In this exclusive and informal interview, the talented singer Maria Gadú – who will perform in London this October – told us about her passion for music, her creative process and much, much more…
BBMag – To begin with, tell us a little more about your connection with music, and how and why it all began.
MG – I don’t think it is possible to pinpoint any particular reason for a passion. Especially when talking about a passion for something so plural, one that is associated with feelings, religion, your mind, body and soul. This is what music is for me. It always was. It gives me shivers, makes me cry, it moves me and enrages me.
BBMag – You are a singer, but also a songwriter. Where do you get your inspiration to write music? Is your process more disciplinary or Euterpe (Greek Mythology; muse of music), by which your inspiration simply appears all of a sudden, out of the blue?
MG – It depends on the day. Quite often the inspiration comes from something that motivates you at a particular moment and so instantly opens up the melodic gateway in your head. And so the composition needs to be written immediately. Other times it is more of an idea that has been developing over time, you go along putting the song together and so it comes into existence gradually. There is such a thing as a pre-theme. You decide what you want to talk about, you pick a subject, a muse, a situation and you write about it. Otherwise, a subject or muse chooses you and you just go crazy. Both are great, though.
BBMag – Success is a mere consequence of your talent and has turned you into a reference for MPB (Popular Brazilian Music), not only in Brazil but around the world. How does that make you feel?
MG – I don’t think about all this hype (laughs). Success to me comes from the satisfaction of doing something that you love doing. I’ve always been happy in my profession, learning and evolving as we all do, irrespective of function. I used to play in bars, pay my bills, and live happily. After a certain level of popularity, from my point of view, nothing has changed. I keep doing what I love with focus and commitment. I look back and I am able to say that from my very first performance to all the wonderful opportunities I have had to collaborate with idols like Tony Bennett, Caetano Veloso, Milton Nascimento and others, I have led a happy and honest career. That’s how I have felt for 26 years!
BBMag – MPB is much loved and listened to all around the globe, London being no exception. What do you think it is about MPB that captivates so many people?
MG – In my opinion the Portuguese language has a unique magnetic quality. It has a range of diverse phonemes that enable a melodic composition that is at the same time both simple and complex. In addition, Brazil, anthropologically speaking, is home to some absurdly strong musical cultures – samba, maracatu, carimbó, bossa nova. This stimulates the ears of not only foreigners but of Brazilians, who feed off their own culture.
BBMag – Which artists do you admire? Any Brits on your playlist?
MG – Ah, I am a fan of so many people! From the melancholy of the 1950s with Maysa and Dolores Duran, to Paulinho da Viola, to the variety and range of Caetano Veloso, the pop of Chico Buarque, and the rock of Lenine and so many more. From the British crowd, I can’t resist The Beatles, The Who, Amy Winehouse, Daughter, The XX, Radiohead, amongst others. I like sounds from all around the world, such as the Franco-Cuban outfit, Ibeyi, the Cape Verdean, Mayra Andrade, and the Portuguese group António Zambujo.
BBMag – And your most recent album Guelã, tell us more.
MG – Guelã was born from my desire to calm down a little. After many years of nonstop running around, learning every day with a brilliant band, working with peers and touring the world, I needed to stop, breathe and take stock of where I was in this life I was leading. I needed to accept both my progress and my limitations as a musician, to go back to school, to read. Then, from all this a new sound was born, new discoveries, a new vocabulary. Silence is wonderful. You are both ugly and beautiful all of the time. This is Guelã.
BBMag – And now, with your mission accomplished what future goals would you set yourself…
MG – Mission accomplished: impregnate, generate, born. Future goals: impregnate, generate, and give birth.