Written by Steve Weinstein
Like a fireworks display during Carnaval in her native Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian Ana Paula has exploded on the U.S. gay party scene. In this, her first English-language profile, the gorgeous groovemistress gives it up for noiZe.
Usually, DJs work their way slowly, ever so slowly, up the greasy pole, from local bars to small parties, to larger parties. Eventually, if they’re ambitious, creative and talented enough, they attract a following. Once in a while, however, a DJ seems to burst on the scene like a supernova. Two years ago, if you told someone Ana Paula was spinning a party, you’d get a blank stare.
From her gigs with Brett Henrichsen in Los Angeles and Peter Rauhofer, to stints at New York’s Splash, Paula has become a regular fixture on the Circuit. To crown her success stateside, she’ll be headlining the 2010 Winter Party’s main event on the beach.
The Carioca (native-born Rio resident) began her passion for music as a child. Growing up in Rio means being happily surrounded by beats—samba, bossa nova, conga. “I’ve always been surrounded by music and groove,” she tells noiZe. “I was a different kind of kid because I used to listen to music 24/7. I had all kinds of tapes and records, like Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones, Madonna, Duran Duran, George Michael, Illusion-Imagination.” While still in her teens, she would run away to partake of the very active local club scene, which is where she first came in contact with the genre that would become her passion, House.
Her career began in the way a lot of DJs did back in the day when radio playlists ruled the recording industry here in the States—and still do in other parts of the world. A producer named Meme discovered her and she was invited to have her own radio show. It didn’t take long for her to become the radio station’s most popular on-air DJ.
From Brazil to Beyond
Building on that fan base, she received her initiation into the gay party world with X-Demente, which she calls “a watershed event in Brazilian gay Circuit party history. Being there made me work at always being prepared for all kinds of crowds,” she adds, “and that made me go to all the sides and tastes of House music.”
The X-Demente parties proved to be a nurturing environment where she could work out her own sound and where she learned how to connect to a crowd. From there, she moved over to the West Side Club, a Rio mainstay, where she was a resident DJ for five years. From there, she began spinning throughout Brazil and then began her conquest of the rest of Latin America.
Her first gigs outside of that part of the globe were in the newly hot club scene in Israel’s port city. “Steffen Schappert and Offer Nissim invited me to play in Tel Aviv,” she recalls. After playing the Middle East and Europe, she was ready for America. Her first North American gig was, not surprisingly, in Montreal, at the 2007 DiversCité celebration.
House, Cariocan Style
Along the way, she constructed the distinctive style that has propelled her to stardom here. Her samba-inflected House mixes sounds for an infectious upbeat rhythm-dominated set. In the last decade, she has managed to work with DJs who each, in his or her own way, has influenced her own playlist and style. “I listen to them and they inspire me to work hard and to connect more and more with people,” she says.
She resists labels like “straight” and “gay.” Her music, she says, is for everyone. Although she approaches every gig on its own terms, she also doesn’t arrive with any preconceived notions. It’s that sense of fun that has enabled her to spin, all within a few weeks, Peter Rauhofer’s hard-driving “Work” one night after Parking in Montreal and two weeks before “Rapido” in Amsterdam.
She remains close with family members, who have always encouraged her chosen field. Her mom, in fact, gave her her first set of DJ equipment. When she’s not traveling the world, she likes to spend time at home, where she relaxes with her friends just watching TV and—this is Rio we’re talking about—going to the beach, a pastime that has given her that amazing tan. She also plays sports—not surprising if you look at that bodacious build—and videogames.
Paula has signed with Rauhofer’s *69 label and plans to begin some remixing projects. In the meantime, fans can keep up with her on her Myspace page and DJAnaPaula.com, which lists her upcoming gigs and her compilation CDs.