Introducing John Gómez
In the run up to Dekmantel Festival São Paulo 2018, we will host a series of mini-interviews with a few artists from the line-up. That being said, we’re happy to kick off with one of our favourite London based DJ’s: John Gómez!
Can you introduce yourself a little bit?
Hi, I’m a London based selector with ties to Amsterdam’s Music From Memory and Rush Hour.
You’re originally hailing from Madrid, where you are born and raised by both Spanish and English parents. How did you develop your taste in music throughout the years? And how did you eventually get in touch with – your expertise if we may say - Brazilian music?
I got into Brazilian music through the London rare groove scene. I grew up in Madrid but I accessed this scene by listening to DJs like Gilles Peterson, reading Straight No Chaser magazine, and, perhaps most importantly, visiting shops like Mr Bongo Records whenever I was in the UK. Along with jazz, funk, and soul, the rediscovery of Brazilian music was a really important part of this scene, and labels like Far Out began releasing music by Brazilian artists like Joyce, Azymuth, and Marcos Valle. I was a hip hop kid and back then Mr Bongo specialised in importing releases from independent hip hop labels that were impossible to find outside of the USA. I went to Mr Bongo for hip hop, but when I began to listen to the classic Latin and Brazilian records that they sold upstairs my interest started to shift. I ended up developing an appetite for Brazilian music that has never left me. So, in a sense, Mr Bongo – and the London scene more widely – helped build a bridge for me between hip hop and all these other sounds. However, I would never describe myself as an expert: I have very broad interests musically that extend far beyond Brazil, and I am constantly learning from people there.
You now live in London, where you’ve been hosting the Tangent nights with good friend and phenomenal DJ Nick The Record. How did this start off and what has it brought you?
I have known Nick for around fifteen years, when I started buying records from his shop DJ Friendly Records. We started Tangent in 2014, shortly before Plastic People (a highly influential club in London) closed. Like many others we felt that this left a big hole in London nightlife, and this gave us the energy to build something that we thought would go some way towards filling the gap. Tangent nods to Plastic People but also to Nick’s experience as a resident at the legendary Japanese party, Lifeforce. Our ethos is simple: playing great records on an incredible sound sound system. Initially we didn’t use a club, we hired out a dark basement and we would bring the sound system, music, and people. That DIY and cooperative spirit is really important to us but the party has now outgrown the space we originally used and we have recently moved to The Pickle Factory. However, the spirit has remained the same and we are lucky to have one of the friendliest and most open crowds in London.
This year should have been a highlight for you on a personal note too, right? You’ve put out a brilliant compilation on Jamie Tiller and Tako Reyenga’s Music From Memory label, focussing on hidden, Brazilian gems, and have been getting fantastic reviews on this. How was it for you to work on this and how did you came to the selection of artists?
Yes, 2017 has been a very rewarding year for me. Outro Tempo has been very well received and it makes me happy seeing it get so much love. When I first had the idea I knew that it had the potential to create a stir, but it seems to have opened up a new world of listening for a lot people, which I couldn’t have anticipated.
A lot of work and care was put into Outro Tempo, from finding the music in the first place and programming the selection, to securing all the licenses and finding a design that we felt reflected complimented the music. I travelled to Brazil with a portable turntable and listened to hundreds of independent records from the period, looking for anything with a distinctive sound. At that time I didn’t really know anyone in Brazil, so I did all of this work by myself, but now I know that people like Selvagem were also looking for similar sounds. I already knew some of the records that I hoped to find, but it was really important to go out with an open mind, as so many of the records that ended up being compiled had been largely discarded. I needed to re-tune my ear slightly so I could look beyond the well-established sounds and prized records we associated with Brazil in order to find something different, interesting, and unique.
Also, you recently teamed up with Red Bull Music Academy for a special show in São Paulo with some of the artists of the compilation who performed live, including Maria Rita Stump, who will be playing Dekmantel Festival São Paulo in March too. Did it live up to your expectations?
Yes, last June I worked on putting together a live show of Outro Tempo with producer and composer Kassin for the Red Bull Music Academy Festival at the legendary Teatro Oficina in São Paulo. I put together a group that included Maria Rita Stump and Os Mulheres Negras, both of whom are performing at Dekmantel, as well as Priscilla Ermel, Nando Carneiro, Marco Bosco, Grupo Cinema, and Paulinho from UAKTI. It was a really big challenge logistically and musically to bring together all of these artists. Not only had many of them never met before or performed together, but it had also been a long time since some of the musicians had performed at all. In the end it was a really special show that I felt gave the whole project coherence and a sense of continuity. For instance, the fantastic young keyboardist Danilo Andrade that played in that show is now performing in the band that Maria Rita is bringing to Dekmantel. It gives me a lot of personal satisfaction to think that some of the connections that I have helped forge between musicians and between generations may now lead to new and exciting projects of their own.
Besides playing the festival next year, what’s on your schedule for the upcoming months?
My DJing schedule has really picked up over the past year so I am pretty busy with gigs, mostly in Europe but also a few longer trips in the Spring. But I also want to make sure that I make some time to focus on getting some new musical projects off the ground.
5 tracks John will bring to Dekmantel Festival São Paulo in March: