Patricia Marx Talks About Brazilian Musical Traditions
BY ROSE PARFITT
In Brazil they love their music; it’s in the blood and in the bones. But this bug is contagious, rather than hereditary: no one, it seems, is spared. Everybody loves Brazilian music – jazz musicians, classical musicians, rock stars, pop stars, DJs, producers, kids, cats, everyone; it is venerated, imitated and rejoiced in by old and young, rich and poor, black and white alike. By everyone who’s ever felt it get them directly where the ribs meet the stomach, setting ice and earrings jangling while some joyful sweat trickles down between the shoulder blades.
Most unusual of all, and in strange contrast to classical music, in Brazil respect for traditional sounds and rhythms is immense, even in the most innovative of its newest artists. Of these, Patricia Marx is a case in point. A child-star of Michael Jackson-esque proportions by the time she was ten, she is one of Brazil’s biggest selling female vocalists – no small thing in a country that gave us Asturd Gilberto, Elza Soares, Marisa Monte, Elizabeth Carduso. But for someone of such determined creativity, traditional sounds like samba, chorinho and bossa nova were something not only to be embraced but expanded and extended.
It was this impulse that brought her to London in 2000 to collaborate with 4Hero on their LP Creating Patterns. “It was amazing working with them [4Hero], both Marc and Dego with their own musical styles and just as people too,” she says. “Being involved with their work, which is so cutting edge, was a real inspiration. It gave me a much deeper vision of what music can be today, in the sense of independence from the rule and conventional forms of musicality. It was a blessing.”
Marx is now signed to the massive Trama Music/Sambaloco Records – home to drum’n’bass revolutionaries Marky and Patife, as well as Drumagik, Mad Zoo and Fernanda Porto. Living between London and Sao Paulo with her husband, Trama boss and veteran Brazilian dance producer Bruno E, her musical versatility spans time and space like no one else’s. She has collaborated with Brazil’s greatest artists and as well as its most innovative electronic pioneers, and with her wide open mind and inimitable style she has rocked the worlds of traditional Brazilian music and international dance culture simultaneously, gaining ever-increasing respect from both sides of the equation.
Patricia Marx has just completed a European tour promoting Nova Vida, another monumental Brazilian dance compilation from Trama to follow last year’s Sambaloco Drum’n’Bass Classics. She is now back in Sao Paulo working on a new solo album, the first since 2002’s intense and beautiful Respirar, which will be released at the end of this year featuring new collaborations with 4Hero, the legendary Ed Motta and many others.
Mundovibes caught up with her before the second leg of the Nova Vida tour at Say Samba! – Edinburgh’s highly-charged live Latin session at Cabaret Voltaire.
Why do you think traditional Brazilian music translates so well into modern, electronic musical forms like drum’n’bass, house and broken beat?
Brazil has always resonated around the world – this dates back to the 50s and 60s; from bossa nova up to the present day, the acoustic rhythms and instruments of Brazilian music have influenced very modern as well as very traditional music. And not just in rhythmic terms but in harmonic terms as well. The rhythms of samba and chorinho (classical samba from the 1920s and 1930s) were studied by so many musicians and producers globally. What is really fascinating is that all this material has been recycled for many, many years. And as a Brazilian artist, I feel that this is all valid as it just feeds back into the depth and richness of our culture. I would never wish for things to stay static.
How has your music been received in the UK? Has the reaction been good when you have performed live? How different are the crowds over here from the crowds in Brazil?
The reaction has been very good, amazing in fact. I have had great feedback from the public over here. I do adapt my show according to the environment, I have played in huge clubs as well as smaller venues, sometimes it’s about people letting go and dancing, in other places I create a calmer, intimate vibe. I have learnt that each show is a new experience and has its own charm. As any performer and DJ knows, it’s crucial to be sensitive to the atmosphere of each venue and to be in tune with the public. I think the main difference between audiences in the UK and Brazil is that here in the UK there is a more aware dancefloor culture. In the UK you can go straight out and buy the latest remix – there is more immediate access to that kind of information and material. In Brazil you have to search it out more, access to new material and club material is more limited, there is less of an active market for singles, remixes and so on. So the impression I have is that here people pick up on new tunes much more quickly, without necessarily having to rely on radio for information.
How would you describe your music? What inspires you most when you are making it?
My music is a fusion of everything I love and that I’ve listened to ever since I was a kid, black music, bossa nova, jazz, and electronic music which I’ve been into since the early 90s. Since then many other influences came into play as well. I got very into music of so many different styles and origins and that gave me a much wider perspective, so I can’t just single out one or two influences. The year 2000 was a real turning point for me musically – I was invited to record a track with 4Hero and I came to London. When I heard the other tracks on their album for the first time in the studio, I was completely transfixed. It just blew my mind. I felt liberated and I knew I wanted to make something that would defy any commercial compromise.
What are you working on at the moment? Who are you collaborating with? Does it have a different vibe or message from your last album – and if so, in what way?
I am working on my new album which will be released at the end of the year. I am writing, arranging and producing tracks for that album, so the sound will be different from the previous record. It’s about finding and generating my identity through digital and musical expression. I am working with various producers such as 4Hero who I am delighted to have worked with on three tracks, and Brazilian soulman Ed Motta, as well as producer and musician Bruno E [Sambaloco and Nova Vida Records] and I am talking with various other producers and musicians about working together … so watch this space.
Will you be performing some of your new material in Edinburgh?
Yes I may drop some new tracks into my set.
Of all the tracks you are going to perform, which is your favourite? Why?
We’re going to do a stripped down, intimate set. I’ll be playing some of the remixes of tracks from my album ‘Respirar’ [Breathe] produced by Bruno E, Mad Zoo and Makako’s Project.
Who have you most enjoyed collaborating with?
I like working with different producers. Each has their own style and charm. To me it’s always a pleasure to collaborate and create music.
What does the future hold?
I aim to finish my new album in Brazil by July, and then come back to the UK to rehearse with my band for another European tour later this year.
Is this your first visit to Scotland?
This is the second time I’ve been to perform in Scotland. I played there last year on a tour with other artists from my label Trama: Jair Oliveira, Max de Castro and Wilson Simoninha. It was a wonderful show and I am looking forward to coming back to play in Scotland.