“We don’t follow any model. We’ve just been figuring out what is for us.”
We all know the festival circuit. Our dreams of attending Coachella, Lollapalooza, or Electric Daisy Carnival constantly rivet through our heads like the gears of ancient clocks. However, it’s imperative we focus on the festivals and venues that are fighting the little fight–these are the ones that stay true to their city and give the musicians complete artistic liberty.
Miami provides any electronic music junkie the benefits of two worlds. On one end, we can hop around some of the most star-studded, affluent super-clubs in the world, like LIV or Story, where EDM is King. Or we can explore our darker, underground roots with more organic venues, like the Electric Pickle. But do not let this relationship delude you, because I believe that one couldn’t thrive without the other.
Many factors went into the creation of Miami’s growing, but still humble, underground electronic scene. The best recipe to describe this is a pound of dogged determination and an ounce of hope. And when it comes to Miami entrepreneurs pushing forth the underground scene, one of the first people that comes to mind is III Points Festival founder, and co-owner of Club Space, David Sinopoli.
I met David at his III Points office in Downtown Miami. The office is nestled between two shops–one sells luggage, the other sells rugs. The luggage store blasts a cacophony of Cuban radio throughout the shop and onto the traffic and streets.
It is almost guaranteed that you will pass by the office and be none-the-wiser. A narrow white door opens up to an unsuspecting staircase. I gingerly walked into the office and saw David and his coworkers discuss in painstakingly detail where to place an art installation and a stage.
“Do you think it could work here?”
“No, it will be too close to this act.”
“What about here?”
“Oh, that would be dope.”
The office is meant for interacting. The walls are covered with posters from previous III Points festivals and sponsored events. There is a round table that invokes discussion and philosophy–one that would be used in a Silicon Valley-based company or a liberal arts classroom in New England.
After the meeting, David sat down with me to have an interview. He has an unassuming personality and wears mostly black. A tattoo is on his bicep and has a visage of tranquility.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is David Sinopoli and I am the founder of III Points Music, Art and Technology Festival out of Miami, Florida. The festival grounds is based out of Wynwood. It’s pretty much the center of counterculture happening in Miami. I am also a partner in Space Invaders [Club Space] and music director at Bardot [Nightclub]. I moved down to Miami seven years ago. Bardot wanted me to start helping and thats what happened.
Do you have a degree in music or business?
I went to the University of Florida and got a degree in PR [Public Relations]. I never thought I would use my degree. I got really deep into weird conspiracy theories and alternative thinking in college and realized the institution of college itself is a big piece of shit. I realized if I wanted to make decent money and do something I love, I had to go a different route than what they projected to me.
How did III Points come about?
I think the basis was brought on by a response I saw of programming acts at Bardot, both locally and nationally. On a local level, there are a lot of complaints about not enough industry and needing to go to L.A. or New York if they want to make it and being underdeveloped in the scene here. On the national level, we are geographically challenged to get bands here. It’s costly to get in and out of the tip of Florida. I felt like we needed a big time of the year to book all the elusive acts and have them fly into us. This is also a good answer to the local level, you have a point of the year to look forward to playing a local festival on a big stage. This builds a pillar of the infrastructure needed and gives them something to shoot for and inspires them to stay in Florida for another year or wanting to come back to play.
Last year, you had the hurricane and the Zika epidemic. The year prior, the main room’s air conditioning was broken for a night. How do you overcome the challenges brought on by a music festival?
I think there are two things; there are the problems you can learn from and be better for the next year, like the A.C. or organization of stages or amount of stages or not enough bathrooms or not serving cheese sandwiches. Anything where you can say, “Hey, that wasn’t a good decision.” And if you have a good team, you learn and you get better. Every year, we’ve gotten better with our overall production. Then there is the stuff you cant control. And that’s hard. You plan a whole year for something and then suddenly… It really fucked me up last year.
Not to be cliché, but it also made me a better leader. It helped me understand to be calm at all times and levelheaded. You, as a founder, can be very, very passionate and personal and your emotion is there, but you have to cut the emotion out of it. You ripple down to people. I think some of it is your own mental stability and the other is being open to knowing when you made a bad decision in production and change it.
Can you explain the process of booking the Gorillaz?
I have about 20 standing offers that I renew every year for the city of Miami. These are the elusive acts that have never played in Miami. If we’re living on the principles of what I was telling you, about why we started the festival, I have to keep trying to invest to get bands like the Gorillaz to play in Miami. It’s fucking horseshit that they haven’t played Miami for that long, man. It’s not acceptable and there is no reason why they shouldn’t want to play in Miami.
Two years ago, I got a rumble that the Gorillaz were considering getting back together. A lot of the featured artists on their new album have played at III Points or Bardot. Then I got more aggressive a year and a half ago because they were back in the studio. Then one agent who worked with an act that played at III Points believed in the festival. She saw how we dealt with the hurricane and thanked us. I kept pushing on her about the Gorillaz and she said it was a reality time-wise. I doubled my offer and they paired it with ACL [Austin City Limits]. It was a long one. This whole booking with headliners can be a couple year process. You really have to be in their ear all the time and be ready to go.
How would you want a first-timer to walk out and describe III points?
I hope there are Miami kids going there and saying, “Holy shit my city is dope. I saw ten new acts that are in my backyard. The art was inspiring and I had moments in time where I realized that my city is a place to live and create.” I want it to have a global effect on Miami. I want people to really appreciate this time and the place we are. Miami in 2017 is amazing to be in North America, man. It’s diverse. It’s not completely corporate greed, you can still have mom and pop shops and can dream big. It’s nice weather and it’s fucking awesome to live by the water. And who knows? In 20 years we could be under the water and we might be the last civilization of Miami who held it down.
Say that in addition to III Points, you started a luxury music festival in The Bahamas. Perhaps you cofounded it with an early 2000s rapper. How would you make sure that festival went off without a hitch?
Well first, I would do it with 50 Cent and not Ja Rule. I would want to be sponsored by a really good cheese company so we could make really high end Boars Head sandwiches.
I liked their [Fyre Festival] tents, man. If I ever did tenting for III Points, I would want those tents. But I wouldn’t sell it as 5 star ‘glamping.’ I would be like, “You’re buying a Star Wars tent and bring your own sleeping bag.”
I mean that whole thing is really funny. But I think it’s good for everyone to see. I hope that people look at this as a social experiment for when you indulge on so many influences, and put so much value on these things, and realize you’re being sold a bag of shit and not everything on the Internet is as good it seems.
You and LinkMiamiRebels recently acquired Club Space. Why did you guys want to buy it?
Me, Davide Danese, and Coloma Kaboomsky [partners] wanted to work on something more concrete. The three of us really enjoyed doing what we did with Bardot and the stages at III Points. We wanted to work on something and a good nightclub seemed like a place where we could recreate the elements of Berlin and Berghain where it’s more freeing. They have a pretty good philosophy on time. It doesn’t really exist on the weekends when there’s techno playing, I liked that. It could be 2 a.m. or 2 p.m. if its good, its good. And Club Space came available to us with a 24 hour license. We felt it had some notorious aspects but we believed it still had love there. The former owners have been really helpful, they want us to win.
How did 4:20 yoga at Club Space come about?
It was Coloma’s idea. I think all of us wanted to find ways to reset the energy on the [Club Space] Terrace. We put in more trees, took out the more douchey elements, and tried to make it more organic. A free weekly yoga on the 4:20 time frame seemed like a great idea. It sets the energy for when we open.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Nicolas Jaar. He’s always evolving and makes me feel and think differently every time I listen to him. He’s definitely his own dude. My best shows have been produced with him. I like Björk. She always keeps my mind open. Thom Yorke. I really like Rampa and James Blake. Techno wise, I really love everything John Talabot touches. Jamie XX as well.
Do you believe in luck?
Yeah. What it is and how we define it to each other is pretty broad. Some people think it’s more of a spiritual thing; blessings, almost. Others think luck is fortune, like money. Some people think it’s a sequence of the way time works and the moments that happen. But yes, 100%.
We now have the complete lineup and the insights of those in the III Points family. All we can do now is patiently, but eagerly, wait the five months until the festival gates open. I will most likely lock myself in my room and listen to old Nicolas Jaar sets while I look at my III Points wristbands from what seems like ages ago. Tickets are still on sale via IIIPoints.com.