Fresh faces of Brazil’s new music

Samba-psychobilly to kuduro-baiana: a gringo’s musical odyssey in Brazil

My introduction to Brazilian music was through the jazz-samba and bossa nova that Gilles Peterson played on his mid 90s radio shows. Further explorations led me to manguebeat and Tropicália which appealed to the indie-dance-kid in me. This got me wondering who the Brazilian artists influenced by these genres were now. The only compilations I could find focused on baile-funk or new-bossa yet I wanted the Brazilian equivalent to Rough Trade’s “Counter Culture” albums – a snapshot of the most exciting new Brazilian music across all genres – so I decided to make my own.

I began by trawling blogs & myspace – 21st century crate digging. I remember one night wading through scores of Brazilian psychobilly bands who all had such fantastic names – I was convinced I’d find one making some incredible samba-psychobilly. I didn’t. However later that evening I stumbled across the BaianaSystem’s ‘O Carnaval Quem é Que Faz – a guitarra Baiana crossed with kuduro and a guaranteed dancefloor smash. I felt like I’d won the lottery!

As with any genre of music you haven’t heard before it can take a while for your ears to warm to it. On first listen tecnobrega from the city of Belém can sound like bad 90s euro-pop. Dig a little deeper though and you find artists such as Maderito and Gaby Amarantos who make contagious pop-dance smashes that even a hardened cynic like me finds irresistible. Hearing Gaby Amarantos’s ‘Melody Do Vetron’ for the first time was like being transported 20 years back in time to that moment when as pop-hungry 13 year old I first heard Technotronic’s ‘Pump up the Jam’.

After months of research I visited Brazil in late 2009 and spent a month traveling round listening to bands, making new friends and drinking pints of cachaça. The highlights were numerous: Mini Box Lunar @ Goiana Noise festival, Cordel de Fogo Encantado in Belem (one of their last concerts), Porcas Borboletas in Sao Paulo, Belem & Goiana, listening to tecnobrega whilst driving round Belem and hanging out with DJ Dolores in Recife.

Fast forward nine months and the fruits of my labour have resulted in Oi!, a 40 track 2CD compilation that flits from tropical rock to novo tropicalia via eletromelody, dub and folk music and which Gilles Peterson, my original Brazilian inspiration, has just announced as his compilation of the month.

Oi! A Nova Música Brasileira
Various Artists
Mais Um Discos


Top 5
New Alternative Brasilian acts

Mini Box Lunar (Macapá)
Described as “Jefferson Airplane with calypso”, comparisons with Os Mutantes are also inevitable due to their youthful mastery of a dizzying array of genres. Whether playing insane country funk, Amazonian waltzes or calypso-marchinha they are leading the charge for novo-Tropicália.

Catarina Dee Jah (Olinda)
This former DJ now manguebeat-pop-star sounds like a (Brasilian) cross between Debby Harry and M.I.A. She cites Fernando Catatau as one of her musical heroes and her ska-dancehall influenced sound echoes the playfulness of Cidadão Instigado.

Gaby Amarantos & Maderito (Belém)
Following her tecnobrega reversioning of ‘Single Ladies’ she is known in the Brasilian media as the “Amazonian Beyonce”. Maderito is the king of eletromelody, tecnobrega’s slower-but-raved-up cousin, and as Gaby’s regular musical partner-in-crime this makes him the Amazonian Jay-Z.

Porcas Borboletas (Uberlândia)
“Sharp musicianship, odd time signatures and a touch of Monty Python” is how The Guardian described the ‘Pig Butterflies’. These theatrical post-punkers are influenced by the Vanguarda Paulista movement and are at the forefront of the burgeoning tropical rock movement.

Flora Matos (Brasília)
Nominated for MTV’s ‘Rap artist of the year’ 22 year old Flora Matos is one of South America’s most promising young MCs. Equally at home spitting lyrics over stuttering dancehall or jazzy breaks she is one young MC who most definitely ‘knows how’.

Where to catch such sounds in London

London is well served for Brasilian music: Movimientos are the dons of alternative Latin sounds and regularly put on Brasilian electro-roots DJs & acts; DJ Cliffy serves up a tried and tested mix of samba, tropicália & electro-Brasil with Batmacumba; Club Popozouda offers baile-funk & tecnobrega courtesy of residents João Brasil & The Bumps and from 2011 I’ll start promoting gigs featuring some of the most exciting Brasilian artists around so watch this space:

By DJ Mais Um Gringo


Movimientos: Notting Hill Arts Club, Rich Mix & Passing Clouds
Batmacumba: Noting Hill Arts Club
Club Popozouda: Favela Chic

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