Art Basel may be famous for its art exhibitions and shows, but the Miami event has also become iconic for its satellite concerts. Every year has new concepts to offer, but one flagship festival at Virginia Key remains a favorite: Rakastella.
Rakastella launched in 2017 as a joint project between record labels Life And Death and Innervisions. DJ Tennis runs Life And Death, while Dixon and Âme run Innervisions, so it’s no surprise Rakastella’s lineups wow fans every year. But then add in Miami promoters and parties Secret Garden, PL0T and WHERE ARE MY KEYS. Now, you’ve got a masterfully run festival worth your time, energy and money.
This year, Rakastella has curated its best lineup yet. Returning are DJ Tennis, Dixon and the live iteration of Âme. Debuts include Aurora Halal, KiNK, Ben UFO, Call Super, Palms Trax and more. It’s a lineup with quality you’d rarely find outside of Europe; it’s wonderful to see the festival return for Art Basel this year.
Below, we’ve got recommendations for seven must-see artists to check out. From the soulful mixing of Jayda G to the mind-bending techno of Marie Davidson, there’s a ton to see here. Enjoy!
Aurora Halal is truly a jack of all trades. She produces gripping house and techno, DJs psychedelic dance sets and organizes incredible events like Sustain-Release. Aurora’s DJ schedule grows busier by the day, and it’s a nice surprise to see her appear at Rakastella. Will she adapt her darker tracks to fit the beach-side vistas? Or will her usual mix of techno, house and even jungle juxtapose with Virginia Key’s stunning views?
Not many artists can tour solely as DJs, with no productions to their name. Ben UFO sits in that rare category, playing countless DJ sets across the world every year. Ben’s versatility cannot be understated; his sets traverse among unreleased house bangers, sub-Saharan tribal tunes, bone-crushing techno and literally everything else. He has made more frequent stops at Miami lately, but his open-air sets hold a special place in many hearts.
The modern underground sounds are rooted in classic disco, and artists like Jayda G are bringing those sounds back with modern twists. Coming off her debut album Significant Changes, Jayda G will cater to the old and new souls of dance music alike. Her productions may have softer tones, but her DJ sets evoke the roof-raising dance clubs of the 70s, 80s, 90s and now.
In 2012, deadmau5 penned the infamous “We All Press Play” post. He argued live electronic music came down to one single act: pressing play. No artist better proves deadmau5 wong than KiNK. Watch a KiNK and come away amazed from the pure artistry on stage. He uses analog gear, samplers and MIDI instruments to recreate his tracks live, harnessing an infectious energy from beginning to end. KiNK is a wonder to behold, unmatched in his live showmanship.
Marie Davidson is another modern maestro, a producer, singer and violinist who produces dark, emotional techno. What makes this set a very rare treat is that Davidson retired from live club music earlier this year. A set in her hometown of Montreal was apparently her final live hardware performance. Will this set be a career-defining DJ set, then? The Rakastella setting contrasts strongly to the club scene Davidson has criticized, but we are still intrigued. Either way, Marie’s appearance may go down as an epilogue to her techno career.
The modern underground is all about moving between genres. Berlin producer, DJ and label head Or:La epitomizes the genre-free state of dance music in 2019 better than most. Or:La’s bread and butter comes from modern electro and breaks, two genres making massive comebacks this year. Her recent mix for Resident Advisor may provide the perfect sampler to her set here, as well as tracks on her record labels Deep Sea Frequency and Céad.
In 2013, Palms Trax helped kick off the lo-fi house movement with his iconic track “Equation.” Six years later, the Berlin producer and DJ is now one of the Dekmantel record label’s biggest stars. Beyond his warm, feel-good tracks and remixes, Palms Trax’s DJ sets know no boundaries or genres. This appearance also marks his first-ever performance in Miami, a special occasion he is certainly going to deliver upon with airy tunes and jol beats.