Egyptian Lover, a 49-year-old electronic musician born Greg Broussard, is a rare West Coast artist whose imprint looms large on the Miami underground music world.
In the ‘80s, when he first emerged from the fringes of the Los Angeles breakdancing scene, there was something of a bicoastal rivalry among similarly minded producers.
Miami had its own flourishing bass-music scene, with producers like the elusive Maggotron and the Beat Club churning out robotic jams hinging on the Roland TR-808 drum machine.
But something about Egyptian Lover’s top tracks crossed over big here and stuck. Perhaps it was the kind of out-and-out weirdness for which Miami music fans have always had a soft spot.
Just check out, for instance, the low-end, vocoded voices and ridiculous, forced “exotic” flair of his 1984 hit, “Egypt, Egypt:”
But perhaps it was this track and subsequent dance floor favorites, like “I Need a Freak,” in which different exciting future funk flavors were all entangling.
“I was a dancer first, and Egyptian Lover was the pinnacle of freestyle, bass and techno coming together,” recalls Nelson Fernandez, a Miami-based DJ and producer.
It was enough to even reel in then-rockers who would later go on to produce electronic music in Miami.
“Even as a headbanger kid in junior high, it was impossible to not be seduced by the beat, the robot voice, and the Kraftwerk-inspired synth lead that also reminded us of the sound from the Inspector Gadget theme,” says Ed Matus, who now performs with the experimental groups Plata o Plomo and Spielberger. (The latter is a bicoastal project with the contemporary artist Bert Rodriguez.)
This Saturday, June 15, the DJs/musicians/promoters/bloggers/etc. behind Nightdrive have scored a rare coup, booking the man himself for a live show at the Vagabond.
It’s part of their regular ongoing monthly party Scaramouche, which seeks to resurrect the sights and sounds of Miami’s clubland past. Bonus: It’s also the official launch party for Klangbox.FM, a new electronic music online radio station based in Wynwood.
But while the party evokes a certain nostalgia for the past, and Egyptian Lover will be presented more or less in this context, his influence on the Miami musical landscape hasn’t died.
In fact, if you listen closely, some of the city’s best underground musicians of the recent past definitely took a page from his computerized song book. If you’re intrigued, here are seven more you should check out, listed in no particular order:
Otto Von Schirach
Freaky, even salacious content; unpredictable, bizarre surprises; and, of course, those unmistakable electro drums — they all show up in the work of this performance artiste.
Otto’s material ranges from pure noise aggression to (electronic) hardcore. But in between, there’s plenty of b-boy-friendly flavor of the kind that would fit in on a club night right after “I Need a Freak.”
This tireless DJ, producer, label owner and party promoter has often served as the shepherd of all things bass in Miami. His own output has evolved from jungle to dubstep and all the flavors beyond, but as a longtime Miami guy, his sets often delve back into a slinky electro past.
Check out this recent mix for a proper journey from the present, back to the past, and then to the future of it all, all pushing the boundaries of hip-hop and breakbeats.
Romulo del Castillo / Josh Kay / Phoenecia / Soul Oddity
Del Castillo and Kay headed up a flourishing late-ish-‘90s scene in Miami centered around what some termed “IDM,” or “intelligent dance music,” or, rather, electronic music that required a little more mental unpacking than mindless bouncing.
With their label Schematic Records, they released material that, again, took up techno, bass, strains of hip-hop, and anything else, and pushed it to all of those genres’ outer limits. (This is also partly where von Schirach got his start.)
Apart from that, they released music on larger labels, first as Soul Oddity on Astralwerks, then as Phoenecia on Warp. It all picked up some of the left-field threads spun out by artists like Egyptian Lover.
Part of the same extended family that grew out of Schematic Records, Felipe’s super (almost scarily) prolific, and never predictable. While much of his latest material sounds more like lo-fi, mournful psych-rock ballads, he’s also dabbled in touches of outer space bass.
This electro group arose in West Palm Beach just a little after Egyptian Lover — they were near-contemporaries, but hit it big after the latter had already been mashing up breakbeats and hip-hop.
Dynamix II came to fruition in the late ‘80s, with their best-known track, “Just Give the DJ A Break,” even hitting gold status in the U.S. and reaching the U.K. singles chart.
Egyptian Lover. With Lazaro Casanova, Bonnie Beats, Ryan Evans, Patrick Walsh and Laura of Miami. 10 p.m. Saturday, June 15 at the Vagabond, 30 NE 14th St., Miami. Admission costs $10 in advance; age 21 and up. Call 305-379-0508, or visit thevagabondmiami.com