We’d like to first off thank DJ Comrade of XAO Productions for taking a few minutes to answer the questions we have about himself and his latest “Favela Trap” release. The full-length album is murdering the Amazon chart by occupying the #8 slot and racking up serious numbers so, lets get to know the mastermind behind the project….
THEDANKLES: What is your name and where are you from?
A: Dj Comrade, I’m from Monmouth County, New Jersey.
THEDANKLES: Who were your musical influences growing up? What did you listen to when you were in high school?
A: By the time high school hit I was bumpin’ a lot of Hip Hop and Reggae. That was the time I was drifting away from the Rock /Metal stuff (Metallica, Chilli Peppers, Fishbone) and going more to the bass side of things… like, Cypress Hill, Redman, Poor Righteous Teachers (Jersey also) Fugees (Jersey again!!). When I started H.S. I was into deep roots and dub reggae. By the time I graduated, it was full on dancehall – 90’s dancehall, that’s when I started DJ’ing technically. I started as a Reggae Selector for Genesis Hi-Fi sound system, I was about 17.
THEDANKLES: When and why did you decide to start producing your own music?
A: Around 2005-6, it really all started when I got into Baile Funk. I was obsessed with the sound so much that I wanted to do some edits with Baile Beats and Jamaican/hip-hop vocals & such. Most of the tracks I ‘produced’ were just mash-up style or straight edits back then. The real production started only around 2008 when we launched our first mix tape titled ‘Aniversario’ which was celebrating our 1 year anniversary as ‘Xao Productions’.
THEDANKLES: How would you describe what ‘Baile Funk’ is in your own words?
A: In my own words… it’s raw, infectious…you can’t help dancing to. Once you get hooked, you’re addicted for life.
THEDANKLES: How did you first get involved in the funk scene?
A: I started to include funk into my DJ sets in NYC, as it blended perfectly with Dancehall and hip-hop, in my opinion. One day I got a call asking if I wanted to DJ a baile funk party in Honolulu (they heard about about me through a mutual friend). Naturally, I took the gig, but the experience completely blew my mind. The party was packed; 200-300 people getting’ down all night to the sound and Funk Dancers on stage doing their thing. I finally saw that there was potential for a Funk scene in the states. Shortly after I was put in touch with my current partner Kokos Kypros from XAO productions and we found a mutual love for the genre and shared the same goals in regards to forming a funk scene outside Rio. Our first attempt at this was the US tour of the funk artist MC Gringo. We did some shows on the East Coast, (Harlem, Brooklyn, Philadelphia). Then in 2007 we flew to Rio to perform with Gringo at TIM Festival, which was a huge multi-staged concert featuring artists from all over the world. We opened up the night in the Funk Mundial stage. We ended up performing alongside some of the biggest names in the scene, including Daniel Haaksman, Diplo, Sinden, Dj Sandrinho and the Godfather of Baile Funk – DJ Marlboro!
THEDANKLES: How did your experiences in Brazil translate once back in the United States musically?
A: Pretty good, I guess. We linked up with Zuzuka Poderosa (NYC’s premier baile funk MC) and cut a few tracks with her. But during this time, I began to perform my sets live on the MPC (MPD) in the venues here in the states. I took what I learned from my funk mentors in Rio and applied it to our sound. This was pretty unique at the time, considering there wasn’t anyone else doing this live remixing of funk on the pads here in the states. Plus it was a good way to mix the different genres with Funk. Unfortunately you can’t just play 100% Funk all night in the states, the people don’t really dig a whole night of Tamborzao, the typical beat template for Rio Bailes. So we have to mix it with Moombah, Bmore /club, Trap etc.
THEDANKLES: Why “XAO” for the name of your production partnership? What does “XAO” mean?
A: Well, after tossing around a few ideas for a name, XAO was the best. It actually comes from the portuguese word ‘chao’ which means Floor or Ground. Itis conveniently a very common vocal sample in Funk music, one that will never go away over time, since its used in almost every song when rapping about ‘dropping it to the floor’ (command for the girls to drop it, basically). So we chose to spell it with an X, which is still acceptable and understandable to Portuguese speakers, but has a stronger image than a ‘ch’.
THEDANKLES: Favela Trap came out last Wednesday! Are you excited for the release?
A: VERY! It’s my first fill-length release and definitely the first Baile Funk Trap album to hit the world. Who isn’t excited???
THEDANKLES: The album is an amazing piece of work and very distinct from most of the electronically produced music being released recently, very much so because of the MCs and their vocal talent throughout the album. What are your relationships like with these MCs? How did you choose who to work with?
A: Most of the MC’s on the album are friends of mine. Either I’ve met them before in my travels or we linked up online. For example, Mc Gus is one of XAO’s founding MCs. He’s been working with us since Day 1. For this particular project, I really wanted to feature those who have worked with us in the past, or those who I have always wanted to work with (MC Creu, MC Doriva). We reached out specifically to them to join in on the album. Needless to say, they were down.
THEDANKLES: After the 12/12/12 release of Favela Trap, what will you be working on next? Do you think the world will end on 12/21?
A: After this, its the Favela Trap REMIX album. We have already recruited some of the sickest producers in the scene to remix some of the track off the album. Be ready this International Funk World is just the beginning, and isn’t about to end anytime soon, not even on 12.21.
THEDANKLES: Collab with anyone dead or alive:
A: DJ Amazing Clay.
THEDANKLES: Favorite track right now:
A: Fala mal do mim – MC Beyonce.
THEDANKLES: Last moment you felt inspired:
A: This morning on the cab ride from the airport in Rio de Janeiro.
THEDANKLES: Last piece of advice you were given:
A: “Don’t be late”.
THEDANKLES: Anything else you’d like to mention or shout-outs?
A: Yes, everyone one who has been with us since day 1, everyone who posts our music, blogs, fans etc. and a huge shout out to the MCs and producers in the Baile Funk scene. They’re the reason we do what we do! Tamo juntos!!