ComfusõesA lot of Brazilian people don’t know much about Angola. What sparked your interest in that country? And how many times have you been there?
Well, the first time I heard Angolan music was when my old friend Moreno Veloso (son of great singer Caetano Veloso) put the Alliance Française compilation "Angola 70's" to play. I felt at home with all that music, melodies, and was really affected by the lyrics, by their struggle for independence, by the way Teta Lando and Bonga sang. Later in my life, in the year 2002, just after the war ended, I was invited by a friend, the photographer Sergio Guerra, who was beginning his music label called Maianga (the label that released Comfusões). I went to Luanda to record with Paulo Flores, and since then I came back 5 times.
When did you first become interested in Angolan music?
Well, I guess since I listened to Teta Lando for the first time.
What is it about Angolan music from the 60s and 70s that brought out your passion?
Well, first of all, the sound. That unique vintage reverb and echo, then the typical Angolan guitar, EQ with many high frequencies and tap delay, and then, the soulful vocals. That time when ideology was really something important to the people, obviously the singers brought their ideologies to their vocals. Like Bob Dylan did, like Bob Marley did.
Tell us what you feel when you listen to those old records. How does it move you, and what made you want to remix them?
The remix was something natural. As a producer, the approach was that those beautiful songs needed some contemporary versions, because it fit to them, when you listen, you can imagine that there was a drummer shuffling, but in the mix they kind of forgot him. Something like that, it's a feeling you have, that you can do something that can put light again into those beautiful tunes. I think a remix is better than another version, because no one can sing like these guys did at that time. It’s unique. It’s not their technique; it's something particular of that time, the feeling of that independence era, that unique vibe.
How did you go about choosing the remixers?
Well, I have a lot of close friends that are producers and share this love for African music in general. So it was an easy pick. I just tried to imagine the tunes that could go well with each one of them, then I sent some options, and in many cases I did the remix together.
What were your favorite tracks to remix?
My favorite is Zom Zom, the last track of the CD. I love Elias vocals, and I'm not so much into electronic music, but I listen to some deep house, so I guess it was an influence to this remix in particular. And I put some Kraftwerk-like keyboard melody at the end of the track, so it was full of good references to me.
Who is your favorite Angolan artist of that era?
I guess Teta Lando. He is the most representative, the most political, and Angolé is an eternal hymn, not only for Angola, but for everybody. It doesn't matter the color of your skin, like he says. I hope we're done with racism soon. This is the best anti-racism song for me.
When do you plan to release Comfusões 2? Any exclusive information you want to give us about that album?
Well, I can't say a lot because I didn't get started yet, really. But it’s definitely a promise for me, that I'll organize and produce volume 2, with a lot of surprises and new remixers. The first musician I invited to do a remix is my friend Kalaf, from Buraka Som Sistema.
Have you had a chance to expose Angolans to your work?
A I mentioned, Kalaf and Conductor, from BSS, listened to it, and they liked! That was really good for me! Well, I have some friends that are putting Comfusões finally on the raido in Angola, like DJ Znobia, and my good friend Wyza, the best singer of the new generation. Wyza is amazing, he can be as big as Salif Keita, in my opinion. Have you heard of him?
Have you had the chance to travel outside of Luanda?
Unfortunately, no. I just went to Cabo Ledo, and Barra do Kwanza, but I didn’t go to other provinces. I'd love to, next time I go there, and meet other musicians and the different lifestyles of places like Benguela.
Zom Zom and Chofer de Praça are among my favorite tracks from that album, and both stay very faithful to the original material. How did you go about choosing which rhythms went the best with the original work?
Well, I'm very experimental, that's the way I work. Chofer de praça was a suggestion of the Label director, Sergio Guerra. He showed me the track and talked about bringing Dog Murras, the kuduro superstar, to add some vocals. So I started imagining Murras vibes, and then gave to the track an uptempo beat, wich i think worked well with Murras. He normally sings at 140bpm, so this tracks was really cool and easy for him, and he did some great party vocals and definitely it's his track. Zom Zom is a hypnotic track. Normally at the end, when I master a CD, I just can't listen to it for a week or so, and in this case, I only kept listening to Zom Zom...
Besides Zom Zom, what is your favorite track from Comfusões 1?
Kuale Ngo Valodo. Lamartine is a reggae man! He's like Ranking Joe, or Taper Zukkie, you know?
Kuale N'Go Valodo
Tell us a bit of how Stereo Maracanã came into existence.
Stereo Maracanã is the union of different people from different parts of Rio. This biodiversity in a group is typical of a city like Rio, and it's good for the sound, because we change experiences, and we have one that grew in samba, the other is a reggae drummer, the other comes from the capoeira environment, and I try to balance everything in the production of the tracks. Ironically, I was called the "rocker", can you imagine? Because I play the guitar. But in the new CD that we're recording now the guitars will be more and more african, I guess...
Freestyle Love is my favorite song from the album Combatentes. What is the idea behind the song and its video?
Well, Freestyle Love is amazing, it just keep surprising us. It's in several compilations around the world every year. I think we pictured this carioca way of life in this track, and maybe that's because people associate it to Brazil, Rio, and put it into Brazilian contemporary music compilations. We just did it like that, and this track helped us a lot already. We toured Europe 2 times, mainly because of this very track.
What would you say is the genre and musical style of Stereo Maracanã?
I'd say roots capoeira eletrofunk.
Tell us about the hip-hop movement in Brazil.
Well, I like hip hop, and listen to a lot of rappers in Brazil, but I don't follow the so called hip hop movement in Brazil. I guess Sao Paulo is the main city of the movement. hip hop is strong there. In Rio, samba is everywhere, so hip hop became strongly influenced by the samba culture. Macelo D2 is a very good example of that. He is rapper, but when you see him, you could say he is a samba composer, you know?
What would you say are the main differences between the funk of SM and hip-hop?
I think SM is not hip hop. We use rap vocals, and we know a lot of hip hop, we're playing for a while now, so we know everybody, we respect a lot the movement, but we're just in another style, musically. We're closer to funk carioca and samba, with rap vocals. We do not have a DJ, we don't dress like typical rappers do, so I guess the only element of the hip hop culture that is really present is the rap, and the themes of the lyrics as well.
Sou Local and Onde É Que Tu Tá are two great tracks in which you display a lot of love for Rio de Janeiro. How has the city inspired you?
Yo, Rio is a marvelous city. Rio is like a team that you love, you know? It's like the Yankees, to New York people, and like Flamengo, to us. Everybody that is "carioca" is proud of it. We defend our lifestyle, you know? Sometimes, going to the beach for half an hour during a work day is an attitude, is not something lazy or whatever. We love the people here, the people of this city really inspires us every day.
Onde E Que Tu Ta
What is the story behind the French inspired track République?
It's a Pedro (the vocalist) story. He had this girlfriend in Paris, when he lived there, and they had a date, but he couldn't make it because there was a police block and they stopped him, and the time was passing, and he didn’t have a cell phone to call her, etc...
Mauricio Pacheco, the Man
When did you first become interested in making a living off music?
That's good. I never thought of music as something to get money. It was always a dream, to be on stage, to do an original sound and make it as a musician, but it didn't think of making a living of it. When I became a professional musician, I still didn't think I could live of that. After a while, I started producing music, recording, and then, only after all that, I assumed that I could be an artist, a musician, and that's what I do for a living and for my soul, and that's who I am. Music is my passion, and I'll always fight for it.
What first captivated you about the production aspect of music?
The frustration of not being able to build the sound that I imagined. I just decided that I had to learn it, so as I could be in charge and build my own sound.
What was the first song you ever released?
My first production was Freestyle Love, really. The first single offStereo Maracanã, my first CD as a producer.
5 musicians/band you listen to weekly, if not daily:
Banda Black Rio
Jorge Ben Jor
Favorite late night crooners when it’s just you and the missus:
Bob Marley "turn your lights down low", great track!
Most played song on your iPod:
that's hard, but, okay, I'll play this game. Just one? I’ll pick "State of Mind", from Raul Midon. This week...
Biggest musical influences?
Jorge Ben Jor, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Lee Perry, Gilberto Gil, The Clash, and music from Mali, Angola and Cuba, in general.
Favorite city in Brazil? Favorite city in the world?
Rio de Janeiro, no more to say. In the world? Man, I'm too carioca to admit that any city can beat Rio. But I feel at home in Barcelona and New York, as well. Too greaaat cities!
Random thought of the day:
The most important thing is to do what you love to do, and believe in yourself. You know, sometimes we're just so self-critical, that we can't even recognize that we can be good, even though we'll never be perfect, or even close to perfection. Do the best that you can, and that's a good start, for every work.
Thank you for time Claudio, it was fun!