by Hélène Deconinck
Earlier this month, MadlyJuicy was kindly invited at the Trane Studio, Toronto for the release of Cecilia Monte first full length album, Open Air. We met with this emerging Bossa nova artist at the Marigold studio where she recorded her first EP in 2011. Cecilia shared with us her love for the Brazilian culture, life and of course music!
MadlyJuicy: Can you explain bossa nova music to our readers?
Ceclia Monte: Bossa nova is a very traditional Brazilian style of music. It’s kind of obsolete now in Brazil, but very popular everywhere else. I grew up with bossa nova, my childhood friends were Brazilian and my mom used to listen it all day long. It is about love with a lot of fun stories, about the attachment of Brazilian people to their culture and nostalgia for those who left Brazil. It was born with Antonio Carlos Jobim and it is very related to jazz. It’s rich and harmonically complicated; it’s a completely different style. The rhythm, language and story are different. Bossa nova and jazz match but they always are played differently.
MJ: What do you try to convey through your music?
CM: In this album, there are a lot of feelings involved: love experiences, thrill for life, hard and happy time in life and love for music. For the past three years, I travelled so much that it was really difficult to deal with relationships. I was on the long distance relationship and the guy kept telling me that he would come wherever I was and never showed up. So, some songs are about when you really miss someone and can’t do anything about it. Some are about new experiences, the excitement of beginning writing, and making my own understanding of music.
MJ: You were born in Argentina, although you sing mostly in Portuguese…?
CM: With art you can choose whatever you want. I just happened to love Brazilian music because I grew up with it. The Portuguese language is so beautifully musical. There’s so much music incorporated in the language. In the last song of my album, Ilusion, I mix Spanish and Portuguese. Language is a great tool. It’s particularly important in Canada where the audience may not understand Portuguese lyrics. Singing once the chorus in Portuguese and then in English helps to connect everyone to my music.
MJ: Jobim and Djavan are two of your favourite Brazilian composers. What moves you in their music?
CM: Jobim is the father of bossa nova. His music is very sensitive and deep. His tunes are pure masterpieces. He made amazing jazz harmony with complicated notes and the rhythm of bossa nova. Djavan is a composer who uses a lot of harmonic complexity in the samba side. He was just a kid so passionate about music that he felt it genuinely. His tunes are not easy to play! His music takes you to so many places. What their music makes me feel involve so many things on top of whatever is inside me. It’s very hard to explain because it’s very subjective.
MJ: How was the recording of Open Air in Argentina?
CM: Recording is always very exciting although it takes a lot of energy, time and work. Some days, we spent 7 hours in the studio. It was also very personal because I recorded my own songs, and my own arrangements. I turned my feelings into music in a physical support. I had the most wonderful time from the beginning rehearsing with the band to the mixing and mastering session.
MJ: For those who aren’t really fluent in Portuguese, can you explain what your song “Minha Cançao” is about?
CM: I wrote it 3 years ago in Vancouver. It’s the first original that I recorded. “Minha Cançao” is about starting writing my own music, not focusing so much on the destination and just enjoying the road. I’m expressing in this song that’s important to enjoy the ‘in between’ of my musical journey. It is also a very rhythmic song, with two different rhythms, partido alto and samba, both very danceable.
MJ: As a complete artist, you play piano, guitar, drum and percussion. How does that help your song writing skills?
CM: Melody and lyrics come all together. It’s so connected. I’m just walking around or admiring things and I record ideas on my cell. Then I work on it, from there I create or change the rhythm, the harmony and bring more poetry. Some new ideas, I dreamt them. There’s a part of intuition in music creation. In my case, there was a lot of instinct involved, but I did study classical music in Argentina, Canada and the US. For me, the best singers know music inside and out. They play piano, and know about music theory and history never losing the instinct. As there’s always something to improve or learn, unless you’re Ella Fitzgerald, instinct is crucial.
MJ: How important it is to be connected to your musicians during a live performance?
CM: It’s crucial. For that album, all musicians are a group of friends. The result is even better with musicians you know very well. My pianist is a school girlfriend from my hometown Rosario. It’s a similar story with my bassist and guitarist. But as an artist, you get to know new people every day. The most important is to work with musicians who are very much into the style of music that you play. Music is communication, so just with your eyes, you can tell where you are during a show. I looked at the pianist and he knew it was time for his solo and when he smiled I knew it was over. You can improvise more when you perform live but still within a structure. I gave musical directions and the rest is just having fun playing music.
Upcoming show: Cecilia will play on September 8th, 9:00 p.m at The Dominion on Queen Street in Toronto, Canada.
2012 – Open Air
Venus Records, Canada, 10 tracks.
2012 – Cecilia Monte’s jazz band
Venus Records, Argentina, 4 tracks.
2011 – Cecilia Monte sings Jobim
Marigold Studio, Canada, 2 tracks.
Official website: http://www.ceciliamonte.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cecilia-Monte/136622893071181