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As Brazil has continued to excel all social and economic expectations, one man has stood at the centre of its vibrant House scene whilst extending his tenacious blend of diverse rhythmic play and Latin fused disco vibes across the globe. Now, as he continues to bridge the gap between Brazilian orchestral and commercially viable House anthems, the world has never had a better excuse to fall for the proud carnivalesque vibes of Rio de Janeiro and its friendliest musical figurehead, DJ Meme. Dan Carter caught up with the Defected approved producer to chat Latino beats, global feats and ANYTHING but football!
Extraordinary as it sounds, Marcello Mansur could be found remixing the likes of Shakira and a whole host of A-list Brazilian artists before his explosion onto the global House scene. Yet the past two years have seen the Rio based producer coin a diverse range of club worthy bangers and soulful hometown hits, as well as an essential offering alongside Sandy Rivera for Defected In The House’s Brazil 2011 compilation. To say that Meme’s route to global success has been one hell of a ride is an understatement.
Growing up in Brazil’s second largest city, Meme’s passion for music filled his childhood with endless inspiration. Rushing home to record his favourite tunes from the radio at every possible opportunity, the early years of the inspired teenage producer was the enthusiasm for an essential Brazilian past time: football. Reflecting on his hatred for the schoolyards most popular conversation point, Mansur explained: ‘When you are raised in a country where everyone loves the game, you realize that you are an exception and it was very hard to interact with kids of my own age, since the only thing that they had in common was the love for football, so I found myself left behind as a child.’
However, Meme’s luck was destined to take a dramatic turn when the spurned Brazilian child took matters into his own hands. At the age of 12, Mansur began to organise his own block parties and armed with a handful of his favourite cuts from the radio, an exciting new scene surrounded Meme. Making the transition from music geek to party protagonist, music was the answer to the earlier social woes of the countries future House hero. He explained: ‘These parties helped me to develop my personality because after a while I was asked to play other peoples parties, meaning I could blend my music geek attitude with popular culture. In hindsight, it is fair to say that music saved my life!’
As the hype progressed, Mansur’s skills developed until the natural progression of DJ to producer set in. The boy became the man behind Rio’s most prestigious parties and finally, Marcello made the vital transition to an alias that would come to personify the vibrant energy of Brazilian Dance music.
Where some have floundered with little purpose for years on end in search of something contagious, Meme’s rise to success has been almost instant. The late 90’s saw the Rio producer bag a host of exclusive remixing duties for the likes of Mariah Carey and a then emerging Shakira, which in turn brought a host of fresh international opportunities to the table. At this incredible turning point within Meme’s budding career, the stakes had never been so high. He explained: ‘At a certain point in the 90’s, my remixes were receiving a lot of attention in Brazil, both on the radio and in the clubs. As a result of this, I was approached by a lot of big players to produce Dance music for pop artists. In turn, I had the opportunity to work with bigger budgets in better studios, which meant my studio techniques developed loads during this time.’
When the finely tuned sound of DJ Meme made a crucial leap into the vast realms of global Dance music with ‘Viva’ for Kneedeep Recordings, Meme was already a hometown hero, but this early club offering for the appraised producer would mark an initial explosion within the global club scene of intense force. The rhythm was ferocious, the keys sharp and the addition of a perfectly balanced range of melodic vocals and sun blushed horns spelt international success from here onwards for Rio’s carnivalesque connoisseur. “From here, the jump from Brazil to the international scene was incredibly fast,” explained Meme. “The fact that it was charted in the DJ Mag hype charts was enough to please me, but the attention I started to get was really overwhelming.”
He added: “I wouldn’t say that my general sound has changed since ‘Viva’ because I am still pushing those Latin flared House tracks, but I also put out tracks with the distinct international influences that were inspiring me as I grew up.”
Be it his sensational 2009 offering ‘Any Love’ alongside Rachael Claudio, or the timeless Disco driven grooves of this years ‘Love is You’, the magic of Meme’s studio legacy has resided in the durability of the Brazilian producer, perfectly flaring the passion of his home turf with the unmistakable vibes of a solid-gold club floor crusader. Whilst the incredible offer of a Defected compilation alongside American House sensation Sandy Rivera won’t have hindered his progress, Meme’s secret resides in his continuous inclusion of the raw talents that remained so easily available within the passionate streets of Rio. “Having been in the industry for over 20 years now, I have developed an extremely good network of musicians, but the key to my success has definitely been the inclusion of Brazil’s talented orchestras. This has always produced an incredibly distinct sound and it ends up being a cost effective option because most of them are just happy to be on a record.”
No offering illustrates the value of Meme’s essential brand of Brazilian orchestral House better than his latest summer scorcher, ‘Canto Pro Mar’, for Copyright Recordings. Taking a celebrated carnival song into the creative realm of Meme’s orchestral sound scope, ‘Canto Pro Mar’ turned this relic of a song into an exotic club anthem for the globes most prestigious night spots to groove in the spirit of a warm nights partying in Rio. Meme explained: “When it came to ‘Canto Pro Mar’, I wanted to make it into a club track because those verses haven’t left my mind and heart since I first heard them all those years ago. I had been putting off finishing it for ages until I ended up being booked for a gig in Salvador, which is the capital of the Bahia state and the closest you can get to Africa from Brazil.”
He added: “Coincidently, this was where the song originated from, so I felt compelled to finish what I had started whilst I was caught up in the spirit of the area. I think the finished product took the same positive vibes of the original but made it digestible to the newer generations of music lovers and it is great to see it is so popular on the digital charts. Having the guys from Copyright show such an interest in it was a real ego boost for me also.”
Where Meme was once charged as the music geek, his attainment is now that of the Brazilian ambassador to global House music. Wherever he travels, the same spirit and energy of his Latin roots ooze through those within range of his unique and infectious collection of carnivalesque party vibes and insatiable Disco grooves. This unaltered commitment to his homeland comes simply because as the years have passed, Meme and his heartfelt country have developed significantly. As Brazil witnessed itself become one of the worlds most developed economies to date, Mansur found himself as one of the industry’s most prestigious foreign companions.
Now, with a host of celebrated clubs and similarly inclined DJs contributing alongside the intense efforts of Mansur, a musical revolution of great velocity has engulfed Brazil. At the eye of the storm stands DJ Meme; proud, impassioned and more productive than ever before. Reflecting on the phenomenal transitions he has witnessed within his country since the days of his induction to music and popular culture, Meme explained: “Brazil is a place of beautiful people, gorgeous weather and its people carry a lot of spirit towards their country. Clubs such as D-Edge, Green Valley and Warung have really opened the doors to international DJs whilst offering natives a platform to develop their own scene.”
He added: “Due to all the positive movements out here, we can now say we have a strong club scene and the country remains in a good economic position to keep people coming out and experiencing what it has to offer.”
As the country continues to prosper in wealth and reputation, Mansur has never been more proud to brag of his rich heritage across the globe, using his music as an infectious portal into the heated world of Brazil’s heartfelt nightlife. “I think that Brazil is in a class of its own. Brazilians are undeniably different to any other race of people and their friendly nature makes partying in this country an unforgettable experience. Pride is an essential aspect of Brazilian culture and I am one of those people that finds it impossible to hide that sense of pride within my music.”
First he took Brazil by storm. Then he taught them how to party. Now, having imparted an essential soundtrack to the country’s vibrant nightlife DJ Meme has found himself safely placed amongst the aristocracy of Brazilian House music. He may still not be in with the footballers, but DJ Meme is now the master of his own game; one in which he just can’t avoid winning!