As an entrepreneur, club owner, DJ and label owner, Renato Ratier is well qualified to discuss Brazil’s fledgling electronic music scene. The mastermind behind Sao Paulo’s D-Edge and a partner in the equally renowned Warung Beach Club, Ratier is not only a resident at both, but also (understandably) a pivotal figure in the scene as a whole. While the original D-Edge in Campo Grange - the club he helped establish in 1996 - has since shut down, his subsequent work has been appropriately acclaimed, with his influence on Brazil’s electronic music scene one that's genuinely without peer. At over 6 feet tall, Ratier is a literally larger than life figure, and one who lives life to the very fullest - precisely the man whose brain we wanted to pick when we set out on our recent Brazilian jaunt. So we knuckled down with the extremely colourful, quotable and prolific Mr. Ratier to garner his opinion on a number of subjects, with everything from economics to music to the new D-Edge in Rio forming the backbone of a lengthy and intriguing chat…

Renato Ratier on: his business background… My family’s main business is agriculture and farming. They also own a few warehouses too, so I started with that. I started doing parties when I was about 16. Then, I stopped for a while when I went to university where I studied a sort of agricultural science. Then I moved to Rio to study law, but I actually decided to stop after a while and I moved to the US for a few years. Then I moved back to Brazil and started working in fashion and doing parties. And then in ’99 I started a club. And its kind of snowballed from there…

Renato Ratier on: The One DJ that Influenced his Musical Career… To be honest, there was never one, and it wasn’t until I moved to Europe that I actually started getting into certain DJs. Back then in California, electronic music was far from my only interest. In 1993 I was still more interested in bands like Depeche Mode rather than different DJs or rave type music. In 1995 I went to see The Chemical Brothers and the music was starting to make an impression on me. I liked house, and Detroit techno, but techno never really grabbed me so much back then. I just found it was too fast and I was more interested in melody. Of course, my opinions and tastes have changed a lot over the years…

Renato Ratier on: The Original D-Edge in Campo Grande.. Well my family are from around that area (Campo Grande), so hence I opened a club there. It’s a small town compared to Sao Paulo, but it was a great experience for me. When I started it in ’96, we had a music store, a nightclub, and a clothes shop. So we developed things from there. But I closed it because they opened a hospital in front of the club. And so it was that my life took a different direction…

Renato Ratier on: Learning from Experience… I learned (from the D-Edge Campo Grande debacle) not to give up. I learned how to persevere, to believe in myself and to be patient. I learned it’s important to connect different things and different people in once place. I learned that it’s important to connect people, whether they’re interested in music, art, film, whatever. Electronic music has become something that’s bonded so many people together so yeah, I learned a lot from the experience…

Renato Ratier on: Separating Music and Business Interests...There was never one moment when I decided to dedicate my life to both. It was all pretty gradual and organic. I don’t like the idea that I only dedicate myself to one thing. Of course, I love music, but I don’t want to limit myself to one activity. I don’t like to just DJ, and I don’t want to just stay in the office either. For me, both are of equal importance. I like to be free, I don’t want to live under any constraints.

Renato Ratier on: The Inspiration for D-Edge… D-Edge isn’t really inspired by other clubs. When we started the club we wanted to be unique. (The club’s designer) Mitu Randolph had a similar mentality, because we wanted to do something different. When we came up with the concept, we wanted to do something that was like a machine, like there was loads of different ideas and like all the rooms were like giant hardware systems. The first room we always wanted loads of colour, the second room is almost retro but futuristic with all the lights. And that’s like Sao Paulo is a way.

Renato Ratier on: The D-Edge Crowds… Well it’s taken a while for its [D-Edge’s] influence to be felt [on the city]. But we were lucky because we had a loyal group of fans, and after the extension of the club (D-Edge was extended to three rooms in 2010) we immediately had more people interested and involved. At the same time, it (the expansion) was also good for people who had a new place to go to to hear the music they love. We helped create a scene and the club earned a following. We gave people an alternative, and it began to feel like a family for our regular guests.

Renato Ratier on: The Effect of the Club’s (Well-Documented) Expansion… When we opened the new rooms, lots of people came to check us out, people who had never been to the club before. Some people didn’t take so well to this, because they saw these other guests as being intrusive in a way. But after a while, the crowd became more settled and consistent, and the public who came visited for the right reasons. Now, I believe we have an amazing crowd every week and we try to embrace all sorts of people and be welcome to everyone.

Renato Ratier on: The Impact of the Economy on D-Edge’s Crowd… Well it’s interesting, because we’ve always prided ourselves on being open to everyone, regardless of where they’re from, what they do, what they’re wearing etc. So the economic situation hasn’t really brought in a new crowd or anything like that. We’re not interested in being an elitist club; everyone is the same in D-Edge. But we’ve always attracted a crowd that perhaps isn’t “typical” compared to the rest of Brazil. In Brazil, the differences tend to be cultural rather than economic anyhow. But yeah, as I said, social levels aren’t really important at the club, and that’s what clubbing is all about really isn’t it? Keeping that balance and bringing people together…

Renato Ratier on: His Proudest Achievement to Date… I’m quite proud of the job I’ve done in the south of Brazil, because they’re traditionally more conservative about music. Because on a cultural level, it’s the most important part of Brazil . Because when there, you have cities with 100,000 people and you can have a scene just in those cities alone. So finding a following there has been very special to me. The likes of deep house are becoming more popular there and that suits me: the music is becoming more accessible, and the success of Warung and the great crowds they attract these days is indicative of that fact.

Renato Ratier on: Warung Beach Club… It’s a stunning club; a place of real beauty. But as soon as I got involved I knew I had to somewhat change the music policy to be more deep and mellow. It’s hard, because we have more partners there so to change it it’s a bit more difficult. Plus, it’s only open once a month during the summer time and once a week otherwise. At the same time, the schedule suits because people anticipate the nights a bit more. It’s not just me working there though, so I have to be conscious of the others. So I have to do things a certain way and not force it. We’re trying to just manage it in a similar way to what we do in D-Edge, not just with the club but with the marketing etc.

Renato Ratier on: D-Edge’s Global Appeal… Well its growth has been quite organic, and we’ve also known we’ve been on to a good thing with it for some time. I’m proud about my achievements with the club, but it hasn’t changed who I am. It’s just something I can share with friends really. I knew after a year that we needed a new room with a new musical agenda, so I always had big ambitions for it. But I’m always looking at ways to improve the club.

Renato Ratier on: His Plans for D-Edge in Rio de Janeiro… With Rio, I had the idea and it took me a while to find a suitable space to open it up. But I wanted to find a place I could do more than just a club in. For ten years I’ve had this idea!I was 8 years looking for a place and I only got the go ahead quite recently. But I found a place where I could have a club, a gallery, a restaurant, store and a studio. It’s going to be a cultural thing and it won’t just depend on nightlife you know? So for me, that’s something really special and something I’m really looking forward to opening…

Renato Ratier on: His Responsibility towards The Brazilian Scene… I don’t really think about it like that, because I’m not a politician and I don’t do this to make money - I do it because I love music. If you want to do it and you can do it, why not? Maybe I do feel a small responsibility, but only because I don’t see so many others with an opportunity to do the same as me. I see people who want to do it for the wrong reasons, but they never last. I never understand agents here who work on a commercial and underground level. My advice? Do it because your heart is in it!

Renato Ratier on: The Future of Brazil’s Electronic Music Scene…
I think it’s only going to get bigger, more special…and even better!

D-Edge ppen a new Club in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. Warung celebrate their 10th Birthday throughout November.

Listen to Renato Ratier on Pulse Radio