Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Saudade. Your new EP: Xango has just been released on Pont Neuf Records. Tell us about how your relationship with the label happened? And what does the EP’s title mean for you?
Pont Neuf Records has always been a family to me, I was there at the creation of the label 4 years ago where I released my first EP “Nights” with my other alias “Taos”. I know the manager Thomas and the other artists for years now. Great people and great music 😊
When I lived in Rio, I used to go to the carnival rehearsal of « Salgueiro » samba music school. The energy of their percussion ensemble « Bateria Furiosa » blew my mind. It inspired me a lot for incorporating Samba music into electronic music. Each samba school has a theme for the carnival. The theme of Salgueiro for 2019 carnival was “Xango”. That’s why I called the EP “Xango” as a tribute to my experience in Rio. Xango is an Afro-Latin divinity coming from Yoruba Religion. He is actually the spirit of bolt and thunder.
stream / buy Xango https://lnk.to/SaudadeXango
You can clearly hear how important percussion is to you as so much of the detail in the tracks is dedicated to it. Where did your love of drums originate from, and who are your most influential players?
I learned the drums from the age of 12 to 18. I have always been in love with rhythms and especially dance rhythms. I always listened very carefully to the drum breaks in funk songs. What I love is the energy, the dynamic, and the pace that allows rhythms. I was astounded by percussion ensembles I could hear the street sometimes when I was a kid. The sound power that spread from it. What I found interesting in percussion is its cultural roots. Each part of the world has different patterns and a different feel and therefore different ways to dance. I don’t have specific players to name except Tito Puente. Otherwise, I like Darbuka rhythms from North Africa, every rhythm made in Central and South America, Dhol and tabla beats from India, or even Bodhran from Scotland.
Can you talk us through how you produced one of the tracks from the EP, including any favourite software/ hardware you use?
To make the track “O Samba”, I wanted to produce a sincere tribute to Samba music. First, I tried to recompose electronically the percussions of samba ensemble like surdo, conga, caixa and shakers. To do so, I used a few drum synthesizers vst and my Roland Juno 6. Then I felt it lack an organic touch. That’s why I recorded my percussionist friend Tom Guillouzic in the music studio of my former music school in Nantes. It was a lot of fun! Then I added some vocals I found in an interview from an art exhibition about samba history that took place in the art museum of Rio. I found this vocal very interesting because it talks about the Angolan roots of samba, its link with the slavery history and the form that spread from it in Brazil and especially in Rio with its key places: favelas, samba schools, and the Sambodromo (literally the Samba stadium where the Carnival parade takes place). I added a few synth pads from my Juno to add depth and a bit of lightness. And subs to add the club energy it needed.
For this track I used the Microtonic and Kick 2 which are great drum synth plugin. I use a Shure SM-57 to record the congas. The Roland Juno 6 plays all the synths in the track. For the mix, I mainly use Waves plugins. You know all the secrets know 😉
How has Covid-19 affected the ways in which you work? And how do you see things changing (in terms of artist income, clubs and music venues etc) as a result of the pandemic?
It didn’t change the way I worked. It helped me to focus on my workflow and to learn to develop independence with my music setup. In terms of artist income, this crisis underlined the precarity of being a professional DJ, and let me think about other ways of living out of music without gigs. In terms of music venues, I am very optimistic, and I hope it will be just like it used to be or very close in a few months.
Where did the inspiration for O Funk come from? It’s such a refreshing track.
Thanks 😊 When I lived in Rio I have been to some Baile Funk parties. Baile Funk which is called “Funk” in Rio is a music genre inherited by Miami Bass with a carioca groove of its own. Originally it is a kind of music made by producers from the Favela. It’s often a tight beat and a MC rapping over it. The groove between the kick and the snare is very special. It makes you stumble. The energy of this kind of music is focused on the bass and low frequencies of the kick and also the noisy high pitched slappy snares. On loud club speakers, the Baile Funk vibe is impressive. It’s like a cloud of frequencies, almost like listening to minimal or techno music on a sound system. At least, that’s how I felt it. Therefore, I wanted to translate that feeling into an electronic interpretation of Baile Funk with this track “O Funk”. At the very end of the track, you can hear a regular Miami Bass 808 rhythm, which is the very root of Baile Funk. That reminds me of that dance contest I saw a Wednesday night on Praça Tiradentes back in Rio with old school Miami bass in the background.
How did you get into DJ’ing and also Producing music? Do you think one can be done without the other these days?
I started producing first with a looper pedal and a Casio keyboard at 14 years old. Then, at 15, I bought my first DAW software in a multimedia store at the time… I discover DJ’ing in high school with a friend Adrien from Cosmonection (also in the Pont Neuf Records). We had a duo, he introduced me to DJ’ing. At the age of 17, we mixed for parties with friends from high schools. I loved the positive impact dance music had on a crowd.
I think you can produce music without DJ’ing if you have a nice music live to show to your public. And you can mix without being a producer if you have great knowledge and a particular feel.
Outside of electronic music who would you say are your most important influences?
I would say Thom Yorke for the importance of sincerity in music. J Dilla for the complexity of simplicity. Errol Garner for the power of creating a jazz swing of his own. And Tom Jobim for the joy, the sunshine, and the freshness of his music, like a living painting of Rio.
The artwork for the release is particularly striking. Tell us about the people who created it and what it signifies to you?
Shout out to Louis Stecken! We studied in the same school. I discovered very lately he became an artist and such a talented one. I found the painting of the artwork in his portfolio. I loved it. I thought it could be a good incarnation of the spirit “Xango”.
And finally. What are your plans for moving forwards?
After this tribute EP to Brazilian rhythms, I might want to go deeper in this way or to bring new rhythm influences in my music. It might be North-African rhythms or Jazzy stuff. I still don’t know. I like the idea of interbreeding in electronic music between the acoustic and the electronic world. Otherwise, I want to develop the live aspect of my music and to take a step forward in production skills. I bought a new synth recently, the Syncussion. I hope I will be able to make great bass lines and drum synths with it.