In the dewy dusk of 3:47 am in Miami, I’m accompanied by Pazmal, Telescope Thieves, and Manuvers, DJ’s from The Love Below, reflecting on Tuesday night’s crowd.
The Love Below is a Miami-based DJ collective who coined the phrase, “genreless dance party”, during an interview at the Electric Pickle’s parking lot. It’s difficult to try to slap genres at such a colorful arsenal of DJ’s for the sake of journalistic clarity; I became an instant fan of their fluid fusion of R&B, Motown, Disco, 80’s/90’s electro funk, classic/contemporary hip-hop, mixed in with downright bass-filled, low-end tunes. TLB are about to celebrate their 2nd year anniversary at an all-day pool party, this Saturday, July 29th, at the W Hotel in Brickell, and they have plenty to celebrate. TLB have reigned a successful music residency at the esteemed Electric Pickle lounge, changing the definition of what you can encounter while looking to get lost and find yourself in Miami’s nightlife. I’m positive you have driven right past it – on the corner of 29th St. and North Miami Avenue, connecting the Wynwood and Midtown area. Is the name an ode to an eccentric cocktail, a sexual innuendo, or a dancer’s dream come true? I found it to be the latter; Electric Pickle only has a conspicuous red neon “BAR” sign and a giant painted black logo stamped, “The Boiler Room”, or as it’s been dubbed in Spanish, “El Bolero Room”. It has been described as an Old-Miami/1940’s officers’ speakeasy, with brick walls and vintage airplane decor, reminiscent of post-WWII.
My entire body has been baptisized in sweat from dancing with fellow night-goers who know a goldmine of extraordinarily soulful vinyl DJ’s when they see them. It is here on Tuesday nights where I have been prompt in attending since January of 2017, meeting many Miami nightlife socialites and rambunctious dancers. (2 for 1 drinks until midnight!) I happen to have befriended Manuvers, one of the founders and DJ’s of TLB, in 2016 while guest-spinning at a BYOV, (Bring Your Own Vinyl) music night at Baby Jane, Brickell’s Americana-chic cocktail bar.
He invited me to check out a “Made You Look” dance party, Sundays at Purdy Lounge, South Beach’s “No Attitude. No Cover. No Bullshit” staple bar. I figured, what the hell, I’ll just sip from a drink, say hi, and leave – an hour, tops. I wouldn’t suffer much FOMO on a Sunday night from a bar, right? I went alone and was spiritually adopted by a Californian dance family; TLB’s sounds brought out moves from within me that I didn’t even know needed an outlet, for a solid and sweaty 3 ½ hours.
I knew they were special and had to dig deeper. How does a group of DJ’s, only about to make their 2nd year mark, start a movement of grand musical proportions amidst an entire historic legacy in Miami’s nightlife?
Third Dream Media: What are the origins of your DJ alias’?
Telescope Thieves: There’s no good story, haha, just put together words I dug, I’m a space nerd, so that’s part of it.
Pazmal: It’s something that I stopped explaining and I would just rather people use their imagination.
Manuvers: I had a few other names before, but I had a friend of mine blurt out, “Manuvers”, and I liked how it sounded. At the time, I was trying be a turntable-ist anyway, so I was doing body tricks and maneuvers, and I liked that name.
TDM: Why the name, “The Love Below”?
M: Telescope Thieves actually came up with it. The reason why I like the name so much is because TLB represents the-love-from-below, in the physical map of the United States. We’re at the tip of the bottom, bottom, bottom of the U.S., and I think TLB is the “love” coming from “below”, by the geography of where Miami is located. That’s why I gravitated to that name, besides that, it’s a classic Outkast album. It was something relatable, rolls off the tongue because it’s recognizable, but at the same time, it has a meaning that we can all apply to.
TDM: Worst song of 2017?
TT: Not sure, I tend to not think too hard about what I dislike.
M: Any pop shit really. The really poppy, teeny-bopper shit. I can’t understand that music for the life of me. I hear it, and I’m like, “who does this shit?”
TDM: Best song of 2017?
TT: Hmm, maybe “Nights” by Frank Ocean.
P: “24k Magic”
M: The Childish Gambino album – “Redbone” is getting so much play on regular pop radio.
TDM: What’s the last music ringtone you had, before owning an iPhone?
P: Blackberry, “Brooklyn Zoo” – ODB
M: Never had a ringtone song. I was never into that, I don’t like noises on my phone.
TT:“3 Little Birds” – Bob Marley
When I asked if they have met anybody or experienced something since starting TLB that has changed their life, their response to this question made it clear to me that they are in this business for more than just the reputation, the money, or the artistic freedom: the grounding humbleness from their hard work and mutual respect for one another is what they treasured most.
TT: Meeting TLB crew changed my life.
P: Yes, tons of awesome people, and it made me realize there are people that appreciate good music, just like I do.
M: Yeah, I’ve met Telescope Thieves, Pazmal, & Gamma Bot. Jun-iLL, I already knew, but all of us coming together is pretty awesome, and in one way or another, has changed all of our lives. Being inspired by the whole crew has been definitely life-changing in that sense.
TDM: Congrats on your two-year-old. How are you feeling leading up to TLB’s 2-year anniversary party?
M: I feel pretty good. I like the fact that we made it to 2 years. It’s not easy to do a weekly party that has been able to breathe so much culture and life into what we do, and we inspire other people around the city. Being able to reach 2 years of anything is an accomplishment. You go through a lot of ups and downs, it’s tough sometimes; when you have amazing nights, at capacity, and then you have nights that are really f#ck!ng slow and not very packed – you gotta eat it all. You weigh it, keep tweaking the formula, reach your 2 year mark, and throw a pretty successful party.
TDM: What’s on the agenda for the rest of 2017?
M: More growth within what we’re doing in the company. We want to increase our opportunities and set up everything else musically that we want to do, with all the producers and the DJ’s. Expanding the brand, get into the merch. Do some out-of-town TLB parties, like pop-ups. There’s no real boundaries for what we do – my next goal would be to venture out to Atlanta, and New York, and other cities in the U.S. that would be really open to it, and have shown interest, in being involved with what we do down here.
TDM: What are you thoughts on the current Miami music scene?
M: I think it’s interesting. It’s always evolving. Now there’s people that have access to do a lot of sh!t, which is really cool. People are venturing out, a lot in different scenes and different genres of music. I think it’s really cool that people are motivated to either be here, move here, or actually want to create from here. Back in the days, it used to be a little different. I think there’s more people trying to work together and collaborate. The internet is even more open that it was before, so there’s much more openness and exposure to the world.
TDM: What is the secret to fulfillment as a DJ?
P: To play in Japan, for now.
TT: Not worrying what people think, haha.
TDM: What keeps you going at TLB?
M: I think the continuing is really for the love of music, and it’s something I’ve spoken to the guys about before. Some of the guys have been DJ’ing for less than me, I’ve been DJ’ing since 1993, no joke. If you really love music and you have a skill in DJ’ing, no matter what trends or how music evolves and changes, you will always find a pocket of something that you’re interested in.
As long as music still motivates you and you’re happy about it, you can always find somewhere to fit, to create. The whole TLB movement that we started was out of all of us liking similar sh!t, and being like, “Wow, let’s get together and do an experiment of playing the music that we want to play”, without having to play the Top 40 stuff, that we even play at other parties or everywhere else in Miami that people are used to.
The experiment actually worked from the first one and we kept it going – we have the freedom. People already have it programmed that they come there to dance, to have a good time, and not request songs. Occasionally, we might get people requesting stuff, but they’ve never been there, it’s their first time. After you tell them, “We don’t do requests”, they’ll get it, and just have fun.
Sure, you might have work early next morning, but learn the meaning of “going up on a Tuesday”. You look good in a pair of shades on, anyhow. Follow The Love Below on their Instagram, and make sure to keep updated on new happenings on their website.
The Love Below Crew:
The Gamma Bot