I’m frantically running through Union Station in Hartford looking for the bus terminals. I’ve never been in here before, and I’m sure I’ve missed the bus to New York City. When I walk up to the Greyhound window the guy tells me the bus is running “a few minutes” late. After waiting for an hour, I squeeze next to a woman who isn’t exactly happy to have me as company. Three hours later, we arrive at Newport Station in Manhattan. I text my brother Stephen that I’ve arrived, he and Mystereo, the dj-duo Fight Clvb, are still at the Chinese Embassy and should have the visa’s in about half an hour. Time for me to find a Starbucks.
After a second coffee and a croissant, Fight Clvb is still fighting for their visa. Luckily and unluckily for me, the Chinese have sent the group out for different documents almost every hour that they have been there. My brother’s texts come in sparingly as cellphones are prohibited inside the embassy. Each time a text comes in I think this is it. At this point, I’ve been up for nine hours and four of those hours I’ve spent waiting. At about 2:00 pm, I hop on the subway heading to Queens. Once again, I squeeze next to another woman who doesn’t seem to want me there, must be a New York thing.
Fight Clvb finally pulls up at 2:50 pm, Mystereo behind the wheel of an ordinary grey sedan. I get in the back as they shoot a promo video for one of their upcoming shows. Stephen, who goes by SAV, rushes and pulls out his phone as if he were to take a selfie and he begins filming the duo. His phone is at six percent battery and they end up reshooting four times. The first time I’m in the background of the video, so SAV arranges himself to cover me with his seat. The second time Mystereo struggles to tell the camera they will be at Revolution Live in Miami, but then bursts out in laughter. The third time SAV cuts off the video, and they finally get their promo-video on the fourth attempt. We get out of the car as SAV’s battery is nearly shot, and the three of us take a selfie. Mystereo gets back into the car (which I’m not sure he owns), and he disappears. He’s always disappearing.
Mystereo is a hype man. He wears a patchy black and white mask at all times- during shows and in real life- and his raspy voice perfectly complements his chaotic personality. SAV recalls being with Mystereo on a tour bus, “He was on the tour bus and I was instantly mesmerized by the enigma.” Mystereo started his career as a DJ touring with guys like Zedd and Skrillex, but when it was time for his DJ-retirement, he met SAV. Mystereo was a member of the dj-trio called Sazon Booya, which broke up around 2012. SAV and Mystereo went through multiple evolutions before becoming Fight Clvb. Mystereo’s job is being his chaotic self and hyping up the crowd. He’s been committed to the mask for over seven years and he isn’t planning on taking it off until EDM is saved.
The duo’s mission is to save EDM from itself. The electronic genre found itself saturated with Black-V-neck-wearing-white guys with the same haircuts. The music begged for different influences and sound. Fight Clvb decided to break the cycle and stand out. SAV, who is Colombian, proudly brought his Latin American roots to their music. They submerged themselves into the Moombathon genre, which is a combination of electronic music and reggaeton, moved into Jungle Terror which has West African influences. They continue to experiment with their music.
Inside SAV’s apartment, we go into his music room. The walls are covered with posters, pictures, and tickets to SAV’s film Electro Wars, a documentary he produced that dives into the hip-hop and electronic, and how they started to bind together. In it, SAV interviews people like Lil Jon, LMFAO, Steve Aoki, Major Laser, Pitbull, and many. “Electro Wars was from 2009-2010, I want to say. It was a one-year process but had that movie not happened, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” His film played in Amsterdam, Costa Rica, Los Angeles, Stockholm Film Festival, and New York.
There’s barely any room for the both of us, as two huge screens occupy most of the tight space. Movie posters and memorabilia saturate the room. He sits at the keyboard and plays some of the music he is producing and explains the exhaustive process that goes into every detail of making EDM. The actual production of the music is extensive and multi-faceted. As a producer, he must think about the lead, the kick, the balance, and the intensity of the drops. All these look like scribbles on the screen as he stretches and shrinks multiple tracks piled on top of one another to create the Fight Clvb sound. However, there are at least eight different sounds going on which must be squeaky-clean to the ear. In music balance is key, and you literally cannot miss a beat.
Suddenly he gets up and I follow. His apartment is just like his studio, and the room is filled with posters. He pulls out a small box from his closet and quickly empties everything in it. He takes out all different Fight Clvb stickers and begins counting them. When I ask him what he’s doing, he tells me he’s running out of Fight Clvb stickers for their upcoming show. He doesn’t think he will have enough for their China tour, but when I suggest he just order more he tells me, “They won’t get here on time from China.”
Not only do they throw stickers but they also feed their crowd with bass-burgers (cheeseburgers from a fast-food restaurant) which have Fight Clvb stickers all over them, of course. Yes, Mystereo throws cheeseburgers at the crowd, who will often eat the burger as a mid-show snack. Before moving onto buying the cheeseburgers, Mystereo attempted to even cook the burgers himself before shows, but however you look at this, the liabilities are endless.
When putting together a show, the duo thinks about every detail of the experience their audience will have. They don’t want to just put out music and throw their hands up in the air. It starts with Mystereo himself, who is a major part of their entertainment. With SAV’s film background, the group carefully crafts their shows to be chaotic, eccentric, and full of flavor. Mystereo navigates the stage fluently, mirroring the beats as he hypes the crowd. Sometimes he surfs the crowd, but he’s always ready to jump in the pit with the crowd. Mystereo goes hard. They curate each show based on the crowd, as they’ve toured all over the world. The duo has played in Central America, Germany, all over the United States, Aruba, Japan, and Europe.
The Chinese came through, Fight Clvb got their visa. On April 14 they landed in Hefei, China. As I am writing this, there’s a club half way around the world with multicolored blinking lights, smoke machines, and the throbbing beat of Fight Clvb’s music. The duo jumps on the stage. The crowd hollers as SAV works his way up to the drop. The room is electric as the beat drops, and Mystereo brings out the bass-burgers.