By Louise Lamin
With a signature sound between Tech House, House and Deep Tech, the Brazilian DJ and producer has become one of the most requested names on the national scene and has earned a good reputation worldwide as well. Today he shares with us the highlights, difficulties and learnings in these 20+ years of career.
Hello, Glen! It’s a pleasure to chat with you today. We already know that your schedule is quite busy. You’re just back from a Dirtybird Campout, right? Tell us how has your year been so far?
Glen: If there is a unique year in the history of my life it’s this one. The whole world had to change plans during the pandemic and I was no exception. The interesting thing was to evolve in self-knowledge, to value family even more and to focus on living the path and not the goal, unless the goal is to live the path, which makes an interesting paradox.
As life came back little by little, I was able to finish big projects like building my house, a new studio, being close to my family and making music that I identify with. Also following my dream of having a solid international career, which is still in its first steps but I feel so much satisfaction in it that I believe it will evolve fast.
Before we talk about history, how would you describe your music to people who are just now learning about you?
This is a tough question that I have already made into a career goal. Every year I have to introduce my music to people who are new to me and to each person my music sounds different. There are those who think I’m super underground and make a weird sound they’ve never heard before, there are those who think I’m too commercial for playing mainstream festivals and clubs, there are those who think I’m classic and others who think I’m new. People understand my music differently from each other. I see myself as the DJ who learned to study, produce, play several instruments, compose and even sing. I put everything I learned in two decades into my music using the studio as an instrument. I am part of a punk movement, more punk than punk itself. The movement that created artists who knew almost nothing about music theory but know very well the human behavior on a dance floor. Anyway, I am one more chapter of disco, funk and the evolution of music side by side with technology.
Well, it has now been over two decades working as a DJ and producer, amazing! Tell us a bit about how this beautiful trajectory began…
I just loved music and technology, since I was a kid. I am self-taught and my passion was, and still is, taking things apart to see how it works. It worked in music, this is my production method to this day. I take apart the music that moves me to learn how it was made so I can create my own. I started disassembling my older brother’s old equipment, he was a DJ and inspired me a lot. Then I discovered the internet, the napster, how to piracy CDs and I turned this into a source of income. I discovered that if I produced the mixed CDs, with exclusive edits, I could sell more and be recognized as the guy who had the bombs. Soon the DJs in town started paying me to create remixes for them, introductions, even radio vignettes and set openers. It was a matter of time before they found out I did everything and opportunities came up, I re-invested everything and grew organically step by step in a loop. In the beginning I never imagined that the DJ could be the center of attention in a club, or at a party, but when I stepped into my first rave I was enchanted. It was as if the DJ was a god. I tried to understand how this worked and soon abandoned my studies because I believed I could live from this dream. It was a big step with the family difficulties that everyone can imagine, but I kept going until I made them understand that it could work. The way they understood was through thriving.
In so much time on the road, surely you must have faced some ups and downs, right? What are the biggest difficulties and learnings from over 20 years of career?
I think my struggle has always been money. My family never had conditions to invest much in me and I had to manage things on my own. I’m talking about the financial side because I always had a lot of emotional support, but I’ve been independent since I was 18 years old and during the lows there was an absurd insecurity. In some moments I learned that pride is what ends with us, chemical dependence also. Luckily I learned this by seeing the mistakes of others. What makes us strong to overcome the moments of crisis are the support of family and real friends, you just have to hold on and think of a way to move on. The pandemic was by far the most difficult time of my life because, besides the drama of not being able to work for almost two years and having a family to support, I managed to get the covid+dengue combo that almost took my life. As soon as I came out of the coma for a month, I was totally disoriented.
The difficulties and learnings have paid off, and today you have an extensive resumé with international tours, important releases and support from international dance music legends. Can you highlight the three biggest highlights of your career so far?
The international tours always shine, but so far I feel my biggest contribution has been with Brazil. I’ve played in almost every state and come back every weekend. I’ve defended the local culture countless times and inspired many people. I’ve been on stage a lot and played music that nobody liked and made many people change their minds. I feel part of a scene and have an important role in it. In the past my focus was to run away from here because I heard so many people talking negatively about me, without understanding my music, to get to a place where everyone understood me. But it totally lost its meaning once I stopped being a special guy, that’s when I valued my country and worked hard to make people like my music. I feel that I evolved a lot and, interestingly, after this the international recognition came.
You have performed here in Europe a few times… Which places have you performed and which would you still like to perform?
My family is Italian like many here in São Paulo, but my grandfather was like a father to me and all my life I grew up believing that Europe was my place and that I was here just to suffer. Until this day most people can’t speak or write my name. Today I have my European passport in hand, 90% of my family is living abroad and I believe that Brazil is the best place in the world, not because of the politics or the ultra conservative people that you see around, but because of the nature and weather, many friends and stories that I lived. I am attached to the place where I grew up in the countryside of São Paulo and I think it’s cool to be the different guy, I’m used to people looking at me as if I were a homeless person and I internally enjoy their ignorance. Sometimes I feel sorry for them, but soon it goes away. But every time I went to Berlin… I cried when I had to leave, it hurt deep in my soul.
Barcelona also moves me, I feel at home and I am scared to death to go to Italy, maybe there I will drop the anchor and never go back, hahaha. I’ve already stayed a few months there and met other countries like Portugal, France, Ireland, England, several cities and different regions. As I said before, my idea was to stay, but of all the cities I met none was cooler than Rio de Janeiro, which I had the pleasure to live in from 2013 to 2016 in the wonderful neighborhood of Santa Teresa, a pity that the violence and fear made me leave.
Even with so many years on the road, we guess you don’t want to retire so soon, hahaha. What dreams do you still wish to achieve in your career?
I like to travel a lot, but to travel intensively. To live the real life, to know the people and the culture. There are still a lot of things to know, I probably would have to be born 10 times with infinite money and health to know everything. My dream is to get to know as much as possible and pass all this knowledge to my children, so they can have more opportunities and freedom than me. I am already doing this now, just need to keep going. PS: a DJ doesn’t retire, a DJ plays flashback.
Finally, is there anything new ahead to share with us? Thanks!
I have lots of news, but they are things that haven’t happened yet and it’s bad luck to tell them as they end up not happening, I don’t know why. Anyway, we work in silence and at the right time we make noise. That’s the greatest quality of a DJ, to put the right music in the right place at the right time.
Follow DJ Glen on Instagram.