Concerts

Relief Records Showcases Its Dance-Music Might at Treehouse With Mihalis Safras and Eskuche in Tow

Mihalis Safras (left) and Eskuche take to Treehouse.
Mihalis Safras (left) and Eskuche take to Treehouse. Photo by Michael Poselski and Eva Karamanlis
It's hard to avoid the alluring sounds of Chicago-bred DJ/producer Green Velvet and his label Relief Records.

For the past 28 years, the label's esprit beats have brought a sense of familiarity to hardened clubbers and open arms to novices.

Of course, there are Green Velvet's standalone La La Land parties, but to much surprise — and despite the label's lengthy roster — Relief tour has never done a U.S. tour sans Green Velvet.

That will change next month when Mihalis Safras and Eskuche traverse the continental U.S., including a stop at Treehouse in Miami Beach on February 11.

Safras is a well-traveled Greek DJ known for his festive and friendly tech-house sound. On the other side of the decks is Russian-born newcomer Eskuche (AKA Max Eskuche), who spins the more minimal and abstract beats that feel at home during the late to really late hours.

"I'm excited about the tour in terms of the period that it is happening," Safras tells New Times from his home in Athens. "After so long, I'm happy to have a tour somewhat after the pandemic. This is the most exciting part. I'm going to be out of my home for 30 days, touring in ten cities, doing what I like. I feel the same excitement, but it's also playing with a label that I grew up listening to and have most of my releases."

Even though Safras runs his own imprint, Material, and has dropped music on other labels like Hot Creations, most of his output is released on Relief. Safras credits that to Green Velvet's productional foresight.

"It does feel strange releasing so much music off Relief," Safras confesses. "But I feel so comfortable on the label and the music Green Velvet puts out."
Safras and Eskuche still found plenty of commonality in their work despite their contrasting sounds. When both were signed to Relief, the friendship grew into collaboration and back-to-back sets.

"One of my first-ever releases was on Material back in 2013," Eskuche tells New Times. "Mihalis and I reconnected when I was signed to Relief. He was already signed, and we played together at a La La Land party."

During the tour, the two hope to showcase Relief's influence on dance culture while spinning their new collaborative single, "Feeling Good," for a captive audience. At the Treehouse show, don't expect Safras and Eskuche to take an extended cigarette break while the other spins. Instead, the two will sync their beats to each other's music to create valleys and peaks throughout the night.

"The idea is to blend our sounds and create a mixed sound, which is why we have a new single coming out," Safras says. "We agreed to do full back-to-back. It won't be me for the first hour playing more tech-house and then Max playing deeper. We are going to blend what is in our heads."

To see what happens when two come together, one need only listen to "Feeling Good." The five-minute track's flirting-with-minimal tiered basslines shake off the clubbing jitters as the hi-hats hiss with joy while letting the tech-house sounds shine through. It's a by-the-numbers record that is easy to cue in and out but it's plenty adrenaline-packed.

Without shows on the horizon, it was predicted that DJs would take to the studio during the pandemic. That's certainly true for both Safras and Eskuche, who have amassed a sonic stockpile they plan to play for dance-music hungry crowds.

Safras hints at his soon-to-be-released collaboration with Green Velvet, "Party Starter" — their ninth collaboration overall.

"I'm excited for that one," he adds. "I think it's one of the best tracks we put out yet."

Listeners can also expect fresh remixes and original music released via Safras' Material label.

And despite having been in the game for only two years, Eskuche already demonstrates a constant dedication to the studio process. He recently dropped his remix of Rybo's "Say It" via Dessert Hearts and has a project on Dirtybird and a collaboration with British DJ Hannah Wants on the way.

Originally from Moscow, Eskuche moved to New York City and, eventually, to Miami just before the onset of the pandemic.

"I moved to Miami two years ago," he says. "I got the idea to move before the COVID-19. It took me about eight months, but it was the best decision I've made in years."

For both Safras and Exkuche, the excitement for the tour is high. The Miami Beach show takes place days before Eskuche's birthday, while Safras is looking forward to returning to Miami refreshed — even if he is a little cautious.

"We have to be optimistic — everyone is stressed," Safras says. "Going out to clubs gives us a little joy after all this. I think it's a proper time to go out, as long as you do it safely and enjoy the music."

Mihalis Safras and Eskuche. 9 p.m. Friday, February 11, at Treehouse Miami, 323 23rd St., Miami Beach; 786-318-1908; treehousemiami.com. Tickets cost $20 to $30 via eventbrite.com; admission is free before 10 p.m.
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Grant Albert is a writer born and raised in Miami. He likes basset hounds, techno, and rock climbing — in that order.
Contact: Grant Albert