With the release of Far Out Recordings‘ 20th Anniversary release, ‘Brazilika’, Tim Stenhouse asks the man at the top, ten quick-fire questions to get a snapshot of the highly respected label owner and music lover. You can read our review of ‘Brazilika’ here and our Azimuth live review from Ronnie Scott’s here
1. How did you first go about discovering old Brazilian vinyl during your first visits to the country, and what were the gems you unearthed that you most treasure now?
I loved to collect records, and my brother gave me many records when he basically stopped collecting, this was when he was about 30. I was leaving school about the same time and wanted to get into DJing and collecting records. We had a lot of exposure to jazz and soul music and then some latin music, at which point I decided to go to Brazil. I discovered a whole genre of music which was unknown to the world mostly. Its not about the rarest records really, some of my treasures are records you may still find anywhere in Brazil such as Marcos Valle, Elis Regina, Joyce, Azymuth, Chico, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Black Rio, Antonio Adolfo the list goes on and on.
Indeed I have many records that are undiscovered and that does not mean they are the best like the Tribo Massahi and many more.
2. How did your interest in collecting Brazilian vinyl morph into setting up a record label devoted to that country’s music?
I got a bit fed up of going round Brazil just looking for records. I felt after several years of that, I had found everything that I could find and had discovered what I had needed too. I wanted to get involved in running a label as I had noticed that many of the artists I loved had not been recorded. I eventually met a few of them and we slowly began to work together.
3. What lessons did you learn along the way of becoming a record producer?
Just let musicians do what they want to do, especially when they are such geniuses. And don’t try to steer them too much off their own musical path. Concentrate on the production or to whatever you may be able to bring to the table – apart from organizing everything. I think we tried too hard to make a special sound which perhaps we did not need too.
4. How did the association with Joyce, Azymuth and Marcus Valle come about? What was their reaction to a British label being interested in their music?
They loved it. We had built up a relationship over time and its all about love man. I think we helped reignite their careers at a time when not that much was happening, especially outside of Brazil. I think in Brazil all these artists were performing and working but this led to a new wave in a way.
5. How did the label progress over time and what has been your guiding principle?
Its been progressing nicely and the main principle is to keep the music real, special and don’t copy anyone. Do your own thang!
6. What other aspects of Brazilian culture have you picked up on as a by-product of searching for new and old music?
All of it, I love the culture, the people, the food, all the music, the partying! What a country – Rio especially is a great please. Its full of life and vibrancy and creative people.
7. What are your views on the current state of Brazilian music, both inside and outside the country?
It’s not for me to say. There is serious corruption and the country is in a bit of a state but I prefer not to comment, the sad fact is that its been that way for far too long.
8. What musical projects have you yet to accomplish that you would like to embark upon?
I always wanted to make a record with The Royal Philharmonic and Brazilian artists or involve some great British arrangers and also Brazilian artists, such as Arthur Verocai. Azymuth, Marcos. Also to tour our Disco project at some point with an orchestra. I am signing artists that I believe in all the time, and there is some incredible music coming out of Brazil now.
9. What is your proudest moment as head of Far Out. Any regret, or possible disappointments?
My main regret is how the business has gone, since the arrival of the internet and the terrible accountability of most providers of music. Its put so much strain on our business and on the industry as a whole. The fact is we are surviving, which is an accomplishment in itself. I think that my proudest moment is being here every day.
10. Looking to the future, who are the new artists you are excited about and how do you see Brazilian music evolving in the next decade?
I love the two compilations we have coming out, one is Brazilika (out now!) which is a 20 year anniversary CD and the next Amplificador which is another compilation of new Brazilian music. Then we have new artist records by Azymuth (with Jose Roberto Bertrami, we did not release it as it’s been a sad time for us) and Mauricio Maestro with Nana Vasconcleos. We also have music by The Ipanemas and many great new bands like Iconili, Nomade Orquestra and many more! Plus a some very big exciting reissue projects in the works….