More and more artists are taking control of their own recordings. Rita Peixoto and Carlos Fuchs have taken self-production several steps further.
Singer Rita Peixoto and pianist/arranger/composer Carlos Fuchs, who are a married couple as well as a professional duo, have abandoned their former record label and are producing and distributing their own work. In the process, Carlos has established his own private studio and is now producing a stream of new discs by talented independent musicians.
In this installment, Rita and Carlos discuss their past, present, and future work and their latest disc, Na Minha Cara.
Brazzil—What’s your musical background?
Rita—From a very early age I heard music at home. My parents were great music lovers and listeners. I heard everything: popular Brazilian music, classical music, and popular music of other countries. I started piano lessons even before learning to read. Later, I abandoned the piano studies.
Carlos—Well, I’ve been involved with music as long as I can remember. Of course, I’ve done some other things for a living as well. As you probably know, it’s very difficult to make a decent living out of your musical skills. But I think I can consider my background pretty much being a musical one.
Brazzil—How did you get into performing music?
Rita—When I was fourteen, I began to participate in student festivals. Throughout my school years, until I turned eighteen, I was involved with music, singing at school. A little later, I began to sing professionally. When I was eighteen, the maestro Guio de Moraes, after hearing me in one of those festivals, invited me to record an LP. I made it, but the album wasn’t released. At that period I involved myself definitively with music as a professional. I sang in bars and nightclubs. I also sang at dances for a while.
Carlos—My father is a classical pianist, and his mother was a violinist. Thus, I’ve been listening to classical music since I was a baby. I bought my first popular music album only when I was thirteen. I started music classes at the age of six and piano classes at seven. Never with my dad, of course, for, as you know, santo de casa não faz milagre, [the house-saint never works miracles] or casa de ferreiro, espeto de pau. [in the blacksmith’s house, the skewers are wooden]. However, my grandmother would always sit and study the parts with me.
Brazzil—How did you learn to sing/play?
Rita—I didn’t attend any singing school, since this type of school didn’t exist in Brazil. I began to sing as every other popular singer does: by singing. After many years of professional singing, I took vocal technique classes. This really helped me to know my voice so as to use it more fully—in fact, to know myself better.
Carlos—Well, as I told you, I started my piano classes at the age of seven, with this teacher that taught me for eleven years. She was very important to my understanding of music interpretation. Her name is Salomea Gandelman. I also took some classes with other professors during those years. My will to play popular songs became strong at the age of fifteen, when I started listen to some jazz and MPB all the time.
Brazzil—What were your musical influences?
Rita—As I’ve said, I listened to everything while I was small and have continued adopting this attitude as an adult. I think it’s important to hear everything in order to be able to choose better. Only s/he who has a choice chooses well. Speaking more objectively, I heard great singers like Elis Regina, Ella Fitzgerald, Clara Nunes, Mama Cass, Ângela Maria, Janis Joplin, Edith Piaf, Elizeth Cardoso… The marvelous African-American female singers… All of them, in some fashion, gave me something—a great deal of emotion, certainly, and the desire to become a singer.
Carlos—Of course, I have strong classical influences. I could say Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Ravel, Bach, Pärt, among others. Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Chico Buarque, Edu Lobo, and Tom Jobim are also among my definite influences.
Brazzil—Would you give us an outline of your careers thus far?
Rita—You make me think about this. I find that artistically it’s a very rich career. I’ve been singing professionally for twenty-two years. I’m involved with many musicians, singers, composers, and producers of various tendencies, and with time I come to perceive how good it is to be with all of them. They give me a frame of reference. What’s still missing is the ability to exercise my profession without fear of being penniless (and when I speak of money, I don’t mean millions!).
Carlos—I started my professional career playing live music for theatre, played with some Brazilian artists such as the late Taiguara. During the ’80s I created a band called Régua that, despite not having recorded an album, left a big fan list in Rio and some other towns. It was a totally electronic band. In fact, it began as a duo. I played for some years with the Rio Jazz Orchestra and began this current work back in 1991, recording our first album in 1993 and this one in 1997.
Brazzil—What are your own musical preferences?
Carlos—Good MPB, Jazz, Classical.
Rita—It’s difficult to answer. I hear a lot of current music, but I also continue to listen to the female singers who inspired me. I make a point of listening to new people, Brazilians and from other places, and primarily my friends.
Brazzil—Who are your friends?
Rita—My friends are admirable artists. It’s a privilege to have them always around. They’re a source of inspiration and fun. Mathilda Kóvak, Suely Mesquita, Marcos Sacramento, Paulo Baiano, Antonio Saraiva, Sidon Silva, Paulo Brandão, Rodrigo Campello, all the people of Arranco, Dil Fonseca, Betti Albano…
We have similar ideas and also similar difficulties, and because of that we unite in order to work better. You’ve already heard of this; it’s very difficult to work in music in Brazil, but we’re not going to stop making music, because music is what makes us happy. So we’ve resolved, in our own way, to put into practice what we want to do.
Carlos— My friends are the people I work with. Marcos Sacramento, whom I’ve known since the ’80s, has become one of my best friends. We are currently recording our first joint album. All the songs but one have lyrics by him and music by myself. Antonio Saraiva, a great friend and also a genius. He played saxophone in our first album and has three compositions in our new one. Mathilda Kóvak is one of the most brilliant songwriters in Brazil; we see each other almost every day. She is also my partner, and we have about twenty songs we’ve written together. I’m currently producing her first solo album, which is amazing, considering that more than twenty-five of her songs have been recorded by mainstream artists in Brazil. Suely Mesquita is also a great songwriter and partner. I’m also producing her first solo album. She sings beautifully, too. Dil Fonseca, a great composer and spirit. I’ve known him since the ’80s, too. Just finished his first solo album, which I produced.
Brazzil—What are you planning to do next?
Rita—Disseminate Na Minha Cara as much as possible, with shows here in Brazil and abroad, and create a work situation that will give me autonomy. Carlos and I already have our own studio, and the next step is to distribute all our work in ways that will make us independent of the traditional media. The Internet is one such way.
Carlos—Compose a lot, play and record a lot. Hopefully travel to Europe, North America, and Japan to show our music.
Na Minha Cara track by track
Brazzil—How would you describe the musical evolution from your first disc, Rita Peixoto & Carlos Fuchs, to this one?
Rita—In this second disc, Carlos is more present—as composer, arranger, and interpreter. I would say that our duo is better represented. The repertoire is also an important part of the difference between the two discs. In Na Minha Cara, we selected mostly previously unrecorded songs. As an interpreter, I think it’s important to sing new composers.
Carlos—I didn’t produce Na Minha Cara; this was beautifully done by Paulo Brandão (who also produced our first CD) and Rodrigo Campello. Of course, I was deeply involved in all the arrangements and can consider myself a co-producer. In the case of Na Minha Cara, we had at our disposal a world-class studio, and this made the production a real blue-sky flight.
Brazzil—You open the album with “O Dono da Bola,” a very insistent song with repetitive lyrics and rhythms by a young, previously unrecorded composer.
Rita—Like the good Brazilian that I am, I adore football and always wanted to sing something that talked about this. Football has always been very connected to music here in Brazil. Singers, composers, musicians, and football players have a strong bond, and it’s common to see them together. The great composer Lamartine Babo wrote all the hymns of all the football clubs in Rio de Janeiro.
“O Dono da Bola” talks about someone who can end the game at a certain moment, because he’s the master of the ball, but the other players plead with him to let the ball roll so the game may continue.
Brazzil—It certainly conveys the urgency of the moment on the football field, whereas the second song, “Choro Blue,” is just the opposite; it’s full of the jazzy indolence of malaise.
Rita—Rodrigo [Campello, the composer] showed me this song, and I liked the melody right away. [Antonio] Saraiva’s poetry is visual, cinematographic. I manage to sing and visualize what I’m singing. It’s a song with a scenario. I also liked the mixture of choro with blues. I find that these genres have something in common, which is why the lyrics in English are so natural in this song.
Brazzil—The lyrics are completely hilarious, but your delivery doesn’t betray their tongue-in-cheek aspect, which makes the whole thing work particularly well. It’s Miúcha meets Brecht & Weill: all the clichés of the English language in a song from another culture. Very serious on the surface. Antonio calls it nonsense standards collage. He says that the little he knows about English, he learned from song lyrics.
Next we have the nostalgic instrumental piece “Mira” by Carlos. It begins with a solo piano, develops strings and wind instruments, becomes orchestral, then cascades down to piano for the finale.
Carlos—I wrote this tune during the Carnaval of 1997. It’s named after my late grandmother, who always encouraged me to be a musician, besides being a violinist herself.
Brazzil—A change of pace with “Ouro,” a very modern samba by Saraiva.
Rita—This samba is quite different from others I’ve heard. It has modernity but is also a traditional samba. While I sing the melody it seems that another song is happening behind, but everything combines perfectly.
Brazzil—You follow that with Chico Buarque’s “Não Fala de Maria.”
Rita—Of all the famous Brazilian composers, I always thought Chico Buarque was the greatest genius (my friends are also geniuses, but not as famous). I’ve been listening to Chico’s songs for a long time and perhaps I know his oeuvre well. In my first CD I recorded two of his songs, “Desalento” and “Estação Derradeira.” “Não Fala de Maria” is very moving, and I find that Carlos succeeded in capturing this emotion in the piano arrangement. It’s a love story that ends unhappily.
Brazzil—”Dominus” by Luís Capucho and Marcos Sacramento is a very lyrical and contemplative song.
Rita—I’ve already recorded two Luís Capucho songs, “Maluca” and “Minha Casa É um Céu,” in my first CD; I was the first person to record him. Everything that Luís does attracts my attention. He has a disconcerting poetry, strange to the common hearing, but at the same time very simple. Sacramento brought me this song fifteen days before we began recording the CD and said that I had to sing it. He was right. Dominus means God in Latin. The music talks about our dual being: at times we confound ourselves with this duplicity and don’t know what to do. We desire definite emotions, we resist contradictory sentiments. So we suffer a lot. If we understood our nature, we’d live with more serenity. That’s why we ask God to watch over us.
Carlos—One curious note about this recording: Sacramento sang the melody, but he didn’t (nor did anybody else) have the harmony recorded or written. Since Luís Capucho had suffered a major accident, he couldn’t show us the actual harmony he had composed. So I harmonized the song. Luís said he liked it very much.
Brazzil—”Dominus” is appropriately followed by “Jesus,” composed by Paulo Baiano and Marcos Sacramento. “Jesus” is much more lively and percussive than “Dominus.”
Rita—This partnership of Paulo Baiano and Marcos Sacramento, I always wanted to sing them. The two write beautiful songs. “Jesus” is a man who provokes and enchants.
Brazzil—Baiano describes “Jesus” as a choro that talks of a very special Jesus, beautiful and profane, who emerges wet from the waters to bring us love and joie de vivre. In fact, he’s a human Jesus who can be loved and desired in the most physical and carnal way possible. You’ve decided to follow this Jesus with Super-Woman.
Rita—Mathilda Kóvak wrote the lyrics of “Super-Mulher” for me. Carlos completed the song with gorgeous music. This partnership is happiness! I feel particularly honored to be able to sing it. All women, naturally, like this song very much… And some men become very emotional when they hear it.
Brazzil—In “Europa” Carlos does the singing. It’s a contemplative song with piano, winds, violin, and cello. The lyrics turn Europe into an exotic place, as it might appear to someone from the tropics.
Carlos—This tune was the first of a series of compositions by Marcos Sacramento and myself. As usual, he gave me the lyrics and I had to twist myself to fit the words with a melody. We now have twenty-plus compositions and are preparing an album with about twelve of those.
Brazzil—Next we have the choro “Três em Um.”
Carlos—I love choros! Sidon Silva, our percussionist, said, “This tune seems like three tunes!” So it became three-in-one or “Três em Um.”
Brazzil—And you close with Saraiva’s “Vagabundo,” whose lyrics provide the title for your CD.
Rita—This is, perhaps, the strangest song in the disc. Carlos’ arrangement contributed in the creation of this strangeness—in addition, obviously, to the poetry and music of Saraiva. It was different to sing without notes, to sing `talking.’
New sounds from the fox’s lair
Carlos Fuchs talks about his studio’s upcoming productions
Dil Fonseca’s Marubá was recorded entirely in my project studio (except the piano cuts, which were done in my dad’s living room). It was my first experience in many years of producing, and especially recording, a full project. I just loved it. In fact, thanks to this project I started to build my home studio and now I’m producing five projects at the same time:
- Suely Mesquita’s first solo album. Suely is a composer and has a huge number of partners (including myself) for whom she writes quality lyrics. In some cases she does the music too. Also, she has this unique great voice. We are currently finishing the basic cuts, where we had on most tracks the members of A Parede playing percussion and bass guitar. A Parede is the band of Pedro Luís; last year they released a disc on Dubas/Warner and now they’re in the studio for their second album. It’s been great fun to do this project, since we gave them total freedom to create in the studio and do all those crazy things one wishes to do sometimes but can’t, like playing the microphone stand itself (with the mic attached to it), cigar boxes, and just about anything that comes in mind (or hand).
- Paulo Baiano (with Clara Sandroni singing). Also a first album. Baiano is an old friend of ours and an extremely talented composer (sorry, no lyrics). His partnerships include Suely Mesquita, Mathilda Kóvak, Sérgio Natureza, and (among others) last but not least, Marcos Sacramento, with whom he has a long story going way back. This project will show some fifteen beautiful tunes, most with lyrics by Sacramento. We are at this moment finishing the basic instrumental cuts.
- Rodrigo Maranhão. Another first solo album. This guy is young. And great! The first song in Na Minha Cara [“O Dono da Bola”] is his; it was also his first composition ever recorded. He can comfortably swing from samba and choro to funk and rap. We have four songs ready and will now try to catch the record labels’ attention before going on. This project is being co-produced by Sidon Silva (who plays percussion in our CD). Pedro Luís is recording Maranhão for his upcoming album.
- Mathilda Kóvak’s genius is well-known here through at least twenty-five songs of hers that were recorded by mainstream artists; yet she hasn’t been able to do her own solo disc. Guess what? Here I am again! This is quite a crazy project, for we want to release forty songs through it. So it seems more like a box set than a CD. But she has far too many amazing songs (including a whole bunch in English) to be confined to a single CD. Mathilda is also, along with Sacramento, my most regular songwriting partner. We have more than twenty songs together. This project is still at the early stage, and we’ll need a lot of time to complete it. Rita will be singing here, too.
- Carlos Fuchs & Marcos Sacramento. Through this one, I intend to release nine compositions by Marcos and me, in addition to one by myself and another by Mathilda and me. Those are slow-tempo tunes with very dense lyrics and, I could say, sophisticated harmonies. I don’t think this is an `everybody’s gonna like it’ album, but I truly believe it’s going to be gorgeous. At the moment it’s a piano & voice project, with the possibility of becoming a piano, voice & orchestra project if we cut a deal with a record company.
So, as you can see, I’m quite busy right now! But happy too. It’s a privilege to be able to work with such talented people, even if there’s no money in it (for now only, I hope). What’s priceless is the sensation of being like a full-blown factory of good music.
Solo albums (available through email@example.com)
Rita Peixoto & Carlos Fuchs (CD; 1993)
Independent; LB 015; previously distributed by Leblon Records
Rita Peixoto (voice)
Carlos Fuchs (piano & voice)
Lui Coimbra (cellos)
Mário Sève (flutes)
Antonio Saraiva (soprano sax)
Marcos Suzano (percussion)
Arrangements: Carlos Fuchs
- Nos Horizontes do Mundo (Paulinho da Viola)
- Réquiem para Mãe Menininha do Gantois (Gilberto Gil)
- Maluca (Luís Capucho)
- Desalento (Chico Buarque/Vinícius de Moraes)
- Do Sorriso da Mulher Nasceram as Flores (Eduardo Souto)
- Rolam nos Meus Olhos (Cartola)
- Estação Derradeira (Chico Buarque)
- Choro pro Zé (Guinga/Aldir Blanc)
- Noturna (Guinga/Paulo César Pinheiro)
- Minha Casa É um Céu (Luís Capucho)
- Do Sorriso da Mulher Nasceram as Flores [vignette] (Eduardo Souto)
Na Minha Cara (CD; 1998)
Rita Peixoto (voice)
Carlos Fuchs (piano & voice)
Antonio Saraiva (voice); Paulo Brandão (electric bass); Rodrigo Campello (electric guitar, 7-string guitar, cavaquinho, percussion); Lui Coimbra (cello); Cecília Mendes (viola); Ricardo Amado (violin); Andréa Ernest Dias (flute); Harold Emert (oboe); José Botelho (clarinet); Paulo Passos (bass clarinet); Philip Doyle (French horn); Vittor Santos (trombone); C.A. (drums); Sidon Silva, Celso Alvim, Léo Leobons & Paulo Muylaert (percussion)
Arrangements: Carlos Fuchs & Rodrigo Campello (“Choro Blue”)
- O Dono da Bola (Rodrigo Maranhão)
- Choro Blue (Rodrigo Campello)
- Mira (Carlos Fuchs)
- Ouro (Antonio Saraiva)
- Não Fala de Maria (Chico Buarque)
- Dominus (Luís Capucho/Marcos Sacramento)
- Jesus (Paulo Baiano/Marcos Sacramento)
- Super-Mulher (Carlos Fuchs/Mathilda Kóvak)
- Europa (Carlos Fuchs/Marcos Sacramento)
- Três em Um (Carlos Fuchs)
- Vagabundo (Antonio Saraiva)
Special participations (solo)
Solbambá (CD; 1997)
Rodrigo Lessa’s album
Blues para Chet Baker/Solidão (Rodrigo Lessa)
Marubá (CD; pre-release)
Dil Fonseca’s debut album
Nau do Amor (Dil Fonseca)
Group work (with the vocal group Arranco)
Quem É de Sambar (CD; 1997)
Dubas Música/WEA 063018941-2
Samba de Cartola (CD; 1998)
Dubas Música/WEA 398423104-2
Special participations (with Arranco)
Cantoria (CD; 1995)
An album dedicated to the work of the famed lyricist/producer Hermínio Bello de Carvalho on the occasion of his 60th birthday. Also with Ângela Maria, Martinho da Vila, Elba Ramalho, Zezé Gonzaga, Chico Buarque, Zeca Pagodinho, Ney Matogrosso, Nana Caymmi, Maria Bethânia, Paulinho da Viola, Caetano Veloso, and Alcione.
Cantochão (Maurício Carrilho/Hermínio Bello de Carvalho)
Grande Tempo (CD; 1995)
Singer/composer Fátima Guedes’ album.
O Dia em Que Faremos Contato (Lenine/Bráulio Tavares)
Agô! Pixinguinha 100 Anos (double CD; 1997)
Som Livre 1030-2
A commemorative box set produced by Hermínio Bello de Carvalho in celebration of the legendary composer Pixinguinha’s centenary.
1 x 0 [Um a Zero] (Pixinguinha/Benedito Lacerda/Nelson Ângelo)
Aldir Blanc 50 Anos (CD; 1996)
Alma Produções Ltda. Alma/001
The poet/lyricist Aldir Blanc’s retrospective album, celebrating his 50th birthday.
Vim Sambar (João Bosco/Cacaso/Aldir Blanc)
Coisa da Antiga (CD; 1998)
Rob Digital RD 014
Família Roitman’s second CD
Hora do Adeus (Elton Medeiros/Délcio Carvalho)
A Cabeça (Paulinho de Castro)
Eu Vivia Isolado do Mundo (Alcides da Portela)
Mastruço e Catuaba (Claudio Cartier/Aldir Blanc)
Coisa da Antiga (Wilson Moreira/Nei Lopes)
Simpatia 15 Carnavais (CD; 1998)
Simpatia É Quase Amor P0043/98
Rio’s best-known Carnaval bloco marked its 15th anniversary this year with an album featuring the fourteen sambas of the previous years, each sung by a different star. Arranco sang the samba of 1990. Also with João Bosco, Noca da Portela, Moacyr Luz, João Nogueira, Luiz Carlos da Vila, Tânia Machado, Lenine, Elza Soares, Zeca Pagodinho, Beth Carvalho, Walter Alfaiate, Martinho da Vila, and Monarco.
Um Ano Depois (Lenine/Bráulio Tavares)
Na Minha Cara
|Super-Mulher(Carlos Fuchs/Mathilda Kóvak)
que eu não preciso mais
ser uma super-mulher
que eu não preciso mais
escalar o Monte Everest
desbravar o Velho Oeste
vencer o Minotauro, matar o dragão
derrubar o dinossauro.
que eu não preciso mais
conquistar seu coração de ferro
dinamitar suas barreiras
pra te impressionar.
que eu não preciso mais
descobrir a pólvora, a penicilina
um soro uma vacina
que eu não preciso mais inventar
Ser só criatura
não ser criador
que aventura comum
ser apenas mais um (que bom)
eu não serei mais
serei só o que der
darei o que sou
a quem vier e me quiser.
|No Superwoman(English version: Mathilda Kóvak)
That I don’t have to be
A superwoman again
That I don’t have to dive
Into the deep
Or climb the Everest peak
The Old West, the Minotaur
I won’t conquer anymore
I won’t kill either a dragon
Or a dinosaur.
That I don’t have to beat
The beat of your mechanic heart
Explode the concrete of your walls
Recreate the waltz
To impress or make you proud.
That I don’t have to find
A new kind of powder, a new penicillin
A miraculous vaccine
That I don’t have to invent
Or to reinvent
I’ll be just a creature
Not a Creator
Oh, my love
What a common achievement
To be my own commandment
I’ll never be
I’ll be just a kind of human
I’ll give myself to those
Who can accept
My ordinary goals.
o sol na minha cara
cara que mamãe beijou
sol vagabundo nenhum
vagabundo que sou
antes tarde do que numa
hora certa errada
nada disso era o que eu queria
acordar no susto com esse sol
na minha cara
estilhaços bombas bumbos e
mil gritos de araras
o ruído luminoso alto claro
desse sol na minha cara.
|Bum(English version: Antonio Saraiva)
I woke up
the sun in my face
a face that mummy kissed
no bummer sun1
bum that I am
waking up late
better late than at the right
none of this was what I wanted
waking with this sun
in my face
shrapnel bombs bass-drums and
a thousand araras2 crying
the luminous noise loud and clear
of this sun in my face.
1. a play on the expression cara que
mamãe beijou, vagabundo nenhum
vai passar a mão (a face that mummy
kissed, no bum is going to touch)
2. Arara: a tropical bird
|Choro Blue(Rodrigo Campello/Antonio Saraiva)
For sure I’m gonna miss that train
ain’t it bad, and ain’t that a shame
’cause I’m not going anywhere
I’ll sing my song of loneliness,
until these blue days are passed,
when will they go?
maybe in a train that never comes.
I’m sitting here the trains go by,
some arrive, bring me nothing new
I really don’t know if they’re real…
is it a movie or a dream,
or something in between, where I can hide
my distant feelings in the smoke…
how I got here I can’t recall,
it’s so cold down this far ghost town
I think I built this landscape…
with all these trains whistling so loud
and I can hear just the sound from my blue heart
trying to pound silently…
I got no case, just this guitar,
this phrase is filling this bar,
I’ll change the mood
I’ll move the picture for good.
The lights are low, the night’s aglow
the lovers dancing so slow, romance is on…
Slipping thru my fingers notes are floating
’round the couples, spinning planets in my mind…
now I can see the moon on sea,
this ship is leaving Madrid,
or could it be another fake scenery?
I taste a bitter drink and smile,
these bad rhymes have such a style,
how could I know…
There’s a hidden feeling,
there’s a clandestine on me
down on next stop, in the smoke,
on any street of this trip…
That’s what I found in this blue,
The writer publishes the online magazine of Brazilian music and culture Daniella Thompson on Brazil and the website Musica Brasiliensis, where she can be contacted.