Conversas com Marisa
In Interview with Marcos Augusto Gonçalves
Marcos Augusto: You haven’t released an album in five years. I want you to talk a bit about that, because that’s a long time for an artist to go without producing new work. The last time you released a CD, the Ipad didn’t even exist yet.
Marisa: Seriously, technology is advancing quickly. In 2006, I released both discs and went on tour for two years. After the tour, I came out with a live CD and a DVD that showed my daily life as a contemporary singer, recorded from the time the album was released until the end of the tour. Then came the movie “O Mistério Do Samba” (The Mystery of Samba), which I produced and was very involved with, both in the editing and the release… and I had another daughter. This last year, I was able to record with no rush, no pressure, and it was incorporated into my daily life. I used this time to work on the album.
Marcos Augusto: Did you have an idea about more or less when you would make the album?
Marisa: I think that came naturally. The desire to record, register and release the songs to the world isn’t something that comes from outside. I didn’t start the album with a set release date in mind.
Marcos Augusto: Was there a time when you forgot about the album, when you had your daughter?
Marisa: There was a time when I wasn’t thinking about the album, but I don’t stop writing, I don’t stop playing the guitar, or living the music. It’s a part of my life. Even if I’m not here in the studio every day, recording, I’m always making music. And many of the songs are precisely from that period when I was calmer, with more time on my hands, because I think that you have to have silence to be able to fill it. When you have a very busy life, with lots of buzz, lots of sound checks, lots of shows, you get to the hotel and you just want to rest, you don’t want to keep playing music and singing. You’re tired, you want to read a book and, I don’t know, knit… something quiet. I’ve always needed this change of pace. The only time I mixed two jobs was when I recorded “Barulhinho Bom”, the live album from the “Cor-De-Rosa E Carvão” tour. It wasn’t such a good experience and I think that when I work leisurely I have a better chance of making people enjoy listening to me.
Marcos Augusto: Was it a good idea to keep up-to-date about what was going on, getting to know the work of new singers?
Marisa: I saw a lot of artists experimenting with releases involving the public, on the Internet… not just the artistic content.
Marcos Augusto: There was a time when this increased a lot, right?
Marisa: I think about five years ago...
Marcos Augusto: Because music production and promotion has been changing for some time, and I don’t know if it’s accelerating now but now there is a definite possibility of working with these new media. You’ve started doing that now...
Marisa: Social networks have grown a lot in the last five years. The internet already existed and I was already on it with my site about ten years ago, I think. The site has already had many designs, many phases and many changes. I was in contact with the public through a forum on the site, but this Facebook, Twitter and Orkut thing is more recent, since the end of the tour.
Marcos Augusto: It changes your relationship with the public, doesn’t it?
Marisa: I think there have always been channels for this, but the stage was always the most direct, because you’re right there. My career was really built on this direct relationship with the public because I always went on huge tours, even before the first album. I became known for my work on stage and that’s a very direct, solid relationship.
Marcos Augusto: Is that what you enjoy doing the most?
Marisa: It’s very motivating.
Marcos Augusto: Does it barely feel like work?
Marisa: I don’t think being on stage and everyone singing along with me is considered work. For me, the work is packing, traveling, being away from home, catching a flight at 12 o’clock to do a show at 2. The work itself is all this effort just for making a bit of music. It’s the part that’s not visible to the public eye.
Marcos Augusto: Could you do without the album?
Marisa: I think the album is a complementary tool and I think it plays the role of consolidating a new repertoire, as well as having a much greater reach than the show. I only released an album after two years as a singer. It started bothering me that I didn’t have an album because I wanted to be accessible. You can’t be on tour everywhere all the time. Today, with the Internet, my music can reach places that it would never reach before, not even with a physical CD. I’ve done shows in a lot of places, like Korea, Macedonia and Macau, for large audiences, and people knew my music. If it wasn’t for recorded music, I certainly wouldn’t be there.
Marcos Augusto: The album is more a concept than an actual physical disc...
Marisa: It’s more permanent. The disc will live on even after I’m gone. On the other hand, I think that direct contact with the public is the best way to build a relationship. Just like our conversation here makes our relationship much stronger than if you were just listening to my music and I were just reading your articles. It’s a real, tangible thing, understand?
Marcos Augusto: Can I make a question about the album itself? Why wasn’t there any samba this time?
Marisa: You’re the first person to ask me this. I’m a carioca [person from Rio de Janeiro], and samba is like an intimate language for me, but maybe this happened because the last album was exclusively samba. But there will always be room for them at concerts.
Marcos Augusto: The repertoire features many songs together with Arnaldo Antunes and Carlinhos Brown. Why hasn’t there been a Tribalistas show?
Marisa: The goal of the Tribalistas wasn’t to become a band. Each one of us already had our own history and career.
Marcos Augusto: The album has some songs that sound like the Tribalistas...
Marisa: Arnaldo, Carlinhos and I already formed a core since ten years ago and we continue together until today. We’re friends and partners, and we admire each other. When we started the Tribalistas project, we really only wanted to make the album. My son was born around the time the CD was released and the effect of the music was so strong that we had to do, I don’t know, about 200 shows. I wasn’t able to go on tour with my little baby. The project was already a success in Brazil and around the world: in Italy, Portugal, Spain... Then, when my son was a little bigger, Arnaldo and Brown were already deeply involved their new work and that was it. I don’t discount the possibility of us getting together and doing something special in the future. But if we only did one or two shows that would never be enough. Tribalistas can’t be something small, understand?
Marcos Augusto: Does this album mean something to you, in terms of expectations, because I imagine that after such a long time without releasing an album, you become nervous. Are you comfortable with the album? Do you think your relationship with the press will be complicated or not?
Marisa: I can’t control what people will think, so if I’m happy and complete, that’s already enough. I know that I devoted myself and did my best... I can’t be better than my best. I think the people will like it, but I don’t know how it will be received by the press.
Marcos Augusto: In the course of time, and with confirmation that your work was great, you were almost in the position of some great singers when you started. So now you’re a Gal, a Bethânia, an Elis… you’re a model for new singers, not just as an artist, but as a successful person. And this actually creates almost unattainable expectations. Do you feel that your public is changing, is expanding?
Marisa: My music has always been this popular. Even before releasing my first album, the lines for my concert circled around the block at MASP. My language has always been direct, clear, simple. My first album featured "Bem Que Se Quis", "Xote Das Meninas", "Chocolate". My second one had "Beija Eu", "Eu Sei", "Ainda Lembro". Of course there’s also more sophisticated poetry, like in "Diariamente", "Bem Leve" or "Maria De Verdade". I like that too. Many of the artists I like are direct, such as Roberto Carlos, Tim Maia, Jorge Bem, Cole Porter and the Beatles. I think being simple is a virtue. You can address deep issues by being simple People say I’m cult, but I never intended to be cult, in the sense of making music for just a few people. Sometimes I think my music is confused with my reserved attitude. And this creates a paradox.
Marcos Augusto: Maybe because you are a person who, say, are not from a popular area...
Marisa: My form of expression is very natural to me and I think it's very cool that I can be as popular without necessarily subjecting me to all the things you expect from a popular artist. Several moments in my career are very much out of the curve. For example, the first disc is a live, and Tribal, even without an interview and a tour, sold three million copies. It is one of the most popular projects I have ever attended and it was also the one that arrived far away from any exposure.
Marcos Augusto: And why do you think this happens?
Marisa: Because the power of music. I think I make the effort to be clear, as I am doing here talking to you, it helps a lot too. I like the word well spoken and, as the voice is the only instrument that articulates words, I like that they to be understood. I like to leverage the sung word and it helps me to communicate with people through the songs. I like more people that think and speak well than for people who sing well. I like people who do understand.
Marcos Augusto: Because in a way that is popular music, right?
Marisa: I do the same thing as you. People work with communication. Don't You want your book to be read, that everyone travels with that? That people understand and surrender to that? So, if you will write one thing that is for half a dozen, you do not need to publish, okay great. I also could not make music and recording, but I want to communicate with people. This is the purpose of making a career of making music publicly.
Marcos Augusto: You have the ability to do so. It is not enough with wanting, that's something a bit inexplicable. We know people of talent, finally arriving at a point and not going further. Do not really know why.
Marisa: It's because there are many different talents. This is not the only talent required. There is, of course, musical talent, the talent to relate to people with whom we work, to learn to articulate. Anyway, all is communication.
Marcos Augusto: Yeah, this is a personal thing, a charisma, I do know what...
Marisa: That I do not know, it has no explanation. It is much more subjective.
Marcos Augusto: And you think you work too hard, right?
Marisa: No, I do not think I work too hard, but I'm very productive. Today I am a mother of a family, so I have more time and willingness to things that are valuable to me. This is not a question of my own, but of many women entered the labor market. Be the dentist, lawyer, secretary, waitress ... I want to have time for my family and at the same time, of course, continue to have space for my profession. Since I had children I try to strike a balance. I do not want to spend two months on the road, three times a year.
Marcos Augusto: You are now a more mature person than you was before, and now you feel that maturity, as I imagine that others will too. You end up in some way, learning to save some things, do not wear so much. The football people says that the most veteran player of the field knows the shortcuts, the cliché criticism. The guy has not run anymore, but he knows the shortcuts ...
Marisa: They talk a lot, for example, that when I started I was more visceral. I make this analogy with the baby coming into the world, you scream and over time you learn to speak. Today, my interpretation is much more colloquial, as a conversation here, and I think this is a consequence of maturity.
Marcos Augusto: Your first CD has virtuoso stuff, singing, so...
Marisa: Yeah, I was coming into the world, I was nineteen. But I think over time I learned to speak and to put the tone in conversation. The other day I saw someone saying that if he knew that maturity was so good, it had accelerated to arrive soon. I agree. I think this whole album, from the title, reflects my thinking a lot about living well, which is to enjoy life more. You have freedom, you have time, make choices, listen to your heart, learn to be where you feel comfortable. This individual and nontransferable pursuit of happiness ... These are questions that maturity brings. "Seja Feliz", "Hoje Eu Não Saio Não", "O Que Se Quer", "O Que Você Quer Saber De Verdade" and "Amar Só Pode Fazer Bem", for example, talk about that. I guess I did not think about it before making the disc, but then, looking at it, one notes the presence of this desire to live well. I do not know if you live it too, but emergencies are different.
Marcos Augusto: And fears, increase with maturity?
Marisa: The fears do not increase, they change, right? After you have kids, you're very responsible...
Marcos Augusto: Your eldest son is at what age?
Marisa: My oldest son is eight and my youngest daughter will be three. You have a huge responsibility with those beings that you put in the world. You want to enjoy them and prepare them the best possible way to adulthood. I was always very careful. I always wanted to preserve, I never had tendency destructive sense and always had a sense of my weakness.
Marcos Augusto: The way you defend...
Marisa: preserve me from ...Never had that time to use drugs and drink too much. I've always lived things in a very smooth way. Over time, fears increases: fear of getting sick, getting hurt, dying ... fears that I think everyone has. I think that is not fear of death itself, is fear of the process.
Marcos Augusto: Gil has a beautiful song, I do not know if you know. Jose Miguel Wisnik called attention to it in a way he does about the song. The song is called "I'm not afraid of death" and it says, "I'm not afraid of death, I'm afraid to die," which are two different things.
Marcos Augusto: But this idea of finitude, in short, is also an aspect of maturity. In youth, we do not have much of that.
Marisa: We'll leave it to think ahead. You do not feel the years have passed in the same way when you have no son. You see that eight year old son and see time is on your face ... Motherhood, for me at least, clearly divided my life between before and after.
Marcos Augusto: And you will face a large period of touring now or you're thinking it'll be a different disk?
Marisa: I want to throw the disc first and then stop to think about it.
Marcos Augusto: I mean, you want to adjust the rate to its current phase. Good for you that can do this.
Marisa: Good.I'm glad I started early, I work my ass off like mad up to 35 years and went ahead. Maybe that answers the five years between a disk and another, it may say a little about my priorities. My career is part of my life, but it is not my life. My goal in life is to be happy and career is part of it.
Marcos Augusto: What else?
Marisa: When you talked about the press, I do not know how it will be, but I plan to attend. The last time we met, we talked about that relationship on culture and the press about how the release until, like, five, eight years ago. You have to meet everyone on equal terms, but it is very difficult. The press is very limited in time to hear and appreciate the work, to prepare for an interview. The guy basically gets hard at night and the next morning, at nine must be in writing to deliver critical to lunch, but the other newspaper sticks.
Marcos Augusto: The guy is trained to do so.I think the critical urgency, the urgency you have an opinion about a work, a tricky thing. I take long to form an opinion. Sometimes I hear an album for the first time and think: "This is boring," but after listening more often I change my opinion.
Marisa: It's very difficult for the critic to have to write something down so quickly and to sign it.
Marcos Augusto: Exact.Thus, you will generate an industrial process, say, that should be reviewed by all. Here, everyone is anxious, distressed. These are the opinions given in haste, that do not hold, and then nobody wants to take the plunge. She is a product that serves, but at the same time is a product competing in the market.
Marisa: And this time everyone loses: the critic, the newspaper reader and artist.
Marcos Augusto: But how - with a little thinking - this amplification, spraying and decentralization process of the media, somehow relativizes the role of the music industry? You also began in that model. The artist was hired by the powerful label and launched his songs. What the Folha, Veja, Estadão and O Globo spoke about was a critical business. My impression is that today it is not as important, nor on one side or the other...
Marisa: So why not to sell more disks. It is accessible to anyone who will listen, without buying.
Marcos Augusto: But the way the media and the artist operate is as if they were still in that old model.