Issue 010: Chef Shingo Akikuni
The P.O.P. (Portraits of POPLIFE) documents inspiring individuals who push artistic boundaries and strive for excellence in order to advance the communities around them. Uniting a wide range of talented creatives from diverse backgrounds, this editorial series invites them to share their passions and the impact they've had on the realms of hospitality, music, fashion, art, and design.
Pull up a chair and take a seat for our newest issue featuring Michelin Starred Chef Shingo Akikuni. POPLIFE sat down with the critically-acclaimed chef at his newest Omakase venture, SHINGO, in Coral Gables to discuss all things food, fish, and fun.
Read below to learn about his culinary journey and the inspiration behind his craft.
Chef Shingo, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you end up where you are today?
My name is Shingo Akikuni and I am a sushi chef. I trained in Tokyo for some time then made my way to New York, and eventually here to Miami where I just opened my own restaurant. In my free time I love collecting vinyl and eating out at different restaurants!
What inspires you?
My mentor: the sushi master, Toshikatsu Aoki, has been a big inspiration to me. I also feel inspired by traditional Japanese plates and tableware; they inspire me to create different dishes.
What motivated you to become a chef? Any influences?
This year marks the 10th Anniversary of III Points.
How has the festival evolved since its inception?
How does it feel to reach this monumental moment?
We have grown by the numbers for sure. We started in 2013 with a total of 3,000 attendees, and now in 2023 we will be doing close to 50,000 attendees over the course of two days. Our programming and production has grown in size and scope, now a six-block showcase in the middle of the city, highlighting what Miami is right now.
I would like to think that as we evolved over the 10 years and grew the capacity of the festival that the core intention and magic of the festival is still present inside the grounds. We feel really lucky and fortunate to be able to get to this point. We have really taken this decade benchmark to reflect on the sacrifice it has been for our team and my partners to push through each year… it has not been easy.
Shoutout to all my partners Davide, Teper, Coloma, Ross, Sudack, Freshy, Lyl, Shai, Luca and all the Insomniac core back bone that has helped us get to this point.
The team behind this festival is relentless.
How do you see III Points evolving over the next 10 years?
I just want to keep it real. I don’t want to lose sight of the core reasons we are doing this. We want to continue to grow this project but in stride with Miami.
What goes into curating a diverse festival lineup?
It starts with the sounds that are coming from our city in the given year we’re curating. We really try to bring in sounds that will complement and coincide with what’s going on in Miami right now.
I have an amazing team including Shai Ben David, Santiago Vidal aka True Vine, my partners Teper and Davide, and Alexis Sosa aka Sister System, that help me curate the lineup, with some added help from Laura Kirkpatrick aka LXO, and Caterina Haddad on some of the key elements and sounds on this year's lineup.
For the first time ever, we’re also collaborating with POPLIFE on the Grand Central Stage and Miami Community Radio on their stage, as well as some crossover curation with Richie Hawtin on the Friday of Sequence and The Martinez Brothers on the Saturday of Isotropic.
How do you measure the success of the festival?
Success at the festival really comes down to the experience that it is for the people that are attending. We pride ourselves on delivering something unique inside of the city footprint we have, and inside and out of Mana.
We try to focus on making the production as close to flawless as possible. We have the responsibility of trying to deliver a transcendent, safe, comfortable and fun experience to the people that come to III Points and we take it super seriously.
Oh, and try very hard to not lose money in the process. This is the key to
continuing on with this project.
It is not easy.
What makes Miami so special as the home for III Points?
Miami is at the core of everything we do at III points; it literally touches every aspect of the festival. We are so lucky to be alive and creating in Miami right now. It's a super special time and I think we will look back on these years as a foundation and testament to what the future holds for the art and music scene here.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
My classics are Andre 300, LCD Soundsystem, Wu-Tang Clan, The Doors, Frank Ocean, Jamie xx, Massive Attack, Nicolás Jaar, Pac, James Blake, Aphex Twin, Portishead. Some of the newer artists include Arca, Baba Stiltz, Keinemusik, Joy Orbison, Donzii, King Krule, Rosalía, Yves Tumor, Whitesquare & Moscoman, Johnny from Space, Danny Daze, Nick León, Coffintexts, INVT and the whole squad coming up from Miami.
I have a lot of musical inspirations, and they are constantly updating.
I'm blanking on a bunch more but that can be blamed on the weed.
What is a significant memory you have with POPLIFE?
Has POPLIFE influenced your life in any way?
When I was visiting Miami from the years of 2006 to 2010 I came to a lot of the parties and shows that POPLIFE was putting on. I would travel to see the bands they were bringing to Miami.
When I moved here in 2010 and started programming music at Bardot, Grand Central and POPLIFE were the cornerstones of the scene. They were one of the major forces at the time that were really putting on for the live-music scene and for local musicians. Most of the work that I’ve dedicated my life to was inspired by the work that Aramis Lorie, Jake Jefferson, and the whole POPLIFE crew paved the way for.
Without POPLIFE, there is no III Points… straight up.