Industry Talks: Raoni Lemos on his kitesurfing and music journey that started in Rio but went…

Today we are talking to Raoni Lemos. He’s a professional kitesurfer and DJ from Búzios — a beautiful seaside resort set on an ocean peninsula east of Rio de Janeiro. A devoted lover of house music and surfing, these two key things in his life became just the right combo to take him and his career all over the world.

Before the pandemic, his life revolved around competitions and parties. A great adventure that was all about traveling, playing music, and kitesurfing. With COVID-19 changing everything and offline events becoming impossible and almost obsolete, Raoni had to adapt and reinvent himself. This is the story he shares with us today.

1. Raoni, tell us a bit about yourself and your career in the events industry.

I started my career in the events industry after getting sponsored as a pro kitesurfer by a beach club here in my town Búzios in Rio de Janeiro. I was being sponsored by Fishbone for 10 whole years, and I absolutely fell in love with house music during this time. So one day I started learning how to play.

Then some incredible DJs became my teachers. And not just local ones. Big names from around the world were coming to Brazil to play here… Jamie Jones, Fabrico Peçanha, and many more. I was learning and playing and just loving it.

After pursuing music and becoming a DJ myself, I also started traveling as a pro kitesurfer for competitions. I was competing in the Kitesurf World Cup in 2019. I finished 30th at the final ranking for wave and freestyle strapless. The surf competitions, of course, had music, and so I started playing there.

Raoni in Peru in 2016

A lot of things were happening, and somehow playing music and kitesurfing became like a combo that took me around the world. I was gaining a lot of knowledge and experience from DJing at different events in so many countries, and one of the biggest rewards was being able to play with some of the best DJs here in Brazil — Alok, Sandro Valente, Fabrico Peçanha, Blacksheepz.

Moreover, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of numerous amazing parties at some of our top clubs like Fishbone and Privilège. Privilège, for example, was recognized as the best nightclub in Brazil 3 times. And my sponsor club won best beach club in Brazil 2 times! So I was getting a lot of valuable experience by being involved with these places and brands.

Raoni playing music at Fishbone Búzios

2. What has the situation with COVID-19 been like the past year in Brazil?

The past year the COVID situation here has been a complete mess. Brazil is a very big country, we are more than 200 million people in population, so different people and local authorities had different opinions. Some people were against staying at home, some people were against going out.

But the situation was getting worse and worse. All the clubs closed, and so I began focusing on my kitesurfing career even more. I couldn’t DJ anymore, and I just had to adapt like everybody else.

3. When and how did you decide to stop DJ-ing? And would you like to return to playing music at some point?

I decided to stop playing music professionally not only because of the current situation, to be honest. I felt like the industry has changed a lot… It’s not just about being a good DJ anymore.

When I started 12 years ago, the crowd was appreciating it when they saw the DJ mixing and experimenting with different techniques. It was important to choose the right tracks and put together a good set. In the past years, the scene has somehow felt different, and I miss the way some things were before.

So I switched my focus completely to becoming one of the best kitesurfers in the world. I have a kitesurf school here in Brazil and also a franchise school in Europe. It’s kind of interesting how COVID made this happen and actually even helped me in a way. Because of the pandemic, all the kitesurf competitions were canceled. Consequently, I lost my sponsors, and I had to rethink my whole career and take on a new path.

Raoni kitesurfing at a Red Bull Rally

And for sure I would like to play music again. I don’t know if I’ll pursue that professionally again, studying and producing music, but I’m still in love with house music, and I always will be. I know that.

4. How do you see the future of the event or entertainment industry?

I think things are going to be quite difficult in multiple ways. All scenarios seem challenging… And, in my opinion, the nightlife scene is the one that’s going to have it the hardest in terms of returning. I’ve observed this the past year in Brazil and it’s been a big struggle.

Raoni playing music at Privilège

5. What is some advice you can give to fellow DJs like yourself, who have been facing the same challenge for a whole year now?

My advice for those who are still pursuing this path is to look around and seek new opportunities. Everybody is doing a lot of new things and there are many options… You can experiment with Instagram live, you can show your audience how to produce music, you can even teach them how to create the artwork or design for a song cover, for example.

People are still listening to music, so there’s still work that can be done! It’s definitely getting even more challenging to make money as an artist or a DJ, but you can continue to show up. Don’t quit because of the pandemic. Look for alternative ways to do what you love doing like I did. I chose to focus on my sports career, instead of music, but I didn’t give up, and music is still a big part of my life. Stand up for yourself and look around!

You can find Raoni Lemos here: Spotify & Instagram.

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