Not only does Brazil produce excellent footballers, but reverberating throughout this colossal nation is a dazzling array of musical beats and rhythms. From the smog-filled humidity of the high-rise metropolises to the sleepy frontier villages, music is everywhere.
However, this musical market is largely internal and few artists break out onto the world stage. Some do, but like the rainwater from a tropical downpour, the hype quickly evaporates. Now, a new generation of female artists are spearheading a new wave of Brazilian music. Leading the way is the rest is Grammy Award nominated Céu.
Her sound originates out of São Paulo, yet she draws inspiration from African rhythms and Jamaican reggae as well as from Tropicália legends from Brazil’s musical past.
Your third album ‘Caravana Sereia Bloom’ was released on April 3, what is the concept behind the album?
Well, since I released the first album I have been travelling a lot and I realised that I had the road on my mind and I wanted to talk about this because it is such an intense thing you know, the road and every aspect of it, being out of your home, far from your family, far from your culture. Somehow it is such a special thing, you start to meet different faces and different cultures but you are also out of your comfort zone. It was something I wanted to talk about. The album does this in some aspects and its various little stories with different characters and different aspects of the road.
How much of your own persona goes into the characters that appear in your songs?
It is a lot about me. It is really hard to explain. When I first decided to do this album I wanted to sing songs from other composers and they took a long time so I started to write a lot more and naturally the things which I’ve seen and heard on my travels have gone into this album, so yes it is a lot about me.
Did you write a lot of these songs when you were actually travelling?
Not exactly, sometimes yes but sometimes no. Some of the songs were written in my house in Sau Paulo and others were written while I was travelling but there is no order to it. There is nothing about just me being on the road and writing. It’s very hard to write a song on the road because we are always in such a hurry.
How is this album different from your previous two albums musically and lyrically?
Musically and lyrically when I started to do this third album I was pretty much influenced by the music of North-East and North of Brazil which is very different from the kind of samba music which Brazil is known for. I was very influenced by the mix of styles in that part of Brazil and also by the different rhythms of other Latin countries like Colombia and Peru. There are so many beautiful rhythms that you can find in the frontier region of Brazil, in the North East you know – Lambada, Carimbo, Cumbia....it is these sounds and rhythms that I was trying to reproduce on my new album. It is quite different from my previous albums.
You have travelled all over the world as a musician, are you influenced by the different sounds and styles of music that you come across?
Oh yes, the other part of the world which I have brought to this album is Jamaican music. I think Jamaica is such a beautiful country musically speaking; not only the pure reggae but the rocksteady and I wanted to bring this to the album. I just love to sing this kind of music you know. I think it is similar in the way we produce music in the north part of Brazil, you know...with sound systems, home studios in a simple do it yourself format. Somehow Jamaica is like a brother country to Brazil musically.
Has any British music played a part in your life when you were growing up?
Britain has produced a lot of important music so yes of course it has played a part in my life. The Beatles mainly, a lot of Beatles, Beatles and more Beatles. I was so amazed when my manager said that we were going to play in the UK because the British people have so many cool different styles of music and I was not expecting to come here. However I am really excited to be touring here.
Later with Jools Holland is one of the most prestigious and well respected music shows on television here in the UK. How did it feel to be playing alongside the other musicians?
For me it is a big honour. I am really happy to be here. I love the Jools Holland show. I think it is such a respectful show because of the professionalism involved. It is rare that musicians can all perform in an intimate setting under one roof for a television audience. It is my birthday today as well so it is a nice gift to be playing on Jools Holland.
Great stuff, happy birthday! How are you planning to celebrate?
We have such a short time here and the show will end quite late tonight and we have a show tomorrow night. I will have at least one piece of cake and one pint perhaps. (laughs)
Looking forward to the Manchester show on Friday 20 April, you are coming to play in a place which is steeped in musical history so are you a fan of any Manchester bands?
Well, can you name some for me?
New Order? Joy Division?
Yeah...yeah I love them. Very cool bands. (laughs)
What can the audience expect from Friday’s show?
Honest music which comes from the heart. I sing in Portuguese mainly so the lyrics may not mean a great deal to the audience but the music hopefully will. The music is a universal language and with my energy and the great musicians I have with me I can hopefully show the audience what is happening in Brazil at the moment. That can only be a good thing as Brazilian music is rarely listened to in the mainstream western or English speaking cultures.
The venue Band on the Wall is very small and intimate. Will that suit your music better than a larger venue?
It depends really. Sometimes it is really nice to be in a small place but then again it is really cool to play in bigger venues. In Brazil we have a huge festival in the North East and it’s great to play in front of a huge crowd. It really depends on the vibe to be honest.
Who will be supporting you on this tour?
A very talented musician call Curumin will be supporting me. He is a great friend of mine, a very talented singer, producer and drummer. He is on his third album also and I am such a huge fan of his. I am very happy that he is on tours with me.
What does the next twelve months have in store for you?
I am going to be touring, probably for the next year in support of this album. However when the Album came out in Brazil I set off on this tour pretty much straight away so I know there are many there who want to see me come back and perform.