Standard Sounds

Back2Basics: DJ Le Spam and The Miami Sound

DJ Le Spam is Miami’s Prime Minister of Funk. The man behind the renowned group The Spam All Stars, acclaimed DJ and Cuban coffee expert, Le Spam has toured the world sharing stages and putting out music with artists like Larry Harlow of The Fania All Stars, Pee Wee Ellis and Blowfly.

On a recent Wednesday night at The Standard Spa’s monthly, vinyl-only Back2Basics music series, Le Spam took attendees on a journey through the Miami Sound, playing a set to complement a screening of the excellent documentary Deep City: The Birth of the Miami Sound, presented by the film’s producer Chad Tingle.

Since the music was so good, we sat down with Le Spam to ask him some questions about Miami’s rich musical history and to have him tell us about his favorite Miami records.

And join us in The Lido Lounge this Thursday, August 27th for the next Back2Basics, featuring an all Reggae, Roots & Dub set by DJ Corey Chase and a screening of the classic film The Harder They Come.

STANDARD SOUNDS: What prompted you to start looking for Miami records?
LE SPAM: My friend Superwolf in Kansas City gave me a recording of Little Beaver’s “Party Down”. I’d been living in Miami for almost 10 years and I couldn’t believe there was all this Miami Soul music that I didn’t know anything about. It was like living on a planet and finding out about a civilization that was here before you. I got extra obsessed about looking for Miami stuff. 

Is there any one stash that you remember specifically?

Craig’s Records in West Palm was really ground zero for me. This guy amassed thousands of 45s and he would let us go in there and everything was basically a $1. I got all of my James Brown 45s basically from this one stash.

You’ve been recording music in Miami for close to 20 years. What do you feel has contributed to the unique sound that makes up the magic city?

The easy response would be the unique cross-section of cultures. That’s always been what has set Miami apart stylistically, back to the TK [label] era of Soul. But there are a couple of things…If you talk to the people on TK Records, they’ll say the Caribbean influence. KC [of KC & The Sunshine Band] was into the Bahamian junkanoo, Little Beaver was into reggae basslines, and likewise, Betty Wright. Of course, Latin culture was always here. Then we have our studio culture, which is one of the untold stories of Miami that really fascinates me.

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