Valesuchi is much tuned into the necessary physicality and community of dance music, “choosing people’s bodies as a limitless answer.” A fixture across Brazil’s lively club scene, long since proving herself as one of the country’s wiliest and most intuitive selectors, she has shifted fluidly not only between the lively but divergent city scenes of Santiago and Rio De Janeiro, but also maintained a presence on the European club circuit.
Of course, much has changed in 2020, but between this contribution to #PHANTASYMIX and a blinding Resident Advisor podcast earlier in 2020, not to mention patience, good humour and the remunerations and remixes of her superb album TRAGICOMIC, Valesuchi continues as one of club culture’s most exciting and eclectic figures. Expect an hour of unpredictable gems, cross-genre discovery and undeniable, critical rhythms.
Hi Valesuchi. First of all, thanks for such a creative and exciting mix of music. You really have an ear for charismatic records... As is always my first question, what was your intention with the mix?
Well, something I’ve always had in mind every time I’ve been asked to make a guest mix is this: the conditions in which we access music by listening to mixtapes online are totally different from being at a party or a public circumstance, right? Even if they are a live recording from a real gig, you can’t just transfer the experience to a file, nor completely perceive the meaningful system in which those musical choices were made; where that happened, what time it was, who was there, how many people, how they dance if they dance, how was the sound system, who’s playing before and after, how the light was, and so on. I’ve always refused to try to replicate a one hour “peak time party set” to be left online, not only because I can’t, but also because all parties are different from one another, and a mixtape is something else.
So I believe this is the first time I ever recorded one with a different state of mind. I miss playing and partying so much that I improvised and condensed this burning feeling at home, with borrowed CDJs, all by myself in my studio here in Rio de Janeiro.
The last time we saw each other in person was back in February, when you played another amazing and very different set in Panorama Bar. Of course, that feels like another world away now, although the temperatures are beginning to catch up here. I am interested in how DJs, especially those who, like yourself, were beginning to tour internationally more, feel about this.
Has it been easy to adjust to having a near-future that might now look a little different? Has the experience felt disappointing, humbling or a little bit of everything? I think everyone, regardless of their ambition or craft, is asking themselves questions that require introspection, and let’s just say, you foreshadowed this with an LP called ‘Tragicomic’ in 2019...
I’m glad you noticed that about the album.
Tragicomic is a term that has fascinated me for a long time, and became a very efficient adjective to encapsulate an ethos in which I access many things, when very different and apparently opposite values co-exist on a system.
This year has brought a new amount of layers and totally new impressions that have been more difficult to process altogether as time passes, but because of my own personal history, I tend to deal “well” with radical change and introspection has always had a big and important space in me. Observing life and trying to understand the dynamics and apparent contradictions that invade almost every aspect in ourselves and the world are things that deeply interest me. Not having gigs now it’s just one of the hard consequences of something way more problematic and serious happening to all of us, but also we can’t forget that this situation operates very differently depending on which country / city / neighbourhood you are on the planet. It’s just a lot of info don’t you think? Not only because of the lack of control we seem to have, but adding the fact that some of us are in the hands of the biggest ignorants, narrow minded, materialistic monsters in history ever, makes this moment extra schizophrenic to witness. So yes, the outer restructure of things has demanded a conscious adaptation that I think a lot of people are kinda tired of at this point of the game. Personally I’m exhausted, but I’m learning a lot, and that’s a golden fuel now.
That record contained six tracks exploring themes you were interested in - Impermanence, Death, Humour, Egolessness, Suffering, Peace. Which of those have you found yourself thinking about the most recently, and which the least?
Impermanence and death, egolessness, suffering and peace are the 4 marks of existence in Buddhism. I separated them as concepts and added “humour” as a complementary response that I need to have to access the whole picture in a more compassionate and detached way sometimes. So I’ve been relating to all of them altogether in different intensity and combinations I guess.
This particular mix is still very welcome on the dancefloor, but with a slower pace and less parties, has your personal music taste or record buying taken any unexpected turns in these unexpected times?
I’ve always loved, researched and played a very wide variety of music, so lately my focus as a DJ has mostly been for my radio show “Basic Needs” on Noods Radio, which is also a totally different and wonderful front to be sharing music at, especially now.
But the best part of these last months is that I’ve been able to work on music production at a pace and focus I never really had before in my life.
In 2019, you were publicly critical of Dekmantel Festival for not participating in a fair cultural exchange that shone a light on Brazilian scenes; a pretty decent discourse, as it goes these days! Do you think the ‘new world’ for club culture and festivals will allow for a broader focus on community and scenes, rather than big-name dominance? Or rather, do you think the opposite might be true, especially if DIY venues and smaller cultural spaces become difficult to come by for young promoters and DJs?
Well, this is a huge topic so I’ll try to be eloquent.
I believe that it is urgent to refresh what we understand for “club culture”. It’s a common and kinda unconscious mistake to assume that most people are in this job / craft / environment for the same artistic / political / ethical / economic / reasons, and by this I don’t mean we all have to, but how do we co-exist fairly then? When European / US actors monetize their presence in local scenes without bringing much back, like Dekmantel did it is important to say that that is a problem about them, not about the culture they parasite. Local scenes are what everything is based on, where genuine social mixing happens. If they stop existing the culture stops existing. So I just hope that more people in the future protect these perspectives cause I really believe that at least in Latin America, these codes and conversations are being urgently re-designed now.
Comeme, which you’ve been indirectly but proudly associated with for some time, still remains a vital force for South American talent, and I’d say, a shining example of that cultural exchange you speak of. Your mixes are often a great source of exciting music from these regions, but what would be a good start for something new and radical from another label to replace my worn-out copy of Phantasy favourites such as Ana Helder’s ‘Beating PC’ or ‘The Power of Now’ by Christian S (don’t worry, they have been safely digitised!)
John Loveless, October 2020.