Soul Clap have been rocking Winter Music Conference in Miami since 2002. In those days, all the real action was in South Beach.
“You would see all your DJ heroes, towels hanging from their shoulders, walking up and down Collins and Ocean, slinging vinyl demos and promos,” says Charlie Levine, one half of the Boston-born duo known for their deep, funk and disco-inflected house productions and DJ sets.
Years before the concept of Miami Music Week was born (that wouldn’t come until 2011), whatever music was making the rounds then was in physical format. “You either had the music or you didn’t!”
There were the “hits of the conference,” too. When something was hot and blew up, you’d hear it everywhere that week and then all summer long. “It was magical,” Levine remembers. “We’d spend so much time on foot we’d get blisters.”
Fast-forward to present-day Miami Music Week—endless bridge traffic, surging Uber fares and what feels like hundreds of parties from the beach to the mainland. In that span, Soul Clap have become fixtures at the world’s biggest festivals and collaborators with legends of the industry like George Clinton, Robert Owens and DJ Harvey.
They’re also currently celebrating 11 years of Soul Clap Records with a new remix compilation record featuring some of the great moments from their discography. “It’s really a proud moment,” says Levine, who made Miami his permanent home around five years ago.
Ahead of a busy Miami Music Week 2023 (including a late-night set at Get Lost), we caught up with Charlie about what’s new in the world of Soul Clap, some of his favorite Miami spots, and the rookie mistakes to avoid for a truly amazing Miami Music Week.
Where are you now, and what have you been up to lately?
I am currently en route back home to Miami from NYC where Soul Clap had the immense pleasure and honor of being invited by Timmy Regisford to perform at the Shelter’s 32nd-anniversary party! It’s been a lovely visit back up to NYC for the gig.
I also had some studio time with the keyboard/producer mastermind Morgan Wiley in Greenpoint, I got to check out Greg Paulus’ Wednesday night jazz incubator (wow!) at Mezcaleria Milagrosa in Williamsburg and got in some solid hangs with friends.
This month, I’m gearing up for a busy spring and summer full of travel, DJ gigs, music production, record releases and art projects. The winter was a chilled break but now it’s back to an action-packed schedule and I’m pumped to get out there and in the mix.
What do you have on deck for Miami Music Week this year?
First and foremost, I should share that any day now Eli [Goldstein, Soul Clap's other half] will become a father for the second time! So mazel tov and congrats, Eli! But it also means I’ll be holding it down for Soul Clap across all the shows this year. That being said, It’s another wonderfully stacked year!
Wednesday, it’s 1-800-Lucky for RVDIOACTIVE, Thursday I’ll be doing a Soul Clap Records in-store pop-up at Technique Records from 3 to 6pm—come though! I’ll be selling vinyl from my personal collection and more.
Friday, Natasha Tomchin and I are presenting a party that brings together her dichroic art installation and music, called TROPICAL POPSICLE at the Arlo Wynwood rooftop pool from 2 to 8pm, which is gonna be a blast (free RSVP here).
On Saturday during the day, I’ll be on the beach at the Greystone Hotel doing the Day Walkers party, then super pumped to return to Get Lost at night. Finally, Sunday I’ll be bringing it on home with the wonderful crew from Keep Dancing Ibiza at The Oasis in Magic City! WHEW!
Where do you stay when you visit Miami (can be a neighborhood, a specific hotel, etc)?
At home! I’ve been living in North Miami for about five years now in a part of town called Biscayne Park. Our neighborhood is super unique because it’s a bird sanctuary, so the trees are protected by a local mandate! That means we’ve got a tremendous variety of flora and fauna. There are mango trees, avocado trees, papaya, passion fruit—the works, really!
Going out to take the dog for a walk almost always yields edible returns. It’s nature's produce aisle! It’s such a mind-blowing thing that I never really had a grasp of growing up in New England. Sure, folks go apple-picking but this is just next-level tropical abundance.
What's your go-to Miami restaurant recommendation when someone asks?
I think no visit to Miami is complete without a taste of B&M Market’s Roti Shop on Northeast 79th Street. This place is a total hole-in-the-wall Miami classic with some serious history that even got the attention of Anthony Bourdain when he was still around.
The food is homestyle perfection and totally affordable. Natasha and I eat there a few times a month and go for the Salt Fish and Ackee Roti or the Vegetarian Platter. But for those that eat meat, the jerk chicken, oxtail, goat, it’s all really perfectly-done Jamaican and West Indian food.
What's your favorite way to unwind and recharge in Miami?
I realize that this is a bit of an ask, but if you come to Miami and have access to wheels, there are few greater pleasures than a visit to Fruit & Spice Park in Homestead. This place is literally Florida’s own garden of Eden. It's a 37-acre ethnobotanical garden established in 1945 with over 500 varieties of fruit, vegetables, spices and herbs. It’s completely and literally one of a kind in the U.S.—there’s just nothing else like it. Roam around and anything ripe that falls to the ground you can taste on the spot.
Don't forget to get to the beach for a dip in the ocean!
What's an underrated or off-the-radar Miami spot you've come to love?
The Legion Park Farmers Market on Saturdays has become my religion. It’s all about community and fantastically fresh tastes! This incredible resource goes down weekly from 9am to 2pm when South Florida flexes its incredible locally grown produce. For a fraction of what the big markets charge, you can fill up with edible treasures, plus there are clothing vendors, jewelers (shout out to Sue-Bee Q Jewelry), sustainably sourced artisanal items, great fresh food, smoothies and on and on. They even do a free yoga session outdoors under the oak trees at 10am.
Your biggest advice for a MMW novice?
Don't forget to get to the beach for a dip in the ocean! I admit I used to make this mistake years ago, spending 100% of my time raving, and it is a rookie move!
One thing you can't travel without?
Yo, I swear to you this changed my life. I know I sound like a doofus, but: an inflatable lower lumbar support pillow! After 20-plus years on the road, anything to mitigate stress is the move!
What's coming up for the rest of 2023?
Gotta take this opportunity to plug the absolutely jam-packed 2023 Soul Clap House Of EFUNK at TV Lounge in Detroit. This is our annual, official Movement Festival after-hours with PAXAHAU. Tickets just went on sale and the lineup this year is absolutely outta sight!
Your 2023 mantra?
I've been doing a good deal of meditation and found a sort of ironic mantra recently that helps keep me in the present moment. On my in breath, I think of the past and say to myself, “Forget it!” And then on my out breath, I think of the future a say to myself, “So What?”
I think for those brief moments, life feels unattached and uncomplicated. Obviously, I’ve still got a lot of work to do, but we come a long way, baby!