Okeechobee festival goers, you are in for something ecstatic. On top of the festival lineup already being amazing in so many diverse ways, the festival organizers have brought in experienced party curators from Brooklyn, specializing in warehouse parties, to create an after hours experience to follow the main stage festivities.
We got the opportunity to catch up with one of the festival's curators, Julio, a DJ, label head, and Brooklyn transplant from Europe. He is one of the founders of NYC party brand and record label, Sheik 'N' Beik, and gave us all the inside details you need to know ahead of experiencing the amazing jungle rave at Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival, dubbed 'Jungle 51'.
Will Benrubi for Magnetic: Tell us about the name and theme of ‘Jungle 51’
Julio: The party first and foremost is in the jungle! We wanted to give it a twist by adding the concept and theme that aliens crashed into the jungle, which is why we had a UFO with lasers and steam coming out of it last year. Last year’s story was that the aliens had crashed into the jungle, so this year the story continues where the aliens have colonized the jungle, creating their own city that the people of the festival will walk into, and experience as they dance to some of the DJs we have booked.
Sounds dope! What was the approach you had upon booking the featured acts?
The approach we have is based on really unique underground DJs out there who play amazing music, don’t get as much spotlight, and have varying booking fees. We try to combine great music at great prices, and what we have is this lineup of very experienced and eclectic DJs, varying from big names to amazing up and coming talent. Growing up in Europe, I grew up with a lot of this music, so that definitely affected the way I curated the lineup.
Being the curator of the underground lineup at this festival, can you recommend some of the acts that patrons should scope out while they are there?
I am really excited, last year we tried to book Lady Blacktronika, but it didn’t workout however this year we have her on the bill. She is a lesser-known house music producer, but her productions are so spot on; they are deep, soulful, and funky. I am yet to see her DJ yet, and I cannot wait! Obviously we have more well traveled names such as DVS1, Ryan Elliot, Kim Ann Foxman, who are awesome, however Lady Blacktronika is not around very often, and I can’t wait to witness her, she is going to be performing Sunday after Nightmares on Wax.
Another name to be excited about - Nightmares On Wax - he’s not in the US too often?
He’s going to be doing a very special three-hour DJ set, as supposed to his usual live set. It’s going to be a very special performance from our friend from Nightmares on Wax. There’s also an artist from Japan on the bill from my label Sheik ‘N’ Beik, by the name of Keita Sano, who will be performing in the US for the first time so that will be very special.
There are definitely acts I have never heard of on the bill, which I am excited to have an open mindset with.
I think for a lot of the people who come to Okeechobee, they come for the big names, and I think this is our opportunity to show everyone who is not so familiar with our culture and this music, to show them what it’s all about. It’s more of a party than a concert you know? During Okeechobee, people basically go to watch the concerts all day long until night time, then when those are winding down, they can come to the jungle and party! We can all come to celebrate underground techno and house music together, for as long as the party goes to, which is 7AM on some nights and 8AM on other.
Yeah there seems to be minimal overlap with the acts that play at other stages. Jungle 51 will be basically be the only stage open passed 2AM right?
Right! If we had to put Jungle 51 at the same time as other stages, we wouldn’t have as many people in the jungle because a majority of the people came to see all the different diverse big names from different music scenes on the bill, which would waste the experience we have built for the people coming. By putting it at night, it gives the people the day to see the acts they want to see, and allows them to come party with us at night.
You guys will definitely have a wide demographic of music fans migrating there because they want to party afterwards. These are all great DJ’s so it will be cool for people who haven’t quite yet fully experienced these underground sounds to come through.
Yeah on top of that it is probably the coolest stage at the festival; it’s this little enclave in the forest, which will look really trippy with what we have done to it. So I think people will be pleasantly surprised.
Can you give us a little background about yourself?
I’ve been a DJ and organizing underground events in New York City for the last 10-12 years, and just celebrated the 9th anniversary of my label and parties called Sheik ‘N’ Beik. This is the music that we love, play and produce. There’s a lot festivals out there in the US that book these huge EDM names and upon booking, they are all about the commercial aspects of electronic music – you know big popular acts with huge price tags.
90% of our parties have been in Brooklyn, and we used to do weekly parties in Manhattan. Ever since curating last year’s Jungle 51 lineup for Okeechobee, I have slowed down a bit from the Sheik ‘N’ Beik Parties, and focused more on the label. We have also took over the management of the record store connected to the Brooklyn nightclub, Output, called Halycon.
As I said earlier, I grew up in Europe, being raised in Switzerland until I was 18, where I had a weekly reggae radio show until I went to college in the US at Boston University. There I eventually amassed a large collection of dance music records, which led to me moving to New York where I started Sheik ‘N’ Beik, which I do on the side next too planning Okeechobee.
Sounds like the rest is history! Thank you for your time Julio, and I can’t wait to see the jungle party!
Julio will also be DJing a very special set at the festival - catch him at the Jungle 51 stage, Sunday morning from 1:00AM-3:00AM