Brazilian music finds in Rasmus Schack its greatest enthusiast and main voice in Denmark. Besides been a well renowned DJ in Copenhagen’s music scene he’s also a consultant and curator for festivals like The Color Run Nordic, Strøm, Distortion and Danish Rock Music. He’s a ravenous vinyl collector and never misses a chance to dig for rare gems in record stores. DenmarkBrazil asked him to tell a bit about his music passion career and projects that help bring Brazil and Scandinavia together.
When did you start DJing – and what or who were your early passions and influences?
My earliest passion in dance music were main stream artists out of the ordinary – like Abba and Prince. In my late teens, during a year of exchange in Montreal, Canada I was exposed to Latin and Jamaican music by my fellow exchange students. This – especially the Latin music – opened my mind to enjoy music in other languages. By the end of the 80s I started DJ’ing early hiphop and club music. And from then on I’ve been open to influences from all over the world.
How Europe have absorbed Brazilian music along the years and how did that have affected your artistic career?
During my research for Brazilian music I also take great interest in European recordings of Brazilian music. These recordings started in the late 1950’s and covers mostly bossanova, samba and Brazilian standards like “Asa Branca”.
These early footprints can be mirrored in the Brazilian Cabaret shows touring Europe and America with samba, capoeira, bossa nova – and also the works of Carmen Miranda and Sergio Mendes. Even though they settled in America, they also had a deep European impact.
So the first artists you would know was Tom Jobim/João Gilberto, Gilberto Gil and Milton or Elis Regina in third place. Off course in the 60s and 70s Jazz music catered to a bigger, younger and “hipper” crowd than today, so the impact was a lot greater then. I would also need to mention the band Azymuth because their impact on club music in so significant that it can not be ignored. This band has been active since the early 1970’s and is still active inspiring artists and audiences in hiphop, house, balearic and lounge music. All in all a massive influence.
Personally I discovered the Brazilian influences from German and English club music – mixing bossa and samba with house and drum ’n’ bass music in the 1990’s. It’s brought a fresh and deeper dimension to the rhythms with the use of percussion and chants. After that I met my wife and started travelling to Brazil on a regular basis and absorbed so much more until I created the dogma DJ project Epic Vinyls from Brazil in 2014.
To this day I see the majority of young people being inspired more by Brazilian MPB, samba, funk, soul and regional music from the 60s and 70s than new Brazilian music – and there’s nothing wrong with that! Today young people come up to me when I DJ and ask about Tim Maia, Marcos Valle and Jackson do Pandeiro.
How do you see Danish people’s interest in Brazilian music and other foreign culture?
The fascination with Brazil is quite strong in Denmark compared to the size of our country. When Danes consume foreign culture and music it is mostly from the english speaking countries and the big European states: Germany, France, Italy, Spain. Being a small country we need to be open to other cultures and learn English quickly. Many also learn to speak a third language, even a fourth. That – combined with the travelling from an early age – makes us fairly open to music from outside. Roskilde Festival also have a tradition of booking the best world music artists – including Brazilian bands – and this has had a deep impact on the music life in Denmark as well. Another example is the Copenhagen Carnaval which has always had a strong Brazilian influence with samba schools and parades – when most other European Carnavals has more caribbean flavour.
You have worked along with the Danish delegation in the Olympic Games in Rio. What can you tell about that experience?
It all started back in 2009 when Rio won the Olympics at the IOC conference here in Copenhagen. My wife Carla was asked by the Brazilian embassy to work with the Brazilian Olympic Committee and I joined them as well. I was studying tourism management at the time and it seemed as a perfect opportunity for me to work with a mega event. I helped produce a series of events for the Brazilian committee in Copenhagen with the Brazilian press, Pélé, Paulo Coelho and I learned a lot!
Brazil won the Olympics and we eventually went to Brazil to live and work in 2012 and 2013. Brazil did not meet our expectations in terms of living, so we returned to Denmark. I continued to work with Brazilian projects – cultural exchanges and organising study trips.
For the Olympics I ended up working with the Danish Swim delegation and the Danish Radio Girl Choir. Two very different groups.
For the swim team my assignment was to make the necessary arrangements so the swimmers could have the best possible preparation camp for the Olympics. I worked closely together with the Danish Head Coach and he had very specific demands. It is often a challenge to match European and Brazilian expectations so we had to get the communication and negotiation process right. Here Carla was also a great help.
We succeeded in securing the best possible camp and the team went on to deliver the best Olympic results ever – with gold to Pernille Blume and bronze to 4 x 100.
My contribution might have been very little, but still enough to make me feel very proud.
After the camp I went on to work with the choir. Here I worked as guide, translator and production assistant to the choir. It was a group of 61 people. I’ve worked with many danish groups in Brazil but this was my biggest group to date. The tour was very professionally organised by the choir and the Danish Chamber of Commerce in Brazil. It was amazing to work with this national treasure and witnessing the impact of their songs on the Brazilian people. Again my wife also was involved because she had coached the choir with the pronunciation of the Brazilian songs in the repertoire and they impressed everyone!
What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments in your career?
Well I am striving to develop as a person and enjoy my work at the same time.
As a DJ it would be my first DJ gig at Roskilde in Denmark, producing the second Carla Alexandar album and warming opening for Jorge Ben in Rio in 2016.
Do you have any side project currently running?
I continue to work with Brazilian projects although I am 100% settled in Denmark now. I work freelance as a translator, music advisor, project manager. I just wrote a music export guide to Brazil for NOMEX – the Nordic Music Export organisations. I use my extensive network when I talk to Danish and Brazilian artists and bands to give advice on how to proceed in both countries. I organized the Raske Penge and Klumben tour to Brazil in 2015 and I am working to follow up on that. And then I run the platforms www.riourbanexploration.com and www.brazilstudytours.com making specialty travels to Brazil and tours in Rio.