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VIVA DJ Patife: A true Brazilian D&B OG

Exactly 20 years ago two young Sao Paulo DJs named Marky and Patife made their first pilgrimage to London; the city that spawned and cultured the music that had soundtracked their young lives since early 90s.

The first of many trips, it was the spark of a lifelong career in beats for Patife who had just quit his dayjob weeks before. As one of the leading ambassadors of style that took the genre by storm when Bryan Gee first imported it to the UK and Europe, Patife became one of the most in demand Brazilian DJs throughout the 2000s alongside fellow vibe maestro Marky… And set the foundations for the insane wealth of talent Brazil’s biggest city still spawns to this day: Urbandawn, DJ Chap, Level 2, Unreal, L-Side, S.P.Y. Jam Thieves and many more.

Then, in 2008, he made some major lifestyle changes and decided to take his foot off the gas and reconnect with his country, his family and himself. Still dipping his toe in the DJ water with a local residency and select international bookings, it wasn’t until a chance trip to head HQ Sun And Bass in 2014 when he realised the time had come to reprioritise the music that has driven him his entire adult life.

Four years deep into his re-inspiration Patife is packing a brand new album VIVA BRAZIL on V Recordings. Featuring 18 solid gold soully rollers from his own stomping ground including two brand new productions from himself and his current partners Vangeliez and David WS, it’s a beautiful document that doesn’t just represent Brazil’s consistently awesome contribution to drum & bass but marks as a serious statement of intent for Patife. One that’s been created with care from the same place of inspiration and enthusiasm that brought him over to the UK exactly 20 years ago.

Refreshed, reenergised and deeply passionate about the craft, Patife remains one of Brazil’s most important drum & bass ambassadors. This is why…

I want to say you’re back… But you’ve been back for a bit, right?

Yeah since around 2014. But I did take a long break. Around the late 2000s I wasn’t very good to myself. I wasn’t taking care of my health. I was very tired and the music wasn’t really influencing me much. I started to feel a bit jaded so I moved away from Sao Paulo to Brasilia and realised, for the first time in a very long time, that there was more to life than the concrete jungle, the flights, the hotels, the shows, the drink and the money.

It gave me a new horizon and perspective. Just a short drive from Brasilia we have the most beautiful nature in the country, maybe even South America. Waterfalls, forests, mountains, so beautiful. I got deep into it and restarted my spiritual connection. Not long after I meet my beautiful wife. And after that I became a dad. Being on the road was the last thing I wanted to do.

Did you give up music entirely?

Not 100%, I don’t think that’s possible. But I become incredibly selective of dates and projects and just held down a little residency in Brasilia in a great little lounge/restaurant named Dudu Bar. Life became very easy again.

That all important work / life balance!

I’m constantly trying to perfect it. It took that physical move out of Sao Paulo to realise that and see how bad I was. I was just work work work, money money money all the time. This new thing. That new thing. Cars. Clothes. It’s like ‘man! I never got into music for that! What have I become?’ I was caught up in my own crazy game. Life shouldn’t be like that – it’s not what drove me when I first heard jungle.

Boogie Times Tribe – The Dark Stranger from 1993. That was the first jungle tune you heard if my research is any good!

Yes that’s it! Marky played it to me! He used to work in a record shop and I was one of his customers. I was buying hip-hop, early hardcore, Shut Up & Dance type of stuff. One day I come in and he’s like ‘Patife! Check this jungle out, it’s the shit! Freshest stuff from the UK!’ I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Such a fat bass, those broken beats. Love at first sight man.

How much jungle was making its way over to Brazil at the time?

Not very much! In the early 90s we had maybe two record shops seeling it. Like proper DJ ones. And the owners would make friends with flight attendants who were flying to UK or US or Germany and they would give them a list of things to buy when they have a layover. Maybe 20, 50, 100 records.

Jungle smuggling!

Totally! The attendants would get some nice money too. But it came at a cost… A record that would cost you £5 in London would cost me £20 in Sao Paulo. That was a lot of money. When V Classics came out – a six vinyl album – I paid £120 for that. That was most of my monthly wage from the cargo company I was working for.

When did you make the official switch from working in cargo to DJing?

July / August 1997. Exactly 20 years ago. I remember it clearly. My boss was frustrated with me on Mondays because I’d been DJing all weekend. I was like ‘I can’t quit because I’m not making enough money’ He told me to believe in myself and work a way out. Looking back he was very helpful to me.

Hold on – 1997 was the year Marky first made a pilgrimage to the UK. Didn’t you come with him?

Sure did man. One month after I quit my job I was in London! Within two hours of getting into the city we see Ray Keith and Goldie.

DJing?

No. On the street corner, just hanging out! We were like proper fanboys and got pictures. It was incredible. We also went to The End, True Playaz first ever night. I will never forget it. It was the first drum & bass night I’d been to outside of Brazil.

You’d been running unauthorised Movement nights back in Sao Paulo though, right?

Yes. Our friend Adrian Harley made the connection with a man called Edo who was one of the guys running Movement with Bryan, trying to work out an agreement of using the Movement name. In the end I brought a VHS video tape of our party to show them at the Movement office. Edo also his partner Oliver  were like ‘oh my gosh! What are you doing out there?’ He called Bryan Gee and as soon as Bryan was like ‘I need to go there! Now!’

I always thought they were pissed about you using the name?

No they were cool. They couldn’t believe how big jungle was in Sao Paulo and wanted to build on that. The next month Edo comes to Sao Paulo, two months later Bryan comes over. The rest is history.

This is where your productions started…

Yes but to be honest we were reluctant to begin with. We had super talented guys like XRS and Drumagick, in my case Mad Zoo specially, telling us to get in the studio but it felt boring to be sitting in a studio all day. Expensive too – kit took us a while to get hold of, skills took time to learn. The productions came around 2000 and luckily they went down well both in Brazil because we working with and sampling much loved artists and records and in the UK because of Bryan and those guys and also Gilles Peterson, Ross Allen, Patrick Forge was very supportive making links for us beyond drum & bass.

Did you still find it hard to break through into the UK? It was a pretty tight scene back then!

I have to say that Bryan broke down so many barriers before we started coming over regularly. Enough men in the scene were telling him not to open doors for outsiders but he stuck to his vision. Bryan loves the exchange of ideas and vibes and energies. It happened with the Bristol guys when drum & bass was very London years before. We had to deal with a few people who weren’t sure about these crazy Brazilians but Bryan fought for us. And then more UK guys got bookings over in Sao Paulo and could see that we’d been on this since day one and were running nights and pushing it and buying it and playing it from the very beginning. We were all coming from the same place.

Amen. I gotta ask about crowds singing along to basslines… Everyone sings along to Bricks and Mr Happy, it’s the law. Hazard told me the first time he experienced that was in Brazil. What do you know about Brazilians singing basslines?

What do I know? Mate this is the sing-along crew! Brazil dancefloors always sing – they sing the chorus, the melody, the bassline, whatever they love. They have done it since time. Hip-hop, house, techno, drum & bass. That’s what showed the guys on the video when we first came over to London. That’s what made them jump out their seats and go ‘what the hell man? They’re singing our basslines!’’ That’s Brazil man.

So what was it that brought you back into the game then?

Sun And Bass! I couldn’t believe I had never been there. I went for the first time in 2014 and it blew my mind. This little village on a tiny island for one week is full of people from around the world who love this music and so vibey with each other. It was a dream come true for me, every day I was meeting beautiful people from all over the world and a lot of them were asking me where I’d been. The love was ridiculous. Even Fabio took me aside and gave me a talking to and told me to come back to the scene. It was very inspiring and made me think about keeping it rolling but doing it differently… Now I have control over my diary and my life. I decide what I’m doing now – the industry doesn’t tell me. Right there I was born again. So in 2014 I go back and was thinking about how to pay back to Sun And Bass and how to pay back to drum & bass. I had loads of ideas and spoke to one of the founders and told them I wanted to make music for the festival and maybe see if we can release a project.

VIVA BRAZIL was born…

Exactly and the best thing is, when I sat down with the festival guys, they told me that I was the first DJ they wanted to book for Sun And Bass but kept getting declined by the agent. I had no idea about this. So we established the Patife beach party which is now in its fourth annual year and has become bigger every year and has, as you say, led to the VIVA BRAZIL album.

There’s a little sizzling of Russian with Command Strange and ArpXP has to be on there, he’s Mr Sun And Bass! He needs to be on there. And of course Fats and Fava. Two official Sun And Bass MCs. But it was very important for me to celebrate Brazilian talent on the album.

So many wicked artists came through from Sao Paulo during your break… Was that a shock or surprise or cool to see when you came back?

It wasn’t shocking because a lot of them were mates from back in the day! I remember Chap as a kid running round the streets, Level 2, Andrezz… So many cool beatmakers. What makes me happiest is working with them and being accepted by them. There’s so much talent in Sao Paulo, more than ever and to have an opportunity to do this again and do it on my terms is a blessing. Sao Paulo and I both have much more to contribute to drum & bass.

DJ Patife Presents Viva Brazil Sun And Bass Sessions is out now on V Recordings

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