The road to III Points is paved with magical chaos

Ask David Sinopoli and Erica Freshman, the pair that founded music, art, and technology festival III Points, what they’re most looking forward to at the third installment of their fledgling festival, and the answer has nothing to do with the lineup. “Tuesday,” Sinopoli says. “The day we start building and everything we’ve worked on for the last 12 months comes to life.”

Cofounders David Sinopoli and Erica Freshman with their partner and director of production Ross LaBrie. (Courtesy of Adam Hendel)

“For me, it’s the moment five minutes before the festival opens, and 10 minutes after, when everyone is seeing it for the first time,” Freshman says.

III Points was founded to represent the burgeoning counterculture class in Miami, and it’s been quite the trajectory since the pair organized their first festival in 2013. Opening on Friday at Mana Wynwood, this year’s festival is being hyped as the most successful run yet. “We keep calling it the power of three — we’ve got three years of experience doing III points, and this is our first year doing three days, so we think we are finally going to deliver the festival model we’ve had in our minds,” Sinopoli says.

Born out of the idea of organizing a festival that was both intellectually stimulating and musically diverse — through a model that harkened Austin’s famed SXSW — the ultimate goal in organizing III Points was to elevate the platform for local musicians, producers, and DJs searching for a musical landscape alternative to the storied Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival. “We don’t have an infrastructure that can showcase our talent like other markets. We lack live music venues, labels — it’s a diverse but disoriented population, in large part because Miami is so pocketed,” Sinopoli says. “And that’s usually the basis of a movement like this one, when there are people who aren’t being represented who need to be.”

While the first installment of III Points was conceptualized and executed in just three short months, the realization that Miami was ready for a homegrown festival showcasing both local and national indie talent had long been brewing, and Sinopoli and Freshman were standing at the frontline. Having forged a friendship working together on various nightlife events around Miami, Freshman eventually invited Sinopoli to join her as the music director at Bardot, where Freshman had helmed marketing and promotions since the venue’s inception in 2009.

“We had a lot of success bringing bands that hadn’t been to Miami but were interested in playing,” Sinopoli says. “At the same time, we noticed there was a frustration among local artists who felt their careers didn’t have the same trajectory that they would if they were playing in New York or L.A.”

When Sinopoli had the idea of organizing a festival that would mingle a vast musical complex with activation events all over the city, bringing together both major indie headliners and local talent, he came to Freshman for help on how to execute it. “That first year, a lot of things really aligned for us,” Freshman said. Out of a personal friendship with The Young Turks, the pair scored their first headliner. “For what he charged us and what he did, it was basically him investing in us,” Sinopoli said.

Then, through the help of an exec at Red Bull (the pair vehemently contends that Red Bull “deserves way more credit from our community” for activating Miami’s rich cultural landscape) they landed their second major headliner — LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy.

“They knew LCD Soundsystem was our favorite band, and they went and bought James Murphy for us, got him to do a panel at Bardot, play the festival, and paid for everything,” Sinopoli recalls. Once they had their headliners, they set to work developing the concept of the festival. “We were still finalizing the plans when we had a sit-down with Miami New Times, and days later, the news broke. We started selling tickets that same day.”

According to the founders, III Points’ first year can only be described as “magical chaos.” “There’s nothing like that chaos from year one, in the best way. People would just come to us — people that we knew and that we didn’t know — and would just want to work on it,” Freshman says.

And though chaotic, the pair quickly learned what worked, what didn’t, and what they needed to do to continue to produce the evolving festival while staying true to its roots. “That first year will always be our base. I’ll never forget that energy and realization that there really is a movement here,” Sinopoli says.

Courtesy of Rod Deal

“The acts and what we buy, the sponsorships and what they raise, they all go through this filter of quality control,” Freshman says. “If you really believe in something and you’re doing it for the sake of doing it, for the love of doing it, then you have to dance that dance, you have to walk that line.”

This year, standing by their message meant saying no to a major musical act that would have sold out the festival. It also meant ditching larger tech sponsorships like Samsung for smaller local start-ups as a way of investing in Miami’s budding tech community. “For us, this is a living installation,” Freshman says. “Saying yes to big names would have been easier, but it’s not what we wanted it to be.”

So what do they want III Points to be? “Our ultimate goal is to have a higher percentage of the world coming down here because they want to see what Miami is cooking,” Sinopoli says. “This festival is about discovery. We are strategically placing local acts in spots where you have to hear them. So maybe you came to hear XXYYXX and then Rob Banks starts playing in the background, and right there you’re like, holy shit.”

And while what they’re most excited about is seeing their labor of love coming to life, the pair promises to deliver exceptional talent, cosmic surprises, and out-of-the-box activation programs. “There are things on this lineup that maybe aren’t getting a lot of attention now that I think in a couple of years people will realize were really dope young acts that we purchased at a time when they weren’t really known,” Sinopoli says.

By Nicole Martinez
Nicole is a freelance writer and crop top enthusiast based in Miami Beach. A lifelong 305-er, she loves finding new stuff to love in her city everyday.