When singers Dexter Jordan and Deion Reverie open this week for Charlotte's Miami Dice and Boston's Smoota — the Harvard-educated trombonist and groove merchant who's been likened to Serge Gainsbourg, Barry White, Bryan Ferry, Peaches and Beck — you can expect a Love Boat-load of sexy and sensual R&B, self-consciously playful disco, and lots of sparkly, '70s-style duds.
Smoota may be donning the white, Don Johnson leisure suits (at least that's what he does in his publicity photos), but Miami Dice will be steering this yacht. That's the trio helmed by singer, bassist and keyboardist Shaun Olson (aka Dr. Dice), and fleshed out by his two crewmen, drummer and synth plyer Josh Faggart (Le Joshua) and trumpeter, backup singer and stylist Scott Weaver (Chaka Wolf Fever).
With all the perfect hair, neatly trimed beards and silky-smooth suits, it might seem as though you'll be rubbing shoulders with Sonny Crocket and Ricardo Tubbs on a set designed by the Interview magazine-era Andy Warhol when you step into Snug Harbor this week, but don't fret. This crew will have you back out the doors and safely on the streets of Plaza Midwood by the wee hours.
Creative Loafing has wanted to check in with Miami Dice for a while now, and this week's gig provided the perfect opportunity. So we contacted Olson — who also played with Dice man Faggart in the Charlotte dreampop band Cement Stars — to get the lowdown on what's cooking with the trio right now, and what they have in store for the near future.
Creative Loafing: What was your original concept for Miami Dice when you first put the trio together?
Shaun Olson: Miami Dice started as a solo side project to my former band Cement Stars. It was mostly instrumental electronic stuff that's not too different from the music we make now. I did that for about four years until the band was formed.
Your trumpet guy, Scott Weaver, may be Charlotte's most ubiquitous scenester. How did you lasso him into the project?
Scott was the last to join. He's pretty much responsible for the overall look and style of the band. We didn't have much of a visual presence before he joined. [laughs] We've always been good friends and one night he told me, yelling over a packed crowd at Snug, that he wanted to play trumpet with us. The rest is history.
- 1980s-period Genesis? No, it’s Miami Dice’s Le Joshua, Chaka Wolf Fever and Dr. Dice. (Photo by Jim McGuire)
Cement Stars was more of a dreampop-type outfit. What made you want to revisit Italo disco?
I've always been a huge fan of the Italo disco aesthetic. My idea was to take that and mix it with a more R&B-type vibe, with fragments of deep house sprinkled in. Somehow it all works out be something that people dig.
Who were some of your influences in this regard?
Pharrell Williams has been a big influence for a long time. I would say that's pretty apparent with this band; his melodies and rhythms hold a special place in my heart. I also love Johnny Jewel — he's a great producer and performer. His works on the new Twin Peaks soundtrack are wonderful.
On Venus, I hear lots of samples of familiar songs, and you've distingushed between that set being a mixtape and the first one being an album. Hell, I still get confused as to what the difference between a mixtape and an album is half the time. Does it just mean you used more samples?
Yes, Venus in Retrograde was titled a mixtape because of our heavy use of samples. We came into it with the idea that we would put together a cassette tape that used a lot of samples and had more instrumentals and interludes than full songs. Not really an album or an EP, but a tape with a mix of Dice vibes. We also worked with Justin Aswell on it; he pretty much became the fourth member of Dice. We plan to work with him again for this next record.
So you're working on new material?
Yes, we are currently writing songs for our next record titled DICELAND. That's about all the info I can give you right now. (laughs)
You did a really cool video for your song "I Just Want to Know" — it looked to me like a mashup of a Warhol film (if he'd made it during his Interview mag era) and an episode of Miami Vice. Can you tell me what you guys discussed when you were planning the concept for that clip?
For the video, it was Scott and Enid Valu who came up with the concept. Here's a quote from Scott: [Olson proceeds to quote, verbatim, stuff he and Weaver already told another local media outlet, so for fun we'll just drop in a few choice words from those quotes: "throwback," "glamorous," "cocktails," "hedonism."]
What other projects are you involved in? You do some DJing, don't you?
I occasionally DJ under the name DR DICE, and have some recording projects that I'm working on with Shadowgraphs [the local band that features Olson's brother, Bryan] and Lil Skritt. We are collaborating with several special guests for our next record, as well.
What new can we expect from the upcoming show at Snug Harbor?
New songs. New colors. New fashion.