On the cusp of their upcoming tour Andrea Amorim and Dave Holmes answered a few questions for us about the tour , touring in general and a glimpse in their history and background .
Tell us about the early days of you becoming an artist and songwriter, is it something that you have always wanted to do?
Andrea: Since childhood, even though I was shy, I always wanted to work with art. I understood that through it, I could express my feelings and emotions. So, at 13, I took a guitar that had been left in my house and began learning to play. After learning my first 3 chords, I composed my first song, and since then I haven’t stopped.
At 17, I started singing in bars in my city and at 19, I formed my first rock band – Eclipse Urbano (‘Urban Eclipse’). Alongside the music, I graduated in Journalism. Then in 2006 I won a music contest here in my city, promoted by Izaías Régis (a Politician from the north East of Brazil) which, at the time, was the biggest contest based festival in Brazil . It was this moment that I decided I would I would try to live for Music and moved to the South East of the country, where I could live a life of rock music, which was my style at the time.
First I went to live in Recife, after this, São Paulo. There I participated in some shows for Globo, the biggest TV network in the Country. In the meantime, I met Roberto Menescal. I ended up going to live in Rio, when I formed a partnership with Menescal’s label Albatroz, and I recorded an original CD of rock, with the participation of Menescal himself, Marcos Valle and Lenine. At that time, I had the opportunity, twice, to showcase my work in Miami.
One visit was to collect the Rising Star award given for new Brazilian Talent; and the other was to sing next to Marcos Valle, in a Press Awards event. Alongside this, I returned to film two clips in New York. I also had the chance to go and sing for Tokyo’s Brazilian Day and Tokyo’s Press Awards, which both took place during the same week. A producer called Didi Nanbei invited me to return to Japan three months after to make a tour of 21 shows in 30 days. This same producer proposed that I record a Bossa Nova Album with Roberto Menescal as, according to him, my voice marries perfectly with the style. On the way home, I asked Menescal if he’d like to record it and he not only accepted, but also produced the whole Album, and we wrote music together and performed various shows within Brazil.
Your early work was mainly within the genres of pop/rock, what drew you to those genres and even more so what inspired the shift to Bossa Nova?
Andrea: What called me to Rock was the cultural effervescence of rock in Brazil in the 90s, besides that, of course, my rebellious adolescence. I always expressed myself to the world, through my music, and also because Rock doesn’t require a lot of chords, I saw a possibility in it. For Bossa Nova, what inspired me, without a doubt, was Roberto Menescal and the Japanese. I was impresed with the love that they feel for this style of Music. Ironically, I can say that I discovered Brazilian Music in Japan. But first I fell in love with the great human being that is Roberto Menescal, after that the Bossa Nova – I consider the two as coexisting synonyms.
Do you feel like you are breaking the stereotypes of the “traditional” Bossa Nova artist?
Andrea: In a visual way, yes, because there are no other Bossa Nova singers with Tattoos or coloured hair. So in some way, I broke the paradigm. But my way of singing was driven by Bossa Nova, very gentle and light, and by the experience, instruction and teachings of Roberto Menescal, which developed me personally. I left the vibrato and the stronger voice to one side and let myself be taken by the numerous smooth chords of the Bossa Nova. I listened to the great interpreters of Bossa Nova, among them, Nara Leão, Cris Delanno, Marcela Mangabeira and Wanda Sá. In other words, I learned little by little, slowly with each of them, and I continue learning today. Menescal, of course, always gives me generous advice, and He and I always say that it was a process that naturally evolved.
You have had opportunity to work with one of the greats of Brazilian Music in Roberto Menescal . Tell us about how that connection was made, its impact on your career and any poignant things you may have learnt from him.
Andrea: I worked with Menescal for a quite a while. We composed together and recorded a CD called Bossa de Alma Nova (Bossa of the New Soul) and made a DVD, that bears the same name, with the participation of Brasilidade Geral. Menescal was a judge at the same festival in which I won in 2006, but in a previous year when I was a guest performer. Someone told me that he had spoken about me, and immediately my producer at the time, sought his email address and got in contact. He was extremely kind and since then we never “separated”. We became great music partners and great friends for life. He taught me a lot about music of course, but I learnt, above all, to be a real human being, and that humility, kindness and generosity should be a daily exercise in our lives.
You have both traveled around the world performing and are about to take on a new adventure in your upcoming tour in Europe this July / August. What is the touring experience like for you both and are there any particular Bossa Nova artists you have met on your travels that you enjoyed seeing play?
Andrea: I thank God that I’ve had the opportunity to travel a lot and sing with big names of Bossa Nova and MPB (Brazilian Popular Music), but Europe always was a dream that I persude and I am very happy to be able to realize it now next to Dave, who is a great artist, a great human being too, one with a deep and zealous passion for Bossa Nova.
For sure, it will be yet another great experience which will bring great learning too. I am very happy to bring our music over and make a musical exchange with musicians from other countries. It will be one of the most beautiful moments of my life.
Besides Roberto Menescal, I’ve already had the opportunity to work alongside Marcos Valle, Oswaldo Montenegro, Cris Delanno, Lenine, Luiz Pié, Wanda Sá, Bebossa, Os Cariocas and Leny Andrade. I’ve met other great artists too, like Leila Pinheiro, Joyce e Emílio Santiago.
Dave: Myself, I’ve played a number of intimate solo shows around Mainland Europe, showcasing my set of MPB covers. The Brazilian sound has gone down really well and I really enjoy the whole adventure of touring, being immersed in different languages and culture.
As for local Bossa Nova artists, I don’t get to see any, as I am usually the only act on. However, I did notice a Stacey Kent gig poster when I was in Bruges, which made me smile – Bossa Nova is alive, in every corner of the world!
How did you both meet, and how did the idea of the tour come about?
Dave: Well, after hearing their ‘Bossa de Alma Nova’ album, I contacted Andrea online and later, when I pressed up my second demo, I sent her a copy. Soon after receiving it, she told me that she wanted to Tour Europe and asked if I would join her on guitar.
Yes, I always wanted to make a tour of Europe, and when Dave sent me his CD, I was amazed at how he managed to be such a ‘Bossa-novista’, given that he is not Brazilian. I saw a chance to make a musical and cultural exchange, so that we could show Europeans the richness of Brazilian Music, whilst being played virtuosly by a European. I proposed the tour to Dave, and he immediately accepted! I was immensely happy to know I would realise yet another dream.
What is the band format?
Our tour will be faithfully based on the shows that I made with Roberto Menescal in Brasil, where we will recreate the music from the CD ‘Bossa de Alma Nova’, alongside other tracks. I will stay on vocals, while Dave take charge of guitars and will also sing, and we’ll have the other musicians beside us: Drummer, percussionist and bass player, and I am very anxious to meet them all.
Dave: Yes, we are playing the same arrangements using Europe-based Brazilian musicians on this tour, with Fabricio Azevedo on Drums & Percussion and Kita Steuer on Bass. Also in Portugal we have, Ronaldo Firmino sharing Drums & Percussion duties.
We will also have the fine talent of Bass / Double Bass player Bruce Henri for our Portugese leg of the tour, as we found out that he just happens to be living in Portugal now.
He has provided his skills for many greats such as Tom Jobim, Joyce, Herbie Hancock, and is a part of Brazilian music history in that he formed part of the Tropicália (Tropicalism) movement – a cultural shift forward for Brazil – performing with Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso (during their time of exile in the UK in ’69 and early 70s), also alongside Gal Costa, Tutty Moreno, and Chiquinho Azevedo.
You know I find it quite magical, I’m just a gringo from UK, yet there are all these coincedences happening around me – everyone seems to know everyone else in the Bossa Nova world. I briefly met and shook Joyce’s hand as she was leaving her show at Ronnie Scott’s last year with her husband.. Tutty Moreno! and she was discovered by …Menescal! 50 years ago. Bruce sometimes plays with Marcos Valle’s drummer Massa who I also got to know when I met Marcos at one of his shows in London last year!.. and of course Marcos Valle is lifetime friend and music partner with Roberto Menescal, who recorded the Album with Andrea and has given our tour his personal blessing. Furthermore, Menescal worked on albums by Ale Vanzella who has became a good friend of mine a few year back, the first Brazilian Bossa artist I met, when we had a Bossa Jam in London. I have even coined a Portuguese phrase to explain it; ‘Tudo Menescalesque’ , when everything in the Universe has a connection to Menescal ! Haha.
Were there any particular reasons in choosing, England, Portugal, Belgium and Holland?
Well, I always wanted to come to England and visit other countries in Europe.
Also, the music studio and promotor, Mdb Audio, will provide us with their facilities and team in Portugal. We will be based there while we play a few shows around Portugal. We are looking forward to ending our tour in a country that has many parallels with Brazil – with the history between the two countries, the sunny weather, and also it is a nation that understands our language – the poetic lyrics of the Bossa Nova songs.
Yes, it made sense that we based the Euro tour in my home country, England. I’m really looking forward to playing the shows here with Andrea and the band. It also seemed fitting to take her to some of the countries I have been touring in recently. I am especially looking forward to returning to Fred Polet’s Brazilian Blend radio show in Holland, where we will be playing live on air on 4th August. Plus, I used to live in Portugal, and I always love going back.
And we are still in discussions with venues and taking bookings for other stops.
Though knowing well that you both will be focused on your upcoming tour, is there anything we can look forward to from either of you come the tours completion?
Well I will continue recording my original singles in France, Portugal and UK and performing percussion in two UK Samba baterias, Ziriguidum and Toque Tambor. I also direct an electronic group called Cosmic Core – we’re working on our 5th double album. I also plan to continue performing Bossa Nova around the world, to spread more Brazilian vibes.
Yes, so in the last year I signed to Brazilian Agency AP Produções Artísticas, and I am making some shows with them. And who knows, perhaps we will be able to record an original track in the studio in Portugal during the tour. Also maybe we will take this show, in this format, to other places in the world. The possibilities are infinite!
Andrea will be in Europe from 26th July until the 15th August performing with her Euro 2016 Tour band. Tour dates are to be confirmed and announced over the coming months. For bookings please contact Bookings@SoulTonic.org