At this year’s Winter Music Conference, fans of trap, dubstep and moombahton DJ/producer Bro Safari might have felt a bit cheated. After delivering an exhilarating set at the Ultra Music Festival in 2014 and performing at several parties around town, the Atlanta-born artist – real name Nicholas Weiller –barely took part in Miami’s musical March Madness this time around.
“I was only there for one day this year – I threw a party at Grand Central called Animal House,” said Bro Safari. “That was on a Monday, and I feel like that was mostly locals at that show because it was still early in the week, before a lot of the people came in for Ultra the following weekend.”
Naturally, although it’s been not even two months since WMC bombarded Miami with its blissful beats, Bro Safari is ready for another festival in the Magic City, albeit on a much smaller scale.
Enter Go HARD Miami, which takes over the Fillmore Miami Beach on Saturday and features Bro Safari plus other genre-expanding, futuristic artists such as Dillon Francis, Rae Sremmurd, Destructo, Griz, Tokimonsta, What So Not, Mat Zo and Amtrac churning out the freshest dubstep, electro, moombahton, trap and deep house sounds.
All of these artists are pushing the envelope, creating exciting, challenging music that doesn’t follow the 4/4-beat blueprint of the typical EDM that permeates clubs, festivals and even Top 40 airwaves nowadays.
“People are starting to kind of get away from the ‘big-room’ house sound, which I think is great, because that has just become so, so overdone,” said Bro Safari, who started DJing and producing music about 15 years ago after becoming infatuated with trap and drum ‘n’ bass. “If it can appeal to huge dance floors and make people jump up and down, that’s not a bad thing. But I used to hate, personally, the big-room house with the 4/4, the cliché vocal drops and stuff [laughs]. There’s a way to still do that tastefully, but not just do the same thing that’s been done over and over and over again. And I think that’s definitely the line for me – I’m trying not to do the same things that everybody else is doing.”
Bro Safari’s style is fresh and ominous-sounding, sometimes funky and sometimes punishing, blending old-school rap, Miami bass, skittering drums and trance-y synths. He also throws in quite a bit of sonic tricks, spacy keyboard blasts, video-game blips and bleeps and amusing vocal snippets, somehow weaving together a cohesive but constantly surprising journey. The exhilarating sound is unquestionably informed by the past, yet reaching toward the future.
“I grew up on all sorts of different music, so back in the day I listened to a lot of Miami bass when I got my first sound system with a subwoofer, when I was in 4th or 5th grade,” he recalled. “I’m 37 now, so I grew up in a cool time period, with punk rock and metal and hip-hop. I kind of got everything, so I’m very happy that I had that opportunity.”
At Go HARD, Bro Safari will have about an hour to show off his skills, an ideal window considering the sheer density of his mixes.
“It’s a good slot – I think I go on after [hip-hop duo] Rae Sremmurd, which is cool for me because I get to go on after a set that’s not necessarily EDM,” he said. “And an hour for me is the perfect time for a DJ set – any more than that and I kind of feel like it can start to get boring and people get antsy for the next act.”
Fans can look forward to hearing several new tracks during Bro Safari’s set.
“Lately I’ve been working on a new album, and I’ve just kind of been going through the demo phase, where I’m trying to test out some songs live to make sure they sound right before going into the studio to finish them off,” he said. “So yeah, I’ll definitely be playing some new material.”
There’s no set release date for the album yet, however.
“You know, I’ve been trying to not do that intentionally, because I really want it to be about the quality of the music,” Bro Safari said. “So I don’t want to force anything out there. I’ve been looking to have it finished and out by maybe August – I think that’s realistic. But I’m not trying to rush it.”
Even with his trendsetting finger on the pulse of American electronic dance music, Bro Safari pauses when asked what the next big thing might be.
“I wish I knew, man,” he said. “I’m constantly listening out, checking SoundCloud, going through Twitter, checking demos that people have sent to me. Right now, I couldn’t tell you what the next movement is. Electro happened, and that got a lot of people interested in dance music again, and then dubstep happened, and that just blew up. And then trap happened after that, and then there’s all sorts of subgenres – moombahton was in there.
“Even house music keeps splintering off into these other subgenres,” he continued, “like jungle terror. That’s another one that’s very popular right now that I’m actually into a lot. But I haven’t really heard of any actual new movement. I’m waiting to hear it.”
Or perhaps help create it.