Now Playing Brazil’s Na Manteiga Radio operates out of a former gallery

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Our Now Playing series features some of the most interesting online radio stations in the world. We interviewed the founders of each, and asked them to select a handful of shows that really represent what they stand for. See the whole series here.  

While online radio stations work hard to develop their own individual communities, there is also a community between the people behind these platforms. Many of them know each other, share advice and ideas, and newer stations often credit their more established peers for why they got started in the first place.

So it was with Brazil’s Na Manteiga Radio. Inspired by the likes of Amsterdam’s Red Light Radio and Andrew Weatherall, four friends and music lovers Thiago Arantes, Caio Taborda, Luiz Gabriel Vieira and Marcel Buainain formed a plan.

“We looked at it and thought, why is this not happening in Brazil?” Thiago and Caio told us over Skype. “Why is nobody giving these guys the opportunity to broadcast to the world?”

The four were well-connected in the São Paulo music scene – Caio runs a night called Gop Tun, while Thiago and Marcel both work as publicists – and in November 2015 Na Manteiga broadcast its first set.

The name, in case your Portuguese is a little rusty, means “On butter.”

“It doesn’t have a strong meaning, we just found it funny,” the guys explain. “It comes from vinyl culture – when you play a record smoothly, you play on butter.”

Once or twice a week, Na Manteiga invites either a local music-lover or an international guest to play a set at their base, which is located at the Galeria Ouro Fino in São Paulo’s Jardins neighbourhood. The location has both poetic and practical advantages.

“This was an important gallery in the 1990s – it was a place where there were a lot of record stores and the club culture was blooming. We thought it was a good spot to have a radio station because there is a nice nostalgic feeling. That and it’s close to our homes…”

The sets are recorded and put out as both audio and video and there’s a nicely informal feel to the shows. On the videos you can see guests mingling in the background over a few drinks, and the Na Manteiga team takes pride in creating an atmosphere for the DJs that feels unique.

“It’s a space where they can play anything and everything. We don’t give them any direction; it’s up to them. We believe that the dance floor is only one way in which DJs explore their connection with music. That is very liberating for them.”

This means that the station’s curation basically begins and ends with whom they invite to play.

“We are not attached to any specific genre – we think if it’s good, we can play it. We don’t narrow the curation to any one kind of music, so we have techno DJs playing rap sets, house DJs playing Brazilian sets. We mix everything with everything and great music is great music.”

This fluid approach to scheduling extends to inviting music fans who aren’t even DJs to take to the decks. This is a point of difference the pair are clearly very proud of. “Sometimes we bring people in who are collectors. They have lots of records at home, but they don’t play and they are not so familiar with the mixer.

“We ask them to just play one track after another. We are giving a voice to people who understand a lot about music. These are the guys who often influence the DJs, so this is an opportunity for them to show what they love, and what they are collecting.”

The guys also feel strongly about their local roots and see the station as part of a mission to educate the world about Brazilian music. This begins, they believe, in Brazil itself.

“A lot of Brazilians don’t really know Brazilian music until they hear international DJs play it. It’s a shame. They know the big names, but they don’t know very much about the other artists who were important on the scene in different ages. It’s so vast and there is so much stuff to listen to.”

At the same time, they are witnessing a real change in their local nightlife.

“The party scene in São Paulo is blooming. There is a revolution happening. People are skipping the clubs and looking for parties instead. That is something new.”

In part this has been fuelled by a fundamental shift in how Paulistanos are starting to see their city.

“We are rediscovering our public places. São Paulo is a very private city – everything happens inside – but it’s changing its mind and going more public, more outdoors.

“This gives a lot of freedom to people who wanted to throw parties and control the whole experience – have the DJ that they want and the visuals that they want in the place that they want, without going through a club curatorship.”

Na Manteiga are getting in on the act too, with monthly parties recreating the spirit of the station. These live events are part of their future plans, including a collaboration with Dekmantel this year.

But the founders’ ambitions don’t end there.

“We would like to do more livestreams – we started this at Rush Hour which was our first live transmission. It gives a sense of nowness and a different kind of energy.

“We also want to broaden the content we are doing. Every single DJ tells us different stories about their digging. We had a reggae DJ who goes to Jamaica every year. There are no record stores, so he jumps in a cab and this guy takes you to a house where you talk to the family and buy some records. We really want to tell these nice stories somehow, maybe as a documentary series.

“Now we have just the final thing in the process – the music itself – but we would like to move towards the steps which are part of that process.”