On His First Trip to Rio, Sango Talks Honoring Baile Funk’s Roots

Seattle beatmaker Sango just completed his first tour in Brazil, along with Joe Kay of Los Angeles beat collective Soulection. Known for his heavy funk carioca sound, Sango finally had the opportunity to showcase his work in the city that influences much of his music: Rio de Janeiro. Back in November 2015, he released Da Rocinha 3, a firestorm of baile funk beat bliss that gained lots of momentum and love in Brazil. Right before he left the States, he released a small mixtape titled Mais Mais Mais, which sampled soul, funk, and hip-hop to promote his Brazilian tour.

Just a few weeks before Carnaval, Sango fans packed Fosfobox, a venue in Copacabana blocks away from the beach. A local promoter even noted how he’s been trying to get the producer to come to Rio for years now. After the interview, fans gathered around Sango to get some pictures and chat.

As Joe Kay set the mood for the night, Sango captivated the audience with his skittering, hyperactive beats. The crowd sang along to every one of his funk remixes and rolled deep with their crews, who were hype to see Sango throw down. And indeed he did.

Boasting a Flamengo soccer jersey and wearing his humility on his sleeve, we chatted with Sango about his new work, his developing sound, and soccer shade right before the show.

So how does it feel to be here in Rio, finally?
I was telling my mom that it feels like I’m visiting my mom’s family in the States. She’s from Gary, Indiana in the Midwest, by Chicago. When I visit my family, it’s like that [motorcycle drives by]. It’s loud – people everywhere. We went to the favela of Rocinha today.

How does it feel to actually go to Rocinha, after naming your mixtapes after this neighborhood?
It felt good because it felt like I can finally say that I’ve been there! It’s not something that I [only] wish could happen, you know?

Photo by Jessica Diaz-Hurtado
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What is special about Rocinha to you? Why not name the tapes after other famous favelas like Cidade de Deus or Vidigal?
I’ve learned from a lot of people from Brazil that Rocinha is first place baile funk [was born]. The DJs would go to Miami and collect records and bring them back and to rap over the records. So I pay homage to the first people to do funk carioca.

How would you describe your sound?
I have two types of sounds – nah, three. I have my experiments, like Da Rocinha 1, 2, 3. I have my beats for rappers and singers. Bryson Tiller, people like GoldLink – so I make tracks for people for the studio. And I also make tracks to chill, like my album North, [which is] more calm. I’m working on another album like that one.

How has it developed, like with Da Rocinha 3?
I’m interested in other things. I feel like a lot of artists can get stuck. Once they feel stuck, they start doing one sound and they burn out. And they keep doing the same sound…you gotta reinvent yourself.

Photo by Jessica Diaz-Hurtado
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You recently came out with a small mixtape called Mais Mais Mais [translates to More More More]. It’s dope. What motivated you to release it?
I made that in one day. I flew to his house – [points] Joe Kay’s house. I finished it there. I felt like people knew about the tour but I wanted to push it more. So I was like, I wanna do more – more, more, more! [laughs]. I did a remix and two original songs.

“I pay homage to the first people to do funk carioca.”

If you had to pick one funk carioca artist  or a carioca artist in general – to collab with, who would it be?

I’ll keep it classic like Mr. Catra. He’s a legend! I want to do something more how I do – not just funk, but a blend with the drums and the soul.

Have you had coxinhas [Brazilian chicken croquettes] yet?
Coxinhas…hmm, is that with the açaí?

It’s fried with chicken inside! [laughs]
Nah I haven’t! I’ve had arroz com feijão. It’s like what we eat at home in America.

So you’re a Flamenguista now?
I’ve always loved Flamengo. I love futebol – Manchester, Barcelona, Seattle Sounders.

“You gotta reinvent yourself.”

So what do you expect in 2016 other than touring?
My album with Soulection. A really good album that has a lot of good artists on it. Not just beats. Beats are good, but you gotta have more.

Sango kicks off his European tour on February 16. Keep an eye out for his new effort via Soulection.