Riffs de guitare rock ensablés dans le désert algérien, musique pop-rock chantée en arabe, voilà ce qui constitue l'étonnant cocktail Temenik Electric. Retrouvez-les en tournée sur toute la France !
Boy from Niterói
When Daniel Ruiz joined the Cubango samba school in Niterói it changed his life. And his new electronic samba project Sambasupercollider may be about to rearrange your atoms too. Mondomix met him in Rio:
You are based in Niterói, across the bridge from Rio de Janeiro. Can you tell us a bit more about the neighbourhood?
Daniel Ruiz: Niterói is a commuter town. Its population is around 500,000 people. There's quite a lot of people in the upper classes for Brazilian terms but also a lot of favelas and run down areas. It is central to Brazil's naval and offshore industry, which has seen many declines and comebacks over the years, and now plays quite an important part in the Brazilian economy.
Historically, Niterói was home of Brazil's first communist party and underground political resistance movements like MR-8 during the 60s and 70s dictatorship. There's a federal university and a lot of what went on in culture here had to do with that. So growing up as a teenager here used to be really cool and I was exposed to a lot of culture and music. There was a big reggae scene here and lot of stuff happening in the university campus.
But it is changing really fast over the last few years in a very weird process of gentrification where there are new residential condos everywhere and a whole new population coming in whose cultural desires have more to do with the multiplex cinema at the shopping mall. When real estate business kicks in the artists are the first to leave. Anybody doing anything cool left to Rio or elsewhere. I stayed. So to me, most of the city feels both on the verge of collapsing in terms of traffic and infra structure as it feels dead and abandoned. The expression in Portuguese for "commuter town" is actually "sleeper town" and a lot of people here seem to have embraced this.
But this also made me discover a whole new part of the town, out of my social circle, in places like Cubango or Ilha da Conceição, where it's alive and people are eager to do something. In Ilha da Conceição for example there are all these industrial and derelict areas, wrecked ships and kids listening to baile funk beats. So to me it feels it is like the birth of techno in Detroit or something like it. In my mind, doing all this stuff with Sambasupercollider, feels like I'm living in my own personal Detroit.
You said when you joined Cubango samba school it changed your life. What happened?!
Daniel Ruiz: I went to the Carnival parade at the Sambódromo in 2009 and Cubango had not only an amazing song but a killer drum section (bateria, in Portuguese). I was in a bit of a soul searching moment in my life then, so I decided to join Cubango's bateria after that. After all it was just a 15 minutes drive from my place. I've played in a few carnival street groups (blocos) before like Monobloco and Bangalafumenga, but those are sort of a white middle class kind of thing whereas Cubango is the real samba experience. The school is 51 years old and as we say in samba, it has a lot of "chão" (ground), which means that it is deeply rooted in its community traditions.
There I met Mestre Jonas, who's a very respected and ultra charismatic samba conductor (“mestre” is the Portuguese word for master, teacher), whose father was one of the founders of a very traditional samba school, Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel, in west side Rio.
Also, there are 300 people playing in the Cubango bateria, so I've found all this guys who were not only very talented musicians but they are a lot of fun to hang out with. It changed my social life completely. I always had an interest in different cultures. When I was 19 me and my friends would drive all the way to the baile funk at Mangueira, but I've always kept a bit of a voyeur attitude. But in Cubango I feel that I'm really part of that.
It has also changed my perception about music. I guess I used to think about music as something that would relate more to one's individual expression and creation. Something that comes from your inner soul to the outside world. It had a lot to do with sitting at my studio creating music on my own, trying to get the sound I wanted out of guitars and synths. But now I tend to think of music as a relationship between people. It is like what you do as a musician is more of an excuse to bring people together. The emphasis now is really on the "people" part of the equation. So the beer, the food, the birthday party, the jokes, matters as much as tuning, pitch or tempo. Everything we do in Sambasupercollider is in this party atmosphere, whether it's a club gig or a recording session. I think this is something I learnt a lot from watching Jonas, as he cares a lot about all these aspects. Also, it is a very powerful thing to play with 300 people. It's something a lot of musicians don't get to experience. It's impossible to remain unaffected by this.
Acadêmicos do Cubango - rehearsal
Right now all the samba schools are picking their songs for next carnival. Has Cubango made a selection? Can you tell us about the song?
Daniel Ruiz: Yes, we just had our song finals last Saturday. It is a very important moment in the carnival preparation. Actually the whole song contest is. The songwriters present their contenders and everybody cheers and supports their favorite song with flags and balloons.
It all has to relate to the parade theme and this year's theme for Cubango is Brazil's industrial pioneer Barão de Mauá, who had his first industry here in Niterói. So, Niterói is Brazil's first industrial city. (Come to think of it, this whole Niterói-Detroit thing has come full circle now, hasn't it?). So the lyrics are about Barão de Mauá’s visions of a modern, industrial Brazil and mentions all things he brought to Brazil: railways, iron and naval industries, gas lighting, etc.
G.R.E.S Acadêmicos do Cubango – 2012 carnival song
What’s the idea behind Sambasupercollider? What is your sound and who are the other members?
Daniel Ruiz: Sambasupercollider is a project that brings together samba and electronic music. It is a sound system/electronic act kind of thing. The idea behind it is to make these apparently dissimilar musical universes collide. After a while living in the samba world, I was able to spot all these possible connections between this new cultural universe I was immersing myself into and my own musical background. I wasn't born and raised in the samba culture, I was at a Nirvana concert when I was 12 and listening to jungle and drum 'n' bass when I was 16. So for example, right after every bateria rehearsal there's always a small baile funk party, which is Brazil's electronic music. So our sound is the result of this clash between electronic bleeps and beats and samba's frantic percussion. I think we are very influenced by Detroit techno, 80s electro funk, Miami Bass and Italo-disco, so there are a lot of analog synth sounds in it. I bought this Korg Mono/Poly synth from Seu Jorge's keyboard player. It has a lot character in its sound and it is everywhere over the tracks we've been working on.
Of course there's funk carioca and it certainly is a big influence on us but we are off to something else. It's a sound we are still developing with the kids. If you compare us to Dubstep history, we are still in our Croydon years, yet another commuter town that spawned this great electronic music scene.
Live, it is me DJing, Mestre Jonas and Bruno da Tavares, this kid from Vila Vintém who is nothing short of a virtuoso, playing percussion. But we had all these kids from Vila Vintém, where Jonas was raised, and Cubango recording stuff here in the studio with us: Lê, Emerson, Marcel, Papa, Feijão, Junior and Aline. In my mind everybody around us is in Sambasupercollider because they are all contributing to our sound. They all come to me and say stuff like "you should do more of that beat" or "use more samples like this one". So they are really shaping our sound with us. For example, when we did this mixtape, Jonas played that out of his car to the guys in the bateria and they all asked me for a copy. So I've burnt cds for them and they all came back saying "I really like this part". I feel that there's a big sense of "we" in Sambasupercollider. We call it "our thing".
How are things going so far? How are the live shows?
Daniel Ruiz: We started our activities in 2010, right after carnival when I invited Jonas to start this. So far we have put a mixtape of our DJ/live percussion presentation out for streaming and white label cds (in case you're in the Cubango bateria). We are quite isolated from any Brazilian musical scene. We did some club dates in Rio and Niterói but mostly we are doing community block parties and playing people's rooftops and birthday parties. So this is just what I was saying, it has this informal party atmosphere with lots of beer. For anything more formal, a club in Lapa or something like that, we put on our white suits which is something that comes from samba traditions. If we are visiting another school we are in our best clothes. We are also working on our own tracks here in the studio.
Sambasupercollider mix tape
What’s next for Sambasupercollider?
Daniel Ruiz: Right now we are in touch with some electronic music producers and other possible collaborators in the UK, who just became aware of what we do and want to collaborate. Some of our original tracks may come out anytime soon. We are also going to Europe in the first half of 2012 for some samba percussion workshops and club dates in Germany, France and in the UK. We have a lot of plans and I wish in the future we will be able to have all the kids aboard, but for now we have to keep things tight and light in order to perform and tour. I think we are in a exciting moment where there's a lot of work to be done on it every day and it looks like many good thing are just about to happen.
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