Mapping Brazil - Electronic Dance Music: From Underground to Mainstream (1980s - 2000s)

New mapping on dance music in Brazil (2015) – by Claudio da Rocha Miranda Filho, Franklin Costa and Carol Soares
Xxxperience Festival (credits: Gui Urban)

From Underground to Mainstream (1980s - 2000s)
The 1980s saw the emergence of the main electronic dance music genres in the United States. Detroit was the birthplace of Techno, house music emerged in Chicago, and electro was born in New York. By the end of the decade, Brazil’s DJs started getting their first taste of these new sounds.

First reaching a restricted audience – people who frequented underground clubs – EDM quickly took root in São Paulo, the city that is still the trendsetter for Brazil’s club culture.

By the early 1990s, the São Paulo electronic music scene was already getting established. DJs Mau Mau and Renato Lopes were the first to make a name for playing only techno, electro and house in their sets. Both are still active and remain true to the styles they introduced to the city’s dance floors.

The country’s first rave was probably held in 1993 – The Dance Party (better known as L&M Music). Held in São Paulo, Curitiba and Porto Alegre, it was the first Brazilian event with a line-up that included international attractions – DJs and producers Moby (USA) and Altern8 (UK), both respected artists in the global EDM scene.

Throughout the 1990s, São Paulo’s underground clubs started to attract a wider audience and the new trend started to catch on in other state capitals, like Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte. Meanwhile, raves – parties featuring electronic music that carry on into the following day – started to proliferate in country estates and beach locations, including the south of the state of Bahia. In 1996, one of the founding events of the new open-air scene came into being, XXXperience, which endures to this day.

By the late 1990s, as electronic dance music gradually gained a stronger footing in Brazil, two young DJs from the outskirts of São Paulo started to make a name in other countries. Marky and DJ Patife were the first Brazilian DJs to export a new drum’n’bass sound which blended samples from Brazilian samba-rock and bossa nova classics with their hallmark beat.

By the turn of the century, big business was already taking an interest, and the first electronic music festivals were held in Brazil, the most important being Skol Beats (São Paulo, 2000 - 2008). The internet helped spread electronic dance music even more widely, and the scene attracted new followers both in São Paulo – still the hub of EDM – and in other parts of the country. It was in the 2000s that Brazilian DJs really started to get bookings abroad. Alongside the pioneers Mau Mau, Renato Lopes, Marky and DJ Patife came Minas Gerais-based Anderson Noise, Rio-based Memê and Maurício Lopes, and Murphy and Renato Cohen from São Paulo.

This was the decade when EDM started to reach a wider audience. In 2003, the Salvador Summer Festival, one of the most traditional pop music events in Brazil, had its first ever stage given over exclusively to electronic dance music. In the same year came the launch of Todo DJ Já Sambou by journalist Claudia Assef, which has become the best-selling book on DJ culture in Brazil, and also explores the beginning of the EDM scene in Brazil. Rio Parade was also held in 2003, drawing some 200,000 people to the streets of the centre of Rio de Janeiro along the lines of Berlin’s Love Parade.

In 2004, top DJ Fatboy Slim (UK) performed to a crowd of 150,000 on Flamengo beach in Rio de Janeiro. This was a watershed moment, when corporate brands really started to want to put money into sponsoring events, and international agencies started to include Brazil in their artists’ tour itineraries.

In 2005 Brazil became a definitive fixture on tours by the world’s leading DJs. Electronic dance music had a massive audience throughout the country thanks to some key local and independent festivals – Chemical Music Festival (Rio de Janeiro, 2005), TribalTech (Paraná, 2004), Universo Parallelo (Bahia, 2000), Tribe (São Paulo, 2000) and XXXperience (São Paulo, 1996) – but mainly because of the boost given by music events sponsored by major corporate brands, like the Tim Festival (Rio, 2003 - 2008), Nokia Trends Sonar Sound (São Paulo, 2004), Skol Beats (São Paulo, 2000 - 2008), Motomix (São Paulo, 2002 - 2008), etc.

In the same period, the first specialised publications, websites and discussion forums on electronic dance music appeared in Brazil, as well as the first professional course in DJing and music production at Aimec, based in Curitiba (Paraná state) with branches in Campinas (São Paulo state) and four other southern Brazilian cities.

Continue reading Mapping Brazil - Electronic Dance Music: Consolidation and Internationalisation