What music did you listen to while growing up?
Pretty much everything. I was hungry to experience all kinds, so my curiosity led me. I did have years of classical training. I studied flute at Juilliard, and Brazilian music was always a main component of my life because of my parents.They had very strong ties to a lot of Brazilian artists.
Did you always want to be a musician?
I think it was never an idea that was “outside” of me, if that makes any sense. There was never any inner discussion as to “wanting”. I just always had this thing inside that just HAD to be, just THERE, calling. There was also a very clear vision - a picture in my mind of my destiny – of where I needed to be – it has always been the same – ever since I was a small child. I remember playing with my dolls, and visualizing it over and over in my head. Needless to say, it has been maddening to pursue this for so long, and still feel that I am only at the very bottom of the mountain.
Having been at this for a while, there have been countless times when I have tried in vain to quit, because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Far too often, artists have to give and sacrifice too much for too little or nothing, or even worse, are punished for it, because the “biz” is not a meritocracy. I am still in this fight because I must continue, and I hope that I’ll just get very lucky in the process. The music business is cruel and unfair, and if a person can do something else and be happy, I recommend it. I must do this because I will be incomplete if I don’t accomplish my goals as an artist.
How long have you been a solo artist?
Pretty much most of my life.
What made you decide to be a solo artist and not want to be in a band?
I don’t know whether it was really a conscious decision. I do have a pretty clear vision of who I am as an artist, and the “message” that I need to send out, and it is very much my unique concoction that probably wouldn’t work too well for anyone else, so I’ve needed to follow that.
Your music is an interesting combination of styles and cultures. Was this something you worked at achieving or is it a natural development of musical influences?
Definitely an organic developement. It started with being entirely brazil-based (I grew up on brazilian music) with rock and american soul influences, and expanded to include indian rhythms. It was a very natural morphing, and now the basis of what I write is in brazilian and indian rhythms and combinations of them both. I make it modern by having an electronica influence. Because my musical background and education includes soul, funk, a little rock, and classical training, these things come into the picture too.
What would call your style of music?
It is modern electronica-spiced world music, with the basis being a marriage of brazilian and indian rhythms.
Who are the musicians in your (live and/or recording) band?
Unfortunately, it’s just me these days, because I can’t afford to hire musicians. I am working hard to get to a point where I can have that again.
For previous recordings, I have been privileged to have such greats as Dominguinhos (a master accordion player and considered by many to be the greatest of Brazil), Ciro Baptista (percussion), Vanderlei Pereira (kit and percussion), Osvaldinho da Cuíca (percussion, famous for his Cuíca skills – hence his name), Bill Lucas (percussion), and Gil Goldstein (piano, accordion), David Acker (guitar), Webster Santos (guitar). Domiguinhos is featured on my recording of “Love is The Seventh Wave”.
Do you play any instruments yourself?
Piano a little, and flute. I don’t have a flute anymore, but I’m sure I could pick it up again. I do have the dream flute on my wish-list. It is a gold Muramatsu. It is the Stradivarius of flutes (I actually did get to play a Stradivarius once). I got to have one on loan for a short time, and I’ll never forget how that felt. Gold has a fabulous deep warm sound, even in the high register – as if molten gold were humming. Platinum is a harder more brittle metal, I prefer that warm sound of gold. It is also I think the same reason that I am so partial to tube mics, pre-amps, and tube gear in general – that warm beefy harmonic analog sound is hard to beat.
How long have you played your instruments?
Well, I played piano when I was seven, I barely tinker around now - I can do enough on a keyboard to create parts for my songs, but I am not a piano player. Then I picked up the violin at I guess 8ish or 9, and at that age, my parents made me practice 3 hours a day, so then after some time I switched to the flute thinking that I would have to practice less, but that of course was a completely delusional idea, because it wasn’t long before I was practicing 6 hours a day.
My violin teacher was very angry with me when I decided to quit. I remember the horrified look on his face as he said “You’re quitting?!! You were born with a violin in your hands!!” I wish that my parents had been aware and supportive at that time, but the only thing my father ever knew how to do was harshly discipline me. He didn’t know anything about how to be a supportive loving guide on how to be successful in life.
Are you self taught or did you have lessons?
If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
Universal Audio Pre-Amps
Some nice big fat Genelecs
Some Telefunken gear
A custom built out small studio (with foley room of course)
Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
No - in many/most cases, recording gear is not suited for live application.
Do you record at a purpose built studio or do you record at home with portable digital equipment or pc/mac with audio software?
Somewhere in the middle - I create using a DAW with a pair of DynAudios, a Universal Audio Solo/610 Mic Pre, the M-Audio Sputnik Mic (a very nice tube mic), a couple of MIDI controllers, and a substantial library of superior quality instrument samples, and some beautiful sounding MIDI instruments. I’ve got a MIDI piano set from M-Audio that if I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know it wasn’t the real thing. I have to give M-Audio props for that. And Trilogy for the bass instrument – really nice.
Any new recordings planned?
Yes, I am right in the middle of completing a new track for which I will create an all-bhangra version, and an all-samba version. It is a song that is dedicated to one of the greatest books I have ever read.
When is the new album released, how long has it taken to produce? (if applicable)
It is a compilation of new and prior recordings actually spanning about 10 years (I can’t even believe that myself – 10 years), that, together, tell the story of who am as an artist today.
Where was it recorded?
Ouvir Studios in Sao Paulo, my studio in Brooklyn, Galuminum Foil Studio in Brooklyn, Dubway studios in New York City, and Knoop Studios in New Jersey.
Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
Technically, the learning process never ends - there is always something new to learn or some way to improve. It is more enjoyable during moments when I feel that I am getting better as a musician, creator, producer, etc. Not so much when I am at a point where I’ve hit a wall, and can’t figure out how to fix whatever needs fixing. In the writing process, I think I am happiest when I am collaborating with someone - it allows me to focus on the areas that come naturally, and allows the person I am working with to shine in their area. It is hard to do it all myself, and there are many times that I would like to remove that pressure.
Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
I haven’t yet tried to make a studio recording sound like a live one, but that could work. I don’t have a lot of “rules” when it comes to decisions like that. If it feels right, do it. Usually, the gut reaction is the right one. For the most part, the audience will respond to a gut reaction, not the technical excellence of the recording (unless of course it sounds REALLY bad!)
Do you have any favourite tracks on your albums?
Tough one. After working on a track for a while, I start to hate it. I have the typical artist disease of self-doubt. Perhaps my favourite could be NYBlues, just because it is such a pure and deeply personal expression. But I love to dance, too, so my new favourite could be the one I am working on right now - until of course I repeat it too many times!
Do you write songs/tracks only about personal experiences?
I try to keep things truthful and talk from a place of “what I know”. If I don’t sincerely connect in some way with what I am singing and/or producing, it will sound fake, and the listener will pick up on that. The song will flop in the emotional ear of the listener. I’m also making a focused effort to have a balance of happy songs with songs about a lot of the pain of my life. I don’t want to be seen as “the Sad Singer”.
Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
Mostly difficult. Once I have a framework melody, then things fall into place much more easily, because I can naturally and instinctively mold the song to result in the feeling I am aiming to create. I have an easier time with lyrics - I am always writing little notes to myself about a new lyric - or adding to something I have already started.
Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
Here’s a short list;
Stevie Wonder, Airto Moreira, Lenine, Bonnie Raitt (I do a pretty strong version of “Something to Talk About”), Sergio Mendez, Carlinhos Brown, Angelique Kidjo, Sheila E., Caron Wheeler, Dianne Warren (of course!), Peter Gabriel, Jorge Ben Jor, Kassav, Les Negresses Vertes, Youssou NDour, Trio Mocoto, Don Juarez, I could go on and on and on....
I would have LOVED to work with Jobim. (who wouldn’t?! *wink*)
Who are your favourite song writers?
It is a similar answer to the previous (sorry)
That’s a long list too, but here are a few Stevie Wonder, Airto Moreira, Lenine, Bonnie Raitt, Sergio Mendez, Carlinhos Brown, Sheila E., Caron Wheeler, Dianne Warren (of course!), Peter Gabriel, Jorge Ben Jor, Jobim, Youssou NDour, Trio Mocoto, Jobim...
Which countries have you gigged in?
US, Brazil, India
Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
Brazil and India, Anywhere in Europe (East and West)
Who would you like to tour with?
Stevie Wonder, Airto Moreira, Lenine, Bonnie Raitt, Sergio Mendez, Carlinhos Brown, Angelique Kidjo, Sheila E., Caron Wheeler, Peter Gabriel, Jorge Ben Jor, Tina Turner, Djavan, Kassav, Youssou NDour, Trio Mocoto, Don Juarez...
How do you promote your music and get your music to new fans?
Mostly by utilizing and expanding my internet presence. As an independent artist, this is a major issue because there is usually no budget, so the artist has to be her/his own agent, manager, art director, image consultant, marketer, webmaster, promoter, the list goes on, in addition to producing, writing, mastering, performing. It is too much, and not fair to demand all of one person. I am now promoting my video “Ziriguidum” aggressively, with the goal in mind that it will go viral and attract my audience, potential collaborators, and the attention of people who are in a position to launch a promotion campaign.
Do you use any websites like ‘Reverbnation’ or ‘Soundclick’?
Not yet. I’ve been getting the compilation finished to publish as an album through OneRpm.com
Do you think such sites are good for independent and unsigned artists?
I don’t know. I have tried others, and have found that more often than not, they are presented as fair forums – the “leveler” for the indy artist, but are really just designed to make money off of those artists. I certainly am not implying that I criticize the goal of making money for providing a service - I have the very same goal, but I do take issue with presenting something as “help for the artist”, when it is just another scheme.
There is one that I checked out and avoided recently that seems pretty obviously to be a pile of lies, but I’ll refrain from naming names. I would say to artists – be very wary and slow to give your money upfront to a site that claims to have some massive daily hits and connections for the sale of your works. Check them out on Alexa first.
Do you think the internet overall is a good or bad thing for new artists?
Good - though I won’t be the first or last to bring up that piracy is a SERIOUS serious problem!
As an independent, the internet allows me the chance to connect with a global audience (which is the one I am seeking) in a way that was not possible before.
HOWEVER, I believe that as music-makers, we must be united in the quest to re-educate the general public that music is NOT free. I spend my life creating, working, and continually perfecting the product that I offer. Just because it is easy to steal music does not make it free. I have found that there is a sad truth - a sickness - especially in the US, which is the habit to demand, and get, everything faster, easier, and for nothing. Many artists have succumbed to the pressure from the audience to give away music. Trent Reznor (of NIN) has oft been quoted as a pioneer for starting a trend to do just that, in order to sell tickets to shows. Other such similar promotions offered by Prince, et al, have been loudly praised as the “new way to do the music business”. But Trent Reznor, etc… already have a successful business and can afford to promote their work that way. Most of us independents are not touring all of the time - we would like to be, and are certainly worthy of that support, but we are not there yet, and one of the only sources of income might be sale of track downloads. We need the support of our listeners to keep creating. Without that, the whole process is thrown out of whack and becomes totally unfair. I liken our current music-biz climate to a hostage situation, with the consumer holding the gun. When I need speakers, I can’t download them for free. I have to pony up that hard-won cash to get those speakers so that I can create better work, to sell. It is imperative that listeners are re-educated to understand that every internet “rip”, every “free” download is stealing from that artist who worked so many hours, days, years to create that work. Only the music-maker can make that point to the listener.
Would you sign with a major record company?
Honestly, I don’t know. Many deals offered by majors now are just entrapment. I’ve heard too many horror stories of artists who were just literally crushed by the label. I lived that scenario with my parents. Columbia offered them a big fat deal, and they took it because they didn’t know any better, and they were promptly bought and stuffed in a drawer.
Of course, I would always consider each case on an individual basis, but I will say that I stopped sending work to majors a while ago. There is one label I am interested in, not a major, but I like the people who run it, and I think that if they like my work, they could be a great partner.
How do you relax?
Truthfully? I look at pictures of Sarees and Indian jewelry, and listen at loud levels (and dance) to my favourite music – Brazilian, Indian, Fusion, Funk, 80’s (yes, I did say 80’s)… Going out dancing with friends is better though. I’m so girly! It may sound very provincial and boring, but TV is way to disengage and decompress as well. I’m a bit hooked on “Burn Notice” and “Leverage” these days. I love the smart coolness, and high-tech toys they use. It is why I love Bond also – all the nifty toys. I am a bit of a Bond aficionado, and could have an extended discussion, but in brief (no pun intended), not to take anything from George Lazenby (I loved him as Bond), Roger Moore, Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, or Daniel Craig (although I MUST say that Bond should not be blonde!!), I loved it when Pierce Brosnan was Bond. I’ve always had a secret crush on him.
What’s your best/worst experience at a gig?
If I can’t hear the monitor, I’m pretty much screwed. Best experience; everything works, I can hear, and the audience is one big smile.
Do you get nervous before a gig- how do you calm down?
Get plastered!!! No, I’m kidding. Nerves do come in to play – I used to get INSANELY nervous before concerts and recitals when I was studying at Juilliard. At one point, I even considered trying to get my hands on beta blockers which were something that classical musicians were known to use to control trembling, hands sweating etc… I played the flute, so the nerves affected my breathing and embouchure on top of the perspiration that caused my fingers to slip off of the keys. Not a good place to be!
Over the years, I have done a lot of work with mental and emotional excersizes to organically address that problem. I fill my mind with positive ideas and feelings - to make the feelings of confidence, excellence, and happy energy the things I am completely focused on, blocking out negativity. At the same time, I give myself permission to be and feel exactly as I am in that moment with no judgments. I work on accessing the power of thought and focus to put me in that place of total preparedness and serenity. I tell myself, “I am a great singer, great performer, great artist, and the audience is full of love and excitement for what I’ll do”. How does the saying go? 10% what you say, 90% how you say it? Not that I by any means set less than the highest standard for the performances that I give, but it is no secret that we sound and look a whole lot better when we feel great and confident.
Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Not yet, but a couple of my recent tracks were picked up by a film and tv licensing firm in LA. There is a song that I feel very strongly would be a great movie “main” song, it is called NYBlues. It is moody, full of emotion. It would be great for a heavily emotional movie, a scene where the
protagonist in the story is walking or riding a train or in a car in the rain, or something like that...
I would love to write a Bond title song. I doubt that will ever happen, though.
Is it something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
Absolutely. It is always on my mind when I am creating, that I’ll send it off to the library, and see if they take it.
You recently finished a video for your track ‘Ziriguidum’. Is that your first video and did you enjoy making it?
It is my first video.LOVED shooting it, hated processing it. It took a few weeks of preparation and weather dodging (we shot all outdoors) and then 2 days to shoot it, and literally 7 straight weeks of the most unbelievable technical issues to get this thing ready for prime time!!! You wouldn’t believe it if I told you. We would think we had a good “printed” version, and then we’d try to create it in a different format - say for the internet, and it would be completely out of sync, or have all kinds of stupid errors, or just plain not render at all. The director and I just wanted to shoot ourselves after a while.
What does ‘Ziriguidum’ mean?
It is the sound of the experience of the rhythm -- the pandeiro, for example. It is a word to capture the intangible quality of the good feeling of dancing to a great groove and anything that you feel it to be at that moment. In this song, it also implies some good naughtiness.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I speak Portuguese fairly well – mostly self-taught. I needed to learn it because of how much Brazil is an integral part of the music I create – and since the music is truly the language of my soul, Brazil is a part of me, too. I feel that about India too, though I only know a word or two in Hindi. With both Brazil and India there was a part of me that felt like it was going home when I went there. I finally got to go to India (for years I had felt this deep need to just put my feet down on Indian soil), and before going, I attempted to learn some Malayalam (the language of the state of Kerala, where I spent most of my visit), but with no success. Malayalam may be the most complicated in the human race – possibly even surpassing Chinese! I couldn’t even get a grasp of differentiating the letters. They just look like concentric circles to me.
I sing opera as a practice and training method. I have recorded some arias a capella, I did so more as a way to demonstrate that I can sing these arias – hopefully the performances would be judged favourably. One of the arias I recorded is “Der Hölle Rache”, The Queen of the Night from Die Zauberflöte.
Technically, it is considered one of the most difficult in either women’s or men’s repertoire. I’ll admit that there was some part of that in the reason that I chose it. I created a separate opera page on myspace, but I don’t really promote it – it is just there for the occasional opera fan who may be interested.
My attitude toward life and music and hence the compilation soon to be available on Onerpm, iTunes, etc… is a bringing together of a variety of influences and styles to create a fusion that is unique to me. I am a diversity hound. More different is always better. I love sweet and savory and a little sour, and meaty and soft and crunchy, and hot pink and orange with a little chartreuse, etc,.. all together. There is something so rich and satisfying about immersing in a banquet of culture that I find irresistible, so that is what I try to create in my sound. I choose to focus that somewhat undisciplined approach into something that my listener can take in and appreciate, while still being true to what I feel. I want to take over my listener but not go too far and lose them.