DJ Meme: Latin Innovation

A key figure in Brazil's electronic music scene, DJ meme is widely considered to be one of the most successful Brazilian DJs and producers outside of his home country, with a staggering collection of accolades to his name including 23 gold, 15 platinum, and three diamond records.

Headliner recently spoke to Meme about his musical life during lockdown, the mega-shows he is used to playing compared to the 50 people shows he is now performing online, remixing and collaborations, and how his 20-year relationship with Genelec has been second to none.

“While my studio is not at home, it's just a five minute walk away from here, so not much has really changed for me,” responds DJ Meme when asked about how he’s had to adapt throughout lockdown. “I go there like two or three times a week, and it keeps me sane - in fact I would probably go crazy without it.”

This summer would have seen Meme doing his usual tours throughout Europe and beyond, including playing at a club in Italy where he’s held a residency for a number of years.

“I’ve got some things to keep me busy in the studio, and some projects that provide me with the inspiration to start working on other things,” he explains. “I've been DJ’ing since I was 11 years old, so essentially my whole life! I’m really missing the people at the moment - I’m not into playing sets on the internet or on social media.”

This doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, as Meme is used to playing to massive audiences in equally massive venues: “I don’t want to get used to playing to just 40 or 50 people online,” he says.

“I like staying at home because I travel a lot, and every weekend I'm usually somewhere playing. Being at home for me now is not a problem - not working is the problem.”

The last time DJ Meme was out gigging before Coronavirus struck was in Sao Paulo, where he played two shows before everything was cancelled and had no choice but to return home.

Being a footballing nation, most kids growing up in Brazil immerse themselves in the sport from a young age. DJ Meme’s passion however was always music.

“I started to play with the records in my block, and it was just for fun, but it was something I liked and something I could do easily. I also like food, and I think if I were not a DJ or music producer, I could have been a chef.”

Around the age of 20, DJ Meme started working in a local radio station, and really became serious about music as a career.

When I make dance music, I need to hear it loud, and so the low frequency of the 1037B works for me every time.

Meme gained recognition early on in his career through his remixes of tracks from the likes of The Bee Gees, New Order and The Pet Shop Boys, among other artists who were big on the music scene during the 80s and 90s.

Things really changed for Meme in 1996 when he remixed a song for then unknown artist Shakira, which exploded onto the club scene and became a worldwide hit. Suddenly in high demand from labels, Meme went on to produce remixes with Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Ricky Martin and Des’ree.

“That was a turning point in my life for sure,” Meme recalls. “She is a Colombian artist but it was Sony Music in America who asked me to produce the remix. When Shakira became big, they didn’t play the original version on the radio, so people started looking to me to produce more remixes for international labels. It was a time when people used to pay you good fees for your work, which is all different now.

“Recently I did a remix for Mario Biondi, who is a big Italian artist. He recorded a track called Incognito with Chaka Khan and I did the remix for that last month. There's always something coming up whether it’s from major companies or independent dance music labels.”

DJ Meme is a long-time Genelec user, and has been using the company’s 1037B and 8331 monitors in his relatively new recording studio.

“20 years ago I bought my first pair of Genelecs, which are still with me,” Meme reveals. “They have worked perfectly and I’ve never had a problem with them during that whole time. Everybody is amazed when they see and hear them. I remember when David Guetta was in Brazil - we worked together for four days in my studio. The first thing he noticed was that I had a pair of Genelecs just like in his studio in Ibiza, so he was very comfortable because of the sound of the monitors.

“When I make dance music, I need to hear it loud, and so the low frequency of the 1037B works for me every time.”

Meme has also made use of Genelec’s GLM calibration software in his studio.

“When I calibrated everything, I started to hear things I hadn’t before,” he remembers. “It was magical and I could really notice the difference. My mixes started to receive more and more compliments after that.

“I was already blown away by the sound of even the smaller Genelec speakers, but with the calibration it really changed my life, and now I have a perfect studio sound.

“I'm going to keep making music, because that’s what I do, even if it's for my sanity!”