I met Arlise Cardoso in the south of Brazil in a city called Porto Alegre, under the most unusual of circumstances. I was in a trauma hospital after being assaulted and robbed. She was a friend of a friend of a friend, so obviously a very close relationship. She showed up unannounced, to take me, a stranger, home to care for me while I healed from a skull fracture and a brain hemorrhage. It wasn’t until later after eating several of her delicious home cooked meals and her guiding me while I learned to walk normally again did I find out she is a DJ and a photographer. She brings that same love and passion to her craft as she does to nursing people back to health. Music heals the soul, so why should I be surprised that she lives where the music is.
Arlise was born in Porto Alegre, but currently resides in a nearby small town called Cachoerinha. She affectionately refers to it as Little Waterfall, the English translation, and we had a laugh when I learned that despite its name, there are no waterfalls in the town. No one seems to know how the town got this name. She has also lived in Sao Paulo, and Madrid, Spain, where she mastered Spanish in addition to her native Portuguese. She has a wandering spirit, so she intends to return to Sao Paulo, as well as leave Brazil to learn new cultures and new languages. Her preference will be any large urban center full of people, movement, and noise. The objective – to live a life of travel that never ceases.
Arlise, at the age of 28, learned the basics of how to DJ by shadowing a friend who had a party. When it came time to play in clubs, she felt insecure, so she went to AIMEC Escola de Musica Eletrônica, to feel like a professional. She started so late because it was never her dream to be a DJ. She has always loved music, to the point of obsession. She knew that she wanted to work and live music, but never felt like she had the gift of music. Even though she had a violin, harmonica, and piano, she never learned to play. She was always listening to and researching music and the bands who played the music she loved. Then she studied journalism so she could go into radio, but along the way she fell into photography, which became her passion.
As luck would have it, she photographed a friend’s rock band, Topaz, and they became famous. Then she was hired to work for a magazine called Noize, and she stayed with them for 3 years. With her focus in photography, she was not thinking about DJing, but when the opportunity presented itself to DJ at that party, she embraced it. Many dream of being a DJ, but the industry is closed and hard to break into.
It is many times more challenging for a woman than for a man. According to The DJ List, only 24% of DJs are female. Even more distressing, Digital DJ Tips claims that only about 10% of performers at festivals are female. Arlise’s experience, in addition to the barriers to entry, has been that suitors all made it very clear that she would have to stop DJing as soon as she was in a committed relationship. Her response is that there won’t be a committed relationship, or anything at all with men like this. Thankfully there are strong and resilient women like Arlise who will overcome these obstacles and pave the way for future women to perform.
Arlise’s favorite music is all the music. She has tattoos of both the Rolling Stones’ famous tongue and a chord from a song written by the band Audioslave, hinting that she has a strong affinity for rock. However, you will also catch her playing ska, samba, and artists such as Sia, Shakira, and an Argetinian singer named Fito Paez. It is safe to say that you can expect the unexpected when with Arlise, which might be the only thing you can consider her signature. When asked if she had anything particular she does to identify her body of work, she scoffed and replied that she finds it tacky. She is there to love the crowd, not to promote her brand.
Unfortunately for someone who loves to be around people constantly, it has been challenging with bars and clubs being closed for so long. She is hopeful that these venues will open up again soon, and she quotes Rihanna, “Please don’t stop the music!”