Oscar G at Avalon: An Interview with Miami's Space Resident (MP3)
Miami DJ Oscar G's forthcoming, multimedia release, DJ, is so cool we wonder why more labels aren't churning out similar packages. The CD might be dead, but downloading can't yet match the breadth of this deal - a studio disc of G's remixes and productions, an audio recording of a live-in-club DJ set and a DVD featuring audio and visuals of the same mix. The video production is fairly low-rent - a couple handhelds did the trick - and, with so many of his own remixes and original tracks on the release we imagine the cost of licensing tracks didn't break the bank, either.
Yet the three-disc package, due August 11, richly captures the sights, sounds and vibe of a heavy hitting DJ's set at one of the nation's sublime venues, the outdoor terrace at Miami's Space. On the DVD go-go dancers jiggle and bodies bounce on the dance floor as G twists knobs and lays down tracks. It's the kind of multi-sensory journey a podcast can't yet handle.
G (for Gaetan) has been at it since the early '90s, when he was one half of production duo Murk and Liberty City ("Some Lovin'"). Murk built on New Yorker Danny Tenaglia's move to Miami in the mid-1980s, which helped to put the city on the map of international clubland. By the dawn of the millennium G had split from DJ partner Ralph Falcon to establish himself as the city's preeminent spinner. The Miami big-room sound of tribal moods and Latin percussion can be attributed to G. On Saturday the 37-year-old reunites with Falcon Saturday for a marathon set at Avalon.
West Coast Sound recently caught up with him.
LA Weekly: What was the inspiration for making a DVD part of your new release?
Oscar G: I wanted to show the scene. It's a huge element of this type of music and what I do, and I tried to capture that. The dance floor and the way the crowd reacts is a huge part of the validity of this scene.
Did you actually spin a live set, or did you sync up the visuals with a studio mix?
I worked on it for a while to get together a cohesive mix. For the DJ set I put together sections beforehand and then played them the morning we shot the video. Most of it was live. We didn't really sync it. It was live coverage of the set.
The sun was up. What times was it?
We started shooting probably around 6:30 or 7 in the morning. I wanted to capture the whole sunrise vibe. The outdoors and the sunrise make for a totally different vibe. It's less intense, more groovy.
How would you describe the Oscar G sound?
I listen to tracks of other DJs, and there are certain things that catch my ear. People ask me about that sound. It's hard for me to put into words. It's more of a gut instinct at this point.
You're in that tribal fraternity that includes Steve Lawler and Danny Tenaglia.
I've known Danny for a very long time. I've always been very into what he does. His ear ... you're right. I can't put a finger on what it is that makes it happen. I guess it's who we are.
You're the king of Space Miami.
I'm doing Space monthly now so the sets are six to eight hours. For many years I was doing 10 to 12 hours every week. I've been touring a lot, so I do a monthly marathon there on the terrace.
When you have eight hours to fill, do you plan it out and go from low to high energy, or do you play it by ear?
The main thing is to keep it interesting throughout. I want to set certain moods at certain moments. I try to react to the floor also. For the most part I try to start on a smoother tip to build the anticipation and keep that anticipation going. I try to peak at certain times and also come back down. Any time you play a long set like that you have to kind of tell a story. When I prepare for those long sets that's what I try to do. At the end I try to be more eclectic and play classics and even come down to reggae sometimes.
Which artists do you play?
There's so many people from every corner of the planet sending me these great tracks. Nic Fanciulli. Lazaro Casanova is a kid here from Miami doing a lot of cool stuff recently. Strike. Chus just sent me this remix he did about a week ago I was out of town. I downloaded I played it that same night. Insane. Those guys (Chus & Ceballos) are constantly sending me bombs. I always pay attention when I get email from them.
Are you using a laptop to DJ?
I started using Traktor (DJ software) six months ago. I love it. I'm not big on mediums. I'm more into the music. Whatever is going to enhance my performance, I'm down with it. I remember when people were switching from vinyl to CDs there was a whole thing. There's isn't as much value in the medium as in the music.
Do you get in the booth with Ralph Falcon often these days?
Not as often as I would like. We just played this Sunday at a Hamptons beach party. In the 90s we toured so heavily as DJs I think he wanted to take a break from that. I started to get involved more locally. And he became more of a studio rat. DJing for me was always first. I just ran with it and got lucky. For both of us the driving force is house and drums and bass-line driven things.
When you started out in the early '90s did you think the scene would grow like it has?
No way. We were really, really young when we started making records. A lot of our peers are 10 or 15 years older than we are. When we started touring I was underage. I was 19, 20. It was an issue in certain clubs. Back then a superstar was the guy who played at the big club in town. People didn't aspire to be superstar DJs.
Oscar G spins with Ralph Falcon and DJ Reza Saturday at Avalon Hollywood, 1735 N. Vine St., Hollywood. 21+. Doors at 10:00. Advance tickets $15. Info: avalonhollywood.com.
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