VCO Rox’ Dedication to a Dead DJ (interview)
“Mr. Spacely was never a popular DJ in Brazil but he was loved by everybody from the scene who liked it underground and real. Then suddenly he died putting all his friends in shock. I was in Berlin touring when that happened.”
Sao Paulo uber-producer Dudu Marote recently teamed up with underground tech DJ Paula Chalup to create VCO Rox, a project the Brazilian duo intended to become a vehicle to produce improvised live music for clubs.
Opening release Mr Spacely (out on D-Edge Records shortly) was inspired by the death of their friend Ric Novaes (aka Mr Spacely) who died six years ago. So why did he take so long to write the track now?
“I don’t remember exactly what initially triggered the idea but it happened at the beginning of last year during one quiet weekend. So I started texting friends to find more details of his life and one text recalled the night when Frankie Knuckles showed up and was dancing to his set. I shared that all with Paula so we started the beats around May.”
Joining the project soon after was Brazilian-in-LA actress/ singer star Thalma de Freitas who in Dudu’s words ‘came up with such a vibe that we had to rebuild the track into a life/death/afterlife tale’.
“Thalma was living in LA, but not having a good time there and decided to fly back to Brasil. As soon she got to São Paulo airport she called me and drove directly to my studio,” Dudu recalls.
“The three of us chatted deeply about life, death, energies and everything that was happening to Thalma at that time and a few hours later she ended up singing over the beats. She kinda’ healed herself with the lyrics and we ended up with a supreme performance. That in turn inspired Paula and me to rewrite the whole instrumental.”
“Just before this session I had been taking my time playing around with my modular synthesizer as my main concept but after a dinner party with my idol Nicolas Jaar, he pointed out to me how he liked to keep gear simple to focus on music,” he continues.
“We tried that approach for remaking those beats mangling my glorious Juno 106 under Thalma vocals and that’s how we got this track.”
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): What was it about Ric’s Djing that made him so popular on the underground scene?
Dudu Marote: “Ric Novaes was never a popular DJ, even on the underground scene. We had this little house music scene which started on a discussion list called BR-Raves. That gathered people from São Paulo, Rio, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte and Florianopolis and we kept throwing parties picking one of those towns a time to party all together.
Ric was a diplomat as well so sometimes he wasn’t available because he spent some time in the Brazilian embassy in Madrid. But whenever he was back in Rio he was the man who put time and effort to make parties in unprofitable nights and venues like Tuesdays at La Cueva, Copacabana. That little hole was kinda’ perfect for those who dare and followed the vibe. And Ric played awesome deep house there. As the song says, Ric was also extremely good at playing Texas Holdem, sipping his Campari and Tonic and smoking cigars.
Skrufff: Yet, you start the press text saying ‘Mr. Spacely was never a popular DJ in Brasil but he was loved by the scene’: how necessary was (is it) in Brazil to abandon your underground credentials in order to become ‘popular’?
Dudu Marote: “It does sometimes happen that way though equally doesn’t always work our for artists who make that move. I think it’s a similar situation in many countries. I totally respect DJs and artists who have to turn their careers to the mainstream to keep on going.
Since we’re in South America, of course what happens in the US influences our society and the EDM rise has hit us as well. Commercial music has many sides and whether we like it or not, it will always be there. It’s cool to have an opposite force to push against though.”
Skrufff: What’s your view of Brazil’s scene today? (Renato Cohen told us recently that Brazil’s club scene is finally taking off seriously-how much do you agree?)
Dudu Marote: “Renato Cohen is one of my local heroes, as are DJ Marky, Mau Mau, Renato Ratier, Claudio Rocha Miranda, Leo Janeiro, Nepal, DJ Nuts, Tropkillaz, Nave Beats, DJ Tamenpi and many others. I love these insane people who live totally against the economy rules and continue focusing on delivering and promoting the best music they can.
Having multiple subcultures in music is now a thing of our huge São Paulo. We’ve got almost 20 million people in Sao Paulo area and culture clashes are totally awesome now. Underground electronic music is up, underground hip-hop is up, and our local version of baile funk is totally up as well. And also art influenced by our huge graffiti scene.
Sao Paulo by day is boring and is all about being stuck in traffic jams. Sao Paulo by night is up and partying every night. And we can buy drinks at clubs all night until the very last client. The mainstream, however, remains massive for Brazil; David Guetta made a lot of money here lately.And we export our own mainstream stars such as Michel Teló worldwide. I remember hearing him when I was walking through the Red Light Zone in Amsterdam during ADE last year.”
Skrufff: What for you are the key underground clubs and organisations in Brazilian nightlife today?
Dudu Marote: “D-Edge, Warung, Clash, everything about Rio Music Conference, voodoohop, javali, many independent actions like Renato Cohen and Benjamin Ferreira do.”
Jonty Skrufff: https://twitter.com/djjontyskrufff