To name Carol Schutzer, aka Cashu, a pillar of the Brazilian electronic music scene is not an overstatement. She is using music as a universal language that brings São Paulo's queer community together and addresses current political issues. Through the Mamba Negra collective (which she co-founded), Cashu fights for women's and minority rights and sexual freedom. These events are the essence of São Paulo’s queer underground and Mamba Negra parties are definitely ones to watch.
Cashu entered the world of electronic music in 2011 and very quickly progressed to being a vivid DJ, curator, and activist of the local scene. It is really difficult to define her sound as she does not restrict her sets to only one style. During her performances, you can hear techno, acid house as well as dancehall, and dnb. Recently Cashu is frequently touring also in Europe and we are very thrilled that she joined our talk series.
The term "scene" can be defined very broadly. What is your definition of belonging to the scene?
A collective of parties, venues and especially people who are acting at the same time. Together or not, sometimes with the same views and sometimes not exactly the same, but sharing the same desire and passion for the music, all theses ‘pieces” together build a music scenario during a time.
What are for Cashu the origins of Brazilian electronic music and its triggers?
I can say that Jocy de Oliveira and Jorge Antunes were the pioneers that started using electronic machines and synths to produce sounds. Jocy used to do concerts and soundtracks for theaters and Antunes was the first one who did a LP entirely produced with machines. At this time the style was what we know as more experimental electronic music, it was very later in the 80’s, and 90’s we started having dance music and synth-pop. So everything was pretty slow in Brazil especially because we didn’t have too much access to technology. If it is still difficult to import equipment in Brazil today, because of the taxes, imagine back then. So the DJs started to appear around 90’s, when the internet and vinyl arrived, also after the 90’s clubber scene explode with a lot of small clubs especially in São Paulo, with the hard work of several djs like Renato Cohen, MauMau and one of the legends Dj Marky,
playing Dnb and bass music, and getting also international attention.
We can say your vision contributed as a game-changer in the Sao Paulo music scene, can you describe your early approach to the club events and in parallel as an artist?
Sure, but actually I was just one piece in the game, we can change the whole scene alone.
Leisure in the city of São Paulo has always been very linked to nightlife, and also very commercial, that is, to have fun you had to go to small closed clubs, everything was paid and enclosed. Around 2011 we started to see a boom of street events, with the beginning of the parties Gente que Transa, Voodoohop Calefação Tropicals and Capslock. It was a big moment in the city, which triggered a lot of new people who normally didn't enjoy going to the clubs to start going to parties. They were underground parties, on the street, in squares, or in old abandoned buildings like Trackers.
One of the big differences from the previous club scene is that the events started to be more plural, in terms of sound, mixing many musical styles and tastes, and more open experimental line ups, and not limited to one box. These collectives were mainly concerned with offering a complete visual experience, with performances, scenography, installations and light design. It was during this time that I started to fall in love with electronic music and that we started making Mamba Negra. Was a big lack of women in front of the big parties and stages, I remember being inspired for the legend Andrea Gram,
Urubu, A Macaca and the powerful Eli Iwasa in front of the big club scene. So it was very common before to go to parties with only male lines, being nowadays impossible in our scene to see this, there are no more parties with only boys. When I started to play I influenced many women to do the same and today we have a huge explosion of women playing in Brazil. Just like Mamba Negra influenced many other collectives around Brazil to make more inclusive parties, delivering to the public a unique and complete experience of sound and visuals in a safe space to have fun.
A pillar of clubbing resistance in Brazil is the inclusive collective Mamba Negra. How would you summarize the crucial steps?
When Carneosso and I (Teto Preto, singer) started making Mamba, our main desire was to create a space of experimentation for ourselves and for new artists that didn't have much space in the already consolidated club scene. And everything was moving and happening in a very organic way and adapting to the new demands of the public and the music scene. We always had very open communication with the public, which always made people feel like active participants in the party and not only consumers. Another very important thing was when we started to have more women than men in the line ups and also in the production of the party, this was around 2016 when more and more new female and lgbtqia+ artists started appearing in the scene. There is no point in wanting to have an inclusive club and having only white men playing, to have a diverse audience you need to have diversity in the positions of prominence and also in the staff, this is very important to make women and Lgbtqia+ feel safe and represented within this space.
In 2017, the performer Euvira brought to us the need to create the T-List, a practice that was being done in Recife's under scene and that basically consists of Trans people sending their name to a party list and then not having to pay the ticket to the party, they entering free. As a way to facilitate the access of those people who, because they are marginalized by society, have great difficulty in accessing spaces in the city.
So as the same way happened back then when we started having more women playing, around 2018 we also started to have more black people and Transexuals playing the parties as well, and also cause of that nowadays we have more music styles in the party like Brazilian Funk music and grime in the line ups, not just techno and house music so we came back on the begging 2013 when the party starts and was more plural sounds with also a lot of Brazilian bands playing.
Also, another important thing that we always try to do is have some harm reduction programs inside the party like giving some free water, thing that is not common in São Paulo parties and we always do a Breakfast for free in the mornings with a big fruits table for the ravers. In the middle of our trajectory we had different inclusive programs also, some of them we still do and some we stopped and changed like Free List, which we used to do at the begging of mamba, but stopped and turned to Drag free later. So as a diverse and welcome party, Mamba has become a safe space for the Lgbtqia+ community, and free space for presenting artists, where the public is open to hearing different things and having new and inspiring experiences.
What was not there before and what is possible to experience in Sao Paulo today?
Really big warehouses parties, looking more like a festival with 3000 thousand attendees, is the double attendees that used to go before the pandemic. Also with more Brazilian Electronic funk music playing now, and a more diverse crowd than used to be. Also after pandemic, we have much more Transexual and non-binary people playing and promoting parties, Transexual community is huge in Brasil.
Touring around the world, what are the differences you perceive between your local scene and those you would like to refer to?
I have never experienced something so close to our scene in Brasil, it always feels very different from the rest of the scenes I saw in the world. Especially in terms of diversity Brasil leaves every scene in the pocket, are many more different people inside the parties, also the music is more open, different line ups with different types of sound, new artists used mixing different styles together so is a more groovy way to play it. The first scene I saw was more similar than there was in New York, I went to some small clubs and saw DJs playing also like that, mixing different styles, changing a lot the vibe, which was pretty interesting, also the audience was also very diverse. But in another way, I know that SP is much bigger and parties continue until the morning cause we don’t have time to close the parties, so usually goes until we want to stop, normally around 10 am some earlier end some later and after that everyone goes to some other afterparty, or in smalls clubs or for some street party. The thing that is also special in SP, is the performers dancing together with the DJs they are so important in all the parties there, they are the soul. The same that attendees, that also go to the events with crazy looks and outfits, I could say Fantasies, but don’t like this way to describe, is much more, everyone is so creative for the look and go out they way they want.
So the experience is a very colorful party with such a nice energy inside
If you had to name one artist, label, club, or collective that influenced you the most, what/who would it be?
I have a lot, and usually people close to me, in the beginning I was super inspired by Voodoohop Collective, I worked there trolling some parties on the squares and old buildings, and was the place that I most learned to produce parties, used to have really high and Utopic energy. They also had a lot of women deejaying so stayed super inspired by Urubu Marinka, Cigarra Soundsystem, and A Macaca. That was when I started to play! A few years later Valesuchi the Chilean Dj, who is based in Rio de Janeiro and is also my friend, really inspired me with the way she plays and feel the crowd was very important for me in my carer, to see all the passion she has for the music,
she’s always super sensitive like me.
What is next for Cashu?
Hahah don’t know why this question is always difficult for me, I think is because I mostly trying always to live in the moment, and don’t create too many expectations about the future. Also hates to talk about new projects cause sometimes they don’t work when you tell them to the world…
so I will leave for u to know when will be the right time.