Living life on D-Edge: Renato Ratier on his club and the Brazilian scene
In Brazil the economy, as well as electronic music, is booming. As one may expect, the scene there is vibrant and full of energy with numerous musicians and DJs making their presence felt on a local (and global) scale. One of the most famous clubs in Brazil is D-Edge, owned by businessman and DJ Renato Ratier. With plenty of growth in his industry, Renato has grand plans and plenty of insight into the Brazilian scene. Here’s what he had to say.
What’s your business background?
My family’s main business is agriculture and farming. They also own a few warehouses too, so I started with that. I started doing parties when I was about 16. Then, I stopped for a while when I went to university where I studied a sort of agricultural science. Then I moved to Rio to study law, but I actually decided to stop after a while and I moved to the US for a few years. Then I moved back to Brazil and started working in fashion and doing parties. And then in ’99 I started a club. And it’s kind of snowballed from there.
And was it in the US where you first heard electronic music?
Yeah, first I lived in LA, and then a year later I moved to Newport Beach. So I was going to a lot of different types of parties, everything from raves in deserts to disco parties. There was never just one type, I listened to so many types of music back then.
Was there one DJ who really made an impression on you?
It wasn’t until I moved to Europe when I actually started getting into certain DJs. Back then, in California, electronic music was far from my only interest, you know? In 1993 I was still more interested in bands like Depeche Mode rather than different DJs or rave type music. In 1995 I went to see The Chemical Brothers and the music was starting to make an impression on me. I liked house, and Detroit techno, but techno never really grabbed me so much back then. I just found it was too fast and I was more interested in melody.
I wanted to ask about the club too. Was there one club that was a big inspiration for you?
Honestly, no. D-Edge isn’t so much inspired by other clubs. When we started the club we wanted to be unique. Mitu, the designer, had a similar mentality, because we wanted to do something different. When we came up with the concept, we wanted to do something that was like a machine, like there was loads of different ideas and like all the rooms were like giant hardware systems. The first room we always wanted loads of colour, the second room is almost retro but futuristic with all the lights. And that’s like Sao Paulo in a way.
Do you think other clubs have been inspired by D-Edge then?
Yes, for sure. Sankeys in Manchester and Ibiza for instance. Cabaret in London, too. That’s nice though, because it’s complimentary to the designer. There’s others that take inspiration from the old club in Campo Grande too…
When you started D-Edge Sao Paulo, did you think the public were ready for electronic music here?
Yes, I did, and it’s taken a while for its influence to be felt. But we were lucky because we had a core group and after the extension of the club we immediately had more people interested and involved. At the same time, it was good for some people who had a new place to go to and a new music they loved. We helped create a scene and the club earned a following. We gave people an alternative, and it began to feel like a family for our regular guests.
Like when we opened the new rooms, lots of people came to check us out, people who had never been to the club before. Some people didn’t take so well to this, because they saw these other guests as being intrusive in a way. But after a while, the crowd became more settled and consistent, and the public who came visited for the right reasons. Now, I believe we have an amazing crowd every week and we try to embrace all sorts of people and be welcome to everyone. But yeah, we have a better idea of how to run things now…
So I guess the club’s rise is in line with the popularity of electronic music in the city, right?
Well yes, they’ve both grown quickly, but at the same time, so have other, more commercial sounds. But yeah, I think we have made a difference like this. If we compare our scene to places in Europe or the US, we’re doing pretty great. In Sao Paulo and in the south, we have good crowds and people who love good music.
Are the government etc. supportive of the club?
No, not much. We’ve no problem with the hours we open here, but in the south it’s a problem and we have to close Warung at 7am. Last year, this didn’t exist and this year they’re cracking down a bit. They don’t encourage tourists to come to D-Edge though.
It’s taken a while for electronic music to become popular in Brazil. Why do you think this is the case?
Well I guess Sao Paulo is foggy and industrial, so techno definitely suits. But Brazil is such a huge country so there will always be so many different sounds. Culturally, places in Brazil are very different too. Also, back in the day, it cost so much to set up a studio, whereas these days everything can be done on the laptop which makes it easier for the sound to flourish too. I see change on the horizon. Economically it’s a very different time here, too.
Has the economic situation in Brazil influenced the type of crowd visiting D-Edge?
Well it’s interesting, because we like to be open to everyone, and we’ve always attracted a different type of crowd. It’s more culture rather than economic based. But social levels aren’t really important at the club, and that’s what clubbing is about really isn’t it? Keeping the balance and bring people together…
How do you envisage the scene in ten years in Brazil?
I think it’ll only get bigger and more special. With Rio, I had the idea and it took me a while to find a suitable space to open it up. But I wanted to find a place I could do more than just a club in. For ten years I’ve had this idea, just like the one I had in Rio. But I was invited to become a partner in a club in Rio at exactly the same time as the one in Berlin, so I’ve been incredibly busy!
I was looking for a place in Rio for eight years and they both happened at the same time. But I found a place where I could have a club, a gallery, a restaurant, store and a studio. It’s going to be a cultural thing and it won’t just depend on nightlife you know? So for me, that’s something really special. With Berlin, things are pretty crazy for me right now, but all these things can help each other and my ideas can cross over. The more experience I have the more better I can make it. In Rio it’s strange because that’s where the funk scene is- all the great musicians, fashion and movie directors. So there’s already a lot of culture and art there. It’s kind of underground there, and we want to bring all these great people and connect them together.
It’s a different way in Sao Paulo. It’s going to be so important to help the scene develop in Rio. When you connect all these people, you can have an amazing party. There’s nothing like it in Rio – or Brazil.
Do you feel a responsibility towards the Brazilian scene?
Yes, but I don’t do it because I’m a politician or to make money – I do it because I love music. If you want to do it and you can do it, why not do it? I feel a small responsibility too, because I don’t see so many others with an opportunity to do the same as me. I see people who want to do it for the wrong reasons, but they never last. I never understand agents here who work on a commercial and underground level. It’s not easy to do all this, but we do it because we love it!
Thanks to Stephen Flynn.
For more information on D-Edge, visit their website HERE.
Recent Posts on Arts
- Friday Book Design Blog: The Ariel Poems, and other seasonal pamphlets
- Children’s book blog – Ask the illustrator: Rebecca Cobb
- Piggott's post: Jacobson, Heller and reflections on "real life"
- Ric Blackshaw tells us Scrawl about his street art enterprise
- Children’s books for November: The Something, The Imaginary and Eren
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter