Mention the word “moombahton” to any well-rounded dance music lover and several names of producers will come to mind. The same guidelines apply when it comes to connecting producer names with the sounds of trap, electro house, techno, and so forth. There is no shortage of producers, but there is a lack of versatility within the world of producing. An artist’s ability (or inability) to create a distinct project is the difference between being an afterthought and having a legacy. Nick Weiller, better known as producer, Bro Safari, has dabbled in everything from high energy drum n’ bass to downtempo moombahton. The producer and multi-instrumentalist (he plays the drums and guitar) is celebrated for his unpredictable live shows and his recent collaborative project with UFO! entitled Animal. “I continuously look for the newest sound that inspires me – whether it’s a song or a genre in general,” Nick says. During the conversation, Nick cites moombahton as the genre he initially based Bro Safari on. Being that some of the Bro Safari tracks include trap drums and a hint of Miami bass, it was no shock to find out he was a hip hop head. “Trap spoke to me because I’ve always been into hip hop, 808 culture,” Nick interjects in reference to the inspiration behind his music. “When I was a kid I had DJ Magic Mike CDs and cassettes. I listened to NWA and stuff. It’s like the same thing I grew up on with elements from all the stuff I got into through electronic music. So, it made sense. Therefore, when it was time for me to sit down and work on it – it was very easy. The main thing that inspires me to keep things fresh is the sound of the genres themselves.” Hence, the philosophy behind Bro Safari: there are no boundaries, only beats.
In December 2013, Nick along with five of his fellow producer friends ended their three-month ‘Animal House’ tour. “My favorite aspect was being able to tour around the country on a tour bus with my friends. Overall, that was the most fulfilling part of it aside from obviously playing the shows and meeting fans and things like that. When you’re on a tour for however many months in a small environment, like a tour bus, it’s important that you’re with people you get along with,” Nick says. Based off of the Animal House tour diaries, it’s easy to see that the inner workings of the tour was a delightful frat house on wheels – but more musically oriented. Next week, he and Skrillex will perform at Output Brooklyn. As if producing on the road wasn’t multitasking at its finest, he and I round up our phone conversation while he is feeding his 2 ½ year old – an impressive feat to add to his list of skills.
Life+Times: The last album you released was a collaboration with UFO! for Animal. I was told you’re working on a remix for the entire album. Can you give me some details about it?
Bro Safari: I just sent all of the remixes off to be mastered. As soon as I get them back, we’re gonna have a release date for the remix LP which is what it’ll be. We basically had every single song on the album remixed by our peers – some are more well-known, some guys are not known at all. We just kind of picked who we thought would work best for each track. The remix album will appear in the same order as the original album and track list, but just remixed. We’ve got a lot of really, really good remixes. I’m really happy with it. We’ve got stuff from Valentino Khan, Gent & Jawns from DC – they did a really great remix of “Burn The Block,” [and] Brillz. We’ve got 10 tracks total. I’m really excited about it.
L+T: That is exciting! This may be a common sense question, but by any chance did you and UFO! remix a track on the LP too?
BS: No, we didn’t. We wanted to showcase some of our friends. We did the album which was all us – 10 tracks of our own. He and I are working on some new stuff now to maybe do a follow-up EP or a LP of some sort this year. I have a few things I have to take care of on my end…in terms of releases, but he and I will definitely continue collaborating.
L+T: Very cool. I never like to assume things when it comes to releases and a potential BroFo remix. Wait, do you like what I did there?
BS: (Laughs) When we are working on songs and sharing our files, that’s how we name everything – BroFo.
L+T: Miami Music Week (MMW) is coming up next month and you’re hosting a ‘Black Out’ party. Can you tell me more about it? Who’s invited? What do you have in mind?
BS: I’m not sure how much I can say, but I’m definitely hosting the show. The thing is basically this: we’re gonna take a club [with] a small capacity room – 600 capacity. It’ll be in downtown. It’s gonna be a nighttime show. We’re basically gonna transform the club into a giant black light room. The entire inside of the venue will just be a black light room. We’re gonna bring in an extra production, an extra sound system, everything. Then, for the flyer it’ll be “Bro Safari and Friends brings you ‘Black Out Miami.’” The flyer will have all the names on it, but it’ll all be blacked out on the flyer. You’re not really gonna know who is gonna be there. Judging by who I had on the “Animal House” tour, you’ll be able to kind of gauge some of the type of people who will be playing. The main thing is, I’m gonna invite some of my other friends to play, some really well-known DJs. That’s the part I shouldn’t really talk about. Needless to say, there will be some really well-known DJs playing that night as well.
L+T: I like the idea of blacking out the names.
BS: Yeah, it’s kind of the opposite of what everyone else is doing down there. It obviously makes sense if you’re gonna throw a big show to throw all your big headliners on there. If we were gonna throw a show in a room that held 2,000 people, we would probably put their names on there and sell tickets because we would need to make our money back. It’s a small room. I think a lot of my friends will wind up doing this as a favor. No one is really making money on this thing, it’s just throwing a really good show in an intimate environment and hoping some kids out there get to see some their favorite DJs for free or very cheap in a small room.
L+T: It’s more like a party. I like that vibe! On social media, people tend to read into things. I don’t want to be that type, so I will just ask you this straight out. On Twitter, you said “at the end of the day, being a ‘music producer,’ who can’t ‘produce music,’ isn’t sustainable.” I can come up with my own ideas as to what you mean, but I’d rather you just explain it. What did you mean?
BS: Sure. I said that after kind of joking around with some of my friends. I said that I ghost produce for Mayhem [and] ETC!ETC! – I was just joking around. That comment that you pointed out in particular is a follow-up to all of that. Yeah, I was talking about ghost production. I’ve been in the electronic scene since 1998, I think. It’s always been a thing that’s kind of in the background – ghost producing. People only linked it to the really, really, really popular DJs or producers rather. Over the last year, all of a sudden it’s just this big thing – ghost producers. There’s all these ghost producers doing this, writing songs for this person, that person. First of all, it’s all hearsay. Nobody has any sort of proof. It’s just this funny thing that’s happening in the scene right now. If there are ghost producers, I’m not surprised. I’d be more surprised if there aren’t ghost producers. I was making light of the situation because who cares? I know I don’t care. I don’t feel threatened by a producer that ‘can’t produce.’ I think people that get in a tift about this stuff, they feel a little bit threatened really. I’m not sure what it is. It’s kind of unfounded. To me, like I said, if there is a guy out there who says he is a producer, yet he can’t produce – then he will fade away overtime. That’s what I mean, it’s not sustainable. You’re basically selling a lie.
L+T: At the end of the day, if someone is really producing their music it will reflect by their longevity.
BS: Yeah, either you can produce or you can’t. I think it’s pretty obvious the people that make their own songs and the people that maybe don’t.
L+T: My next question ties in with what we’re talking about. You’re constantly busy as a producer creating music and touring. There’s always the fight of what’s next, new, and fresh. Every time an album is released, there is a wave of remixes. Instead of creating original content, there is a shift into solely producing remixes or bootlegs. What helps you to challenge yourself to continue to produce new music versus creating a remix?
BS: There’s nothing wrong with a bootleg remix of a song. Sometimes they’re really appropriate and it works really well. With technology improving, everybody’s got a copy of Ableton Live or Fruity Loops or some sort of sequencing software and everybody’s got access to the same tools now. Let’s be completely honest, it’s really easy to create a bootleg remix. Whether it’s good or bad is subjective. It’s very easy for someone to download an 808 drum kit, download a song, chop it up and put the 808 drums over the song and call it a bootleg or call it a remix. Sometimes that can be appropriate and sometimes it can work, but I agree that there’s just too much of it. It will ultimately slow down the progression of the genre or scene that’s being put on the table. We do need more original content absolutely. Remixes don’t bother me, I think it’s the bootleg remixes that bother me. It doesn’t take much skill. Hopefully I’m not being a dick by saying that. It’s okay for people to do that, but to launch your career off of doing it seems a bit disingenuous. I agree with your statement. There’s a lot of room for people to be original and showcase their sound as opposed to helping get a lot of plays on Soundcloud because they remixed whatever song.
L+T: Valid point. Now, I end my interviews with this question…
BS: Uh oh.
L+T: Do you think a DJ is a musician?
BS: Yeah! Well, I don’t know. (Laughs) This is difficult because things have changed in the last few years. When I first started DJing, without a doubt I would’ve said, ‘Yes, being a DJ is the same as being a musician.’ Look at people like DJ Craze…DMC turntablists – they are treating turntables as if they are instruments 100% no doubt about it. A turntablist, things like that, those guys are musicians. Now, if you have never played an instrument in your life and you don’t produce songs…and you get Traktor and just started DJing – does that make you a musician? I don’t know. It makes you a curator of some sort. You’re playing music, so if that’s the only prerequisite of being a musician is making music, then I suppose they are. I have a hard time saying that someone who doesn’t create music is a musician. I grew up playing guitar and playing drums, and that naturally led me into producing music. It’s really tough for me to say how I feel about this definitively. I went into DJing before I started producing, so obviously as a musician I felt some sort of connection to DJing. Maybe I’m way off base with my assessment here. (Laughs) I want to say that all DJs are musicians, but I just don’t know if that’s true.