its time. Whether for good or ill, the album's expert blending of disparate electronic styles and provocative title has come to be the norm more than 20 years onward.
Despite his extensive history and influence, Ingram appears not to want attention drawn to him, hence the balaclava. Some acts, such as the German producer DJ Metatron, shy away from the visibility that comes with DJ'ing and stick to producing; the clandestine Headless Horseman, who performs while cloaked in black, resembles an Edgar Allan Poe fever dream that manifested from Berghain's darkest energies. Stingray and these artists prefer to let the music speak for itself and leave ego and showmanship by the wayside.
Ingram will bring his discerning perceptive on dance music to the Ground next Friday, February 7. The frequently talked-about “warehouse vibe” of Club Space's first-floor venue makes it a perfect fit for Stingray: It can be dark and foreboding when it needs to be and is no stranger to the sort of hard-hitting electro that'll be in store for the evening.
Electro has undergone a resurgence in popularity in Miami and abroad over the past few years, and Stingray's cult following has grown in kind. Newer purveyors of punishing underground sounds such as Helena Hauff have built upon the electro ziggurat established by artists like Stingray, and that includes Miami's own crop of up-and-coming electronic artists. Two such selectors — Sister System and Jonny From Space (along with Omnidisc artists Vivian Koch and Shokhare) — are set to accompany Stingray on the night's itinerary.
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Stingray's show is part of an extensive weekend of happenings in Miami's underground electronic realm. In addition to DJ'ing at the Ground, Sister System will spend the following night helping to produce the latest installment in Autonomy's underground rave series featuring international artists Simo Cell and Lechuga Zafiro. Saturday will also see globally esteemed Miami-based selectors DJ Tennis and Danny Daze take over Space for a specially curated night of left-field music.
Miami's current spate of electro abundance wouldn't have been possible without the innovations and strides of artists such as Stingray. Fortunately for listeners and dancers, he doesn't seem to be treading on past glories. In a 2017 interview with Mixmag, Ingram stated, “I’m trying to evolve, and that means I’m willing to put down things that don’t work and sound dated. I try to listen to the younger individuals, but I also try to take my experiences from back in the day and translate them to modern parameters. I’m trying to not only stay relevant but define what relevant is.”
In that regard, he's succeeding: By synthesizing his reverence for the past with his appreciation for the new, Stingray is forging a legacy that stretches far beyond his Motor City origins.
DJ Stingray. With Jonny From Space, Vivian Koch, Shokh, and Sister System. 11 p.m. Friday, February 7, at the Ground, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-375-0001; thegroundmiami.com. Tickets cost $11.25 to $32.50 via residentadvisor.com.