By Rodrigo Brandão
Born and raised in the Ironbound section of Newark, New Jersey, DJ and entrepreneur Mario Calegari is a respected and well established presence in the New York club scene. Together with Queens-based, Brazilian DJ Ray Briones, Calegari produced the single “Dark Samba” (released by the European label Fatal Music) which reached top ten spots in dozens of US and European music charts.
This coming week, Mario Calegari returns to familiar (and family) roots as the host of Pacha’s Carnival party. On this quick talk below, Mario reveals a bit more about his relationship to Brazil and how it influenced his passion for music.
Q: Since you were born in a traditionally Brazilian neighborhood in New Jersey (Newark) and was raised by a Brazilian father, you probably never had the chance to escape the pull of Brazilian culture. But I’m sure that at some point, you must have had to choose to embrace your background. When did you make a conscious decision to embrace your Brazilian roots? And what made you do that?
MC: Well, I escaped to Brazil at the age of 12 and I stayed there for 3 years, where I was introduced to what Brazil really has to offer. What made me do that was that everything about Brazil has some sort of joy and happiness to it. The food, the culture, the beaches and all types of different styles of music. Oh, and let’s not forget the women!
Q: What are you favorite memories of growing up in Newark, NJ?
MC: My whole childhood here has been great. And also now as well! Besides being a Dj, I also own two businesses in Newark. The Sushi House of Newark, and the US-Brasil Hair Salon & Spa.
Q: The New York club scene is one of the richest in the world, but a lot of people miss the heydays of the infamous Tunnel and the entire 1980s and 90s club scene. Most people would agree with me if I say that today’s circuit is a lot different from the one in the 90s. As someone who grew up in New York and experienced some of that phase, do you think that the New York City club scene is a little too segmented and broken up? Are you at all nostalgic of the less strict times, before Giuliani and Bloomberg, where big rave parties were a lot more common?
MC: Yes, grew up and lived the whole club thing in the 80s, and sure, you cannot compare what it was back then to now, but you can still get away with enjoying the NY Nightlife these days.
Q: Did Brazilian popular music influence your understanding of house music? I’m sure you must have heard a lot of it, growing up in Newark, NJ.
MC: I was always into rock in my young age, but I was always a fan of house music growing up around a bar (in the 80s) which my father owned. I’d listen to disco and early house there, and it was where it all started for me. But living in Brazil for a few years, [and listening to] Samba and other Brazilian types of music helped me understand more about music in general.
Q: As far as this week’s Carnival party at Pacha NYC, on Feb 19. What can we expect to hear from you?
MC: Hmm, well, I’m going to try and please a club full of different ages (from 19 year-olds to people in their 30s), so I’m just going to try my best and do what I normally do: play a lot of quality house music.
Q: What are some of your career goals for the year?
MC: As of now, I’m working on a compilation for Fatal-Music, a label where Ray Briones & I started out working for (and still do). So basically, in the next month or so, this is what I’m working on. Also, there’s some new original productions that I have been working on … I am also just trying to stay focused and busy with gigs. You can check out more info at my website or at Fatal-Music’s website. Also, for any type of booking, please contact Tom Mello at email@example.com