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True Vine (left) and Sister System DJ'ing at the Electric Pickle.EXPAND
True Vine (left) and Sister System DJ'ing at the Electric Pickle.
Photo by Carlos Fernandez

Sister System and True Vine Bring Collaborative Expertise to Floyd

The collaborative efforts of Miami-based DJs True Vine and Sister System date back to 2013. The two South Florida natives, born Santiago Vidal and Alexis Sosa-Toro, met on Facebook through a shared love of the Chemical Brothers; only a few years later, they're kicking off 2020 by taking over the downtown Miami nightclub Floyd this Saturday.

The duo started out by throwing house parties in the mid-2010s, an undertaking that evolved into their first rave, Droogfest, a 2016 gathering they claim happened in the middle of the Everglades.

"We would U-Haul people from a gas station to Old Pembroke Road and then to a spot in the Everglades,” Vidal explains. “We built a stage out there; we even mowed the lawn.” The mini-festival brought a crowd of 400 to a generator-powered patch of the Florida slough. The pair admits the sound quality left a bit to be desired, but both saw it as a cornerstone to their future and a way to honor the old-school raves that were hosted in the Everglades and Homestead decades ago.

The next iteration of Droogfest took place in Ocala National Forest. “It was a two-day camping festival for 200 people," Vidal says. "We funded it with money we got from cryptocurrency and said, ‘We may as well throw a festival. We won’t make any money, but whatever.'" Sosa-Toro and Vidal also used the money to form Untitled Project, an event production company that handles back of house operations, marketing, and allows business relationships to spur new opportunities.

After the success of Ocala, Sosa-Toro and Vidal knew they could tap into the heart of Miami and throw an official Magic City rave in 2018 at the now-closed 229 Warehouse. The evening saw Sister System make her public premiere as a DJ, as well as the Miami debut of the Orlando-based artist December Beaches. They expected 50 people to show up, but more than 200 wound up attending.

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A year and a half later, Vidal and Sosa-Toro have cemented their place in Miami's music scene and have even begun collaborating with other entities in the city. Patrick Walsh, a cofounder of Klangbox.FM, approached Sosa-Toro about starting a show with the online broadcaster.

“I didn’t want to do a show by myself and saw Santi [Vidal] and I have a good soundscape that would mesh well together,” Sosa-Toro says. ODD — the name of Vidal and Sosa-Toro's show that's broadcasts from 5 to 7 p.m. the third Sunday of every month — will leap from the airwaves this Saturday and grace Floyd's dance floor. The night will be the first time the two have taken over the decks in the Space side room all for themselves.

Friday's show follows on the heels of November's Black Friday Rave with Boiler Room and III Points, which the pair helped to coordinate and make possible. Sosa-Toro saw it as one of the first times Miami's party series and groups diplomatically collaborated under one roof: “I grabbed members from every collective and made them part of this event. Space Tapes and Klangbox were selling merchandise; Brother Dan had his truck outside. I think our strongest suit is how to engage all these different corners where people can experiment.” Vidal adds that before that show, the unorthodox events of Miami were all segmented from one another; the sounds were too different to allow for a collaborative event.

Vidal and Sosa-Toro also take credit for setting up the Electric Pickle’s first daytime jungle-themed party, which included a drag show produced collaboratively with the event series Good Job upstairs. It was also one of the first times the now-closed Pickle collaborated with Miami's queer creative community to host a show. “I always wanted to play the Pickle before it closed,” Vidal shares.

The appeal of these hand-crafted events lies in their one-and-done style: While a club offers a similar production for each show, the events Sosa-Toro and Vidal produce are individualized.

“The stages, the lighting, the rooms, the warehouse, they all change," Sosa-Toro says. "We never use [physical spaces] the same way; I think it’s something people are interested in."

Sosa-Toro and Vidal put their community first, but they aspire to form bridges in different states and countries that share a similar ethos. The two traveled to Europe last summer with several members of Miami's underground dance music scene; in addition to making connections abroad, they snagged several records you should expect to hear Saturday night.

If you are a Club Space regular or III Points attendee, chances are you have experienced the two's handiwork in some form or another. Vidal is the stage manager at Floyd and graphic designer for III Points, having made artwork for ephemera such as lineup posters and wristbands. Sosa-Toro serves as the liaison between Club Space and artists by helping to book accommodations, in addition to working logistics for the club's Terrace.

Both are also supporting DJs for the compound and have played alongside their heroes: Sister System opened for German DJ Helena Hauff in October, and Vidal closed for James Murphy at Floyd during Miami Art Week. Despite being the “new kids on the block,” the two remain grateful for the veterans of the scene who have provided them with these opportunities.

“Our success comes from the people who paved the landscape,” Sosa-Toro says. She and Vidal list David Sinopoli, Diego Martinelli, Coloma Kaboomsky, Biz Martinez, Danny Daze, and Davide Danese as some of the Miami nightlife figures who've helped them to pursue their dreams and ambitions.

Friday's event is scheduled to be an all-night affair. ODD, an acronym for “Objects Don’t Dance,” was inspired in part by the typography of DJ/producer Nicolas Jaar’s book Network.

“The idea beyond ODD was about having free rein over playing what we would like,” Vidal says. The individual words comprising their undertaking came later: Objects Don't Dance was conceived to fit into the ODD acronym.

“We have a lot of records,” Vidal states. “There are so many records that aren’t just tech-house bullshit that is made in Miami. We wanted to give it its own place.”

Adds Sosa-Toro: “In the larger meaning, a lot of people don’t dance on the dance floor; they serve as objects in the room."

The consonance of ODD relies on the pair's dissonance. Vidal credits musicians such as Nicolas Jaar and John Talabot for shaping his musical schema, while Sosa-Toro favors Dutch electro and acts such as the vivacious Interstellar Funk. When she tells New Times she mixes music on the slower side of things, around 125 BPM, Vidal quickly interjects by proclaiming, “Yo, 125 is fast as fuck.”

Attendees Saturday can expect atmospheric sounds; Vidal and Sosa-Toro plan to start out nice and slow and pick it up with darker, headier music as the night progresses. However, the night's itinerary hasn't been firmly mapped out: Vidal might play unsolicited for 45 minutes and then Sosa-Toro might take control of the decks, or vice versa.

Whether you know of these two or not, you've undoubtedly brushed paths with their work and efforts in Miami's dance music scene. The only thing odder than Vidal and Sosa-Toro's musical selections and efforts would be not checking them out and seeing what the fuss is about.

ODD. With Sister System and True Vine. 11 p.m. Saturday, January 4, at Floyd Miami, 40 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-608-2824; floydmiami.com. Tickets cost $11.25 to $30 via residentadvisor.net.

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