Chugging electro and techno from Rio de Janeiro.
In the early '00s, Chilean DJ and producer Valesuchi was invited to play her first live set by Matias Aguayo, Cómeme's label boss and founder. With an affinity towards off-kilter house and techno, she quickly became an essential name in Santiago's underground. Today, she claims Rio de Janeiro as her homebase, and up until recently she kept pretty busy. On top of contributing tracks to Latin American compilations, making an appearance at CTM in Berlin and debuting her first album, she has also been an outspoken advocate for Latin America's presence at foreign festivals.
The tracks on Valesuchi's RA podcast primarily come from Latin American and black artists. She says her aim for the mix is to "bring some kind of sonic and aesthetic justice to a moment in which these lives and its expressions still seem to matter less than others to the pretty unfair system that rules us all." The hour-long session offers a glimpse into the variety found in her sets, traversing dirty electro, leftfield techno and hazy house, while making brief excursions into ballroom and dub. There's even a nod to her Cómeme history with her only release on the label, "Black Jesus." Some sections may arrive hard and swinging, but there's an overall tropical air that tie this mix together.
What have you been up to recently?
My focus has been to find my own pace to be able to observe this moment. I try to make each day count considering there are so many strong reasons to be sad, so many layers of inside and outside info to process and understand. Being more quiet, reading (non fiction), making music and sharing ideas and perspectives with people I love has been really important. Also observing and listening to birds outside my window and preparing this mixtape.
How and where was the mix recorded?
After a lot of thought and questioning, research and preparation I recorded it in my studio at home in Rio de Janeiro, with borrowed DJ equipment (thanks to DJ Craig Ouar and Comuna).
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I can only describe part of it, the rest of the explanation comes by listening to the music I chose to play, but let's try.
Years ago I was working at a festival in Santiago and I had a short but "heart-blowing" conversation with Mike Banks, in which he made an observation that stuck with me ever since, and that comes back as an important impression every time I play. He said that when you DJ, you're not only connecting music in time, you're mixing people's spirits. I suddenly imagined who made the music, who made the instruments, who's listening and myself. If this collective operation is recorded and available for a lot of people on the internet it can become an everlasting audio spell. So this mix is not a party mix that happens under other kind of laws of improvisation and disappearance.
I always want to bring the attention back to the body, because that's the starting point for other places in yourself, so I chose to play music that had powerful meanings to me and that in raw terms had a lot of "funk." Most of the tracks are from Latin-American and black producers I admire, also as a symbolic intent of bringing some kind of sonic and aesthetic justice to a moment in which these lives and its expressions still seem to matter less than others to the pretty unfair system that rules us all.
You're originally from Santiago, but you're currently based in Rio de Janeiro. Can you tell us more about the underground scene in both cities?
Santiago's underground scene has been my school since I was a kid in the early 2000s, because of my brother's influence (he was also a producer and DJ). I started listening to and learning from a growing number of people that have kept on creating amazing blends of music and developing really important and risky gatherings over the years for a very diverse music community. It's a community that never really had stable means nor certainty to develop itself as what you can call an "industry" outside of the typical foreign mainstream parameters that invade all of Latin America's electronic scenes. So these days there are many incredibly talented producers, DJs, VJs, performers, labels and collectives that have been building such a relevant place in Chilean culture for themselves, but that is suddenly falling apart since last October, when national revolts started demanding equity and a change on the extreme neoliberal economic system Chile has had since Pinochet's dictatorship.
What I can tell about Rio de Janeiro comes from my experience living and playing in Brazil over the last three years. What most people outside here recognise and talk about, in terms of Brazilian electronic music, mainly comes from São Paulo, where powerful collectives like Mamba Negra are based. But Rio's electronic music scene (and also Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre and Brasilia's scenes) are far from being under São Paulo’s shadow. Under very related parameters with Santiago, Rio has managed to develop a strong electronic music culture during the last couple of years but with better means than Chile mainly because Brazil is way bigger.
The DIY spirit is very similar, but how the parties happen and in terms of size, underground events are larger, last for longer and are culturally more complex which is absolutely great. Just think of this country's musical history and its relation to Carnival, how people dance here, the importance and consciousness of the body and sexuality. But please don't over tropicalise this description in your mind—Rio has a very aggressive side too that has been a powerful motor for many artists, and that allows funk carioca to coexist naturally and freely with hard techno and Brazilian boogie in many of these parties. It's an extremely refreshing and non-conservative scene aesthetically. People bring so much of themselves, it's very easy to notice that parties are about what happens collectively, and not about the DJ. This is something I've seen all over Brazil.
Now the pandemic hits and I can't really think of a worse time to be under the leadership of extreme right-wing conservative governments. The challenges to survive personally and as a scene were already huge for everybody, but I truly believe this hard moment will trigger creativity even more. We've always made a lot starting from nothing.
You've worked in various ways with the Cómeme label. Can you tell us how that relationship began, and how it influenced your sound?
To be fair my only release on Cómeme is a participation on the vocals of the track "Black Jesus" by the outstanding Chilean producer and DJ Vaskular. But our bond and creative relationship has developed in such deep ways that I consider Matias and Avril true mentors and mostly family, so that's why so many people link us strongly.
Matias and I became friends in Santiago in 2009 through our dear friend in common, the Chilean local legend Diegors. I was making music for some years after my brother passed away in 2003 and the first person to invited me to play live ever and became interested in my music was Matias. Shortly after I met Avril and I could quickly tell they were people I wanted to share ideas with, learn from and look up to; how hard they worked (always community-oriented), their insanely fresh and interesting taste was really mind-blowing for me and since day one they were 100 percent supportive, like they have been to so many amazing artists all over the continent. They bet on talent that I can say is considered "weird" for electronic music standards, and I think they definitely changed how recent Latin American electronic music is received worldwide. So I can't really measure how much of a creative influence they've had on me—their range of references and ideas is still so very important.
What are you up to next?
As it has always been, music is my north and my chosen tool. That's the only certainty I have right now.