In today’s world which has become infiltrated with DJs, you find a select few ones like Behrouz who have managed to reach that top echelon, either through hard work and determination, support from fans and peers, and those that just have that God given gift to rock rooms (be it small or big) around the world.
Behrouz is easily recognized both on the Playa where he has held a highly coveted residency on the Robot Heart bus, as owner / curator of Do Not Sit On The Furniture in Miami Beach, All Day I Dream artist and is well known all over the world having been a household name for those who truly know what’s up for well over two decades now.
This weekend Behrouz’s dance base Do Not Sit On The Furniture is turning 3 years. Located in the heart of Miami’s South Beach this amazing and cozy venue has featured the best premier underground talent in the world, injecting life, meaning and culture to city’s night scene. In anticipation of their celebration we had the chance to speak with the man himself to share his club owner experience and other related musical topics.
Electronic Groove: Hi Behrouz. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. To get things started, can you let us know what made you decide to become a Dj and to follow this route?
Behrouz: I grew up in Santa Cruz where I started collecting records, also remember when I bought my first mixer in the flea market. Basically I get in the habit of buying vinyls, and growing up in San Francisco I started making tapes for my friends. Once one of them was doing a fashion show in the city and asked me if I could arrange the music for the show. I accepted and I wasn’t even old enough to get into the club at that time. It was an amazing place in San Francisco, called Gift Center, a massive space, fits around fifteen hundred people I believe, and it worked out really well. The event was so successful that they started doing this thing on a monthly basis. From thereon he asked me if I could do this thing live, you know, go there, because they had a proper DJ booth and everything. Even though I didn’t really know how to mix I took my chances. I used to go there with my older cousin so I could get into the venue, basically he was chaperoning me.
And just by doing these events I started collecting and buying more records. After a year or two a local club owner came to the place. His name was Doctor Winky. He asked me if I wanted to play at his club called DV8. I started doing a residency there, three nights a week, every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It was an amazing place, a four story floor that was designed by Keith Haring… and the rest was kind of history. I started playing there for eight years. After that I started working with this group called Release at 1015 Folsom. While I was there I took a trip to Miami. It was 1994. I met up with a couple of guys named Deep Dish and asked them to do a residency with me once a month. We started building a relationship together and finally I put out a record on his label, Yoshitoshi… the boys became huge, massive, and I was touring with them.
Electronic Groove: Where you a musician at that time?
Behrouz: I was playing drums and a little bit of keyboards in high school. I really wasn’t a musician but always dreaming of being one. More like a kind of uneducated musician, but in heart, purely. I went to school in San Francisco and got my Finance Degree. Then after six months working for a company I decided that I didn’t want to do this thing for the rest of my life and I didn’t want to look back and think that I wished I would have done something else. Then, I focused on making music. Taught myself how to work around the studio and the first release I had was on Yoshitoshi.
Electronic Groove: Do you remember the first time that you heard Electronic Music? Any special memories?
Behrouz: Growing up in San Francisco, we were so advanced back then. You know, mid 90’s. We had everything in the city. It was such an amazing place and part of it is because of the gay community and because all the clubs were unbelievable. The music scene was completely different than the rest of the world. I would say there were only two or three places in US where the music and the club scene were incredible and that would be New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. I was very lucky to be honest that I was exposed to real dance music, real underground dance music from the early days. And we used to play everything, San Francisco was a melting pot of music styles. I played regularly from 9 PM until 4 AM, it always was six, seven hours of sets. I was playing a little bit of everything.
Electronic Groove: How would you describe the evolution of your style?
Behrouz: I still try to mix it in. I still like to bring some records that a lot of people don’t know. Trying to always make it super special with records that no one can “Shazam” it. I have over 20.000 records. That’s the beauty of having so much mileage, so much music, and knowledge. But I’ve always been able to evolve with my music. I was very forward thinking. I was one of the few guys who started playing minimum music before anyone in the US. I mean if you listen to my Pure Behrouz CD, it’s from back then, and you can see what I have done. You can go back and listen to one of the CD compilations or my Essential Mix for example… I have always managed to evolve, and a part of it is because I have always been able to travel and see different countries and scenes. Always exposed to buying new stuff and trying to find new talents, and which direction the music is going, that helped me a lot.
Good music, good sexy music.
Electronic Groove: So what would you say is your music style at the moment?
Behrouz: Good music, good sexy music. I mean for me, you can put me in a room and I will play proper techno for you. I have done many festivals, I’ve played at Space with Carl Cox, I have played for years at DC10 Ibiza when they were building up. If you’re a professional DJ you can be in any situation. If you play at sunrise, it is at sunrise set. You play at an afternoon outdoor, then you go for beautiful afternoon music, it depends where, what time, what country… every region has a different vibe, so thank God all these years, these things taught me to do that. It’s taken a long time to understand that. Some DJ’s only have one speed and some completely diversify. I’m one of those guys that I can play every type of situation.
Electronic Groove: Do Not Sit On The Furniture is celebrating 3 years. Tells us about the club and how you got into this?
Behrouz: Well I moved to Miami about ten years ago, I always liked to take a chance, a risk. I was comfortably fine in San Francisco but traveling is very difficult from the West Coast, especially if you are going on to Europe and South America. Then I thought that the East Coast would be a good place for me to be. I love New York but going to the airport every weekend over there is very difficult. So I decided to move over here, to Miami. After I moved here I was thinking, “what am I doing here?”, because the scene was very commercial. Even though I was not here on the weekends I would come in on weekdays. Sometimes I would like to go out and listen to music. Two years later my daughter was born and I kind of got used to. A few years later I thought that I needed to find a location where I could express my artistic point of view and bring something special to the city. So I found this place that is something in between San Francisco meets Berlin, it’s a great place to do what I want to do. My project with the whole Do Not Sit On The Furniture was to create something local; a platform for young artists to play and a space where big league artists could perform. I felt that a lot of us tend to play in big room festivals, and your music becomes harder and harder, you’re only looking for big room sound. But there is a lot of beautiful music that you won’t be able to play in these big places. So Do Not Sit On The Furniture is like an MTV Unplugged. You get to see top DJ’s come in and play for a hundred people where they can express their music from a different point of view without worrying about “I’ve got to move a thousand people”. Since we’ve opened every artist that has played here, including Richie Hawtin, has loved it. They all say it’s a great place where “I can play what I want to play”.
Electronic Groove: You’re playing with NU on the club’s anniversary day, what should we expect?
Behrouz: Very simply, you should expect to listen to music from two artists that play from their heart, so come with an open mind and enjoy a very special magical vibe on the dance floor! It’s all about the magic at Do Not Sit 🙂
Electronic Groove: Where does the name Do Not Sit On The Furniture come from?
Behrouz: The reason I called it Do Not Sit On The Furniture was because when I moved to Miami, I went to do a sound check at a club and when I got there, the whole club including the dance floor was filled with furniture, couches, everything. I asked the guy in charge, “Are we going to move all this stuff?” And he goes, “No, they are staying here”, then I said “Well what about the dance floor?” And he replies “No, we’re going to keep this stuff over here, we will sell more bottles and people love it like this”. So that stuck in my mind… a dance floor is a dance floor and a seating area, is a seating area; so that’s how I came with the name. Nice, not so serious, but fun.
Electronic Groove: Was it tough to build the club’s concept, especially in a city like Miami where there are so many clubs?
Behrouz: Miami is a very, very tough market, and lots of venues close every year. So to make this happen I had to think outside of the box and cure something that represent what we do and think. I’ve gathered a lot of experience over the past 10 years from going to places like Burning Man. I decided to bring something completely different to the city. Bring these new artists and promote them. I really couldn’t compete with all the big clubs which are paying so much money for DJ’, so we managed to do that. We’ve created a family of friends, of good artists. With time they have grown, and projects like Do Not Sit On The Furniture Records came to life.
Electronic Groove: What city in the US do you think is the most important in terms of dance music history and it’s impact on the current scene?
Behrouz: Obviously that would be New York. Part of it is because of the history behind the city and going back to places like Studio 54, Paradise Bar, Sound Factory, and Twilo to name a few. New York will always be that place that everybody wants to go to.
It’s like seeing Jimi Hendrix playing guitar on a computer; you really want to see this guy play on a guitar!
Electronic Groove: What is your take of dance music going mainstream? Is this good or bad?
Behrouz: Well I would say good and bad. The good thing is that now more and more people get exposed to it and we will see more amazing artists coming out of this. The bad thing is that some people turn in a long story, and it is not coming from the heart, mostly from the fame. To be able to play correctly as a professional DJ takes you about 10 years; to really know how to play for 10 hours, not 2 hours. It has its cards, it has its good and bad. Honestly, I care about what people hear but I wish people cared more about what DJ’s are doing, what’s going behind the scenes. Is he coming in and just playing sync on a computer, or CDJ’s. To me the art of mixing is very important. It’s like seeing Jimi Hendrix playing guitar on a computer; you really want to see this guy play on a guitar! Even though if he makes a mistake it makes sense. It’s very organic and analog, but at the same time the audience is listening and you have to rock that room too.
Electronic Groove: So what recommendation can you give to the kids out there who are trying to make it in the industry?
Behrouz: My recommendation is play from your heart. Start selecting the music that you want to play and create your own style. Not what other people are playing but what you like to play, and stick to it. You have to do what you are good at. One day this style or music is hot and everybody is doing the same thing. You shine more than copying, or trying to play safe, when you think outside the box. As long as you master your craft you will be OK.
Electronic Groove: Where is dance music going? How do you envision its evolution from now on?
Behrouz: To me dance music is always evolving, songs gets too popular after a year or two, it’s so competitive. Everyone comes with new ideas, especially with the new technology that we have in the studio. I kind of predicted a few years ago, many years ago in fact, that underground music would become massive, but good underground. You know what I mean? If it’s too underground, maybe people won’t understand it. But if you play it in a way that relates to people, then you can play amazing stuff, sometimes regular people can understand it too. I think that EDM and commercial music became so massive was because uneducated people could relate to it. There is nothing wrong with it, I don’t look at it as negative. Everyone has their own life and taste, they are the listeners.
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/DoNotSit/