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Funk carioca legend DJ Sandrinho on the socio-political context of baile funk in Brazil

DJ Sandrinho is known as a Brazilian funk carioca master. Some people might have heard of the genre under the name 'baile funk', which refers to the parties the music is played at. Two weeks ago, DJ Sandrinho flew over to Amsterdam to give the crowd of Appelsap festival a school in realness. Chase member Ingmar Doumen, who hosts global sounds & future beats parties in Brussels called Brikabrak, took the opportunity to have a chat with DJ Sandrinho.

Interview and pictures by Ingmar Doumen at Appelsap 2019

Hi Sandrinho, welcome back! Do you notice any difference in the audience from the last time you played in the Netherlands?
DJ Sandrinho: Yes, people appear to be way younger!

Do you think the genre funk carioca is more appealing to young people right now than before?
DJ Sandrinho: Yes, the funk that's recently been made is usually produced by young people so it naturally tends to attract more young people indeed.

Here in Europe, there are a lot of producers that use baile funk samples and rhythms, their music is not as raw or dirty as the lyrics of the actual Brazilian Funk. Do you think European people are ready for that?
DJ Sandrinho: I don’t know if they’re ready but, you know, people might want to look for the origin of the sound.

Baile Funk has its origins in Miami bass & - freestyle, samba and afrobeats, but where does your inspiration derive from?
DJ Sandrinho: The structure and skeleton of my music lean more towards Miami bass. Soundwise, it’s the favela culture that inspires me the most. The funk that stems from Rio’s favelas has a typical groove and swing.

Which software & hardware do you use?
DJ Sandrinho: I produce with FruityLoops and use an MPC to trigger samples.

Only funk rhythms (like the classic tum-cha-cha beatbox) or also field recordings?
DJ Sandrinho: I have some tracks with a berimbau (a traditional capoeira instrument) that a friend of mine played for me.

In Europe, there’s a very small scene of labels that push the genre, like Enchufada, XXIII or Man Recordings, where you have released before. How did a Brazilian funk producer end up with a German label?
DJ Sandrinho: Man’s label-owner Daniel Haaksman visited Rio a lot during the '90s and we got into contact via-via.

Why do you think the baile funk movement is not pushing things more out of Brazil, like lots of afrofusion artists are doing at the moment?
DJ Sandrinho: I think the artists are afraid people won’t be interested. It’s a very local thing and the movement and content of the lyrics are very culturally driven.

So do you think people in Europe won’t understand the genre because they don’t understand the culture?
DJ Sandrinho: Kind of. Look, in Brazil there’s a lot of discrimination of the genre because, indeed, the genre is directly linked to the favela and its culture. Although the sound is widespread in Brazil now, the culture doesn’t get embraced by the general public. The issue is that the government doesn’t treat people from the favela like they treat other citizens. I think it’s because of this local conflict that artists have some sort of prejudice that people outside of their world won’t be interested in it.

Recently, a lot of the Bailes are being attacked by the police. What exactly is happening?
DJ Sandrinho: Yes that is happening indeed. So basically all the Bailes are organised by the drug cartels but that doesn’t mean that the only reason for these parties is drug dealing. For the poor people of the favela, the parties are often the only way to enjoy themselves and have a good time. But the government acts like every single attendee of the party is a drug dealer, resulting in shoot-outs between the local anti-drug police and the organisation, killing lots of innocent people.

Does this social conflict influence the music?
DJ Sandrinho: For me it does, because the favela is part of my soul, including its conflicts. There’s also a stream of MC’s that talk about these issues, you could call it 'conscious funk'.

DJ Sandrinho

Are there any differences between the funk scenes of the different Brazilian cities?
DJ Sandrinho: Yes, there are two styles. First, you have the actual raw funk carioca that roots from Rio’s favelas. The Sao Paolo funk is a more innovative interpretation of the genre.

Which artists will shape the future of Baile Funk you think?
DJ Sandrinho: Phabyo DJ and Dennis DJ.

You’ve been in the game for a long time now, when can we expect something new from you?
DJ Sandrinho: I’ll be release three new tracks soon. I can’t say when yet, but I can say that I will try to bring over the roots of funk and show what the scene is all about.

What do you expect from tonight's performance?
DJ Sandrinho: I already saw people like ghetto music. It fits the Funk Carioca-vibe.

Half an hour later, Sandrinho climbed on Appelsap’s Patta Soundsystem stage. Brazilian funk carioca DJ’s rarely perform on big stages in Europe. That's why it was liberating to see that people indeed liked the ghetto vibe of this music, probably without realising the socio-political repression the baile funk are undergoing in the favelas right now...

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