The vibe was thick in the hot lobby of the Whitelaw Hotel at Miami’s 2007 Winter Music Conference. It was here that Brazil’s Jamanta Crew fused its organic, analog rhythms with classic funky grooves, solidifying themselves as one of the freshest live P.A. acts to bump onto the underground house scene in years.
“That set was off-the-hook,” recalls Prztz via cell phone in his native Sao Paulo, Brazil. With production partner Rafael Droors, the two formed the P.A. portion of their live sets, which take sunny influences from the funk and carnivale sounds celebrated in Brazil.
Jamanta Crew’s most recent EP on French independent house imprint Robsoul builds on the same vibe, pulling disco in the mix. Producer Rod Sponja rounds out the crew’s production efforts in the studio.
“In Brazil, anything that is very funky and black-sounding is very strong there,” says Prztz, who notes that the country’s multi-racial identity affects the way they relate to music. The result is an underground house scene that is steeped with heavy percussion and dirtier funk.
Jamanta Crew’s involvement in the scene dates back to playing endless nights of house parties back in 2001; it wasn’t until 2004 that the trio collaborated in the studio.
“I’ve always liked everything that’s booty, everything that’s funky, everything that’s not serious,” says Prztz, who produced tracks for dozens of Brazilian bands in the 1990s before collaborating at Jamanta Crew. In the late 1990s he shifted his production focus to drum ‘n’ bass—until a trip to WMC and a set of Mark Farina’s changed his life.
“I heard this set and I said, ‘What the fuck am I doing with drum ‘n’ bass?’” he laughs.
Six years later, Farina, along with the likes of Derrick Carter, Yousef and Fred Everything, have all released Jamanta Crew’s tracks.
The trio’s computer-produced tactics translated best during Droors and Prztz’s live P.A., which they describe as an on-the-fly DJ set dictated by the groove of the crowd.
“We try to make our set like a DJ set, going up and down with parts of the tracks,” Prztz says. “Our sound is jacking house with influences of rock, rock samples and some hip-hop… we can go a little deeper, a little upper, it really depends on the party.”
If the Crew’s April 26 Chicago debut at Smart Bar is anything like the vibe of the party at the Whitelaw Hotel, things will heat back up. “I like to see how music affects an entire party,” Prztz says on performing live P.A. versus DJ sets. “I like to be surprised by people, see how beats affect people. When I’m playing, I see a lot, how people want to have sex, get crazy, get bored—I am always listening and wanting to get the track that gets them.” (Jenn Danko)
Jamanta Crew performs live, with DJ sets from John Larner and DJ Remedy at Smart Bar, 3730 North Clark, (773)549-0203, on April 26, 10pm. $10 before midnight, $12 after.