São Paulo: abstraction and society


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.






Avenida Paulista

São Paulo Confessions

Music, Travel

A city which never sleeps and which could easily be a self-sufficient country itself with over 20 millions of residents and participation in about of 40% of the Brazilian GDP. A centre of the world for many, and the most important business location in LATAM. Love it and hate it at the same time, São Paulo has gained its fame as the ‘true capital’, where the most important economic and cultural events and processes take place and is literally bustling with the multicultural spirit. It is much different from what one would expect from a typical Brazilian postcard. Rather, one can expect anything and be sure this city will not leave you cold. From almost 2 million Japanese neighbourhood, making it the largest community outside of Japan, through exciting clubs and bars, to last remains of nature hidden somewhere in the concrete jungle (like Ibirapuera Park, for instance). Also, contrary to fantastically boring sunny climate typical for the most part of the coastline part of Brazil, São Paulo has a very changing weather and seeing the sun through the smog and skyscrapers may not be so easy.

The is no better LP which would illustrate the all-time changing urban soundscape of SP, recorded by the late Serbian-origin producer Suba – São Paulo Confessions. This producer came back in the late 80s and got sucked in by the city and the Brazilian culture. Tracks like ‘Samba do Gringo Paulista’ or ‘Tantos Desejos’ became electronic music classics and great material for remixes.

It is difficult to get to know Sampa within a few days, and I regret not having had more time to explore it. It literally takes hours to travel from one part of the city to another, not to mention commuting between the airports which are based in three very distant locations. However, it seems that neither a majority of residents of SP are not familiar with their city, spinning in a wheel of the crazy drive. Blinded by the lights on the famous Avenida Paulista, the urban excitement leads to artsy Vila Madalena and on and on… Getting out of the stimulating SP state of mind may be equally challenging.

Sambaloco – on the joyful side of drum’n’bass

Music, Travel

This time I would like to focus on the meaning that Brazilian artists had on the evolution of the drum and bass style. The discovery of the Brazilian d’n’b in my case coincided with the first clubbing experiences sometime around 2001. Based in the city half-way between Berlin and Warsaw, I remember these days were quite inspirational. There was an interesting drum’n’bass movement in the Polish capital, before the clubbing scene went mostly handbag, and it inspired some smaller cities like Poznań to create various underground places in the Old Town. It was also the year of releasing a very influential mix: DJ Marky’s Brazilian Job. I bet I heard it for the first time in the legendary Radiostacja alternative radio programme, in the late-night show ‘Drum and bass cały czas’ and it knocked me literally off my feet!

DJ Marky is already a living legend of the Brazilian electronic music, together with DJ Patife, Drumagick, and on a lighter note: Kaleidoscopio, to name very few who added an important value to what has already been discovered in the UK. The title of the post comes from a remarkable compilation which gave to the world some of the all-time relevant anthems like Fernanda Porto’s ‘Sambassim’ or ‘So Tinha de Ser com Voce’ remixes.

They firstly revolutionized the scene throughout Brazil, starting off in Sampa (aka SP, Sao Paulo), and later on in the UK (with DJ Marky’s residence at The End and recently in Fabric London). In the first decade of the 2000s Brazilian d’n’b became truly an exportation good.

Even if nowadays d’n’b became just a marginalised part of the ‘bass’ music, I still admire the unique style of combining the Brazilian classics with the energetic beats. The Brazilian d’n’b golden age was so powerful as if the music was to describe the high hopes spirits of those years. This spirit I found nowhere else, but in the North-Eastern region of the country, contrary to the statistics. Most of the cities in the region are still struggling with violence, uncontrolled urbanization processes and poverty, but each year the conditions are improving thanks to the economic development and the politics introduced in the era of the President Lula da Silva. To me, Brazilian d’n’b pictures the changes in the North-Eastern region, with some of the most impressive beaches, cuisine and weather for surfers on Earth, approximately 365 days of sun and wind per year and still, with some striking poverty and inequalities. In my humble opinion, Brazilian d’n’b, full of energy, yes-we-can attitude and creativity, should become a national musical product to share and promote the country, to top up with samba and bossanova.