Stay True – Boiler Room in Portugal

Music

In my last post I mentioned a lot about how Afrolusobrasilian culture is present in Lisbon. You may also have noticed that I am getting regularly inspired by the Portuguese capital when it comes to sound searching.

I am very happy to confirm that in September I’ll be visiting LISB:ON festival, where I will have a chance to see Brazilian artists like Marcos Valle or Azymuth, not so easy to spot at the concerts these days. This festival, being a part of a summer project called Jardim Sonoro (pt. Sound Garden), will also attract other ambitious electronic music producers such as Matthew Herbert or Dixon, and here is why I would like to dedicate a short paragraph to electronic music in Portugal.

Since currently I’ve been living in Berlin where electronic music can be heard even in grocery shop, no other place on Earth can compete with DJ line ups and a density of EDM producers per square km. However, world can definitely be grateful to Lisboa – Luanda connection for bringing in some truly crazy rhythms to the dancefloors.

Lately, I have taken part in the music production showcase with Dengue Dengue Dengue who were also hosted by the local Boiler Room edition Stay True. More of the inspirational sounds can be seen from its archive:

Stay True: Portugal edition took place a month ago and besides the Dengue Dengue Dengue duo hosted Buraka Som Sistema as well as DJ Marky  whose Boiler Room back in Brazil is already unforgettable classic of its kind.

I am definitely looking forward to re-discovering Lisbon (I can do it anytime anyway at anytime) at my own bpm pace, simply enjoying the musical and cultural diversity.

I hope that thanks to the initiatives like Stay True this city will get even more visibility for the music aficionados.

 

 

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Nôs Terra

Travel

Lisbon is especially interesting place for those who would like to discover not only Portuguese, but also Afrolusobrazilian culture.

It is a perfect place if you go to different Portuguese-speaking destinations, either as a stopover location or a final destination. To me Lisbon served as both for the past couple of years. After a brief episode of living in Portugal, I always felt certain nostalgia (cliche term of saudade is definitely relevant here) after this place and longing to travel to Portuguese-speaking destinations.

So last Christmas I gave my heart to the archipelago of Cabo Verde and of course, made a stopover in Lisbon. Apart from some very interesting animation show at the Praca de Comercio, there were some other highlights of that short stay, such as joining capoeiristas by the sunset.
This is where a friend of mine, who is very influenced by afrolusobrasilian culture, introduced me to some cultural associations and places where typically descendants of Portuguese-speaking African countries organize their concerts, events or festas.
I was also lucky to try the typical food from Cabo Verde: cachupa, before actually reaching my final destination. Be it Cabo Verde, Sao Tome e Principe, Moçambique, Angola or Guiné-Bissau, or even further in the world: Timor Leste, Goa or Macau – you will find all the places inside Lisbon, like travelling without moving.
Obviously, this has to do a lot with the history, and multiculturalism of Lisbon is an effect of post-colonialism processes. Upon my arrival from Cabo Verde I started digging deeper the topic of the descendants of the African countries living in Lisbon. ‘Nôs Terra’ shows the day-to-day specificities and also struggles of the Caboverdean community in Lisbon. It shows processes familiar to everyone who ever relocated, the in-between state of not belonging anywhere (the country of origin and current location).
I hope though that the unique multiculturality of Lisbon will stay a value itself. Music industry has already spotted Lisbon as one of the most interesting places in the world and so is becoming with art in general. There is no place like Lisbon, colourful, diverse and full of inspiration.

Tarrafal, o paraíso remoto

Travel

After my first two days in Praia, I followed up with a short trip to the neighbouring island of Fogo (port. fire) and Cidade Velha, the first colonial settlement in West Africa, but the real treat was only waiting for me on the other side of the Santiago Island.

We boarded North on the Christmas Eve, hoping to get to the other tip of the island before the dusk – not only because we wanted to have a traditional feast, but to safely cross the picturesque, yet dangerous Serra Malagueta mountain range. Dangerous if you drive in the pick up together with some other, 20 people inside (and a duck, in this particular case).

So we made it to Tarrafal, a town on the Northwestern tip of the island, the destination for the hippie families, laid-back wanderers who love watching the sunsets (if the weather conditions are great, you get to see the sun setting over the Fogo volcano – I didn’t take my camera when it happened, oh well), drinking coconut water, or surfing. There are three beaches in the bay of Tarrafal, and all of them offering white sand: a rarity on this island.

Tarrafal is also a very popular holiday destination for the Cape Verdeans – there were many families, often travelling all the way from France (where the biggest diaspora of Cape Verde is currently based) that were spending time until the festivities of Santo Amaro (happening on 15th January).

Having spent over 5 days in Tarrafal, I got accustomed to the local community: having visited both the church, as the local festivities (in the cultural centre with the Anonymous logo :)) of batucadeiras and eating out in the local bars and restaurants and celebrating in the Mercado Central. Contrary to Praia, here the time passed slowly, peacefully in the shadow of the funny Monte Gordo (eng. Fat Mountain) and I reflected back on it, talking to the fishermen, surfers, or homeless dogs on the beach and simply enjoying to learn about life in this little, remote paradise on Earth.

 

 

Relaxa – how to get through the cold and dark days

Music, Personal

This very laid-back and relaxing post should help to wipe out all the Brazilian-homesickness feelings. Especially in the winter months in Europe.

I personally first escaped the Central European winter a few years ago with relocating to the South of the continent (with a short but life-changing period of living in Brazil), and last year came back to the same four-season pattern in Berlin. I find it physically challenging to get through until end of March or so, but have found my ways. German way of saying “it’s not cold, you’re only dressed inappropriately” helps to shift the focus too. I have to say that having survived summer in Arctic, helped me too.

So, having gathered warm clothes, bought 20 types of tea and mate, I can say I’m prepared. But the crucial thing to survive the dark and cold days is to… listen to Brazilian music!

So let me share you my top 3 tracks that have magically spelled out flu, sore throat, but also depression, loneliness and other side effects of the European winter:

“Relaxa” – the message is clear either if you want to chill out after a tough week, if you’re feeling weak, or contrary – in a party mood. Painel de controle will get you in this upbeat and alegre mood.

“Na Boca do Sol” – reminds me of my Cidade Interior, Brasilia, I used to live for a while. This place, apart from being an architectural and social phenomenon, has shown me the most beautiful and unforgettable sunrises and sunsets.

“Chegou de Bahia” – of course, who wouldn’t be happier if visiting Bahia

Here I’d like to mention that next month I’ll be travelling to Africa to relax, unwind on the Cape Verde, while listening to mornas. The featured picture comes from Azores though, where, enchanted by its remoteness and beauty, I decided to discover more of the Atlantic archipelagos.

Morna – “Ocean blues”, Cape Verdian emblematic dance and music genre, recognised worldwide mostly by Cesaria Evora’s and Maria Andrade’s works

Glücklich in Brasilien & alegre em Alemanha

Music

There are definitely more links between Brazil and Germany than love to football (which can actually at times turn into mutual hate). Love for Volkswagen and music sounds like a safer bet. I would love to dedicate this post to DJ Rainer Trüby thanks to whom I discovered Brazilian classics and its modern sounds long time ago.

Alongside with Sonar Kollektiv in Berlin and Gilles Peterson in London, he was feeding the audience worldwide with the best of Brazilian sounds by releasing the Glücklich series with the record label Compost Records. Thanks to my colleague who sold me his sound system last week, I could come back to my favourite compilations on CDs (with the legendary fusca on the title page!) and casettes. It’s not that I’m one of those unbearable Berliner hipsters, it’s just that I still have my radioshows from the 90s/early 2000s recorded there. And Shazam does not recognize all of the tracks, and nor have my über-musical friends so far.

While researching a bit more about what he’s been up to lately, I’ve come across this interview which I find pretty interesting (even though it’s in Spanish, not in Portuguese!):

As days become more longer, warmer and simply: happier here, my soul needs more upbeat rhythms and to make this positivity to an unbearable level. Although Brazilian music seems to be universal, and especially recommended while being down, and facing worse days in life.

The unforgettable Glücklich compilations can be found here:

It offers a wide selection of the Afro-Luso-Brazilian, MPB, samba and most importantly, the contemporary fusion, also with the European producers. One of my favourites – “Bohemian” by MURO (in Bah Samba’s remix) is actually sung in English and was one of the first EPs where I discovered the overwhelmingly powerful voice of Alice Russell. “Direction? Changing myself, keep moving… all around the world”.

fusca – Volkswagen ‘Beetle’, extremely popular in Brazil from 60s till now.

A minha vida em português

Personal

There is no other language that makes my soul happy as much as Portuguese does. Even that nowadays I discover the beauty (ja!) and funny particularities in German and meet amazing people here, I feel that a part of me belongs still somewhere else. But it’s no longer just an empty feeling of longing aka saudade, it’s rather enriching and empowering on various occasions.

In other words, it motivates me a lot to understand and be understood till some extentent in the language I once thought impossible to learn (German) but still think and feel in Portuguese when it comes to certain things, even though I am not a native speaker. Just as friends can become our family of choice, I believe strongly that for linguistic freaks foreign languages can play a similar role!

Also, I caught myself speaking with my Brazilian colleague passing to English ‘when it comes to business’ and leaving Portuguese for purely fun times. I unconsciously bump into the Brazilians and speak about piadas and bagunças long hours. Same goes for Spanish, but that’s another story.

Well, I am not alone, and finally I discovered a documentary film which connects the most interesting aspects of this language: Lingua – Vidas em Português.

Multilayered, spoken over different parts in Europe, Americas, Asia and Africa, Portuguese is now not only a language that came from the colonial ancestry, but that has merged different races, roots, tribes and geographical locations.

My father used to tell me long time ago that both the Southern hemisphere and the Portuguese language are the future of our globe. He was a visionary and extremely wise person with a capacity to predict different economical processes long before. He was thus always pushing me towards learning this niche language back in a day, as he believed that I will  succeed somewhere in this big world.

It was a great revelation to see how Portuguese language has shaped the lives of others, but most importantly, to know that I am not the only one to feel the multicultural and ethnical particularity which probably no other widely-spoken language of nowadays has.

Lisboa – Luanda

Music, Travel

During those last couple of years I was close to consider myself as a frequent transatlantic flyer from the Lisbon’s TAP airlines hub. Be it Brazil, be it Madeira, be it any South American destination, Lisbon has been just a good connection point from the Iberian Peninsula, not as crowded as Madrid Barajas and offering very interesting direct connections with the South American and African continent.

The idea for this first within the series of posts is generated by my curiosity about the cross-Atlantic influences between the postcolonial Portuguese-speaking countries. This one would be about the Angolan presence in a modern-time Portugal and Brazil.

When living in Lisbon, my attention was not only attracted by the local culture, but rather by the overwhelmingly rich mix of the Afrolusobrasilian influences. This is where I learned my first kizomba steps, and where I discovered some underground places in Bairro Alto serving kuduro music as their main dish. Back in the day, 2008/2009-ish kuduro became a world’s electronic music fetish, as well, so I had a feeling I am in the centre of the world.

The most famous kuduro team, Buraka Som Sistema dedicated quite a lot of their tracks to describe the Angolan presence in Lisbon, with the anthem ‘Luanda Lisboa’

Angolan influence is also very visible in the Bahian culture of Brazil, with the richness of the Candomblé religion. For instance, in the 70s, a lot of MPB artists, such as Claudia with her ‘Ossain’, performed their songs based on the traditional lyrics, chants and traditions of this religion:

However, since the difficult crisis years commenced in Portugal, well, in all the Southern Europe in general, the migration tendencies seem to change. Each day several planes leave at least Lisbon’s airport in the Luanda’s direction. Not only the 2nd or even 3rd generation of the Angolan descendents in Portugal search for their professional careers in this African land of promise, but also the Portuguese and the Brazilians. Luanda nowadays is one of the most expensive cities to live in, but the salaries for the expatriates and contracted high-level employees seem to be also one of the most attractive in the world.

I did not have a chance to travel to Angola so far. However, I feel very tempted to do so given its rich culture and complex history. Still, unstable politics, striking inequalities in the distribution of goods seem to be a pain in the neck for a daily life of the Angolans. I hope to get back with some more insightful post shortly, maybe when I finally book the trip: Lisboa – Luanda…

Wiki:

Bairro Alto – a neighbourhood in Lisbon famous for cosy bars and small underground cultures clubs, a night life centre of the city

kuduro – is a type of music and dance originally developed in Angola in the 1980s, became popular worldwide around 2008, given the ‘dubstep-related’ trends

kizomba – ‘Angolan salsa’, a popular music and dance style in Angola, and increasingly in Portugal and equally in some other Western European countries, such as in France or the UK

Candomblé – animistic religion brought to Brazil from the Western African tribes (mostly: Yoruba)

Ossain – a symbol within the Candomblé religion