This Week’s Miami Happenings: Ultra Music Fest, Harry’s Pizzeria, Lucali Opens

FRIDAY: Ultra Music Festival Rages On
Get ready for the ultimate freak show that mixes top DJs, herds of mask-wearing, half-naked club kids, hallucinogenics, and Miami traffic jams at Ultra Music Festival. It may be tough to top last year’s unexpected appearance by Madonna at the turntable, but that doesn’t mean that the likes of Azealia Banks, Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, and Deadmau5 won’t try. Should you opt to stay home this year, the Ultra soundtrack – slated to hit digital stores on March 19th – ought to give you a taste of all that you missed. Minus the traffic, of course.

Ultra Music Festival kicks off Friday the 15th at Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Blvd., Downtown). For tickets, visit the officialwebsite.

TUESDAY: Charitable Bites At Harry’s
Harry’s Pizzeria is the location of chef Bill Telepan and his effort to raise funds via a $150 dinner for the replanting of the edible garden at the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in Overtown, a project that emphasizes locally-sourced produce and nutrition in public schools, potted by Harry’s Pizzeria and Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink.

Bill Telepan hosts the event at Harry’s Pizzeria (3918 N. Miami Ave., Design District)Tuesday the 12th. For details, read the listing in BlackBook Guides.

NOW: Lucali Opens In South Beach
Sticking with the pie theme, Brooklyn’s finest has finally landed in South Beach. Heralded as the country’s top pizza maker, Lucali has opened its first out-of-borough post of this wildly successful, no-thrills eatery. No sign, no menu; just seven toppings to pick from, secret tomato sauce, and on-tap Brooklyn beers.

Lucali is open now (1930 Bay Rd., South Beach.) For details, check out the listing in BlackBook Guides.

Be the first to know about the latest openings & events in Miami by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email and downloading the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android.

A Q&A With DJ Photographer Rukes

Considered the number one DJ photographer in the world, “Rukes is like a ninja,” according to mix master, Dirty South. The shutterbug, “beautifully captured the rise of a movement and the musicians that lead it that otherwise would have continued to go unnoticed if not for his amazing photographs," superstar DJ-producer Kaskade adds.

The worldwide client list of Rukes includes Swedish House Mafia, Deadmau5, Avicii, Zedd, Steve Aoki, Skrillex, Porter Robinson, Calvin Harris, Dada Life, Sub Focus and even Tommy Lee. When not on tour with DJ’s he can be found photographing massive events including Electric Daisy Carnival, Holy Ship! and Stereosonic in Australia, keeping Rukes constantly on the move

W Times Square approached Rukes with the idea of co-curating an exhibit as the brand is deeply committed to music and EDM in particular. Thus, “Inside the Booth” was born. The show will feature never-before-seen images of famous DJs shot by Rukes. Next to each DJ’s photograph, a listening station will be installed, allowing guests to enjoy the artist’s music while they fully immerse themselves in the moment as if they themselves were on stage. 

How did you become the go-to photographer for DJs?
A combination of trust and good photography! I started off taking pics of DJs around 2005 when digital cameras were just starting to get big, so there were very few people using them to capture the EDM scene. When I started honing my skills as the years went on and figuring out my eye for photos, they turned out to be the type of photos that most DJs wanted to represent their work. Not to mention my ninja-like skills of being able to take photos without getting in anyone’s way or even the DJs noticing I’m there!

You’re clearly a fan of EDM since listening stations will accompany this exhibition…
Yes, definitely! Been a fan since probably the very late ’90s, well before I even used my first camera!

Who is your favorite DJ and why?
It’s hard to pick favorites, there are so many out there for various reasons! I would have to pick two for now…

One would be Hybrid. They aren’t very well known, but should be. They have produced my favorite EDM music since I started listening to them, and were the first DJs to recognize that I had some talent hidden away and I should keep on working on my photography.

Second would probably have to be Zedd. We are really close friends; so much so that I was able to hang around in his top secret studio while he worked on his upcoming album, which is a MONSTER. One of those rare albums where pretty much every track could be its own #1 hit; and I rarely come across albums like that. He’s just starting out, and we definitely are planning on doing a whole lot of work together when he gets even bigger in the future!

Do you listen to hip-hop ever? Who?
Not regularly, but I’m pretty much a fan of every genre of music. I still haven’t fully branched out into hip-hop for my music catalog (I love to just load up tons of music on my iPod and hit shuffle in the car).

Who is your all-time favorite DJ to photograph live? Why?
Again, I can’t really pick just one, there are way too many for various reasons. From Deadmau5 and his amazing production spectacle, to Dada Life and their champagne and bananas, to Steve Aoki and his crowd interaction, every DJ has their own reason why I love to photograph them.

You seem to be everywhere at once since there are so many DJs all over the world everyday of the week! How do you do it? When do you sleep?
I am always on the move it seems. Thankfully summertime I usually have a little bit of time off before tour season really starts, so I’m able to get some breaks here and there, and plan a family vacation to Tokyo.

I try to follow a “normal” sleep schedule as much as possible. I have to put priority of my health and well being over photography, as there can’t be good photos without it. I won’t be able to react quicker to capture any photos, or hold my hands stable enough with a lack of sleep. So for the most part, my schedule is sleep, eat, work on photos, shoot more photos, eat, sleep. Rarely during tours do I ever have a moment off to even explore the city; usually the best chance I get is when I’m looking for some food.

Is there anyone you haven’t shot and are dying for?
Probably Daft Punk is all that’s left on my EDM list. I saw them at Coachella and I did have a camera in hand, but since I knew I was witnessing something amazing, I felt I should actually enjoy what was going on without working. I rarely do that.

Who inspires you as a photographer?
Not to sound cheesy, but myself. When I take a picture that is amazing, it just inspires me to keep taking photos at that level and improve myself so the next time I take a photo like that, it’s even better. I sometimes reach that stage of creative depression where I think “Oh, nothing will top that picture I just took” but then I just surprise myself later when I do!

What advice do you have for the budding shutterbugs?
My favorite piece of advice is to make sure you find your personal eye for photography. Figure out your style; don’t spend all your life trying to emulate another photographer, that is a dead-end. Take photos the way you want to take them and make sure they make you happy, don’t try to make someone else happy. If people like your work, they will respect what you do.

What’s your fave software?
Adobe Lightroom is my program of choice for editing all the RAW photos I have. Can’t live without it!

Hardware?
Definitely my new Canon 1DX, it’s an amazing camera that helps get some shots I couldn’t get with earlier cameras! Every new technological innovation makes it a little easier to get those extreme low-light shots the way I want them.

Second would have to be my new laptop, a Dell Precision M6700. A lot of people are surprised I’m not a mac guy, but when you realize the MacBook Pro doesn’t have a great screen for photo editing (colors are a bit off even when calibrated, doesn’t have a full gamut of the color spectrum) it really helps having a beautiful 10-bit IPS panel with 100% sRGB color and more. No need to hook up an external monitor; the colors on my laptop are now the same as the colors as my pro monitor at home!

How has EDM’s explosion in the US change your career?
It’s done a lot to help boost it up, but not too much to change it. I’m still doing what I used to do, just a bit more now. More DJs I have worked with for years are starting to tour bigger and bigger venues, and more festivals are popping up. So pretty much EDM’s explosion has just provided me with the opportunity with more work, better “Rukes shots” (the behind-the-DJ fisheye shot with the entire crowd) and now with this exhibition at the W Hotel in Times Square, the ability for people to see what they missed the past few years, like the beginning of Skrillex when he first was hanging out with Deadmau5 in 2010 as “Sonny” and then later opening for his first Deadmau5 shows before “Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites”


For more exclusive photos, head to VIBE.com!

Bringing Down the House: Masquerade Motel & Ultra Blow Through Miami

Much was made this year of the rivalry between the Coachella of dance music (Ultra Music Festival) and the SXSW of DJs (Winter Music Conference). Historically, the two events have dovetailed during the same week in Miami. This year, however, WMC took place earlier in March while Ultra just wrapped up its 12th annual event this past weekend. The real winner, of course, is the city of Miami’s coffers, as hundreds of thousands of tourists jammed bars and hotels all month in search of a good time.

While Ultra boasted the biggest lineup and the most fans (around 150,000 over three days), seemingly all of South Beach was buzzing over Saturday’s sold out “Masquerade Motel.” The trio of Swedish DJs (Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso) put on an event to rival Ultra right on the beach under a white VIP tent, and fans were treated to a seaside experience that turned out to be such a hit that it was briefly a top trending Twitter topic worldwide over the weekend. Guests like A-Trak and Calvin Harris warmed up the crowd before Swedish House Mafia even began their set — Pharrell joined them briefly — while a very well done fashion component, the closing event of funkshion fashion week, featuring runway shows by Indashio and The Blonds, went on under the “Masquerade Motel” tent. Desperate dance music fans were offering over $500 per VIP ticket outside the pop-up venue (The early bird tickets cost $50 and sold out in 22 minutes when they first went on sale). It’s a safe bet the Swedes will resurrect the motel next year.

But most weekend warriors were in town this past weekend for Ultra. Yes, Diddy and Fiddy were in town, but at Ultra it was names like Afrojack (who lit up Twitter Saturday during his set) and Laidback Luke (who stole the show Sunday with a stellar turn that included everything from his “Timebomb” to classics such as “Better Off Alone”) who excited fans the most. Ultra is such a moneymaker for promoters that the fest, like Lollapalooza, is now expanding, with editions planned in countries like Brazil, Australia, and Spain.

Sadly, not everyone had a great weekend in Miami at Ultra and elsewhere in the city. A gang rape was reported last week at The Fontainebleau and a man died at a pool party Sunday at the Clevelander.

Opening Your Eyes to Steve Angello

Still shy of 30, DJ Steve Angello has done it all, at least in DJ standards. He spins his tunes in front of thousands of sweaty die-hard house music fans at venues all over the globe; he’s a father, producer, record label owner; and just recently, he joined Swedish House Mafia. DJ Magazine rated Angello #14 in the 2010 Top DJ Poll – and his 60,000 plus Twitter followers agree. One thing in particular has been on his fans’ minds this last month: Angellos new album with fellow DJ Alex Metric, dropping this January.

Alex Metric wrote on his site regarding the soon to be released album, “There will be singles from the album, the first one being ‘Open Your Eyes’ a collaboration between myself and Steve Angello, with a yet to be announced indie legend on vocal duties. Tying in with all of this I will be putting together a new live show concept for the project ready to rock festivals and clubs next summer. So here’s to 2011 being one of the best yet, things are stepping up a gear!”

“Open Your Eyes,” the first single on the album, makes you want to close your lids, move your head to the beat, and put your proverbial hands in the air. In one word, you could call it uplifting. Fans in New York City can go see Steve Agnello perform at Roseland Ballroom on New Years Eve. Dress like it’s August and you’re waiting for the subway during rush hour at Times Square, because we guarantee it’s going to get even hotter than that.

A Sneak Peek at the Swedish House Mafia Doc ‘Take One’

Yesterday, just before Swedish House Mafia’s documentary, Take One, debuted inside one of the screening rooms at William Morris Entertainment, a busty Beverly Hills brunette not attending the preview stopped SHM member Steve Angello on the street. “Are you in Swedish House Mafia,” she asked sheepishly, before explaining that both she and her boyfriend were “huge fans.” Sure, this kind of thing happens to rock stars, but DJs from Sweden? Not so much. Expect Angello and his two bandmates, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso, to start getting recognized more frequently in 2011, as all signs point to the ascendant act becoming EMI’s next Daft Punk, minus the crippling fear of recognition.

“DJs are the new rock stars,” Angello said before the 45-minute-long documentary played to friends and media. “We’ve done venues bigger than U2. It’s amazing to see that people in America are picking up on what we are doing,” he added. Not only are U.S. fans flocking to SHM shows (they have high profile Halloween engagements in Miami and Las Vegas this weekend), but they are buying the act’s just-released disc, Until One, which is expected to place high on Billboard’s Top 200 chart next week.

The trio, who are being tipped as a potential Coachella dance tent headliner in 2011, are hoping their new mini-movie will help hook American fans on their brand of euphoric, crescendo-heavy house, which has already won over Europe and Scandinavia. The film is an interesting insider look at the hectic lives of Angello, Axwell, and Ingrosso as they tour the globe.

Yesterday, friends and even a few buttoned-down WME talent agents seemed genuinely enraptured at the end of the hilarious and engrossing doc. Imagine a cross between Soulwax’s 2008 film, Part of the Weekend Never Dies, and Madonna’s classic Truth or Dare, and you’re getting close.

Documentaries such as SMH’s latest are not new for electronic music fans (see Justice’s mildly amusing but self-indulgent 2008 U.S. tour documentary). But director Christian Larson smartly keeps Take One moving briskly, with tight edits, black and white footage, and an honest look at what it’s like to be one of the world’s most in-demand electronic music acts. We’re talking private jets, gratuitous clips of under-dressed female fans, more gratuitous shots of one of Angello’s exotic sports cars, footage of endless gigs before tens of thousands worldwide and, of course, the inevitable clichéd close-up of fist-pumping crowds.

But the best moments of Take One are the quieter ones when the trio is between gigs, just being themselves. Especially engaging are the in-studio shots of SHM actually making music, something rarely captured on film or given proper respect amongst electronic music purveyors.

Larson (who confirmed my suspicion that the inspiration for the character in his fantastic clip for SHM’s “Miami2Ibiza” was in fact Lindsay Lohan) filmed the three DJs in the studio during the creation of the opening hook for their track with Pharrell “One (Your Name),” and it’s the most thrilling three minutes any real music fan will likely see on film this year. The magic is in the genesis of a hit, and Larson filmed the moment masterfully. “It’s about what we do,” Angello said of documentary. “Not only about the shows and the preparation for our shows, but also showing everything about us. This is our rock band.”

Take One will be released on DVD November 29th. Check the trailer below.