We have all watched the Ultra Music Festival livestream. We’ve seen the stages and pasties (both male and female). I could describe, in excruciating detail, the dogged and stellar production, lineup, and sound that is Ultra. However, why not focus and tap into the minds of the artists of the Miami festival?
This was my sixth tour of Ultra Music Festival and every year gets better and better. You cannot beat the powerhouse that is Ultra. This time around, I managed to see the festival through a new perspective. I gallivanted through the media center and conducted a slew of interviews with the DJs and musicians that give Ultra its identity.
Logan Dokata is an eighteen-year-old DJ who was born and raised in the capital of electronic music, South Dakota. “I was influenced by Hardwell, Avicii, Kygo. I DJ’d for my high school dances playing an Ultra main stage style set. They all hated it.” This was not just Logan’s first time playing at Ultra, but his first time even stepping foot on the festival grounds.
His words of advice to kids who are trying to make it big in the electronic scene: “It’s really important to focus on producing. In this day and age, it doesn’t matter how good of a DJ you are, you have to make music. Don’t listen to what anyone says. You need to be able to take a risk. I did that by dropping out of school after I heard Hardwell’s Ultra set a couple of years ago.”
The confident eighteen year old will be spending more time in the studio producing, as well as touring. I cannot wait to see what Logan Dakota brings to the electronic dance music scene in the upcoming years. He brings a raw talent, an innovative mind, and a fantastic production team. We have not heard the last of him.
Brett Thorngren, aka Cosmo, is perhaps the best DJ to come out of the big I. No, not Ibiza. Ithaca, New York. Thorngren has been a drummer for Miami’s Muse, a mathematician, a record label founder, a writer and a DJ. “I love to dance. I fell in love with old Chicago house and England’s garage scene.”
DJ Cosmo founded and runs Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Records. When I asked if he wanted to add anything else, he simply said: “I hope vinyl makes a comeback.”
Cosmo envisions a new “Nirvana” coming into our electronic music world. “Someone will come up and bring back the more simple sounds. Something minimal like the old acid house.” Let’s keep our fingers crossed. Cosmo has toured with the likes of the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim. This man knows music.
As our Saturday night turned into a downpour, we had Afrobeta to brighten up the mood and choppy waters. Cuci Amador and Tony Smurphio are two Miami locals who started in the heat of Miami Music Week. Tony was still sweating when we sat down, probably from the epic show an hour before and perhaps a little rain that coated his afro. Cuci was calm and collective, dressed mostly in pink.
Tony: “We started in 2006. Justice was blowing up and electronic music was making a comeback. We are definitely a live band and not a DJ/club group. We bring our instruments and we play live,” Tony explained.”
Cucci: “I got the crowd to sing along and asked this girl to come up. I said ‘this is the only set at Ultra where any one of you are going to be able to get up on the mic so you might as well take advantage of it.’ And this girl killed it!”
Tony: “She killed it! And that wasn’t easy to harmonize either.”
In response to how Miami influenced them:
Cuci: “Before we started writing songs, we performed in live music venues [like the legendary Churchhills]. I think Miami influenced us in the sense that we had that electronic music vibe already inside of us. If you sing about songs of your lost love or stuff like that, no one will care or dance.”
They played on the Live Stage (for the ninth time) on Saturday and rocked the crowd with pure electronic live music. No CDJs for this power duo. Their influences range from Björk to Eddie Van Halen. The two recently visited Cuba and Afrobeta is working on another album with their Cuban travels as influence.
Cucci: “Both of our parents are cuban. We visited our families homes. We are actually doing a documentary based on our travels.”
Tony: “I wish I lived in Cuba, only for the music. Their musical education is fantastic.”
This was another fantastic Ultra Music Festival. It never gets old and leaves us wanting more. Next year, Ultra will be celebrating its 20th anniversary. The dates are March 23-25, 2018. We can only fathom what Ultra will have in store for us.