Nego Mocambique: Sweating It Out

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With only one self-titled record to his name (on the Segundo Mundo label), inventive Brazilian producer Nego Moçambique (the alias of 32-year-old Marcelo Martins) has already played at Barcelona's Sonar festival, Montreal's MUTEK, and in Paris and London. But he didn't have to travel that far to catch DJ Hell's attention. The head of Gigolo Records saw Moçambique live in Rio last February, and was blown away.

"He sounds like a mixture between Kraftwerk and Green Velvet with a Brazilian touch," Hell told local newspaper O Globo. "He uses very few things on stage, but makes an incredible sound and has tremendous presence. Everything he played in two hours was excellent. He can be big, if he wants to."

"I noticed this guy, clearly a foreigner, paying attention," says Moçambique, when asked about the gig. "Suddenly, my mixer malfunctioned and this person not only showed me what was going on, but fixed it. I thought, 'What a nice gringo!' Turns out it was DJ Hell. We exchanged emails and we have been talking about doing something for his label. It's funny because he liked exactly the songs I didn't think were the best ones."

A music student, Moçambique never considered becoming a DJ. Living in the country's capitol, Brasília, he wanted to create his own sound. "Because Brasília is far from the so-called Rio/São Paulo cultural axis, things were more amateur and I had more liberty to experiment," he explains. "DJs have gotten really specific [these days]. This segmentation has transformed styles into ghettos."

Using only hardware, Moçambique started producing with a Boss DR-5 drum machine and an Emu Morpheus synthesizer. These days, his live PAs are achieved with an MPC 1000 sampler, a Virus C synthesizer and a Fatman valve compressor, all plugged into an eight-channel board. The thing that hasn't changed is his sound, which evades genre classifications even as it references black music, baile funk, Afrobeat, electro, house and breakbeat. In his propulsive, minimal tracks, Moçambique samples everything from Gilberto Gil to Barrington Levy and Prince, but never in an obvious way.

"I say I make funk with a Brazilian accent, but there's also other influences," Moçambique offers. "When I'm making music I try to balance something for every mood, stuff that everyone can dance to." Instead of trying to emulate whatever is the newest trend abroad, he fuses his own references and makes his own parameters. "Music is made of what you live," he declares. "You have a daughter, you're crazy for your wife, the day is beautiful, you're feeling good...I make music about that."