Age : 40 Sex : Male Zodiac : Scorpio Country : Brazil City : Sao Paulo
Type : Exclusive mix Genre : Techno / House / Disco Hardware : Xone-92, 3 CDJS, 1 Turntable SL 1200
Smelly Feet Records: Who is Level 202?
Renato Cohen: That was long ago. It was my first music project. I used to put my music on tapes called Level 1 and Level 2, to sell in a shop in Sao Paulo, Brazil. At some point, I needed a name to put on the flyers, so I used Level 202, because my first synth was a MC 202. When things started to get serious I just used my own name.
SFR: You have been involved in the electronic music scene since the 90s, since 202, how has your sound evolved?
Renato: In the 90's, the scene was very small in Brazil. From that time, without the internet and not much contact to other areas, I developed a style of which I thought was Techno. When the scene started to get bigger, I noticed my sound was not as banging compared to international DJ’s and definitely not as dark. At some point, I decided as a brazilian DJ / producer, my music should bring happiness and good vibes to people. You can play hard and still keep funky.
"...as a brazilian DJ / producer, my music should bring happiness and good vibes to people. You can play hard, and still keep funky."
SFR: In 2013, you released on 100% Pure, a very well known record label in the dance community. How did this come about?
Renato: I was playing my track "Suddenly Funk" for a while and it was working really well. Some people liked it, but they were not sure if the style would fit their labels. I met Dylan (2000 and One) many years back. I sent him the track during the week and he said "Cool track, let me feel people's reactions to it this weekend". Monday morning I got a message from him saying, "Holy crap! Let's put that out!!"
SFR: We also know, you have worked with Carl Cox, a known mentor for many artists around the world. How did he help you?
Renato:I had this track I made called "Pontapé". Back then, there were no CD players so I cut a dub-plate and kept playing it for almost a year. The reaction of people everywhere was just unbelievable. The track was definitely big, so I made 500 white label copies to send to some DJs and find a label. Carl came to play 4 gigs in Brazil and every gig he saw the people going mad with the track that was already getting famous by only me and my friend Anderson Noise playing it in Brazil. Carl signed it to his label Intec, which was one of the biggest techno labels around. I was doing well in Brazil by that time, and after that release I started to play everywhere around the world one day to another. I think Carl just trusted my music and I'm really thankful for that.
"I’ve been crazy about records since I was a kid. I still collect a lot of vinyl from different genres of music. Not that i’m a purist freak or anything but for the special tracks I really need a vinyl copy."
SFR: Your involvement with the movie, “City of God.” - You did a remix for the film. What is the City of God? What did you use as inspiration to make these sounds?
Renato: The title of the movie "City of God" is a neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. In the 70's, it used to be the most dangerous "favela" in Rio.
When they asked me to do a remix, I knew I should do some sort of "brazilian techno". It was funny because the movie was not ready yet so I only had the audio of the whole movie and parts of the soundtrack. When I went to the cinema, the story I had in my head was pretty different from the movie.
SFR: Travelling. Where have you been and where do you want to go?
Renato: I've been traveling a lot in the last 15 years. Africa is the only continent I have never put my feet on. I would love to go to many countries there like Angola, Nigeria, Mozambique… Can you imagine the records you can dig up down there? I have a baby now so, i’m trying to stay home as much as possible.
SFR: Regarding music, is there any process you take to narrow down your selections when choosing which music to play in a set?
Renato: I play vinyl and CDs. Even with CDs, I will have only one track in it and will print the cover to search for it the same way as vinyl while i’m playing. Of course I have a lot of CDs with me but I definitely can't go to a gig with ten thousand tracks. Maybe i’m too old school but I need some limits so I don’t get lost. I feel when you start selecting records at home, you are already playing. You start planning what you could do at the party, you pick some old stuff nobody expect you play, things like that. I bring a few ways I could take a mix and decide which track to play when I'm in front of the people.
SFR: If you had the choice between being a record, a cd, a cassette tape or a .wav file, what would you pick and why?
Renato: I’ve been crazy about records since I was a kid. I still collect a lot of vinyl from different genres of music. Not that i’m a purist freak or anything, but for the special tracks, I really need a vinyl copy. I also have a pair of old 80's JBL’s at home, so listening to records are much more fun than digital.
SFR: Renato, in a few sentences. Tell us about this mix you made for us. Where did you get your inspiration. Is there anything special you want the audience to know?
Renato: I find a bit hard to play without an audience. I think a lot of what you do when you play comes from the energy people are sending you back. The mix is pretty much some of the tracks I've been playing recently. Around 54 minutes is a remix I made for a brazilian rock band called "Aldo The Band", which I was really happy with. It will come out in the next few months.