It snows in Brazil sometimes

Music, Travel

I don’t go chasing waterfalls only, I deliberately look for paradox in life too. I got sunburnt in the Northernmost places of our planet, but I also managed to see a monkey covered in snow in Brazil. So while I am enjoying a balmy 20 degrees Celcius evening in Berlin, I do sympathise with the other hemisphere where it gets rather gloomy and cold these days.

So the photos above don’t come from Spreepark in Berlin, they come from MARGS – Museu de Arte do Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre where I stayed for a couple of wintery days in September 2013.  This post is about breaking some stereotypes or attributions, and not the weather forecast though. Much as I love listening to MPB, drinking coconut water, or wearing Brazilian bikini, there’s more than that in the discourse about the complex, multicultural and huge country like Brazil. I am a sucker for its literature, architecture, art and fashion, and recently: techno music.

My daily Upload feature on SoundCloud suggest me more and more Brazilian artists who are producing really deep, industrial and groovy sounds. Last summer was definitely heavily influenced by the produced CoastDream whose dreamy house kick was constantly on my rewind.

On that note, the Brazilian community of producers and DJs is also abundant. I am very lucky to have met a very ambitious, open-minded and talented producer Pedro Passoni. Although he came back to São Paulo early this year, he continues to amaze me with his new productions, currently experimenting the darker side of the EDM.

Fortunately, I believe that the darker side of techno and house in Brazil is not as rare as the view of the aforementioned monkey in the snow. Electronic music represents the progressive, diverse, free space and rhythm – something that not only Brazil, but the whole world needs now more than ever. I stay connected and sending only the most positive vibes to all my Brazilian friends who make a positive change in their country. Against all odds, I plan my next trip to their amazing country within the next couple of months, when the snow will be back in Berlin. Stay tuned and vibe!

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São Paulo: abstraction and society

Music

One of my highlights last month was a business trip to London where I had a chance to learn a lot and meet a lot of new inspirational people. Apart from that, there is no visit in London for me without checking the Art Cathedral: Tate Modern, so during the weekend I spent endless hours binge-eating modern art.

Among various exhibitions, I was particularly happy to see the corner dedicated to Tropicália movement and abstract art coming from São Paulo Biennale. It was founded in 1951, during a moment of very rapid economic growth and urban development in Brazil.

A decade later, Tropicália movement emerged in theatre, poetry, cinema, music and art as a critical response to the political crisis, Brazilian stereotypes and disparate influences. In the music world, Gal Costa, Elis Regina, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil are the most famous artists to name. Here’s one of my fave songs by Elis Regina:

A tua falta somada
A minha vida tão diminuída
Com esta dor multiplicada
Pelo fator despedida

Deixou minh’alma muito dividida
Em frações tão desiguais
E desde a hora em que você foi embora
Eu sou um zero e nada mais

In poetry, Roberta Camila Salgado published her works during the times of political repression and censorship:

céu escuro por que não limpas e iluminas o meu mundo?

So thanks to this exhibition I travelled back in time to Brazil where not only I’ve spent some time living in Brasilia, but also have been travelling around the country between 2011-2013. Nowadays I am no longer up to date following up on social and political crises, but prefer to focus on discovering progressive and bold artists which emerge a new movement 50 years later.

Having said that, I’d like to acknowledge my São Paulo-based friends producing quality techno and house which is already influencing dancefloors beyond Brazil, as well as fighting for the parity for women in the electronic music scene.

 

 

 

 

 

Warm sands of the Nordeste

Travel

On a grey day like today I like to time travel and re-discover the place where the warm sun, sand and water give shelter. The winter has not even started in Europe, but it’s been incredibly cold for over a month or so. Patience is key, and so are the winter time escapes. In one month I will be travelling to Hong-Kong, but before I need to find a way to deal with the dark and freezing reality.

To cheer myself up, I refrain to the memories of February 2013 when I travelled to Rio Grande do Norte, precisely Natal, Tibau do Sul and Praia da Pipa, the capital of the region and emblematic seaside towns in the North-Eastern part of Brazil.

Not only the warmth of the sun, sand and water, but also the cheerful and relaxed nature of the inhabitants made this location a perfect winter getaway destination.

I was lucky to live in a small condominio of the Atlantic forest between Praia da Pipa and Tibau de Sul where I was woken up by the birds chanting, and oh well, some insects.

The location is perfect for the surfers and wanderers. Wide beaches are perfect to walk around in between the high tides, and when it comes, it is amazing to simply jump on the prancha (surf board) and try your best fighting the powerful water element.

Years have passed and I remember the smell of the salty water, the taste of the local cuisine, the view of the bonfires burning at night at the beach and the songs of the local vendors. I definitely plan to come back, possibly visiting the beautiful archipelago of Fernando da Noronha islands. Stay tuned!

Nascer do sol – Portuguese encounters in Japan

Music, Travel

I am happy to say that I spent the majority of this month in amazing Japan. I have dreamt about this trip for a long time and it has finally come true. Great part of it was dedicated to some musical research, as I knew that Japan is great source of digging the vinyl shelves and a lot of the DJs and producers I respect researched quite a lot on the streets of Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka.

I was always very intrigued by the fact that there is so much Portuguese speakers living in Japan. Partly, this may be due to massive immigration of Brazilian nationals to industrial cities like Nagoya, and the other way round a lot of Japanese migrating to Brazil. Actually, my first encounter with the Japanese culture was in 2013 in Liberdade, São Paulo’s district, home of thousands of Japanese descendants. Yes, I got to use the famous Japanese toilet ToTo there! But speaking seriously, I discovered Portuguese influences in Japanese music early when I discovered new jazz producers in the early 2000s, to name a few: Hajime Yoshizawa, or Kyoto Jazz Massive which I would like to list as sources of my inspiration.

There are influences reaching fur beyond music. While visiting the city of Nagasaki, I learned that for years, it has been an important port for various sailors from the European countries, to name the Dutch, the Spanish and the Portuguese on the far East. After the Portuguese, a sweet memory was left: a sponge cake called Castella

Finally, during my trip I got to know pretty amazing Japanese people interested in music: from Detroit techno, through soulful hip-hop up to exotic influences of music of Cabo Verde. It is hard to summarise the variety of all these encounters in one blog post, but I wanted to encourage everyone to discover the country through the sound and multicultural influences. And even if the country of the Rising Sun is one of the most remote and isolated places, it’s full of contrasts, inspirations and definitely is a great place to discover new music styles.

 

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.

 

 

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.

Futebol no Maracanã

Travel

As mentioned in my previous post there is a very interesting Brazilian film festival taking place in Berlin these days. Well, out of thousands of events, such as those which took lace last weekend in the Neue Nationalgalerie, or Lichtgrenze the following weekend – a comemmoration of the 25 years of the fall of the Berliner Mauer, dividing symbolically the Eastern and the Western part with the illuminated balloons.

So, among the titles about the Gold Rush in the Amazon, hippie days somewhere in the chapada, I managed to see hilarious document Fla x Flu recommended to any Brazilian soccer fan.

This legendary derby, regularly taking place on the magnificent Maracanã stadium, is much more than just football (or futebol, in Portuguese). Following the personal stories, almost magical beliefs of the fans, I laughted to tears. Having met fans from the both sides and spent some time in Rio de Janeiro definitely helped me understand how important this derby show is. But most importantly, this movie gains a special meaning in the year of the failure for the Canarinhos. While the performance of the all-time awed national team could be described as everything but carnival-like samba, Fla x Flu classic game remains the best dancer on the sambadrome…

Premiere Brasil in Berlin

Music, Personal

So here I am, based in another city with Yellow Trams. Berlin is obviously very different than Lisbon or any other place I was placed during last couple of years, but I am falling in love with it for countless reasons. Firstly, for its cafes where you can spend literally whole days and nights (but who would in the end, where there is so much going on!). I noticed that for the Kaffee & Kuche offer, pasteis de nata are very much in fashion. Secondly, for its relaxed atmosphere. It definitely grew a serious competitor as ‘the-best-city-to-live’ for London and Paris, but it is unbelievably laid-back and casual comparing with those two. Somewhat it reminds me of Barcelona back in the good old days before it became so overtly commercialised, only the weather is… well, different!

Last but not least I am amazed with the diversity: not only between the neighbourhoods but also within its inhabitants. By the morning walk I took nearby the Spree River, I heard a woman singing this wonderful Brazilian classic… And until now I just can’t get it out of my mind.

The cultural programme is just overwhelming and I am already wondering when will I find enough time to visit all the places I want to!

Speaking of which, there is a Brazilian Film Festival ‘Premiere Brasil’ in Haus der Kulturen der Welt starting off Wednesday 29th October. It presents last year’s best Brazilian productions and is prepared in the cooperation of the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival. I am sure this one will be in the top 5 of my to-do-list for the forthcoming week!

Wiki:

Pasteis de nata – heavenly-tasting custard tart, the most famous to be found in a famous pasteleria de Belem aka Pasteis de Belem. Currently conquering the bakeries worldwide.

Garota de Ipanema

Travel

Visiting Rio de Janeiro was one of my greatest dreams since I remember. Obviously, as an emblematic city of Brazil, linked with the history and culture so much, it made me expect certain clichés. Such as: healthy and good-looking people, samba, Cristo Redentor, favelas, Maracanã stadium, and amazing beaches, even close to the centre of the city.

It was more than I expected. I was lucky enough to be hosted by amazing Cariocas out of which I will name Thiago, and Jacqueline. Thiago showed me around Lapa, the most exciting part of the city in the night, and drove me in his motorbike basically from Sugarloaf mountain till Leblon, putting up with me screaming as we drove. I got to know his family and friends, his favourite acai and burger place (which makes a perfect mix of healthy and junk!). Meanwhile Jackie took me to a very famous bossanova bar in Copacabana where some political movements emerged during the military dictatorship times. The owner of the bar was hilarious, he had a typical mania of shouting on everybody after the improvisation part was over, and then inviting them back again to his cozy bar.

Nowadays, 3 years after all these happenings, I can still clearly remember the impressions, sounds, tastes and the amazingly intensive vibe of the city. Sure I will come back, it is still on my ‘livable cities’ list to pursue… Now the most interesting being I have met on the Ipanema beach was not the legendary round-shaped girl from the song, but… a wadding bird, walking gloriously between the surfers! And this is what amazed me the most: a city of over 10 million people, still being so wildly cohabited by fauna and flora. To put it straight: a Cidade Maravilhosa.

Wiki:

Garota – girl (Brazilian Portuguese)

Cristo Redentor – Christ the Redemptor, a famous monument overlooking Rio de Janeiro

Maracanã stadium – emblematic football stadium of Rio de Janeiro

Carioca – a nickname of Rio’s resident, used also to describe a specific lifestyle of Rio de Janeiro

Cidade Maravilhosa – Wonderful City, a nickname of Rio de Janeiro, which is 100% according to the truth!