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Thugfucking Miami

Greg Oreck is both one half of DJ/Production duo Thugfucker and one half label owner of the swiftly rising Life and Death Records. In addition to being a talented DJ/Musician and savvy label head, he’s also one hell of a party animal. So we couldn’t resist approaching him to give Pulse readers a window into the madness that was this year’s WMC in Miami. Combining sleep deprivation with innumerable shenanigans, Greg shines a light on what it’s like to wear many hats all while ensuring the show ALWAYS must go on. Keep an eye out for details on Lee Curtiss’ BBQ skills, massages at the Wolf + Lamb house, aliens, personal stylists and much more.

Thursday:

Upon arrival I head straight to the apartments that were rented for the Life and Death crew. It's maybe 2 o'clock in the afternoon but, unsurprisingly during WMC, the apartments aren't ready for us yet. The Italians have apparently headed for the beach but for me the only way to deal with this kind of adversity is to ignore it completely and, as they say in Germany, 'make party'. So I head straight for the Dirtybird soiree at Villa 221.

Catz & Dogs are just finishing their set when I arrive and the boys are kicking ass and making it look easy. As was J.Phlip who followed the polish wonder twins and immediately began dropping her booty bass bombs that are just perfect for Miami. It's amazing to watch because as she drops earth-shaking booty-bombs from the year 2021, she simultaneously exudes an air of mega-cuteness that creates a lovely dissonance -- one that seems to turn her fans into gyrating zombies. They're shaking their things 'cause they can't help it and are entranced by the cuteness 'cause they can't help that either. I think to myself, "this girl might command an army one day, better stay on her good side." And then suddenly Justin Martin comes over, slaps my ass and we grab some drinks before discussing pizza. Good stuff.

Time (and alcohol) is flying quickly now... An hour passes. Or is it three?

But wait.. holy shit.. Phife from Tribe Called Quest has just taken the stage. This is definitely the coupe de grace. A true hero and one of the guys whose music I've been listening to since junior high. And you know what? He can still fucking KILL it. Seems like everyone has arrived for this and next thing you know I'm in the middle of the dance floor shaking my ass with Eli from Soul Clap. Phife is performing all of Tribe’s hits live while to my left Claude Von Stroke is moved to tears. It's a killer, killer moment. Goddamn. I'm not sure how you follow something like this but Justin Martin gets on stage and gets right at it like a total pro. Not just a fun-loving pizza lover, this guy's got skills. Sure I'm a little tipsy but I'm still feeling really proud of him right now. That shit ain't easy.

Still, proud or not, I'm no fool. And I'm not gonna stick around and wait for this party to end before leaving because finding a taxi then will be a very special kind of hell that only exists in Miami during WMC (well, and at Sonar actually.. and in Paris on most average nights). So we sneak out and head back to South Beach. I check into the apartment, hook up with the Life and Death crew for some food and much needed catch up time and then we head down to the Pickle where the Wolf+Lamb crew is throwing their big event.

Going in, there's no doubt it'll be a good one. The music is killer all around and the conversations range from deep to frivolously comic from minute to minute. It’s lovely.

I check out Deniz's trip-tastic traveling art piece with some friends (very nice!) and then PillowTalk takes the outdoor stage. They've decided to not make anything easy for themselves and have prepared different live sets for each of the shows they'll be playing this week. Goddamn! Despite what must have been a herculean task, they pull it off and I have to say I'm impressed. Even when the power cuts out for a minute, they handle it like pros and keep the vibe as things come back online. I look over to the front of the stage and see Claude von Stroke clearly in celebratory mode and fist pumping along with the music. He's feeling it and so is everybody else. At some point Slow Hands and Greg Paulus take the stage and things start to get seriously next level.

After they finish, I move upstairs to catch Deniz's set. I don't know how many times I've seen her play by now but she never fails to impress. Not sure what she's doing there behind the blinking lights but it's always impressive how she manages to twist and distort her music to match the mood of the crowd like a DJ does with records. Our good buddy Navid drops some vocals and things go off. Just when things seem like they can't get any better she drops the tempo by about 20bpm and finishes her set with the track, "Wake Me Up" that we did together with PillowTalk last summer in Berlin. Rather than revolting to the 98bpm slowdown the crowd goes nuts-so it seems that they like it. Oh man, that's a nice moment right there. More drinks for everyone!

And as more drinks come, so must they eventually go as well. Which leads me to the urinals with a tall friendly man propositioning me for this tour diary. Not really sure how I'm gonna pull it off as my main concern right now is "when am I going to find the time to sleep for a few hours over the next few days?" (I’m not entirely wild about the idea of something more to do.) But still, my spirits are feeling pretty high, as are most of the people around me. And surely these moments deserve to be documented.

So I record some notes in my iPhone for transcription later on. And then, back to the party to watch as No Regular Play rock the place. After that, things get a little more blurry....



Friday:

I wake up in our apartment feeling hung over but quite pleased with myself. Why? Because today is the one day I need to be a bit responsible as we're throwing our Life and Death party tonight at Treehouse. So why am I feeling so pleased with myself already? Well because I woke up. Which implies that I was previously sleeping (a very good thing considering it wasn't a guaranteed end to the previous night's party.) Luckily, it seems instinct brought me home and forced me to skip whatever afterhours was happening. And with at least a good 3-4 hours sleep under my belt I'm feeling like the king of the world..ish.

Because as much fun as we like to have, we do take our party throwing pretty seriously...

And on that note, I head over to the temporary Life and Death HQ that we've set up in the apartment where Manfredi (Tennis) and Karm (from Tale of Us) are sleeping. There's lots to do and organize, not just for tonight but for the year ahead and it's important we take advantage of the moments when we're all together so we can work on some of the bigger plans we have coming down the line.

-- several hours pass --

We stop by Treehouse quickly before grabbing a bite to make sure all the technical needs are sorted out and ready to go. The setup compared to last year is much nicer and last year it was already pretty damn good. But now the place is feeling perfect for tonight's party and the club is looking like a set that was dressed with Life and Death in mind. Sweeeeet.

But there's one little hitch. It turns out the club has decided that doors need to open an hour earlier than they've told us. So Tennis has to jump on immediately and start playing-luckily he's ready to DJ at any moment like the consummate professional that he is. And I, out of solidarity, head quickly back to grab my stuff and re-join him there while the others grab some quick eats.

Maybe 20 minutes pass and I expect to return to my friend playing to an empty house but surprisingly people have already started showing up and there's actually a decent amount of people there.. Half an hour before our announced opening time. It's crazy. But crazy good. So I have a drink and a boogie amongst the peeps as Tennis does his thing. Good times.

After another hour, Sammy from PillowTalk sends me a text letting me know they're on their way. Their equipment is already set up for their live show and all they need to do is waltz in like the rock stars they are and take the stage to make the magic happen. Which they do and the crowd responds quite happily wicked show and as they say in SF: Amazeballz..

Next up, Clockwork. The place is now completely rammed and it's getting hard to move from one end of the club to the other. Luckily people are feeling friendly. Clockwork always manage to impress with their own distinct sound. Dirty, sleazy techno-disco on morphine. But that doesn't actually describe it at all. Someone once wisely said, "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture" -- so maybe I'll stop trying to describe it and just note that I was dancing quite happily while they were playing whatever it was they were playing.

The mood in the room is building quite nicely. Clockwork are finishing up and with Tale of Us up next the anticipation growing to a crescendo. The way the energy feels in the room I'm ready for people to start throwing their undergarments at the DJ booth. Tale of Us jump straight in and do what they do so overwhelmingly well. If you haven't seen them, it's hard to describe. But it really is something special.

By now, most of my label owner, party thrower responsibilities have been taken care of (Tennis can certainly handle anything else from here on in) so I decide to take off the training wheels and start letting loose a bit. The music is great and Holmar and I are both feeling the great spirits stirring within us so it’s best not to hold back.

We let Tale of Us’ last track run out completely for them to get a solid round of applause that's more than deserved after their amazing performance. We then start things off with a new track we've been working on with Tale of Us. Everything's moving smoothly and next thing you know, we're in that zone where everything is blurry at the edges but hyperclear right in front of us. Things feel great and the party is amazing. A great success and so nice to have all the crew together in one place, all at the top of their game, all making it happen together. By the time we drop the last song of the night, the lights are on and we're well past closing time but the staff is surprisingly patient with us as we drop a second 'last song of the night' but as we move on to last song number 3, the power is cut and we're all quickly out on the street.

Afterparty time!

Saturday:

Well, as predicted I still haven't slept since early Friday morning and it's now about 10am and I'm at Get Lost over at the Pickle. It seems like everyone's here or has been here at some point and it's very easy to go from lovely conversation with an old friend to jumping up and down to ace music and then back to some lovely conversation while slow dancing with another friend under the outdoor shade structure. I basically ping pong between all three of these things and while only mildly inebriated, the high from the previous night's party and the sleep deprivation add another level to the experience that's hard to describe. Like floating on a cloud in a dream where the cloud is a big giant party with a whole load of your friends. So many standout moments but I have to say getting to spend some quality time with Maya Jane Coles and her manager Steven ranks high among them. These might just be two of the nicest people in this business. All this bouncing around goes on for quite a while but I can't sustain this forever. Things are certainly bound to get weirder and wilder (and remembering that we have to play tonight for the Om party) I decide to do the responsible thing and leave.

But not to sleep..

I could easily sleep now but I'm feeling too good and I know our good friends Wolf+Lamb & Soul Clap are having a family affair shindig back at their house up in N. Miami Beach. Thinking ahead, I have the cab driver stop by my apartment first so I can pick up our record bag. It's apparent to me at this point that I won't be sleeping before tonight's gig.

Record bag (and change of clothes) in hand I finally make it up there where the family style BBQ action is in full effect. Deniz, Tanner and a small away team have taken the boat out to go fishing. Zev, Drea and crew are overseeing some lovely super healthy food that's being prepared. Lee Curtiss is in the studio recording vocals for a new track. Lots of people are in the pool and in the backyard there's two masseuses with tables set up giving hour massages to those that care to sign up for them. Obviously I sign up immediately. I may not sleep before tonight but the way these guys roll I'm sure as hell gonna be feeling fine by the time I leave here.

The play by play of the rest of the afternoon/evening would just make you jealous. But I'll note that Lee Curtiss cooked up the best grilled lamb I've ever eaten in my life. Zev and I made a nice little track about aliens coming into the studio. And swimming in the bay with the boys was about as good as life could possibly have gotten at that moment. All in all, pretty goddamn perfect and that wasn't even the half of it.

As much as I would love to stay there till the wee hours, Holmar and I have a gig to play and so, with no sleep but feeling like a million bucks, I head out. Our new pal Jacques Smith heroically volunteers to give me a ride over to the gig and completely styles me up for the show in some of his bombtastic custom made clothes. Seriously Jacques, you're a true hero.

I've managed to meet Holmar at the Om party half an hour before we’re set to play and we get to walk around a bit to soak up the vibe before playing the closing set. We’re meant to play for 1.5 hours but they keep asking us to play more playing a solid 3 1/2 hours after all is said and done. That's the kind of closing set we like.

The real highlight for us is when Crazy P comes up and tells us how much they enjoyed the set. We're huge Crazy P, Ron Basejam, Hot Toddy fans so it means TONS.

Now of course here's the time when it would make sense to head home and get some sleep. But the only problem is at this point our next DJ gig for the Last Resort party is only 4 hours away. And there's definitely no way I could lay down and sleep for only 4 hours at this point. No way. As long as the music keeps playing we can keep going. So we move on to some fancy private party on Star Island for a while to keep ourselves alive and kicking while we wait for the moment to head back and play for Last Resort.

Sunday:

Holmar intelligently managed to sneak in a nap at the fancy private villa party where Craig Richards is killing it all night. But I'm alternating between some pretty heady conversation and a bit of dancing under the stars.

-- hours pass and Craig keeps playing one hell of a set --

It’s time to go and DJ again. I wake Holmar and we manage to get a ride back to civilization. Though calling Miami on the last Sunday of WMC 'civilization' might be a stretch of the word.

Upon arrival at Last Resort at Villa 221 we find Tanner Ross and Slow Hands killing it back to back. The time comes for us to play and all the sleep deprivation finally starts to reach a head and we get a bit weird behind the decks. I vaguely remember playing a remix of Tubular Bells as well as Tennis' re-edit of Neil Young before finally it's time for Footprints to go on and play live. The rest is a bit hazy until we succumb and head across the street for a quick nap, shower and re-group in Hamilton's hotel room. Ooh that feels gooooooood.....

-- several hours later--

Oh man, did we need that. Seriously. But we don't want to dilly dally much longer as the sun is getting ready to go down and it's looking to be the best sunset of the weekend. So we head out onto the terrace to watch it, just Holmar and I. Beautiful.

But now that the sun's dipping below the horizon we head back to the Villa for more of the Last Resort party. It's now going at full throttle and we arrive as Maya is slaying it. Amazing set. Shaun Reeves and Ryan Crosson follow her and play back to back with some seriously well put together future tribal techno or whatever you call it, it's tight as hell. Holmar and I are back in party mode and it seems like almost everyone we know in the dance music scene is here right now. It's like a little slice of heaven. This is what life is all about right here, this is the good shit....

Of course there was some parties we missed that we would have loved to go to. We have it on good authority from friends (who don't pull punches) that many of them were too good to miss. But you can't make them all as much as you try. And lord knows I think we made a pretty good effort. But there's always next year and we can always try a bit harder and sleep a bit less...

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