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Brazil x New York : Sergio Krakowski and Vitor Gonçalves, in conversation with Todd Neufeld

Todd Neufeld: What does Brazilian Music mean to you and how does that interface with living in New York?

Sergio Krakowski: The first image that came to my mind is an anchor. It’s something that connects me to a certain ground. So I think any expression that I can make or produce, in terms of music, has this point of view. This is intrinsic to anything I play. You know the thing is, it’s not about the reproducing or copying tradition. It’s about having a reference field to anything that I create, and that interaction of ideas is not necessarily conscious. Most of it is not conscious, but I think I naturally bring that background. Now, sometimes it’s more conscious. Sometimes I'm really researching the elements and the tradition. But, it’s much more about something that I bring and I think of the image of the anchor.  Of course it has this heaviness connected to it, which is true.  I mean it is sometimes heavy to have that connection and sometimes be labeled as certain things.

Most of people don’t see these connections as being something alive. Many people see it and say “You’re going to be the guy who will recreate the tradition to be right now”, which maybe is a power that Brazilian musicians can possibly have, and it is an important role certain musicians can be part of, but I don’t believe that's the only thing I want to do. The last thing I can say about that is, lately I kind of got in touch with this sense of responsibility to pass things on to the musicians of next generation. And I definitely feel really connected to the idea of having responsibility with my ancestors. For example, in Brazil, I worked with a Sambista from Portela, who passed away. Many times when I was playing in New York, I had a very strong feeling that I was very much connected to the energy of the Samba, of the Roda de Samba there, to his tradition. Somehow I feel that I have this strong responsibility of delivering that to the world.

Vitor Gonçalves: Yeah, I think that Sergio touched on a lot of good points. That first thing he said : that a lot of times the choice of musical ideas are not made consciously, and I can relate to that. But there is a sort of tension, you know, because Brazilian music and Brazilian culture are imprinted in my history and my musical upbringing, from just being there and witnessing the culture from inside. But also, where I grew up and where I first found my musical path had strong relations to the Hermeto [Pascoal] school and Itibere [Zwarg] , all those guys, which really emphasized Brazilian identity.

TN: Consciously?

VG: Yeah consciously and explicitly. And another point that Sergio touched on: that heaviness, which is kind of oppressing sometimes, you know? I’m talking from the Brazilian perspective, before moving here in New York. Also, moving here was, in a way, to expand out of that heaviness and that kind of oppression. To branch out to other things, to other influences, other collaborations, other artistic atmospheres. But then, once you’re here, there’s another kind of heaviness because in a way you bare the brunt of being Brazilian. A lot of musicians respect and admire Brazilian music so much and being a Brazilian becomes an asset. People are interested in that part of you. You are here trying to branch out into other things and people are trying to get the Braziliness from you.

So, in my part, internally, I intend to branch out, but at the same time, being in New York and seeing all these people who are rooted in so many beautiful traditions, you realize that the image of the anchor is actually very nice. And then that naturally makes me think where my roots are. My roots are my strength; all the background, all the past, all the culture. So I guess it’s a constant challenge to be Brazilian and not be Brazilian, you know?

And this idea, to me, is a goal. For instance, when we made that record with the quartet, It wasn’t consciously a goal then, but now that I think about it, it is part of the goal -- how to bring all that culture and be Brazilian, but not be stuck in being Brazilian. It's not out yet, but the few people who have listened to the record gave me feedback with this exact feeling of being and not being, and it was cool to see that somehow the music conveyed this message. To connect with you and Dan [Weiss] and Thomas [Morgan] who all share a really beautiful admiration for the Brazilian culture, and to create something that can bridge those two worlds together is quite an experience.

TN: Yeah, beautiful, beautiful...

SK: Sorry to interrupt, but the name of the Sambista is Waldir 59. In Brazil we have this very serious issue about memory, and remembering the people who came before you, especially in the Samba world. Waldir 59 was connected to Candeia and Candeia had some political issues in the Portela scene. So basically he was completely forgotten from the scene for his entire life. He made amazing Samba Enredos, and he was the 
"diretor de harmonia" [director of harmony - Ed.] in a certain period of Portela. He also won a lot of prizes when he was in Portela. In a certain sense I think there is a strong energy that connects Waldir 59, connects all the Sambistas, and all the percussion players. It’s not necessarily about the names of each person, but in another sense, from another point of view, it’s very important that Brazil develops this capacity to talk about it’s own history, which is not happening much. I think that Brazilian musicians have a big responsibility to pay attention to these narratives in the history.

VG: Coming here and getting to know people who know so much about Brazilian music, kind of makes myself feel this sense of responsibility to know more. And I have to, in order to find the appropriate artistic path of my own, and to honor that, to, to discover that, to bring more things to, to push it forward, to be more in touch with things that I didn’t know.

TN: You guys are bringing up another interesting topic we haven’t looked too far into -- as far as honoring our predecessors and our ancestors, but specifically about the other Brazilian musicians from the past who have come to New York. Who are some of the musicians that come to mind as ancestors of, or predecessors, as far as Brazilian musicians who came to New York to develop somehow, to further their language.

VG: Well I can immediately recall Hermeto.  He made two records of his own here.  His whole connection with Miles that happened here. It’s hard to say, it’s hard to assess how much influence [Miles's] music had on Hermeto, but in my mind, all the freedom and the experimental-Miles phase he was in, I can’t imagine that not influencing [Hermeto]. Although, I doubt he would admit it. And [Antonio Carlos] Jobim, also Sivuca lived here.

SK: Before that Garoto... He came with Carmen Miranda and he stayed.

TN: That’s got to be some of the first experiences of Brazilian popular music in United States.

SK: And he brought back so many things. 

VG: I think [Garoto] went back right? I don’t think he stayed here.

SK: I think he went back. 

VG: Yeah and it’s interesting to talk about predecessors. That reminded me of an interview I saw that Jobim did. In the interview Marilia Gabriella, she asks, "how do you feel about Bossa Nova getting popular in the U.S, and how you became the ambassador, and all of a sudden all the eyes were looking at Brazil?" And he says, "actually I wasn’t the first," and he sited all the facts such as “Tico Tico No Fuba” was being a worldwide hit with Carmen Miranda, and Garoto was on it, those guys, how they came before. Yeah, I read that Maxixe was really popular here, you know, back in the twenties with the dance craze, with Charleston. It definitely has a history of dialogue.

TN: And even the more recent past for people who you guys are connected to, like Duduka DaFonseca. He definitely had important collaborations and groups with Jazz musicians. 

VG: Speaking of Duduka, someone actually came before him, Edison Machado --  It’s funny, because I wasn't aware of this, but Fred Hersch recorded in this Choro album with the Regional, and so I asked how he got into the Brazilian music scene. He said back in the day everyone was calling Bossa Nova tunes in the bandstand and he played this restaurant gig with this drummer, who at the time he didn’t know, was Edison Machado.

TN: Something I definitely wanted to talk about or get your ideas on, and something I’ve certainly thought about as a visitor to Brazil, having an interest in Brazilian music to a certain degree; what do you both feel are the aspects of Brazilian traditional music that are flexible and what are the aspects that you feel resist modification, that resist change, that are not flexible? Because to me, that’s something that’s on my mind, regarding Brazilian music.

SK: That’s a very interesting question. I tend to consider all the aspects as flexible, in a certain sense, but I understand what you mean, and I have felt that certain things didn’t work, things that were not fitting. For example, I always thought that the Samba, the Samba song-writing and interpreting Samba would not be feasible in terms of different context, in terms of open Free Jazz, I don’t know if this would be a good term but, open form interpretation would work. I always thought that, but with the trio, with us, it was really obvious that it definitely not only works but I felt really compelled to do a project that would involve, also, the singing.  This is an example of something that I've always thought would never work.

I did think  that I could do stuff with Choro.  My first professional experience was with Tira Poeira, which is basically a Choro group that proposed a certain flexibility using Choro. So we proposed a bunch of stuff that is connected to, such as 90’s jazz and Michael Brecker, Joshua Redman. I remember these were the references for us, and drummers, and the idea of rhythmic illusion, I remember these were discussions we had when we were doing the Trio Poeira repertoire. I don’t want to judge what that is, in terms of aesthetic terms, but I liked it very much. I am proud of having gone through this musical moment, which was very important and essential to my growth. And, in that moment, it was clear to us that Choro could be really flexible in that sense, and I think it still is. Seeing, for example, the project of James Shipp Choro Dragao. I completely agree with his musical proposals, which are even further than the Trio Poeira proposals. But when it comes to the Samba, before moving here, before meeting with you, before playing with you, I never thought it could work in this way, and I feel completely astounded to see what we have done. Obviously it does work. So, I think it’s a question of time, moments, and especially the people with whom you’re going to experiment new things. I think that’s really the core issue, it’s really the soul connection that we have to try something new with. 

VG: Yeah I agree, that it’s, as you say, about who you were playing with, and it depends on what you are doing, what you are trying to create, and what the result would be. I don’t think there is any aspect that persists in creating music, in other words, everything can be flexible as long as you’re kind of clear with what you are aiming to do. And again, this brings back to the tension, like how Brazilian you want to be, how much of this connection you still want but not being explicit. So it’s a challenge, but depending on the approach you have and the musicians you're collaborating with, I think everything can be flexible. You just have to find the right way to do it, and that was a challenge, for instance with the quartet, with the the record we did. It was like, here we can push for this, being more explicitly Brazilian, here no, forget the Brazilness, and it'll come out naturally, or in the composition or in the playing or in the respect for the music that everyone has. That’s something I felt on the first gig we played in New York, when we played with Joey Baron. I remember I told you before, let’s not try to be anything, just let whatever happens happen. 

And then the result -- everything comes into place, whether the specific Brazilian elements and whatever else just naturally blends together. So, I don’t know if I can think of specific elements that resists.

TN: Yeah for me, if you look at rhythm in Brazilian music, and with any strength, with anything you’re strong with, it can also be a limitation, it can be a weakness. Of course Brazilian music is a very strong and it has a unique rhythmic history. If you look at rhythms in jazz, rhythms in jazz did very much find a way, seemingly very naturally, for people to be flexible with them, to be loose with them, to obfuscate them. The drummers throughout the sixties and seventies up through now, who have somehow found a way to really still feel a part of the rhythms of the tradition that they’re a part of, played in a very loose way, with very non-overt kind of references. I think Brazilian music hasn’t yet found that type of looseness and flexibility in terms of rhythm.

VG: I agree and I think that’s something else that I want to connect better with, because that’s part of my history before moving here. Specifically the work we did with Bamboo, the group that I had there, where everyone was Brazilian and had that history and that background, but we were searching for a broader approach, and I think we found some really nice results. Then, I moved here and we kind of stopped playing as much, but Sergio, for instance, is someone who connects with the tradition and experiment new things, and we relate to each other in that way, but I do agree with what you’re saying. I think that’s part of the tension that we were talking about, whether or not you go and how you go into another direction but still keeping a part of being Brazilian.

SK: I think it’s a very interesting question, especially the one that's related to rhythm. One thing we shouldn't forget is the fact that Candomble is a living religion. Here in the U.S., I don’t think there is a living African American religion [connected to Jazz] that is happening with rites every Saturday, every Friday. In Brazil, the percussion players are playing Samba in the gigs, are really going to the Candomble rites and that stuff is happening on a level that is really every day ritual, so somehow again, this brings up the anchor issue. It’s heavy, I mean when it’s a religious thing, it’s a religious thing. Of course I agree that any musical expression should be taken as religious sometimes, and has this religious strength, but on the other hand, when you have this religion and institution existing it’s a little bit different.

TN: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. Jazz music still has deeply religious connections, deep African connections, but still, it’s a form that’s kind of abstracted and that could be the difference. 

Sk: I think there are a few steps towards that [idea] that we should mention. For example, Letieres Leite, Orchestra Rumpilezz, he did this project, which was not exactly open or free form, but it had a lot of elements that were jazz-like in a certain sense of openness. But, going back to the percussion aspect, I definitely always felt the trajectory I had to face, of having great percussion players teaching me and sometimes feeling that I could rarely try out open musical approaches. On the other side, though, when I’m playing Samba I feel totally free. I feel Samba, when you listen to a Roda de Samba, you see those things are almost like free-form situation in a certain sense.

TN: Yeah I don’t know if I would, I would agree with that in the sense, specifically looseness of rhythm. I think on some kind of larger level, energetically there’s an intensity--

SK: That’s what I meant.

TN: -- or a larger circle. Yeah, but I guess I’m talking, more specifically about, you could take drummers, you take someone like Paul Motian or Elvin Jones-

VG: But it’s like that tension again, some people will argue that that’s not jazz, you know, that’s not jazz rhythm. Some people will argue that it’s departed so much that--  there was a point where the music had a departure from the swing, yet it still kept the roots of Jazz. But in Brazilian music you departed from the subdivision, or whatever, but still keep the roots of-

TN: But it seems like that question has been explored very deeply in so-called Jazz rhythm and, hasn’t been so much in Brazilian.  A few people, someone like Tutty Moreno comes to mind. But, he feels like an anomaly and almost, according to some people certainly, unbrazilian.

VG: But Tutty's case would be kind of like Elvin Jones situation. In my mind, he’s still playing the tradition but he’s also pushing it, and taking this new approach.

TN: Absolutely, but to me he’s an anomaly. I mean you guys are anomalies, and that’s particularly what I’m interested in. 

VG: For me it’s just a scene. Like it’s New York, and that’s why I came here, you know, to see people like Tyshawn [Sorey] who has this huge knowledge of all the tradition. It’s like a bridge to another world. So again, in Brazil, in Sao Paulo, you have Alex Buck, who I played with and he’s sort of the equivalent, who is really interested in twentieth century music. When he goes to play drums, even if he’s playing a “Brazilian” rhythm he’ll bring that freedom and that openness and then will depart from it, and then come back. But, he’s an anomaly as well, there; I can only think of him so...

And, and that’s kind of like the path that Bernardo [Ramos] is on. He's been telling me "Man, we gotta talk about Rema’s album, what is that!" 

SK: I think it’s always about anomalies, it’s always about people who don’t really do what is supposed to be normal in a certain context, cultural context and what's general for artists. We always face this lonely situation, this solitude, because when you try to push certain boundaries, you are alone in a certain sense. And of course in New York it’s a bunch of lonely people who get together and are being able to make energy flow, in many directions that we maybe wouldn’t be able to do, I couldn’t do, in Rio. It was very clear. I decided to come because I saw energy flowing in a certain sense here.

TN: What do you think it is culturally ? Meeting the two of you, Vitor in Brazil in 2007, and Sergio here in New York a few years ago, it's a very rare encounter with a Brazilian musician who had that kind of perspective on a way to engage a tradition, which I’ve always wanted to do. Brazilian music is particularly rich in it’s history, yet musicians there, and the people, seem somewhat contented to focus on that.

VG: I think it’s historical, it brings us back to the beginning of our discussion where we talked about the kind of tension and that heaviness. Well, first of all it’s a huge country. When I started traveling a little bit in Latin America, Argentina, Uruguay, and I got in touch with musicians there and started to get to know the musicians there, I realized that everyone knew about Brazilian music, but we don’t know about Argentinian music, we don’t know about Colombian music. We don’t know anything, but they all knew about Brazilian music. I think it’s like that because everyone respects the Brazilian music so much and you want to keep this respect, you know, I think it somehow leads into this indulgence.

It comes from, I don’t know, from Carlos Gomes in the nineteenth century trying to find -- it’s in the roots of the heart of the Brazilian identity, so it’s a two edged sword. You bring forth your values and your culture and you incorporate the foreign influence, but you can’t admit that you’re doing that, and it’s kind of like a sin. So you know Carlos Gomes is writing his first Brazilian opera, which is actually like Italian music and he studied there, but the theme was Brazilian, the Indians, the natives. Then, you come to the modernist movements and you know Villa Lobos was in all the manifesto, looking for the roots and looking for the Choro, and the connection to Stravinsky and French composers and etc. And then there are Choro people like Jacob [do Bandolim]. I’ve read that he was ultra nationalist and was under the defense of the Brazilian culture, but you hear his music and you clearly hear the influence of jazz, blues notes, and dominant chords. And then Jobim whom people would criticize... I think that sort of things are part of the creation of the Brazilian cultural identity.

If we talked about Hermeto again, his speeches are all about being Brazilian nationalists. But, the result is a little different. Somehow I think his speech hinders a possibility of a broader expansion. In the U.S they deal with similar things when you see the jazz or the traditionalist, and they want it to be American, they want to be rooted because jazz is American, because jazz is black, and then we talk about race, there’s just like this whole other tension. And for some people I think that means holding to a certain position. But, I agree that here in the States, like what Sergio was saying, so much is going on musically with so many artists involved, it’s easier to navigate through certain niches.

TN: Can you both talk about one person who you feel is honestly extending the Brazilian musical language in a way that you really admire. Some of the musicians you both already talked about but if there’s someone that you feel is doing that today. 

VG: I think Andre Mehmari is a really interesting musician, and a really great piano player and a great composer with a strong classical music influence. Or Rafael Martini.

SK: I was exactly thinking about Rafael Martini. I mean this is more in the realm of instrumental music, we're not talking about songwriters. If we talk about songwriters definitely I would say people from Coletivo Chama. I admire a lot of the things they're working on. Thiago Amud, Thiago Thiago de Mello. So in that sense, I think there is a research that is not necessarily towards improvisation but it's towards composition. Especially with lyrics. It's the relationship of the words, and music that I think worth mentioning. To me they're important.

VG: Bernardo Ramos, Alex Buck, both we played together in Bamboo. Joana Queiroz. I feel like this generation, our generation that we're citing here, like Raphael Martini, Antonio Loreiro, Joana, Bernardo, Alex, I think each one has their history but we bring a lot of reference in common, but they are all trying to branch out outside that comfort zone of Brazilian Music. So, they all check out-- for instance I was mentioning this unbalanced situation between Brazil towards the rest of Latin America and vice versa. They all check out a lot the Argentinian stuff. They are making an effort to step aside the common reference we all have, it's more easily accessible in Brazil. References that are not so commonly talked about at least in our scene there in Rio.

TN: Both of you are releasing gorgeous, beautiful works of your own leadership. Sergio's yours with Ruweh, and Vitor, your album which will be released soon on Sunnyside. Maybe you can talk a little bit of your conception behind these works, and how much a consciousness of Brazilian Music was a part of that or if it was just an unconscious translation of who you are.

SK: So, this album, it was born as a translation of my first album, Carrosel de Passaros. Carrosel de Passaros, in fact, is an album that has a lot of guests. Also the songs are connected, one to the next, and the last one is connected to the first one, making it a cycle. So, in itself the idea is to make it an endless cycle of sound. So, definitely Passaros : The Foundation of the Island, the Passaros suite, which is what we've built together, has this aspect, which is a flow that re-creates every time we're playing. I think this concept is definitely one of the things that I feel is the most important aspect in the identity of this work. Every time we're playing, it feels like a journey, like something that is a flow that starts and never stops until the very last note.

Much more than that, what I felt that happened and that I for sure think is a blessing, is the fact that I met you two which is of essence for that to happen. The common sound where the three of us meet, generates this magical thing. And I feel one of the most important things in this project is the fact that I wanna play with you for many years. I want to be able to keep creating music with you. That in itself I think is a very important statement as an artist. It can be the same repertoire, it can be other repertoires, but definitely the Passaros suite is a repertoire that is going to be always there, even if we do other projects, even if I want to propose other stuff. We've been playing it for almost three years, and every time we see the process of life that goes through in between. 

In terms of artistic statement, this is a moment where people just do projects. They are put together and then you have to do a gig and then you try to get some stuff and I think there's also a nice thing about the dynamics of that, but I missed this [other] process when I just arrived here. And the repertoire itself and the compositions really depended on our personal interaction, too.

But, in terms of compositions I think I have a few sources of inspiration. Carrosel de Passaros came from the study that I used to do with Nelson Veras, the guitarist who played on the first album.  Path of Roses is completely connected to [the italian song] Mare Maje in the sense that it has this somehow melancholic sound but on the other side I wanted to bring a Marcha de Carnaval vibe for the album.  And then Choro de Baile is a choro that's based on a beautiful older choro that I admire a lot. And then the last, Wayfairing Stranger, it's funny I was thinking of that right now, I think it's related to the life of an artist, in the sense of roaming and dealing with a lot of suffering, but always aiming, this moment of illumination, that can be death, or it can be life. It's definitely what we find when we play music. It's a Irish folk song, it's completely connected to Elomar [North-eastern Brazilian singer], songs in Brazil, it's a different sound, yeah, but it's talking about basically the same issue.

VG: The quartet album, it's my first work as a leader and actually pretty much the first time showing my work as a composer. It was an amazing chance to work with you guys and with people I really admire here in NY, with whom I thought was able to build something together. From what I bring, from that story, that background, everything that we talked about, and the things that you guys bring and having this sort of admiration for the Brazilian culture in common between the four of us. So, it wasn't like planned, every single song, or this would be this color or the others, but [the songs in the album were] ones that I mostly developed while I was here, or some others that I reworked from older materials. There's a lot of rhythmic ideas that I am very interested in, and I tried to develop those in the record. One thing that I'm definitely interested in is how to displace the subdivision, shifts, this is something that I like to do, and I definitely explore this in the arrangements. There is something that I got as an influence from Cuban music. I have a great friend in Brazil, Jose Isquerdo, we play a lot together, he taught me Bata drums, and conga, this is something you see very often. The same phrase, the same motive, but it's displaced, offset. But, of course I wanted to somehow show my Brazilian identity and honor this past and the predecessors and honor my history, all that stuff that we were talking about.

There's some moments that are more explicitly Brazilian, one of them is the Jobim song, this beautiful ballad that I heard through Joao Gilberto singing, you're a big fan, and Thomas[Morgan] is a big fan of Joao, you both knew the song before, and it's not one of the most famous songs of his, so it's nice. There's one song by Baden [Powell] which I did this arrangement for, and that's from a record that I really love. It's all songs by Baden, Cesar Pinhero, that record's called Os Cantores da Lapinha. So, I did this arrangement, which allows music to depart a lot from the Brazilian rhythmic concept, which was original to this song. But that's something that we didn't talk yet, because typically when you say “Oh this is Brazilian,” the first thing that comes to people's mind, is the rhythm. And the same if we say, “Oh Africa, or Cuban,” because rhythm is very strong and very powerful and it definitely kind of grabs people's attention immediately, but in my opinion, a huge part of the Brazilian identity and inheritance comes from the harmony and melody. All different scenes like the whole Minas [Gerais] scene and Clube da Esquina, and the samba songs and the choro, not just the fast ones, but the kind of Seresta, melancholic, all have their own sense of harmony and melody.

So, I hope I could somehow preserve this type of uniqueness in the Baden Powell song, though it took the song rhythmically to another context. I feel that the melody, well we don't have words in the song, is still present. And then we have a Frevo which I didn't plan to play as a Frevo. My idea was just to bring and see if we could just find another way to play it. And I think we did, but somehow we kept the rhythmic element of it. Dan was really excited to play this song, and it came out really nicely. That's what I believe, I believe that, if there's a song that's clearly based on a choro form and choro harmony, I can rhythmically bring that into a different time signature and different world, which is Desleixada, which is based on Desvairada, by Garoto waltz a choro waltz. But even outside those moments where you can pinpoint clearly what is Brazilian, in other songs like Cortelyou Rd, here and there, in the intro, there is a little Northeastern, Hermeto influence, some motives, and grooves a little bit. Winter Landscapes, I think it somehow brings that melody and that color, harmony and melody of Brazil. Those were not so conscious, it just happened. I relate to what Sergio said earlier in the interview, like every note that I play is connected to my ancestry, to my background, even if I don't realize it. Like what you said, we didn't talk much, but it's not just the music, it's the culture, it's where you come from, it's the weather, it's the social rules. It's all imprinted in the music. Though sometimes you cannot pinpoint, "This comes from that" but it's all in there.

To talk about what you said, the influence of Itiberê Zwarg, I played in his group for ten years. He's one of the disciples of Hermeto. He's been playing with Hermeto for maybe 40 years by now. And this had a huge impact on my musical identity and my musical path and my musical search. It was my first [musical influence], when I really decided to delve into music seriously and to devote my life to that. And this happened, it was a bunch of more or less 18 year old young musicians, playing this extremely exciting music with a lot of energy, you were there for rehearsals. I think Hermeto is a pioneer of what we're talking about, this whole search of Brazilian identity but expanding and branching out. It's not random that he calls his music Universal Music; one of his records is Brazil Universe. So, he kind of deals with that idea of music as a universal language, that is open to everything, but him as a Brazilian, as a guy from Northeast, bringing his roots into the music. So, it really bridges a lot of worlds, and I'm really grateful to that. Although I think I play very differently than I played there, inevitably and thankfully, I'll always carry that musical imprint with me.

I believe you always have things to sum, you never have to discard things. You're always adding things to your background to your influence. I think when you're young, you sometimes tend to find or point out what you don't like, to be critical, but as you grow, you realize that there is something to learn with every style of music; with every musician, with every scene, with every genre, and you just have to keep adding and searching for new challenges and more information.

TN: I'm sure you'll keep doing that.

SK: About coming from a different country and being here, it's kind of a general issue in a certain sense. Of course as Vitor said, Brazil brings not only the rhythm but also a harmony and melody in such a beautiful way, and clearly, we can say that Brazil is a "rich" country in terms of music. But, I think that the tradition finds it's way through music through any culture in a certain sense. It's a human aspect. So, definitely that's the key: to connect not a multi culture blend of licks of shortcuts. I think that the essential focus here is the energy which flows through generations, I think that is quite a common background to any human being who is really searching for artistic expression, musical expression for sure. American, Japanese, in the case of Ruweh, in the case of your music, in the case of Rema's music. And this is a place where a bunch of people with different backgrounds are, searching for that energy and connection through your language and through your colors. The beauty is of course blending of two or more different colors, but them not blending to blend. The fact that it ends up adding more colors as a result, is much more of a consequence than the goal. I think this is one of the main issues of what we call World Music. Sometimes we might disconnect from the essence.


Interview transcribed by Alessandra Harkness.

Special thanks to Amanda Scherbenske for editorial ideas.


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