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In the studio with Cortecertu
Jaz from the RepostExchange Team
Aug. 01, 2023

In the pulsating heart of Brazil's urban music scene, DJ Cortecertu stands distinct, fusing the rhythmic beats of hip-hop with the electric fervour of punk and drum and bass. With roots in the golden era of the 1990s rap groups, Cortecertu's journey spans decades, from the nostalgia of grooveboxes to the cutting-edge realm of modern digital audio workstations. In this candid conversation, the 52-year-old DJ delves into his artistic evolution, the challenges of staying authentic in a youth-driven industry, and the raw passion that fuels his unique sound. Dive into the world of a maestro who crafts magic with turntables and street sounds, offering a rare glimpse into the soul of Brazilian beat-making.

How long have you been producing music and how did you learn? 

My school is hip hop, I've been involved in production since the late 1990s with rap groups, but I started doing my own work in 2001. I also work in communication. I am one of the editors of the Brazilian hip-hop website Bocada Forte, which is also a collective of DJs.

What DAW(s) do you use and why?

I started in the 90s with grooveboxes and reel-to-reel decks. In the 2000s, I started making beats with FL Studio and Cubase. Nowadays, I work with Logic Pro and GarageBand. They are excellent DAWs with native plugins that I extensively use to create atmospheres, moods, and distortions.

What are your favourite pieces of gear and why?

My musical work starts and ends with Technics MK2 turntables; everything is born and transformed through vinyl records. I create beats on a Korg Volca Sample, which is simple and has a unique sound. I use snippets of environments and voices that I record on the street with a Tascam Pocketstudio. I manipulate everything with the turntables.

What are your favourite software plugins and why?

As I mentioned before, I only use the native plugins of Logic Pro and Garageband, which provide a multitude of atmospheres, instruments, distortions, and effects. 

How would you summarise your approach/workflow when creating a track?

It all depends on how I'm feeling regarding political, social, and emotional matters. As I stated before, I always turn to the turntables for some inspiration, whether it's albums with songs that express my current feelings or songs that take me out of that reality and change my emotions. It's a cycle that starts with the turntables, goes through beat creation, returns to the turntables, and then I start using the DAWs.

What resources do you use to improve your craft?

I take online courses, exchange experiences with friends who also make electronic music, watch tutorials, and listen to a lot of music that is in the SoundCloud community.

What is the last YouTube tutorial you watched that you would recommend to other Re-Ex members?

I currently follow Audio Nerd, from an excellent Brazilian producer named Tico Pro. He talks about music and technology, covers music production, and provides tips.

What knowledge or advice do you wish you'd learned earlier?

I would like to believe more in the art I create. Coming from a hip-hop background, but also enjoying punk, post-punk, drum and bass, and electronic music, I didn't trust the musical blend I've always made.

What challenges related to making music do you face and how do you overcome them?

I'm a 52-year-old beatmaker and DJ in an urban scene that highly values art created by younger people who follow mainstream trends. I am a rebellious person when it comes to creating music. I don't want to, can't, and won't do what everyone else is doing here in my country. I am a father, I am a grandfather, and I try to make my rebellious music amidst taking care of my family, having little money, and facing many struggles.

Can you share any killer tips or techniques?

I don't have killer tips, much less killer techniques. I'm an artist who likes to experiment, distort, subvert, and manipulate sounds.

Do you use any online tools to assist with the production process?

In certain cases, I use online mastering tools.

Do you try and get feedback or suggestions to improve your music? If so, how?

Yes, I showcase my music to people who are part of the underground scene, and I pay close attention to and value the feedback I receive on SoundCloud.

Which track are you most proud of and why?

I'm proud of all my tracks. As I mentioned, they showcase my state of mind and rebellion. However, the one that currently represents me the most and gives me reasons to keep going is "Sem tempo, sem nada" ("No time, no nothing"), a unique trip-hop piece.

Has RepostExchange affected the way you make music? If so, how?

Yes, it had an impact. RepostExchange has elevated the reach of my music, and many people from different parts of the world listen to my work. In terms of confidence in my talent, it has slightly changed the way I make my music because I know there are people who appreciate my style. What makes me very happy is that RepostExchange has revealed a tremendous amount of independent and talented artists, such as Elaine Katoy, I Draw Electrons, J Lamar, Adore, Spacecat, Grimmy, among others. 

Desert Island Gear

Top L-R: Numark Mixstream Pro Standalone, Pioneer DJM-S11.

Bottom L-R: Macbook Pro, Yamaha HS8 monitors + Sub, MPC One Retro Edition.

Connect with Cortecertu on RepostExchange, SoundCloud, and Instagram.

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This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.