Last Saturday I went to a music concert. A big production, performed on a huge kind-of-modern-but-tasteless-inside-a-mall music hall.
Yes, I know this is not a very unbiased way to start a piece, but today I am going to take a day off from bias and simply express my impressions of this experience. It all started with my sister’s adoration of an actor who is also a romantic singer with his own band.
Accompanying her was the only reason I stopped my hectic pre-production routine for my next concerts, getting into a car for more than an hour until I reached a neighborhood I do not like (among other things because it is projected for cars and pedestrians feel, well, wrong), with lots of of shopping centers until we reached one of them where a gigantic concert hall is placed.
So far, everything is bad, but it gets worse: for this type of mega-event it is necessary to arrive in advance, which in the end means looking for a long time at the screens next to the stage, on which the concerts of the house for the coming months are presented. The problem is that bright lights that are too close bother me deeply. Alright, we have come this far… let us move on.
The show finally starts and, in addition to the crooner, there are eight musicians on stage, including a single (!) backing vocalist, whose voice is digitally multiplied.The repertoire is vast, the band is very good and the girl does what she can, but besides lining up one hit after another, I learned little about the former heartthrob, whose face, by the way, was much prettier before the procedures. And, yes, I wanted to know more about him.
Strictly speaking about the music, I was expecting more variation in the song format (a duet, at least). After half an hour, everything sounded kind of the same, kind of repetitive and my attention was already on other things, like the high ticket prices, my tight budget and all the challenges of being an independent artist.
Amid this ocean of thoughts, one stood out: my small concert, in a small theater, looking directly at my audience, seemed to me an incredible, unique, special experience. And it all made sense again.
Do you think more people were more collaborative in 2020 just out of fear? My dear friend A., who is an amazing singer and songwriter brought this aspect of the pandemic to my attention on a recent chat, and her remark kept echoing in my head for a long time.
Her comment took me to a trip down memory lane. During 2020 we had contact with the best and worst in human beings. There were people sharing help and people fighting over a bottle of hand sanitizer. There were people searching day and night for a vaccine and people (a lot of people) spreading fake news to get likes on social media.
And there was this zone of common experiences, mostly very painful ones. The whole world was suddenly dealing with great charges of loss, fear and isolation. 2020 seems so far away from our current point of view, and yet, the sadness in our hearts is right there, so close that we can reach it with a simple comment on a chat.
We could not choose 2020, but we can decide if we will repeat it forever or if we will finally try (this time for real) to find a possible balance. Without great illusions or expectations, I sincerely ask myself whether it is still possible for some event that could fix us collectively.
We are full, crowded and crammed with individual “fixes”, but where did these small individual/individualist solutions take us? Are we doomed to repeat 2020 in cyclical intervals? I do not know about you, but I failed to find anything new about the new normal. Maybe it was just a great desire to break this vicious cycle that made me warn possible “competitors” about a new call for artists.
Here is the story: me and a bunch of other artists, we were in a room waiting to be called to sign our contracts with the city hall, in order to hand over the rights to exhibit our works (in my case, a videopoem). While people kept looking to their mobiles, looking totally self-absrobed I simply cannot contain myself: as if it had a mind of its own, my big mouth opens and spreads the news: “Hey guys, there’s another call going on, but hurry up, because the deadline is coming up.”
This is the kind of spontaneous action that generates an immediate sense of guilt. Why did I do this? Why did I increase the number of competitors in a competition in which I am also fighting for a chance? Sincerely? I do not know.
My guess is that deep inside my heart I do not believe that my victory can only happen through the loss of other people. Okay, more competitors, but are they really my competitors? Do they work with the same subjects that I do? In the very same way? Certainly not. Call me old fashioned, but I believe in my work and see no reason to be afraid to share the news of a grant or artist residency.
The way I see it, meanness is one of the l old-normal-old-fashioned concepts we should leave behind. Only then we would live a new normal.
Autumn Leaves is one of the most popular jazz songs, with several versions in different languages. It was composed by Joseph Kosma in 1945 with original French lyrics by Jacques Prévert (later it would gain English lyrics by Johnny Mercer) and the instrumental version by pianist Roger Williams reached the top of the 1955 US Billboard charts.
Another song that deals with this time of the year is Autumn in Rio, by Ed Motta, released in 2000. While the French song highlights the sad character of the season, from a European point of view, the Brazilian artist exalts the arrival of mid-season. According to Motta: There is a place to be happy / Besides April in Paris/ Autumn in Rio.
In 2013, on my first CD, I also vocalized my special affection for the season that brings relief to the inclement heat of the tropical summer. After Summer is the name of my homage to the golden lights and mild temperatures of autumm. In my ode to the season, it represents a ritual of saying goodbye to summer and its promisses to enter a period of achievements (in Brazil, we say that the year only begins “after carnival”, which in practice means “after summer”).
Ten years later, I look back at this summer of 2013 and feel a little nostalgic. There are many dreams involved in releasing a first album and, most of the time, only a small part of them come true (we cannot all win all the awards, can we?). Perhaps the great lesson of these last ten years has been exactly this: that it is necessary to keep going, even if one or two projects fall by the wayside.
Or maybe the greatest lesson of the last ten years was learning how to turn those left-behind-dreams into fertilizer for the dreams that will still grow. Just as the leaves that fall in autumn will serve to enrich the earth, in a perpetual cycle of creation. How many past ideas merged into the projects I now take to the stage? How much of yesterday remains in today and will certainly accompany us tomorrow?
A little too philosophical for your taste? True. It must be the season.
Last week I read in the headline of a major newspaper that Brazilians are also working on weekends, reaching an average of up to six hours of work when they should be resting or dedicating themselves to leisure activities.
While the subject of ‘significant loss of time devoted to leisure’ is by no means funny, my immediate reaction was to think, “Oh, dears, tell me something I do not know.”
Maybe my sarcasm is due to the fact that I cannot even remember when I last took a vacation, let alone a whole weekend off work. I was thinking about this sad fact, while looking for a short humor video to watch while having a very quick lunch, in order to relieve the tremendous pressure of having to meet a deadline to… edit a video (the 21st century paradox). And behold, in the sponsored videos, one appears that I am interested in watching not only for more than five seconds, butf right through to the end.
It was a masterclass, by the famous Brazilian philosopher Marilena Chauí, on the rebranding of the concept of work. From “the worst punishment that can afflict a person”, an idea disseminated during classical Greco-Roman societies and which persisted during the medieval period, it was gradually transformed by the bourgeois mentality in a right, a gift. On the other hand, idleness (or any kind of meditative activity) becomes vice and laziness gains the status of sin.
Wow, there is nothing like knowledge that comes from research and reflection, right? But what does this have to do with your reality? I can bet that you have already fallen into at least one of the many frequent traps that cross our paths disguised as catchphrases.
Feeling guilty for not “producing enough”, constant fear of “falling behind” and the frequent comparison with the supposed success-of-social-networks shared by so many people are potent tools in maintaining the ideology of work in times of algorithms and artificial intelligence. After all, what separates you from that apparently millionaire influencer (who maybe owes millions in unpaid taxes) is good planning of your posts and an efficient self-promotion strategy, isn’t it? Well, it is not.
I have been reflecting a lot about the so-called changing of the guard after the popularization of the internet, that is, the fact that the monopoly of a few labels would have been replaced by the theoretical possibility of each and every individual to spread their own music. I cannot say that I have a formed opinion on the subject yet, but my suspicion is that the supposed democratization of access to the network, if it actually happened, does not at all configure an equivalence in use.
Even if we make an effort to think that virtually anyone can upload a video with a song on a large platform, go viral and become a success, how long does this success last? Until the next viral video, probably. Now just think of the amount of work to produce viral videos, one after another, and there is not exactly a ready-made formula, despite the many tips and tutorials available, on how to viralize a music video, much less a sequence of videos.
But then there is no way out? Of course there are many, but all of them will, at some point, go through a totally old school ingredient: money. What about organic engagement? Well, I’m sorry to inform you that this, past the novelty (remember the viral video?) or even for you to become novelty in the first place, the hard truth is that someone (probably you) will have to invest a good amount of money.
The examples are the most diverse, but I will stick to just one, which I consider to be very representative: the streaming platforms. Seen as a true revolution in the way music is consumed and responsible for retiring once and for all the beloved promotional bait of “download your exclusive audio”, streaming platforms, however, use an old model for their releases.
First of all, they can only be done through a distributor, which obviously has costs and considerably reduces the number of people who will actually be able to release a song. There is always the possibility that you will be included in an editorial list, as well as the possibility that you, for example, theoretically win the Lottery. In both cases it is necessary to bet. The simple fact that the list of information to be provided for the submission of a release includes the question “How much do you intend to invest?” it already seems quite significant to me
As I said, I am still forming my opinion about the alleged changing of the guard in the music world, and I would love to hear your opinion about it. After all, because the possibility of reaching out to people is a real and possible revolution that the web offers us.
Today is Shrove Tuesday or maybe you know the date as Mardi Gras, it does not matter at all, for today all that matters is to celebrate. But maybe you do not have so many experiences with Carnival and you are wondering: celebrate what, exactly?
Therefore, even though this Carnival is already coming to an end, I would like to share with you three lessons I learned in this first post-pandemic Carnival.
Celebrate life First, the fact that you are alive. Since 2020, this perspective must always be remembered, as we are the survivors of a very difficult time for humanity.
Carnival is a state of mind This year my Carnival had more working hours for me than partying, but even so it is good to know that there are many people on the street, dancing and singing. I know it may sound weird, but I like to think that even at home I can get some of that energy of life. To tell you the truth, even my working days seemed much lighter. I would even say that it even made the tremendous heat of this summer more bearable.
The carnival paradox: it goes by fast, but it comes back every year Carnival Tuesday is the culmination of the party, but it is also the beginning of the end, which is kind of sad. In times like these, it might help to remember that Carnival comes back every year. Likewise, if this collective catharsis seems too much for you, then it is always good to remember: the party happens only happens once a year.
As for me, my plan is to use these lessons in my daily life and, above all, on the stage. After all, as we say in Brazil, Carnival is the greatest show on Earth. Now, go celebrate!
Be seeing you!
p.s If you want the celebration to last longer, click here and pre-save my new singlePele Adentro. See you there!