We've had the pleasure to produce two Brazilian compilations with Greg Caz, the Brasileiro Treasure Box of Funk and Soul and the Brazilian Boogie Connection. Here is an interview we did with him back in 2008.
Greg Caz is the premier DJ bringing the sounds of Brazilian samba to dancefloors everywhere. Not only is he one half of the best Brazilian influenced DJ night in New York City, Brazilian Beat Brooklyn, he is also bringing the music to dancefloors to world by releasing records full of these Brazilian beat nuggets. Greg was nice enough to take a few minutes and answer our questions.
First off, how did you get started DJing? What got you into Brazilian music? How did you amass that huge collection of Brazilian music?
If I just count my club DJ career, I started playing out around 1994 when my friend and I realized we had an insane amount of records between us, and should be playing them out. Going further, I spent a bunch of years growing up in Haiti, where a 12-year-old US born kid, bored shitless and already with a very sizable record collection, ventured downtown to the biggest radio station in the land and scored a radio show, in English no less, playing whatever I felt like. So, counting that, I guess I've been DJing in one form or another for almost a quarter century! (Damn I feel old all of a sudden).
When did you realize that damn, this Brazilian music is funky. Why aren't they playing it in clubs? Why do you think its taken decades for us Americans to recognize and appreciate this type of music?
Well, I always knew that. I was fortunate to grow up surrounded by an embarrassment of musical riches, starting with my dad who collected jazz and Brazilian imports since before I was even born in '71. He was that cool guy (still is) who knew where the import sections were all over NYC. So, aside from the obvious bossa stuff, he followed the evolution into the 70s with all those Philips releases from Chico Buarque, Elis Regina, Gal Costa, etc. And record production in Brazil has always been very sophisticated even on limited means. I grew up hearing these records on my dad's powerful audiophile system, and as a kid the whomp and swing of the bass, drums and percussion didn't escape me. Given that there has always been a symbiotic relationship between Brazilian musicians and every other kind of music around the world, the results were magical, just as inventive and forward-thinking as the Beatles (my childhood obsession-still a big touchstone) and as ass-shakingly funky as my uncles' P-Funk, Stevie and EWF albums.
What were some of the first Brazilian Beat Brooklyn parties like? Did people take to it right away?
You'd have to ask Sean that....he's the one who first started the party. Just having spent a couple years in Brazil and discovered the music while there, he started the party and it was a bit slow at first, carried along, he says, by the presence of his attractive sister and her attractive friends. Mostly Tropicalia-related stuff, until Claudio Meduza came along and injected some serious Sao Paulo attitude and rare samba-rock classics into the equation, which took the party to the next level, and then yours truly who added high-octane samba jump-ups at which point the picture was complete. Claudio's back in Brazil now, running Sao Paulo's hottest new bar called "Astronete," based on the same principles as Black Betty and anywhere welcoming eclecticism from DJs.
Are there still a lot of undiscovered funky Brazilian records out there or have you and Sean found them all?
The Brazilian record industry pumped out tons and tons of product over the course of many decades. There's *always* something cool to be discovered. Put it this way, even after the funk 45 gold rush, has every single funky American record been uncovered? New ones still seem to pop up all the time. Ironically, many of my biggest dancefloor killers aren't even the $200 eBay celebrities, but rather cheap and overlooked records that a lifetime of exposure to Brazilian culture tells me are ones to look out for. They aren't "sexy" titles in the traditional collector sense necessarily, but I'd say my use of them has resulted in a lot of people getting laid over the years!
What are your Top 5 records of the moment? Who are your Top 5 Brazilian artists?
Top 5 records of the moment is much easier to answer than "Top 5 Brazilian Artists." THAT'S a tough one! But looking at my main crate that I use on Sundays (at Black Betty) and Wednesdays (at Nublu), here are 5 can't-fail cuts (among others):
1. Antonio Adolfo, Brazil & Brazuka "Luizao" (Far Out 7")
2. Leci Brandao "Revolta Olodum" (Copacabana LP cut)
3. 50 Cent vs. Zito Righi "In Da Samba Club (DJ Tadeu Remix)" (My boy Tadeu in Sao Paulo did this, it drives people bananas!!)
4. Gabriel O Pensador "Bate A Palma" (unreleased exclusive my boy Itaal produced) 5. Odair Cabeca De Poeta "Isso E Bonito" (RGE LP cut) Top 5 Brazilian artists?
That's waaaay too hard. But I'll mention a few that have special significance to me: Elis Regina, Milton Nascimento, Marcos Valle, Wilson Simonal, Joao Donato, Edu Lobo, Erasmo Carlos, Jorge Ben, Antonio Adolfo. (can't possibly boil it down to just 5) And do bear in mind also that aside from the maybe 2000 or so Brazilian records, I'm also a lifelong collector of rock, funk/soul/r&b, reggae, jazz, etc etc etc, so there are a lot of artists up in this cramped brain of mine! Not to mention my fortune in also coming of age back in the hip-hop days.