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Interview: Petrit Pula, “Modest P”

In anticipation of our two intimate sold out Brazilian Girls performances at Baby’s All Right, we’ve added a unique third performance with the Boys of Brazilian Girls at world music club DROM. In this rare improvisational set, band members Didi Gutman, Aaron Johnston, and Jesse Murphy will offer up a mix of DJing and live performance, epitomizing the scene revolving around famed NYC jazz club Nublu.

Nublu has long been an East Village sanctuary for creative types – artists, musicians, poets. Here, the members of Brazilian Girls had long performed as jazz musicians, both solo and as parts of other bands. It was when Sabina Sciubba began performing there that they all joined forces as Brazilian Girls. They took over a Sunday residency at NuBlu in 2003 and the rest was history.

Local music biz Renaissance man Petrit Pula is also a veteran of the Nublu scene. A longtime friend of the Brazilian Girls, it’s clear that the artists he interacted with there impacted him as both a musician and a music lover. He’s since lent his eclectic tastes to Nublu’s record label, as well as his own production company People Time, which curates events like Brasil Summerfest (entering its sixth year!). He’ll DJ alongside the Boys of Brazilian Girls at DROM as Modest P, serving up a worldly mix of house, techno, disco, and jazz. He was kind enough to paint us a mental image of the scene he’ll transport us to on July 26:


Your relationship with Nublu had led to you being at the helm of the club’s record label. How did you initially get involved with Nublu?

I was introduced to Nublu by a friend soon after it opened, around 2003. I kept going back there because I liked what I heard and the vibe was always good. Eventually I got a gig to DJ there and that’s when I met Ilhan Ersahin, the club’s owner. In 2005 he launched the record company and at the very beginning Justin Carter (of Mister Sunday) was in charge of the label. I had heard they were looking for help and I came in to work in the office which was really the club’s coat check and late night party room at the time. Those were wild times. Justin left about a year after the label launched and I took over, and that was my job for nearly ten years.


Nublu was founded at a period when East Village had a vibrant music scene. Do you think the neighborhood was able to preserve its genuine creative atmosphere and character throughout the years?

I think the neighborhood has preserved its character as much as it could. We all know how rampant gentrification and real estate development has been in the city for the past fifteen years or so. It gets difficult to fight off the “free market” forces that always end up destroying sub-cultures and artist communities. It’s become a boring subject but it’s the sad truth. Luckily for the East Village, Nublu is still there and is a place where it still champions the neighborhoods creative spirit.


Nublu was and still is a sanctuary for musicians and artists to meet. Could you elaborate on how the club expanded your circle of musicians throughout the years?

Definitely met a ton of musicians there. I think the best part is that Nublu is home for a lot of these artists and its a place where you hang, play music and experiment. The diversity of the artists and musicians is what also keeps it interesting. That’s how a lot of those bands started including the Brazilian Girls. I got to meet and make friends with so many great musicians, it’s really a blessing. Not just in New York, but in so many other cities through the albums we produced, tours and festivals. Our paths still cross and it feels good to keep working with a lot of those people I’ve met over the years.



You’re going to open for the Boys of Brazilian Girls on the 26th of July at DROM. How did you meet Didi Gutman, Aaron Johnston and Jesse Murphy? Is this your first time performing together?

I’m not sure how we met exactly, but I have a feeling it was late, it was smokey and we were all under the influence. Very likely a Brazilian Girls show. Most likely in the basement of Nublu. I’ve done warmup sets for them but I don’t think we’ve ever actually DJ-ed together. This is something new and luxurious. I’m excited to see what they’ve got in store.


What types of sounds do you like to explore in your DJ sets and what can we expect from you at DROM?

I like to explore all kinds of music, especially more leftfield type stuff. But for the most part people want to dance and have fun, not listen to some weird music you’ve discovered. So I typically play a mix of house, techno and jazzy/disco-ey sets. Always try to keep the music interesting as much as I try to keep it fun.


What are you up to these days? What’s in store for the rest of the year? We’d love to hear a bit about Brasil Summerfest.

I launched my own production company a couple of years ago called People Time. I’m doing less DJ-ing these days but working on something else that I love, which is producing and curating events and building festival properties. One of them is Brasil Summerfest which is now in its sixth year and still going strong. That’s happening at multiple venues between Aug 2-6 this summer. I am also in the middle of France Rocks festival right now which is part of a bigger cultural exchange project called Paris New York Tandem supported by both cities. The summer is the busiest time for me, but I am working on some event ideas for the rest of the year.

– Yasemin Kosereisoglu + Mandy Brownholtz

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