Brazilian singer, musician, and songwriter from Rio de Janeiro
This week, Ecléctico welcomes guest DJ Bill Bragin, Executive Artistic Director at The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi and founding co-director of globalFEST. Today we’re listening to Marisa Monte and going deeper with words from Bill and an interview between Marisa and Arto Lindsay.
"Ao Meu Redor" by Marisa Monte (1994)
Not available on Bandcamp
Bill Bragin: One of my favorite orchestral art-pop songs [is] by MPB singer Marisa Monte, "Ao Meu Redor" ("Around Me"), with a brilliant arrangement by Philip Glass, which I always found to be uplifting, with the wind instruments and strings dancing in circles around her multi-tracked voice. After 27 years of loving the song, I decided to translate the lyrics for the first time, and found that the lyrics continued the beautiful saudade feeling that inspired the set [of music this week on Ecléctico].
Around me is desert
Ao meu redor está deserto
You are not around
Você não está por perto
And it's still so close
E ainda está tão perto
You don't do it like a bird that made the nest
Tu não faz como um passarinho que fez o ninho
But I was alone, without your affection, without your love
Mas eu fiquei sozinho, sem teu carinho, sem teu amor
Love far, far
Amor longe, de longe
Excerpt of a conversation between Marisa Monte and Arto Lindsay on BOMB:
Arto Lindsay: Before we started the interview we were talking about the New York Times review of your show here at the Beacon. The writer talked a lot about how you mix pop music with more intelligent music, or how you mix ideas into your show of pop music. I wanted to talk a little about your interest in literature and art. I know you love 19th century literature, especially Brazilian and Portuguese literature. And I know you love contemporary, modern and pop art. Let’s talk about how you use those ideas in your music, what those ideas have to do with your music.
Marisa Monte: It’s similar to the way that a sculptor or writer listens to music while working. For me, it’s all art—there’s integration in this who process. I’m interested in what’s going on in other artistic expressions as a reference for what I’m doing. And I like to talk to people from other cultural areas because I think it’s interesting to compare the process of creation, the concepts in the works, and to exchange these kinds of feelings and ways of production. In visual arts, I love the rigor that good artists use in conceptualizing their work. They are better at it than musicians. For the most part, I mean.
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Arto Lindsay: The way you use these ideas in your work is very interesting. Particularly your understanding of the way pop art works. You have a huge, huge audience in Brazil. Your work is very open in many ways, simple and bright and welcoming for anyone to enjoy regardless of their level of education. But at the same time it’s very sophisticated and has a lot of ideas. It’s controlled, as said, very rigorous.
Marisa Monte: I like to use this contrast: if you use something colloquial, simple, it’s a hook for more sophisticated information to reach a bigger audience. I do use simple songs like, “Amor, I Love You,” to open the new record. Then the least demanding listener is hooked; he falls into something more difficult and sophisticated than what he expects. And the balance between those two is very cool.