Two years have passed in an Augenblick (like Germans like to define “the time that flies”) since I have moved to Berlin. I would lie, if I said I don’t miss Barcelona, Brazil, Portugal and my hometown Poznan from time to time. Travelling is relatively cheap and easy these days, at least to some of these locations though, so I don’t happen to be homesick too often to be honest.
Especially that I feel very happy where I am now, both personally, and professionally, and Berlin keeps surprising me every day with its amazing cultural offer. I even realised how I can cope best with the dark and cold days throughout roughly half of the year. Concerts and dancing are among my most powerful weapons!
It is also fair to say, that during these two years, I have met amazing people from all over the world sharing my passions and at the same time showing new perspectives, opening my mind and enriching my life.
More importantly, I keep speaking Portuguese. Be it at work with my Portuguese-speaking colleagues (or those wanting to simply learn and practice!), be it with my good old or newly acquired friends. Berlin has an incredible offer of Latin American movie festivals as well as concerts of all the music genres, out of which I happened to see two of my Brazilian jazz gurus this year already.
I am very honoured to have seen Ed Motta earlier this year, and Azymuth trio only yesterday. There are very few artists which inspired so many DJs and producers much as they did. Actually, I can’t think of any dancefloor which wouldn’t go crazy if a DJ dropped ‘Jazz Carnival’, regardless of the location. As a consequence, their tracks have been often remixed and incorporated into legendary mixes. I was hoping to see them live for a very long time, especially when I noticed that they were featured at the Boiler Room session and announced their European tour.
A thought that occurred to me yesterday, was about the universal and timeless aspect of music. Even though Azymuth members could be my grandparents, and most of their tracks are much more older than I am, their sound is moving the crowds to a state of frantic trance.
Muito obrigada, Maestros and long live Brazilian jazz!
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.
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.
As a modern nomad, I am on the road again. This time I have to apologise for abandoning the Lusofonetica’s content for a while, as my mindspace has been lately occupied by very important life decisions and going through difficult times in my family, on the other hand. But the decision is made: I will be relocating to Berlin sometime soon.
Is it any worth describing this episode on Lusofonetica? Apparently, it is: Berlin seems to be a place to be nowadays if you are into art and music. Lately I have been hearing mostly that it is “poor but sexy”, “Silicon Valley of EU”, “creative-minded”, “like NYC in the 80s”. One of my friends has even invented the term of dancing “techno salsa”… Obviously, there are some movements against the “hipster movement” and looking back with nostalgy at “those underground times”. Well, with the boom of the IT start ups, gathering talents from all over the world, for me it seems quite unstoppable!
My story with Berlin is long and it was indeed one of the first cities I explored on my own, mostly in search for the original sounds. My fascination in Brazilian music started with the Jazzanova band, originally from Berlin, and my first new-jazz festival I attended was Popkomm back in 2005. Even during my last stay in this thriving city I have heard Brazilian music and accent almost everywhere.
So, am I right to say that it is high time to welcome a new dancing genre: “techno gafieira”? Well, only time will tell.
After giving this idea some time, some shape – there it is, a project of describing my personal journey through the soundscapes : sounds and landscapes from the Portuguese-speaking countries. A project derived from years of collecting memories and experiences of living and travelling in Portugal and Brazil, mixed with saudade – impossible to translate state of longing to distant places and faces. Inspired by the people met on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean who helped me to realise that Portuguese is not only another language I speak, but also a state of mind closest to my heart/soul, balancing somewhere between euphoria and melancholia.
When did it all start? I cannot trace back my first memories, but probably back in the day, it was Walter Salles movies, followed by Wim Wender’s ‘Lisbon Story’ when I became only curious about Portuguese language – both its version from Portugal, as from Brazil. First one having very Eastern European-like pronounciation, and the second one sounding like its lazy and soft family member.
Then, when I was 15, I tried free capoeira workshops in a modern dance summer school and fell in love with these sounds for good. I gave up the physical aspect of it after some months not being able to defend myself properly in roda against more flexible members but the curiosity to understand the Afrobrasilian culture was stronger than my muscles. I learned by heart our fighting chants and tried to find translations and learn my DIY Portuguese.
At the same time my musical gurus: Jazzanova, Gilles Peterson, Rainer Truby and 4 Hero, to name a few, presented various compilations with Brazilian 60s and 70s music and their creative remixes. At that time travelling, even to Portugal, was still quite a snobbish idea in Poland with no cheap airlines and no-Schengen. My curiosity even lead me to a crazy idea to pass the Baccalaureate from Portuguese as a foreign language, but no high school offered such classes at that time (!).
I had to wait until 2007 when I was admitted for the Erasmus exchange programme and when I passed my first summer in Portugal in the rural part of Beira Alta as a volunteer in the archaeological Roman village. Since then I decided to learn Portuguese for real and thanks to my first teacher, Dr Sylwia, who gratefully agreed to my participation in the classes for Spanish Philology students during the following 2 years. I have to acknowledge that it gave me a possibility to learn all the grammatical bases and meet, still in Poznan, equally interesting, future linguists and travelers! (Yes, I do hope you will read it).
Since 2009 I have been travelling and living abroad, in Portugal and Brazil included. Although nowadays I am based in Barcelona, I have to admit that my pursuit for the Portuguese sound has broadened my horizons towards the Westbound world and marked visibly my Southern personality. I truly believe in the future of the South-West direction not only in terms of the economic potential, but also cultural and social heritage, still unknown in the EU and the US.
The idea of this blog is very personal and subjective, as is for the most of the blogs (not?). I am not a linguistic specialist, nor a musical guru, even if there are a few who claim so, but I am passionate about those two topics and I would like to invite you for a journey through sounds and stories from the Lusofonia. I would like to say thanks to my inspirational and supportive friends, always eager to ask about my Lusoexperience, to listen to Lusomusic at and eventually, strongly encouraging me to create Lusofonetica where I could create my notebook to share.
I will try to translate the Portuguese meanings at the bottom of the posts, but if some meanings will remain unclear, I strongly invite you to ask. As well as to participate, comment, and criticize in this Lusospace!
To illustrate my concept, I attach you the recording from Elis Regina’s ‘Meio de campo’, where she describes humbly the creative process, without pretending to be the master of masters:
Prezado amigo Afonsinho
Eu continuo aqui mesmo
Aperfeiçoando o imperfeito
Dando tempo, dando um jeito
Desprezando a perfeição
Que a perfeição é uma meta
Defendida pelo goleiro
Que joga na seleção
E eu não sou Pelé, nem nada
Se muito for eu sou um Tostão
Fazer um gol nesta partida não é fácil, meu irmão
Entrou de bola, e tudo!
Lusofonetica, a soundscape from the joyful to the melancholic, or as we would rather say in Portuguese, entre alegria e saudade.
Lusofonia – a Portuguese noun to describe the Portuguese-speaking countries and territories
fonetica – phonetics
jeito – manner, way
saudade – longing, yearning
meio de campo – in the middle of the field
roda – ring, circle of people
capoeira – is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, and is sometimes referred to as a game