Energumeno... para dar y convidar.

sábado, julio 02, 2005

leccion de cultura: we're underground by nature!

en una entrevista para el magazine digital "hyperdub.com"
An Interview with DJ Marlboro June 2003

DJ Marlboro is THE funk DJ in Brazil, an originator, award winner and tireless promoter of the scene. He DJ's, produces and hosts the renowned radio show Big Mix in Rio. This interview took place during the recent Eletronika Festival in Belo Horizonte, just before he played a storming set which climaxed with him with his T-shirt over his head manically scratching with his CDJ 1000's.
Andy: Last year we saw funk fever here in Brazil, where it wasn't exactly fashionable but incredibly popular.
DJ Marlboro: Yeah but look, just one thing, it's that old story. The people who get to know funk discover it every time it becomes successful. For example, I've been DJing for 23 years, so in this time I've seen the highs and lows of funk, I've seen funk go through this fever 3 or 4 times.
A: Yeah, I was in a used vinyl shop the other day and I was surprised to see a funk compilation you had produced dating back to 1991, I didn't realise how old it was.
DJM: Exactly! This is the cool thing, the following happens, a lot of things become fashionable, funk no! Funk is a thing from Rio de Janeiro, it's part of the Carioca (People/culture from Rio) culture. And out of the blue this sudden success comes with all its repercussions, people think that funk came from that moment. And when, just as quickly funk returns to the ghetto, to the communities, to the favela, it seems as though its finished. But it hasn't finished, it's there just as it's always been. The best time for funk is when people don't know about it, for those of us who are funkateers that is.
Do you know why? When people exploit artists, exploit the whole scene, there's persecution, prohibition and a whole load of things that would have been better off without success, but we continue growing and the culture continues developing its roots. Nowadays Rio has a paper called Jornal do Brasil where they did a study and found that Rio had 500 bailes ( dances/parties), more than 500 bailes a night at the weekend, with an average of 2000 people in these parties. That's an average of a million people!! That's a carnival every weekend! I reckon it's better to stick with 500 bailes than grow to a million in the whole of Brazil and then have the media exploit the scene.
Funk isn't considered a cultural movement, it's exploited with this image of women with big butts, you never see the many sides to funk, so people look and they think that funk is pornographic, funk is violent... but funk is all of this, it's violent, romantic, playful.
Funk is a way of expression that was born from the common people, it's a working class expression, nothing reflects as much as what the people are thinking as the funk movement you know?
So a lot of the time, the songs are badly interpreted, songs that talk of the favelas, drug trafficking, what the police do etc. People say that funk apologises for this, but really it's just telling it as it really is. If they're singing about the dealers and the police killings and this horrifies you, then it's even more horrifying because it exists and in reality the people are singing it, because it happens and now they want to shut funk up because it's singing about what the people are living.
A: So where does funk come from?
DJM: Funk comes from Miami Bass. Over 30 years ago there was the Black-Rio movement in Rio de Janeiro in the era of soul, where we played James Brown, Parliament, the Blackbyrds. In that era there were two types of baile, where people went to halls and set up sound systems; there was the rock baile where they played Bachman Turner Overdrive and all that, which was white and there was the black baile where they played soul. They stayed separated for a time and the Big Boy arrived on the scene, you know Big Boy?
A: Err..No.
DJM : Well he's dead now, but he played this sound 30 odd years ago, he had the baile de Pesada (Heavy Dance) which he started where he played soul and rock, rock and soul. There wasn't a difference and people came from the suburbs and brought their own characteristics with them. Before, those who liked rock would go to the suburbs for their parties and there was a kind of rivalry between black and cocota (whites who play rock), just playful, no fighting or violence, just having fun. And then at this same moment, Brazilian soul was born, which gave us Tim Maia, Sandra de Sá, Cassiana, Gerson King Combo, Banda Black Rio etc.
Soon after this came the Disco craze which swept through the world and the white dances became discotheques quickly, but the soul dances continued playing soul. The rock bars virtually disappeared becoming disco-bars.
Stuff that was played in the soul dances, like Kool and the Gang, started to make music which was more disco, y'know "Ladies Night" etc... and Brazilians like Deodato were producing and creating a more commercial sound with brass and stuff and this moved closer to funk and the two different bailes came together as one, and the crowds mixed together.
When the Roland 808 was launched in the States, it was criticised by musicians at the time because they were after a more acoustic, natural sound, and the 808 had this really electronic sound, so the price fell and the people from the ghetto started to adopt it into their sound. When this music arrived in Brazil, it was really successful. The sound systems had the massive speakers to deal with this heavier sound of the 808 beat and we really got into it. This sound, that was to become Miami Bass, started to dominate the bailes with it's stronger beat.
However we never called it Miami Bass, because for us it was always funk. So this Funk/Miami Bass that came over in 1988/89, 2 Live Crew and all of that, started to become nationalised with rapping in Portuguese and the melodies from Pagode ( a strain of samba) and Forró, mixed with the Miami Bass beat to create something more characteristically Brazilian.
We have this thing of mixing our language, our style so that in 1993/94, the percentage of stuff played in the bailes was gradually increasing, so that nowadays 100% of the tracks are national, made in Brazil, and the funk made here is completely different from anywhere else in the world. So we do shows in France, Favela Chic, in Miami, Boston, New York, New Jersey....
Funk is an alienated music, it's not considered MPB or national music, but funk is as national as Samba, which was African or Axé, which was Jamaican. We Brazilians are a mixture who adapt things, we're white, black, Indian. Everything from this land is a mixture, so why can't we create something original from this mixture? If you want to hear something essentially Brazilian you'll have to go in to the Amazon and find a tribe of Indians living in the jungle who have been completely untouched by any influence from civilisation.
[I spy Marlboro's case which contains only CDs and MDs.]
A : You don't play vinyl? Are any Funk tunes pressed onto vinyl?
DJ M : As Funk became nationalised, we tried recording in vinyl but the quality in the Brazilian factories was really bad. I mean our sound was turning into a powerful sound. It needed to be a quality recording, so we recorded onto Minidisc and then when the technology became possible we recorded on to CD, which gave more opportunities for performance. I use the CDJ 1000 which is really good for scratching and stuff.
A: What about the incessantly negative reaction from the media?
DJ M : The bailes in Rio have survived such a long time because we do the bailes to please the public. We work with music that doesn't need to recognised or be successful in the rest of the world. We play tracks that are popular in the bailes full stop. We don't need media and marketing.
We have gone through various prohibitions, but it's like carnival which was also persecuted. The police come and smash our equipment, but I smile because it was the same story with carnival 50 years ago. Today we are marginalised so I just hope that in the future we have the same acceptance and respect that carnival has now. When the media helps that's ok, but when they don't everyone thinks that we're finished. But we're there, still strong. The best thing is to stay in the underworld ok, we're underground by nature!