There’s no doubt that 2020 has posed more than just a few challenges for all of us. However, for musicians, it’s been particularly difficult thanks to the elimination of any form of touring, with much of their yearly income along with it. But, with such a change in schedule, came a lot more time for studio work.
In the case of the Brazilian/French trio of Páula, Povoa and Jerge, it gave the long-term friends time to collaborate, something they’d been meaning to do for some time. Merging their unique experience from all corners of the music industry, the final product arrives in the form of an EP entitled, ‘Primavera’. Four tracks that encompass inspiration from across the globe, that merge genre’s and bring emotion to a dancefloor that we all hope to step foot on once again someday soon. We caught up with the trio ahead of the EP’s release to discuss just how it all came together.
The trio’s relationship goes back many years, with Jerge and Páula working together in electro-pop group, Tampon Tango, a time when they were also roommates. Pavoa had also worked with Jerge, sharing responsibilities on a producing level with previous projects. The creative urge to work together was always there, but in the end, the timing was based on fate. “We were planning on working together,” says Povoa, “Paula was going to come for a day to try and make one track. Then the first lockdown happened, we were in the same place and happy to see each other. We ended up making six tracks.”
That fate came in the form of lockdown, back in March. The trio found themselves together in Normandy, unable to do anything else, they delved deep into their creative methods to try and bring a bright light into a world facing dark times. All three work in different areas of the music world, Povoa is a notorious house producer, with two impressive EP’s on Moshi Moshi records, Jerge is also a producer, as well as being a live band member of Christine and The Queens. Then there’s Páula, the vocalist of the trio, and perhaps why this project has come out sounding so unique. “Páula is the key to the project. If we did a track with another singer, it would be totally different,” Jerge states, and you’d find it difficult to argue with him. The Brazilian’s voice, singing throughout in Portuguese, is joyous, sultry and ludicrously catchy.
Looking back, that pure emotion in the singer’s voice may have been one of pure relief. She was living in Brazil up until a day before France went into lockdown. Had she paused on that decision for just 24 hours and this EP would never have happened. “I was living in Rio for four years, but the political situation was so complicated. I had the feeling that now was the time to come back to France,” Páula proclaims, “I’m a very spiritual person and I trusted my instincts. So, I bought a ticket and I came back, and I was so happy to reconnect with my friends and with music. I wanted to translate my Brazilian energy here in France and all of the of the vibes I was feeling. This record is a declaration of love for my country and for my friends. I really want to go back there, I need Brazil. I’m a happy woman. A little crazy, but very happy.”
This emotion Páula talks about can clearly be heard throughout the EP. Electronic music at it’s core, the trio looked to at add something unique to the genre, bringing joy to people across the world, who are still dancing in their living rooms. “It’s electronic, its music for dancing. I’ve always been a big fan of the genre and to work with two producers was amazing,” Paula states, “With my voice, singing in Portuguese, it feels like we’re making something new, really sensual. But it’s a different type of dance music, it’s full of emotion. Whether it be sad or crazy at times, we can dance to all these emotions.”
For Povoa, as an experienced producer in the dance scene, he knows there’s something unique about this project, “It’s not only dance music.” He says, “‘Doido’ is slow, the rhythm is changing. We like to have that different energy.” And there’s a lot of variety on this record. This is by no means a pure dance record, the opening track Povoa is talking about is almost the polar opposite of dance, playing with spoken word, inspired by Greek artist Lena Platonos, the song is hypnotic and almost calming. ‘Primavera’ plays more with nostalgia, bringing 80s synth-pop to the record.
On the variety of the EP, Jerge comments, “‘Sua Boca’ and ‘Não Sei’ were the first tracks we made. The two club songs. We thought just to change the sound, we’d use a piano, as the tools we use inspire us. We thought with Paula’s voice we could do something with a pop vibe. We still didn’t get that dance track with the emotion we wanted. ‘Sua Boca’ is fiesta, ‘Não Sei’ is ecstacy, club, rave. We haven’t managed it yet, but we will do it.”
At the core of this record are three creatives determined to use anything and everything around them to create the sound they’re driving towards. A DIY approach that led the way to this EP’s unique final outcome. As Jerge comments “Sometimes we’d take a professional approach, counting down in the studio etc. But most of the time it was spontaneous and recorded on an iPhone’s microphone. The compression is amazing, it adds life to the record.”
Povoa adds, “We’ve worked like that before; we call it bricolage. It was all about the spontaneity. It’s like holding a camera on someone, if they know it’s pointed at them, they act differently. Paula is very spontaneous; she has something very true in her voice. She has personality, we like that fragility. We want to share the good moments, for that we need to stay ‘amateur’. To keep that mindset, having that beginner approach to the process, even if we’ve been making music for 20 years, it keeps things fresh and helps us to discover new things. We didn’t want it to be too perfect.”
This DIY was inspired by two key things as Povoa tells us, “Paula gave us a Dictaphone of local Brazilian music that she recorded in a taxi. In the favela there is a local radio that produce their own music for gangs. Which is totally imperfect and wild. Inspiration also came from Ghana in the form of Ata Kak’s track, Obaa Sima. The song is very DIY and yet the energy is huge. You could play that in any club.” This desire for imperfection is a refreshing one. Without any form of overthinking and living totally in the moment, creativity blossoms and an outcome never previously imagined, suddenly emerges.
With lockdown 2.0, comes the second project. With the trio already working on ‘Primavera’s’ successor, they’ve worked out what makes their relationship work so well, expect to see an even more refined, yet more explorative release next Spring. “We did dance music during the first lockdown because we were so frustrated that we couldn’t go to clubs, so we wanted to make something we could play when they reopened. But that never happened.” Jerge states, “We want to keep this variety in the next project, with the only thing the same, being Paula’s voice. Her voice has so much variety, so we want to try to enlarge the range of emotion within the music. This is a new artistic area for us.”
‘Primavera’ is a truly unique release of 2020. A culmination of so many sources of inspiration, and a unique working process saw three friends come together to try and bring a piece of joy to all of us. As Povoa states, “dance is part of the happiness we want to share with this project, we want our friendship to be felt and a good emotion for everyone listening. That’s why dance has to happen. We were living in an amazing moment during that first lockdown.”
In many ways this release is incredibly selfless, knowing how many thousands felt isolated and aggrieved, they wanted to share the joy they felt as three friends reunited. After all, the power of music can never be understated as Páula says, “I’m very sad. I’m very sad for the world and especially for my country. Art can transform, it’s my job, it’s the only thing I can do.”
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'Primavera' is out now.
Words: Jake Wright
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