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Brazil's Camilo Rocha: Rock In Rio's Number 1 DJ

Author: Jonty Adderley
Tuesday, December 25, 2001
6 years after returning home to Sao Paulo, ex Muzik writer Camilo Rocha is one of South America's leading techno/house DJs, recently winning the prestigious Top DJ award at Rock In Rio.

Half British and half Brazilian, he spent the early 90s in London, raving at the likes of Club UK and in squatted warehouses on the city's fringes, finding time to write one of the first major articles on trance (in Muzik in 1995). Nowadays, firmly focused on DJing, he plays Sao Paulo twice a month, Rio's Bunker Club every three weeks and tours each weekend across the continent, regularly taking in Uruguay, Santiago (Chile) and Argentina. Continuing to work as a journalist he writes for Brazil's most influential "broadsheet" newspaper Folha Da Sao Paulo and is also Skrufff's official Man-in-Brazil.

Skrufff: What's your assessment of Brazil's electronic scene today-

Camilo Rocha: "It's constantly growing though it still feels like we're at the first stage. The scene's consolidated and people no longer view it as a fad since it's become far more integrated into the mainstream. If you turn on the TV, you'll see many adverts with electronic soundtracks and you're starting to get soap opera characters playing the role of clubbers-I recently even heard an X-Press 2 track on one programme. Rock In Rio (Brazil's legendary pop festival) is another good example. They (the organisers) were surprised and impressed, I understand, with the success of the dance tent. On the other hand, there's still a long way to go in terms of DJs getting recognition as artists and being better paid. Sao Paulo still needs a large club, somewhere like Club UK was - where two or three thousand people can dance to a good cross selection of electronic dance music".

Skrufff: Which foreign DJs have excelled recently-

Camilo Rocha: "D.A.V.E. The Drummer does really well here, John Digweed was more or less OK. Green Velvet and Paul Oakenfold rocked it last year, though I think a lot of people see him just because of his name. All the acid techno lot do well here such as Geezer (Guy McAffer). The only people really struggling are foreign drum & bass DJs because with Patife and Marky it's really hard for them."

Skrufff: How easy was it for you to turn yourself into a professional DJ-

Camilo Rocha: "It was particularly tricky for me, because I had to face another kind of prejudice which came because I was well known previously as a journalist. I knew everyone on the scene right from the late 80s as a writer, so many people didn't take me seriously. It took a while to prove that I could also do it as a DJ. I first started writing about music in 1988 for an established rock and pop magazine and used to get so much hate mail for writing about dance music. Even lots of other writers wouldn't take me seriously because of the music I listened to which wasn't proper rock & roll. Lots of people thought 'He'll grow out of it' (chuckling)."

Skrufff: Why didn't you grown out of it-

Camilo Rocha: "I love going to parties and going out - feeling the energy of a packed dance floor blasted by loud music. It's hard to describe but it's really magical having a thousand people in one room all locked into the same groove, having the time of their lives and forgetting about everything else. It's healthy escapism because it's not just for the sake of escaping. In a place like Brazil there's a lot of aggressiveness and violence and raves provide a really good counterpoint to that, because the ideology behind rave is one of peace and tolerance.

At parties you find people from working class neighbourhoods dancing alongside rich people, gays, heterosexuals and black and white people together and nobody really gives a fuck what you are. You can be yourself and that's really important because Brazil is a very prejudiced society. It's not just about getting 'off your head' (intoxicated), it's about opening up and learning to be more tolerant."

Skrufff: How do Brazilian DJs diff