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PATRICK FORGE AND DA LATA
By John C. Tripp
In 2000 Da Lata swelled onto the musical map with their stunning debut “Songs From The Tin”, a tribute to the Brazilian influences that first bonded DJ Patrick Forge and musician Christian Franck. Now Da Lata are back, better than ever, with “Serious”, a stunningly diverse and logical progression from the original Brasilian-basis of their sound. The song-oriented and ultra-tight recording achieves an incredible integrity of soul and purpose with its diversity of sounds and styles and collaborations. From the opening salvo of afrobeats on the title track, to the lyrical beauty of the fleeting “If u don’t know,” from the broken beats and electronic textures of “Reeling” to the earthy flavors of “Something,” this is an album that puts all of Da Lata’s influences forward and the final word is London. The cast of contributors is one of enormous talents: Jhelisa Anderson, Baaba Maal, Nina Miranda, Courtney Denni, Bembe Segue, Mamani Keita and Pedro Martins, as well as guest musicians. Once again Da Lata employed the talents of young Brazilian accordionist Marcelo Jeneci de Silva and the superior sonic skills of Toni Economides. “Serious” is definitely a contender for this year’s breakout release.
Mundovibes recently connected with Da Lata’s Patrick Forge to get the word on “Serious”…
“Serious” is a considerable opening up of global influences, yet with a London sensibility. Can you tell us how things have evolved since “Songs from the Tin”?
Well, we didn’t want to make another Brasilian record,so you’re right this album was all about opening things up and letting our natural influences and ideas come through. Yes there are global influences, but those flavours are around us here in London anyway, so this record is much more about the here and now, and it’s evolution has been a natural one, we knew from the start that we wanted to make a much more diverse album so that threw things wide open.
How important is London is shaping the sound of “Serious”?
Obviously the musical culture that we’re all plugged into has a massive role,but also it’s where we live and our experiences of the world are filtered through this crazy city where everything is in your face. Serious reflects both those aspects.
Da Lata seems to be a conceptual/collaborative project more than a group.
How do you view/define Da Lata? What ties it all together as one?
Da Lata really started out as a “project” rather than a band. We feel that there are many places we would like to go with our music and therefore it is easier to do this as a production team as opposed to a band where not everybody would necessarily want to do the same thing. Chris and Patrick don’t always want to do the same things either but it is easier to decide things between two people rather than with a whole
band. What ties it all together as one is the shared musical tastes between us.
What are the roles each of you play in Da Lata’s creative process? How
do you collaborate and how does this whole thing create such stunning music?
Whereas Chris has written or co-written most of this album, the production,arrangements, and sonic qualities of the music are much more collaboratively worked on. We’ve had a musical dialogue for over ten years, we’re both music lovers but coming from different perspectives, a musician and a d.j.,and it’s that contrast that has shaped the Da Lata sound.
“Serious” does have a strong Brazilian influence, yet it is thoroughly fused with a London sensibility. Can you tell us in what way Brazilian music has inspired you and how you’ve explored it?
Brasilian music and culture has been a shared passion between us for a long time now. The cultural melting pot that Brasil is has so much to offer in terms of music and art. We have both been inspired by the Brasilian way of doing things. In the same way that when you see the brasilian football team play with such skill and unique talent the music also has a magic all of its own.
With all due respect since this is such a great recording: why the short length on the CD? Did you want to exand on the tracks with remixes and keep the CDs songs within a more radio-friendly length?
Radio friendly had nothing to do with it!We in fact recorded about fourteen tracks altogether but in the spirit of less is more,and wanting to make a record that we felt worked, there are only ten tracks. Classic albums from the seventies were all this kind of length, and just because c.d. gives you the option of seventy plus minutes doesn’t mean you have to use them all! Some of the tunes just needed to be 3-4 minute songs, there’s no point in making it epic for the sake of it!
Can you give us a sense of how the tracks on “Serious” came together?
Every track came together in a different way. The most important thing about the recording of this album is that it was all recorded in London. All of the guests on the album were either flown in or were here at the time. This obviously influenced the way in which people performed. The album took roughly a year to complete from start to finish. some of the ideas for songs were already there before we started but most of the songs were developed over the course of that year. As well as working in a studio environment a lot of time was also spent vibing with the musicians outside of the studio.
The vocalits that contributed to “Serious” are incredible. Do you care to comment on any of them and their involvement?
We’re really happy to have had some phenomenal contributions from the singers on this album, big love to all of them! Jhelisa Anderson is someone we’ve both known and admired for a long time, we always hoped we’d get a chance to feature her on a Da Lata record. Bembe Segue made a massive contribution to the title track by coming up with the perfect vibe and hooks. Baaba Maal was amazing, when he finally blessed the studio with his voice and talent after many failed attempts to hook it up, every moment was magical. Courtney Denni came up with a great piece of spontaneous songwriting with ‘Can It Be?’, a whole song in one vocal take!
What role did Toni Economides play in the project?
Toni as always is such an important part to the making of any Da Lata record. He is a true master in the studio. His involvment includes recording, programming, mixing and co-producing. On this album he also has a writing credit on ‘Can it be?’
Has travel to other places had an influence on the music? What are some of the places that inspire you?
Travel is a very important influence on the music. Brasil is obviously a crucial place to go to. We have both been there and Chris goes to Brasil at least once a year. Some other places that have inspired us are India, Egypt, Venezuela, South Africa, Japan. In short, travel is one of the most important things you can do in your life!
What is your opinion on our present musical culture? Are ears more open today?
There are always things to be positive about, people making great music, inspiring performances,the culture is healthy and plenty ears are open,some ears could open a little wider though!
Do you wrestle with issues of authenticity with your music? And what are the biggest issues and challenges you face in creating your music?
Not really. However it is very important for us to be respectful in our interpretation of
Brasilian music. We don’t just want to copy brasilian music (or any other styles for that
matter), we want to try and interpret them as honestly and as respestfully as we can.
Can you tell us what the London rhythmic music culture is like at the moment? Is this an exciting time?
London is such a melting pot,and it continually evolves, I don’t think there’s ever a time when London isn’t exciting on that level.
“Songs from the Tin” was very well received, but “Serious” seems to have songs that will break Da Lata to a much wider audience, like ‘Distracted Minds’ or ‘Can it Be’. How do you feel about this?
Of course we would like our music to be heard by a wider audience. One of the reasons why this album might reach further is also due to the fact that it is mostly sung in english. We didn’t really make any real effort to be more “commercial” on this album, things just turned out the way they did quite naturally. We hope we can reach more people with album.
In a world that seems so bleak at times, what role can music play? Can music change the world?
Music can be an escape, it can be a release, it can inspire, it can create hope, it can reassure, it can comfort, it’s a lifeline for the soul, music is always changing the world!
What message do you hope to send to the world with Serious?
We hope to send a message of positivity with this album. It’s not really that we want to be taken too seriously but that we want people to take the world and the events which are taking place within it seriously. We don’t want to sound too pretentious though we want people to enjoy this album as well as be ‘serious’ about it.