The sound of Mamba Negra.
Carol Schutzer describes Mamba Negra, the party she cofounded in São Paulo six years ago, as "a weapon of resistance and passion." With this event, the Brazilian DJ also known as Cashu has helped carve a space for the city's queer music and art scenes. "We are always taking care of the energy of the party, creating this sense of community—an inclusive and safe space for visitors," she says. Mamba Negra nights, which routinely attract up to 2000 people, happen at off-grid locations like parks and warehouses, with women, transgender and LGBTQI+ artists forming the bulk of the DJ bill and production team.
Mamba Negra's dance floor activism has resonated far beyond São Paulo, and now incorporates a record label and booking agency. As the party has grown, so too has Cashu's reputation, and she has upcoming dates at Sustain-Release, Sónar Mexico and Unsound. She says that RA.692 celebrates the "dirtiness and effervescence" of her home country's electronic music scene, with tracks from Brazilian artists Valesuchi, Objeto Amarelo, Mari Perelli, Martinelli, Bad_mix and a_hank slotted alongside dark electronics from the likes of Black Merlin, Overmono and Ngly. It's a fine snapshot of Cashu's approach to DJing, an art form she believes "has this power to take feelings out of the stomach and spread them into the air."
What have you been up to recently?
To be honest, I've been going through some hectic times these past few years. Mamba requires a lot of work, not to mention all the political issues in our country that are letting everyone down. So today I'm focusing on organizing my life, taking care of my mental health, whatever is needed to prepare myself for the non-routine of the long international trips that I'm doing and for the obscure years that I expect are coming to Brazil. Surprisingly, although these trips are very tiring and lonely, they also help me to distract from the problems in São Paulo. I really enjoy the places I'm going to and to meet all these great people around the world. Apart from that, I'm doing almost the same things every day—working six hours, planning the Mamba Negra parties, taking care of our record label and agency, organizing sheets, having meetings, answering a lot of emails, interviews, researching and cooking with my friends.
How and where was the mix recorded?
This mix was recorded with two XDJ 1000s, an old XONE 62 and two KRK monitors that I have in my room, here in São Paulo's dirty downtown.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
When I got the request I was both really happy and very nervous at the same time. I don't find it easy to record mixes, it's not my best skill. I started playing at my parties and the collectives I was part of, it was never just about me and my music taste, was always a collective construction and connection with people around me and on the dance floor. That's why it's always challenging for me to play in my bedroom by myself and to deliver the same feeling and vibration of when I'm playing at a party. However, at this phase of reconnection with myself, grounding and relaxing, I learned that the podcasts, although exhausting due to all the external pressure, are a great exercise to achieve that. Not to mention the excitement of showing to the world all the Brazilian productions that are always present at my mixes. Some of the tracks are the next releases of MAMBA Rec by Valesuchi and Objeto Amarelo, there are tracks of great producers such as Mari Perelli, Martinelli, Bad_mix and a_hank and also some of the tracks that have just been released at Domina label from Rio de Janeiro, by Tantão e os Fita and Acaptcha.
The mix carries all this dirtiness and effervescence of the national electronic music, together with some international tracks that I've played over the past semester and also bring this marked machinery sound. I usually mixed a lot of styles at my sets, but this time I focused more on electro, raw and breakbeat, which is what I've been researching these past few years, although I don't have a sonority that is restricted to specific genres. Brazil is very pluralistic, messy and rich with rhythms, people here enjoy sound variations and groove to dance. I felt throughout my career that I had to have a certain flexibility to play in more places. However I can still find an identity for my sets with songs that have very present sharp sounds, with very energetic, dreamy melodies and some with a lot of noise, sometimes deafening noises and with very marked kicks. In some ways they remind me of a certain utopian and dystopian future. I believe playing has this power of taking the feelings out of the stomach and spreading them into the air.
Tell us about Mamba Negra. How has it evolved since it began, and what challenges does the collective currently face?
Mamba was like a catharsis. It started very spontaneously, in a context of artistic and political effervescence in São Paulo in May 2013, when many collectives began to occupy the streets and parks of the city centre with parties. Throughout the years the snake took its shape and transmuted itself. With a subversive character, like a weapon of resistance and passion, we went through many amazing places and very special and explosive moments in parks, warehouses, small bars, festivals in downtown, artistic and housing occupations. Always taking care of the energy of the party, creating this sense of community, inclusive and safe space for the visitors. Our artistic production team is composed mostly by women, with many transgender and LGBTQI+ individuals. We are surrounded by many wonderful artists for sound, lights and performances. Brazil has a pretty special scene despite / thanks to its difficulties.
Our main challenge is to make the party financially sustainable. Even though we attract from 1500 to 2000 people in each edition, the costs of a perfect infrastructure are incredibly high and the average consumption of our public is quite low. A few years ago the city government began to persecute us and pushed us towards legal control. The license costs and licensed locations are a lot more expensive and very restricted and those costs smashed our budget. Another issue is that MAMBA's name is bigger than the party itself, I mean, there are a lot of people expecting to play, but we don't have that much space or slots. We are not a club with a weekly schedule or a festival of many days. Our party happens every two months and sometimes with only one stage. For foreign artists it is even harder, because we can only bring four or five each year and we also like to make editions with local artists only. It's financially impossible for us to bring more than one international attraction per edition. Their fees are really high considering the Brazilian economy and the exchange costs of our devalued currency.
How have things changed for dance music in São Paulo since Mamba Negra began?
When we started there were definitely less women DJs and producers in comparison to today. Certainly we influenced many girls to start playing and to produce their own parties, not only in São Paulo, but in the whole country. Also, there weren't as many parties as there are today, the scene emerged and grew up with a lots of collectives working together and right now there are countless DJs, visual artists, performers, online radios, labels and agencies. The performances also became essential in almost every party and represent an extremely important part of our scene. So if you came to São Paulo you can find a lots of big parties at warehouses and industries such as Capslock, Gop Tun, Vampire Haus, Blum, ODD, Batekoo, Selvagem, Sangra Muta and Tantsa or smaller ones that are focused on empowering the local scene like Metanol, Caldo, Dando, Dusk, Bandida, Marsha!, Silver Tape and others. And sometimes all of them together like on SP na Rua festival, big street festival on the center of the city with twenty stages.
What are you up to next?
With Mamba Negra, we have four more parties scheduled for this year and we're working for the next release of my dear Valesuchi. I have a tour in North America with pretty cool dates in Boston, San Francisco, Montreal, NY at Nowadays and at Sustain Release, Aurora Halal's festival which I'm really looking forward to discover. I also have two b2b with BadSista, great DJ and friend from São Paulo. We're going to play at Sonar México and Unsound, which is one of the festivals that I'm most excited about in the world, it has an incredible line-up. I have two more European tours coming up, in October and November, including a Mamba Negra showcase at Boiler Room Festival in London with our residents Carol Mattos, Mari Herzer and performer Miss Immigration. After that is summer in Brazil and you can forget about me because next year only starts after carnival :D