Image via Doctor Jeep/Instagram
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Michael McKinney understands the cultural importance of Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci.”
As Doctor Jeep, André Lira has been producing rough-and-tumble dance music for over a decade, and he’s been impossible to pin down the whole time. In 2016, the Doctor Jeep sound was unlike his sound in 2018, and again for 2020. He has built a career by ricocheting between styles, reaching for anything that’s speedy, playful, and indebted to contemporary UK club styles: Night Slugs-esque halftime and dubstep, bass-heavy breakbeat, screw-face drum-and-bass, firestarting dembow. It should come as little surprise that he considers himself a dance-music generalist.
In one sense, Lira is emblematic of what makes New York’s contemporary club circuit so exciting: it is shot through with cultural specificity but aimed squarely at anything-goes dancefloors; it is both tongue-in-cheek and deadly serious. But his sound—which moves from traditional Brazilian dance music to contemporary UK nightclubs and back—carries a specificity that sets him apart from his peers. He is far from the only person stretching the definition of what Latin American electronic music can sound like—to pull a few names of many, Brooklyn’s DJ Python makes reggaetón that is both dreamlike and roughshod, and Miami’s Nick León, alongside DJ Babatr, has played a central role in bringing the raucous sounds of raptor house—a Venezuelan-born style of house music—to the States, twisting it into new forms in the process. But never mind the rest of the scene: Doctor Jeep differentiates himself through sheer vim.
Lira’s productions snake between energies, tempi, and continents at a maddening pace; in the past decade, the main throughline holding his music together has been an anything-goes approach to globally-minded club sounds. Now, though, he’s looking to hone things in a bit. The DJ-producer was born to Brazilian parents, and he’s been neck-deep in the New York club scene for quite some time. His latest EP, Push the Body, sees the producer fusing these cross-cultural ideas to riveting results: dubstep and baile and UK bass, all tossed into the melting pot and brought to a boil. With his most recent mix, Lira leaned ever further into the psychedelia possible in speedy club music, going deep on the intersections between bass-heavy baile, steamrolling techno, and fidgety dubstep.
The new direction seems to be working. The titular track from Push the Body has been lighting clubs on fire for the past several months with no signs of slowing down, and he’s getting increasingly prestigious placements. The morning after a closing set in Minneapolis, we got a chance to catch up with Lira, going deep on his approach to DJing, how he keeps ravers on their toes, his stylistic influences, and the importance of humor on the dancefloor.