Based in Paris for 10 years now, Rafa Nunes from São Paulo, Brazil made his own way as a well-known DJ in Europe’s current gay scene. Since early 2000 he has printed his music style combining old school and contemporary sounds and samples to loops and bass lines built upon with high-end gear tech. He shares with BRDK some of his early impressions about music and night clubbing in Europe.
What inspired you to become a DJ? When and how did you first get involved to clubbing and DJing?
I think I’ve never had other interest but the joy of sharing and listening to music. In fact I’ve never felt attracted to DJing and its hype, all that happened by accident. Among my earliest memories I recall, on weekends, my father and I listening to records on a Technics turntable that he owned years before that I was born. I should have 10 years old when I played records for a girl friend of mine that was deaf. As a child and didn’t realized that she couldn’t’ hear like me. Even so we had a lot of fun. I also loved to dance holding the Christmas tree lights =D
In my teenage years I used to play at birthday parties in my neighborhood only to have fun and hang out with friends. When I turned 16 I started to go to Mrs. Krawitz to listen to yours and DJ Mau Mau’s music and that’s where the “DJ click” came up. All the income from my work at that time was only meant to buy CDs and records. One day in early 2002 my friend Nene who was a club promoter invited me for the opening party of club Susi in Transe. Then I had the chance to tell him how interested I was to start playing. Luckily he let me do the warm up at that night! It’s been 15 year now since then.
Why did you choose to live in Paris? How was it to find your own way to DJ there?
My first international travel was to London and Paris back in 1998. When I got back in São Paulo I wondered why I was still living in there since I didn’t like it anymore. That’s how I decided to take my chances and go to Paris in 2006. At that time I was in love with French movies and the French Touch (French house music). So I saved money enough, studied French for one year and a half and flew to Paris with two suitcases and a student visa in hands. I wasn’t sure of what to expect from this adventure. After 6 months struggling to make my living there I was called to play at a party back in São Paulo. Once I was back there I’ve decided to gather my records and other belongings I left behind and bring them with me to Paris for good. In fact, It wasn’t so hard to start playing in parties in Paris as French people used to like Brazilians and find us exotic. By the time I first got there the French touch didn’t last any longer and I had to quickly adapt my sets to the city’s current scene’s taste. Nowadays Paris is not a musical reference as before and I don’t play there so often. Currently I have residency in Revelation Party in Brussels, Connection/BLF in Berlin and Raidd Bar in Paris.
How do you define your music style?
My music style is quite varied but yet I’d say it is vocal house mainly. Sometimes it happens to play completely different sets in two parties at the same night. Despite being gay I like to check all sorts of parties and clubs. I am always concerned to deliver the audience my very best.
In the 90’s the greatest music would come from gay clubs but it’s not like that anymore. At that time I could tell that the DJs were like magicians when mixing two records. You could only see it happen on a dance floor.
Nowadays pro DJs cope with the so called “everybody-wants-to-be-a-DJ’ hype thing. I see many fake DJs that don’t respect the scene or its audience either. Some of those play a pre-mixed set while they mimic as if they were conducting an orchestra!
In my opinion a DJ must be focused on the mix and not on silly dance routines, posing to photo shoots and talking while the tracks are going on synch. Let’s get to work! Go mix a third or fourth track on at the same time and make the crowd go even higher!
How do you see Europe’s current gay scene?
Europe’s current gay scene is awfully weak, its audience got trapped in one single music style and just can’t move forward! Somehow they enslaved themselves into it. Some guys are still into tribal and several got stuck in the 90s forever. Music evolves itself and so people should do too.
In the 80s and early 90s New York City was the USA’s gay scene’s epicenter and so were Brussels and Ibiza in Europe. Today those cities have a commercial party scene. In the other hand Berlin and some clubs in Croatia became the hottest destination to partying in Europe’s summer.
You were awarded as Fetish DJ of the Year in Antwerp’s Leather Pride in 2015. What that prize meant to your DJ career?
Yes, it definitely helped, nowadays there are so many DJs that sometimes it is a way easier to be called “DJ of the year” than your own name instead! =D Yet, it is quite annoying to see a bad DJ being also awarded. It makes me feel as if I should forget the prize I won.
What is your current DJ set up and why?
I currently perform with Traktor’s STEMS and Pioneer’s Toraiz SP-16 sampler because I like to play on the fly. I do enjoy to letting three or four sounds going together at the same time and have fun with the crowd.
What are your plans for this year?
I must release my own music
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