Music is Life: Yanik Coen
interview / Yanik Coen | photography / @rollofilm photography
"Miami turned me into
Yanik Coen has been practicing the art of DJing for over a decade. He has traveled the world and played in some of the most exclusive venues. His extended experience as a DJ and producer added to an incomparable knowledge of music has allowed him to become a key element in the building success of Miami’s hot spot Kiki on The River. As not only a DJ but also Music Director, it is safe to say that this Montreal native has taken DJing to a whole other level in Miami. Here are a few questions he often gets from patrons:
How do you know all of this music? What's your background?
Music has always been extremely important in my family. Growing up, my dad was a huge Beatles, Rock’n’Roll and R&B fan and my mom a Gipsy Kings and Barry White fan with a massive collection of Disco records. You can also add to the list: Prince and of course, Michael Jackson. My ears were educated at a very young age. I also grew up watching my aunt dance to Samba rhythms. My dad’s side of the family being Moroccan & Jewish, that covers the Middle Eastern vibes. My mother is half Italian, born in Algeria. So I guess it was a combination of all those elements which formed my ear and built my unique style. Also, growing up in both Montreal and Paris, two of the most multicultural cities in the world, helped a lot.
Who are your biggest influences?
Definitely my family first and foremost. But as a primarily House DJ, focused a lot on technic and transitioning, I’d say that I really learned from the crème de la crème. The NYC, Chicago & Paris scenes are what educated me. Legends like Louie Vega, Erick Morillo, Bob Sinclar, Felix Da Housecat, RLP, StoneBridge. Those guys are very technical and masters at their craft. I only learned from the best.
Why do you think this format takes DJing and Kiki to a new level?
Music has been a huge part of our brand since day one. Some people only come to Kiki to have a few drinks and vibe. We definitely created a movement. Shortly after we opened in the summer of 2017, a lot of venues tried replicating our vibe which is great for our city, it makes everything better. But in my opinion, it just works best at Kiki, this music format added to the ambiance and waterfront views is magical.
How did you develop that format?
I’ve been thinking about this format for years and needed the perfect place to develop it. The reason why it works so well is very simple: I’m great at mixing House music. I usually use 3 to 4 decks (CDJs). I love looping on the fly, using acapellas or DJ tools. I basically took my technical skills and applied it to other genres. I don’t want to give out all my secrets, but that is what I do basically. The one dimensional DJ isn’t as efficient. Styles have merged and new sounds have been created so you really need to evolve as an artist and have fun with that.
What do you think makes people want to constantly come back to hear you at kiki?
I think it’s the fact that whoever’s in the room will have a moment to themselves. To identify with the music, and to me there is no better reward. Music is the most universal language, whether you’re from Miami, Mykonos, Ibiza, LA, Tel Aviv, Istanbul or anywhere really, you’ll be happy. I actually learn from people and take this new knowledge in the studio with me to create new music and sample songs I've never heard before. The goal is to appeal to different cultures and generations with a Miami twist. This city is quickly becoming one of the most multicultural cities in the world, year after year. Another important aspect is to always keep people on their toes and constantly adapt throughout the night. We live in the social media era where most of us have a very short attention span, we get bored easily. I hate playing the same songs and love being spontaneous. So every week, I update my set. Imagine updating multiple genres weekly. I spend hours behind the scenes studying new trends & preparing. I don't play for myself, I play for the crowd. It's a different approach. Living in Miami and embracing the culture for the last 6 years definitely built me to this point. Possibly the most challenging gig I’ve ever had. But the funnest. Same concept when no DJ is playing, our dinner playlist creates the same effect. I get emails about our playlist weekly!
What’s so special about Sundays?
To be honest, just like any successful business, it's all about consistency. I haven't skipped a Sunday since we opened almost 2 years ago. I have played 6 to 8 and sometimes 10 hour sets. The atmosphere and ambiance we create for those few hours is just magical. The volume has to be perfect, the transitions as flawless as possible. Honestly, I wish I could party with everyone but I can’t. Long set allows me to take the crowd on a journey and control the ambiance. I call it the jungle, from 10PM until close, it's just amazing, one of the best parties I've ever witnessed worldwide and I'm proud to be part of its creation. I just want people to feel like they’re in some type of 70s disco porno.
What is the main trick you would tell other DJs?
In my career, I was fortunate enough to meet and work with some of the best promoters, artists and club owners in the world. Some becoming like family. One of them once told me, very early on: "Never play filler music. Only hits." I didn’t know what he meant at first but this very simple quote stuck with me. I must have been 21 years old at the time.. What he meant by that was to play music that moves people, emotional shit or music that literally makes girls want to shake their asses... That’s what it’s all about. Don’t play music just to “fill” your set.. have enough great music to play 10h if you need to. Especially in today's world, it’s so easy to find music, we have access to everything. A DJ has no excuse to be bad. Also, let the damn song play. I can’t stand DJs cutting songs after 30 seconds. Let it play!
"Never play filler music.
What makes you different from other DJs?
My background and life experiences for sure. As well as my experience of playing music in so many different circumstances and most of all my love for good music. As a DJ, I love to mix different styles of music and play with the audience. I could play a bar mitzvah during the day, then a bottle service venue such as Kiki and play an underground spot like Space right after and rock all of them no problem. I play with my emotions, you can tell when I’m happy or angry or simply emotional. That’s how I express myself the best. What a lot of people don't understand is that DJing and producing are two completely different art forms and only a few guys can master both. When a nightlife legend such as my friend Roman Jones tells you you’re the best DJ in the world, you know you must be doing something right. I’ve always been a great house DJ. Miami turned me into a monster DJ.
What are your favorite tracks right now and all time classics?
Currently, as a House guy, I would definitely say my new record “Pomba Gira” and also “Khokana” by Animal Picnic & Novakk. I love Future’s new album, his music is unreal. My favorite track has to be “F&N”. As for the classics, house track “French Kiss” by Lil Louis and Prince “Sexy M.F.”'.
Keep our Kiki party going and looking forward to our new projects here in Miami. On a personal level, I'm releasing new music in 2019 and almost done with my first studio album. Very excited about it. Look out for my next release coming out April 15th called “Pomba Gira” on Erick Morillo’s legendary Sondos Records. More coming on Subliminal Records and my own label Middle Ground Record.
Support DJs at Kiki include:
-DJ STKD (Italy}
-DJ Hannah (Colombia/NYC)
-DJ Keidy (France/Miami)
-DJ Yezmin (DC)
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