Our Man in Brazil: Interview with Tee Cardaci
november 13, 2020
The music of Brazil is a universe unto itself. There is an insane amount of it. I inherited a love of Bossa Jazz from my father, and the taste has slowly spread to more dancefloor-friendly Brazilian disco and funk. As a US-based record collector, finding a good and affordable source for Brazilian records has been daunting. Unless you are near shops like Human Head in Brooklyn, NY, Uncle Tony's Record Shop (DC/Orlando), Som Records (DC), or a handful of other shops, you aren't going to find much. Buying from sellers in Brazil on sites like Discogs or eBay can be problematic as well (I'm about a year overdue on a record from an online seller).
This is sort of a long-winded way to introduce you to our man in Brazil, Tee Cardaci, but it is what brings us together and what has prompted this interview. You see our friend Tee is living in Brazil, buying records, living in the Brazilian musical universe, and has begun to source some records for us to sell.
So, without any further back story, let's get to know a little more about the man.
Where are you from and how did you get into records and DJing?
I grew up in Maryland in a suburb of Washington DC. Music was always a big part of my childhood and records were always around. My dad collected and I'd tag along with him to flea markets, garage sales and thrift shops from a young age. Our garage was full of crates laid out and every weekend for a while, there'd be folks in there that had seen his "Records For Sale" ad in the Washington Post. I was always curious about the crazy number of guys from Japan that came through. I can't even imagine what they pulled out of there before I was hip to it. My dad was always the guy that would see a few things he wanted but instead of paying a few bucks a piece or whatever, he'd offer them 50 for the whole lot. He'd pull what he'd like and then sell the rest out of the garage. The early foundation of my collection came from his stuff. Punk was an early influence as well and, as I really started developing my own taste, I'd spend what spare change I could save buying punk sevens. This was still mid to late 80s. Hip hop, go-go, new wave, disco, funk and 'dance' records were also always in the mix. In 1990, I managed to save enough to buy some second-hand Gemini belt-drives and a Numark mixer, launching my dj 'career' playing neighborhood parties, school dances or whatever. When the rave scene hit, my focus shifted more to house for a long time but my taste and collection remained ecclectic. But I basically got into djing like a lot of guys did then, just because I had the best records among my friends.
What's your philosophy on digging? How do you approach it?
It's always been more than crossing wants off a list. It's the primary way I've discovered music, certainly in the days before everything was online. On one hand, as much as I love a well-curated shop, I've never really had the funds to walk in and just buy everything I want. But on the other, so much dope stuff was acquired over the years just by finding it in the field and taking it home because it looked interesting, had some names that maybe I recognized and was cheap enough to take a chance on. To me digging equals discovering... shit I'd never even know to look for in a shop but then you come across it one day in a box in the back of a junk shop and you're like, "yup, gonna check this out for a buck!". I'd say 95% of my collection was acquired the old fashioned way, getting dirty. Of course, I love to be able to patronize a cool shop when I can and I do make the occasional online purchase for something I know I'll likely never find elsewhere. But I'm out getting my fingers dusty every chance I get. Just thinking about it gets my heart rate up.
So, you're based in Brazil now. How did you end up down there and what's kept you there?
In 2008, I'd just got out of a shitty relationship and was looking for a change when I had the chance to go to a wedding in Rio with a whole crew of friends from San Francisco, where I was living at the time. I was able to parlay a few gigs out of it as well and a couple of weeks turned into a couple of months, which turned into 12 years. I was ready for something different but also wanted a place where the vibe felt familiar and I found a lot of parallels between Rio and SF. For the first six years, I'd stay six months on my tourist visa, then head to Europe in the summer for gigs for three months, then back to the States to check in with friends and fam for a few months before heading back to Brazil and starting the cycle all over. On the music side, it was like discovering a whole new world. Everyone knows a bit about "Brazilian Music" but it's mind-blowing how deep it goes, once you dive in. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know and I find that humbling yet totally inspiring. As for what's keeping me here, well I have a wife and kid now and, despite the flaws of this crazy country, I do truly love it here.
Are there any tips you could share for anyone looking to get into or expand their knowledge of the Brazilian vinyl game?
Yeah, definitely. There are so many known records that are in-demand and the prices have been crazy for a while but there's still so much relatively unknown stuff out there, particularly from the 80s and early 90s, waiting to be heard. A lot of independent productions on 7" that can still be found relatively cheap, for now. And don't let the years put you off, you'd be surprised. I've found in Brazil, I've had to recalibrate a bit, in that regard. Also, there's a ton of cool mini four-track compilations that were released on 7" in Brazil that are either a great way to find a more expensive cut on the cheap or, a lot of times, were only released on a seven on these collections, like Tony Bizarro's "Nesse Inverno" or Marcos Valle's "Os Ossos Do Barão", for example. Search for things like "4 Temas De Novelas", "Mais 4 Sucessos" or "Mais 4 Hits". And then there's the US tunes that only saw a 7" release in Brazil, like for example "Africano" by Timmy Thomas or the live version of "Devotion" by EWF, which is on one of those comps. You can also find a lot of BR 7"s that will feature a full-length version of a track as opposed to the radio edit, made possible by the fact that they were cut at 33 1/3, like The Shades of Love's "Keep In Touch (Body To Body)". Those are always cool. In general though, condition is always an issue here, due to humidity and general lack of care. If you can find anyone holding radio station copies for sale, you can assume you'll be getting a very clean copy.
I know you do a radio show for dublab in Brazil. Any other projects you have in the pipeline at the moment?
Yeah, I really love doing my monthly show, Vôo Livre
, for dublab. The name translates to Free Flight and that's what it is, an open format trip through my records, inspired by everything from 70s AM radio to David Mancuso and The Loft to eclectic 80s Ibiza vibes, but with an emphasis on lesser-known Brazilian cuts. Besides that, I just finished guest-editing a special Brazil issue of Dig magazine
that was a ton of work but very rewarding. That will be out soon. I've got a guest set coming up that I'm really excited about of all Brazilian 7"s that I'll be doing for Greg Belson's 45 Live
show in December. I'm also working on a reissue project for a pretty well-respected label but I still can't say much about that one at the moment. Soon though, hopefully. And, last but not least, I've really been enjoying our project, currating a special selection of Brazilian compactos to be offered on the Tucker & Bloom site soon. These will be some of my favorites, spanning various styles and ranging from the in-demand to more under the radar selections that folks will be able to buy without having to pay crazy shipping from Brazil and rolling the dice as to whether it will even arrive or not. There's gonna be some heat headed north very soon!