Friday night at Arkadia in the Fontainebleau Miami Beach promises to be a night to remember, as Denver electro-house DJ duo Manufactured Superstars brings its own brand of party-rock to the house. Expect unfettered craziness, even more so than those Kia commercials with the dancing hamsters (hey, these guys have upped the ante with their own life-size teddy bear!). But behind all the madness and mayhem there's serious talent and business acumen: The pair - Brad Roulier and Shawn Sabo - are both original members of the electronic-music download store Beatport. Sabo talked to Miami.com about Beatport, their weekly radio show and, oh yeah, that teddy bear.
Q: What's your connection with Beatport?
A: Brad's an official co-founder, and I'm one of the original members and shareholders, and one of the first five employees. So we've both been around since Day Negative, we say.
Q: What exactly is it, and what inspired you to start it?
A: Beatport was inspired because of a need - DJs were moving from analog to the digital world, and there was really no means of distribution for the music. So Beatport was started to basically help artists, producers and labels get their music out to the evolving digital DJ, because, you know, vinyl is history. There are a few people that still do it, but it's kind of like the evolution of acoustic instruments to electric. Like, most people don't use a grand piano anymore - they'll use keyboards. So we started Beatport in 2004 and just launched the newest version of the website.
Q: What can we expect from your set in Miami?
A: We've been playing about an hour and a half every show, and you'll see the typical Manufactured Superstar stuff - we try to be the most fun, energetic DJs there are. Our main thing is to be the funnest and most unpredictable DJs we can be.
Q: So what's up with the teddy bear dude?
A: [Laughs] It just kind of goes with our theme - we don't want to take ourselves too seriously. There are so many other DJs out there that have pictures with them all done up in a dark corner of an alley - I mean, it's not really fun. The reason everybody goes out to a nightclub is to have the best time that they possibly can. Everybody works 9 to 5, it's a hard life, the economy's not that great - people just wanna let loose and have a good time. So that's kind of what happened with the teddy bear. A friend found him and brought him to one of the festivals - we had him out all night and everybody loved him. Then we used him in our video, took him to Vegas and tried to buy him a seat on the airplane, but they wouldn't let us. We had to check him.
Q: Tell me about your weekly radio show on The Vibe in Vegas - how progressive can you get, and is this a glimpse of the future of American FM radio?
A: You know, we keep it pretty real on our radio show - we play the songs we wanna play. Obviously we're a little censored because it is FM, but we can get as underground or eclectic as we want to. And I definitely think that radio will evolve.
Q: For your live shows, do you mainly improvise?
A: Oh yeah, 100 percent. We normally have a few playlists depending on the venue, and we usually have the first one or two so we know what we wanna do and have an intro, and then we just kind of feel it out. We play things and see how the crowd reacts, and if they like hip-hoppy or remixes, then we'll play a Flo Rida remix, etc, etc. And if the crowd doesn't like it, then we'll go with a totally different vibe and go house-y or just beats. It's really the art of reading the crowd, because sometimes they like songs with big breakdowns and big build-ups. And other times they want a straight kick-drum with a little bit of vocals.
Q: Brad has ties to Miami - how often do you guys get down here, and what do you think of the city?
A: We love Miami. We get down there quite a bit - we've been playing at Arkadia, which is the club underneath LIV. I'm hoping we'll do six shows for those guys next year. We've been down there about every two months. Obviously, Miami is extremely important in March, with WMC or Miami Music Week or whatever you call it now. But Miami is super-important, one of the top 5 electronic dance-music markets. You guys have some of the best clubs in the world, with LIV, SET, Mansion, Space - The Terrace. It's great people, good energy - just a little hot in the summertime.