DJ OBaH Finds the heart of Brazilian Soul

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Last year, Brooklyn-based DJ OBaH got a call from Ocote Soul Sounds leader Martín Perna, the multi-instrumentalist perhaps better known for his work with TV On The Radio and Beck.

Would OBaH—as in “Old-school Beats and Harmonies”—like to remix a track from Ocote Soul Sounds’ CD, Coconut Rock (ESL)?

OBaH, a friend of Perna and a fan of the group’s Brazilian swing, agreed. Armed with Pro Tools, Reason and ReCycle, OBaH (, a 10-year DJ vet whose resume includes original productions on Bravo and MTV, went into the studio, chose a track to his liking, and interpreted it—despite not speaking a word of Portuguese. The result was a delicately bumped-up version of the deeply intoxicating “Vendendo Saude E Fé,” now available on Coconut Rock’s deluxe package.

DJ Times invited Perna and OBaH together to discuss the process.
Martín Perna: You had a pick of any of the songs off of Coconut Rock. Why did you choose “Vendendo Saude E Fé”?
DJ OBaH: It’s my favorite track from the album. Even though I didn’t and still don’t understand the lyrics, the beauty of Tita Limas’ voice and the production really inspired me.

Perna: When you chose this song, did you think about what would work on the dancefloor first?
OBaH: With this track, I wanted to bring to the forefront certain parts of the original, give the track a different feel, a swing. Brazilian R&B is the vision I had, to pick up the tempo a little because I could hear the track presented a little faster. And because I love the original instruments and arrangements, I didn’t feel a need to change or add too much in that regard, just enough to give the track a different feel. There are occasions where
I may not use much of the original elements or drastically change them to create a whole new piece, but for me this song is not in that category.

Perna: What equipment do you use that is essential to your game?
OBaH: In the studio, I use my Apple iMac desktop computer, Pro Tools 8 software, [Propellerhead] Reason and Record software, ReCycle software, Akai MPD24 MIDI pad controller, and M-Audio [Keystation 88es] 88-key MIDI controller.

Perna: Walk us through the process you used for this track.
OBaH: I used Pro Tools 8 for all sequencing, arrangements, mixing, and Reason 4 for all filler/plug-in sounds. I loaded the original instrument tracks in Pro Tools and picked out the parts I wanted to use, did some chopping/cut and pasting, used Pro Tools time-stretch to speed up the tempo about 10-15 BPM. I opened Reason 4 as a plug-in in Pro Tools and, once I finalized the sounds in Reason I wanted to use, I bounced those sounds/tracks back into Pro Tools to do the final mixdown. 

Perna: Can DJs make money remixing these days?
OBaH: It’s very hard to make any money from doing a remix, unless you are remixing something from an established label with a budget or you are a well-established DJ with a strong international following. I’d say the only way a DJ makes any decent money directly from remixing is if the remix gets licensed to something major, like a TV show, film, or major compilation. It’s really more about exposure to build your name. Or you have a relationship with a certain artist where you agree on a barter situation, which can be very useful, especially for someone like me, who isn’t a musician… in the traditional sense.

– Verne Harding
Published in the March 2010 issue of DJ Times magazine