Michael Brun's Bayo Block Party Aims to Give Back to Little Haiti During Miami Music Week

Michael BrunEXPAND
Michael Brun
Photo by Leo Volcy
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The word bayo means "to give" or "give it to them" in Kreyol. For Haitian DJ/producer Michael Brun, whose Bayo party will take over the Little Haiti Cultural Complex this Sunday, the word has special meaning within the quickly gentrifying neighborhood.

“What is happening in Little Haiti is happening all over the world," says Brun, who was born in Port-au-Prince. "Every week there was something new. As someone who’s lived there, I think it’s important to preserve the culture. There’s a population of people who have lived there before gentrification, and keeping their voices alive is important. Don’t forget about the past and the community. Seeing all the changes are great as long as it’s not hurting other people.”

The electronic scene in South Florida has exploded in the past decade, and Miami Music Week has become one of the world's most recognized EDM events. Last year, the city welcomed more than 1,200 artists, hosted over 300 events, and saw 85 local venues hold functions while hundreds of thousands of fans flooded Miami to enjoy the music they love. Electronic music has played a huge role in unifying the generations but has also gentrified many culturally rich areas of the city, forcing them to adjust to the Miami Music Week marathon now celebrating its eighth year.

Because of Haiti's proximity to South Florida, the 26-year-old Brun has spent a substantial amount of his life in Miami and calls it his “second home.” The Little Haiti Cultural Complex, which will host Bayo's tour stop in Miami, is also dear to his heart. He describes the venue as one that preserves and protects the culture while bringing the community together. “They create positive energy for the people. Doing it in Little Haiti has always been important to me since day one.”

Brun says Bayo is an experience that brings Haiti to the rest of the world via a new sound that feels familiar. His showcase offers a mix of Caribbean, African, and Latin cultures, which can resonate across the world but especially in the Magic City, where Miamians are accustomed to a diversity of backgrounds.

The Bayo tour began last year after Brun and Walshy Fire of Major Lazer collaborated on the charity project the Beat Making Lab, which helped spark the idea. “We got some sound from the Audio Institute, lit the streets with a truck, and just started DJ'ing in the street with whatever we had available," Brun recalls. "Then a crowd started appearing, and we realized we had to do this. Those were the early signs of Bayo.”

Michael Brun's Bayo Block Party Aims to Give Back to Little Haiti During Miami Music WeekEXPAND
Photo by Leo Volcy

The show is based on impromptu street parties, typically soundtracked by mobile sound systems and the traditional rhythms of the Haitian festival music rara. These parties are essential to Haitian culture, and the Bayo tour takes the energy, sound, and alluring vibe of these gatherings around the world. All six dates of the tour last year sold out, including the 1,200-plus-capacity Irving Plaza in New York City, and Brun brought out special guests such as Maxwell.

It's an unlikely path for someone who originally intended to become a doctor. “My goal was being a pediatrician, to help the community as a responsibility because I had an education and went to college... My parents taught me that it was my responsibility to share these benefits. I was premed in college, but music was always the calling.”

Since he made the transition to DJ'ing, he's collaborated with J Balvin on the World Cup anthem, worked with One Republic on a remix project, and performed with artists around the world who aspire to inspire in the same way. “Education is a gift; you can have no limits," Brun says. "It made me superaware that it is not common and it should be accessible. That was the idea behind the Beat Making Lab. Anything I can do in education, whether it’s music or not, interests me. You empower the community by giving them the same opportunity.”

Bayo will present an all-Haitian lineup — including Anie Alerte, Gardy Girault, and J. Perry — when the tour stops in Miami this weekend. Tickets to the show have officially sold out, and special guests have yet to be announced.

In what Brun describes as a pillar in his career, he hopes Bayo shows people the Haiti he knows and loves. “In a world that shares more similarities than differences, I’d like to be known as creating bridges and connecting people," he says. "If you come to a show with that in mind, you’ll see it and feel it. I want to do this for the rest of my life.”

Michael Brun Presents Bayo: Miami 2019. 7 p.m. Friday, March 29, at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex, 212 NE 59th Ter., North Miami; littlehaiticulturalcenter.com. Tickets are sold out.

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