WeAreHQ managed to speak to Grammy Award-nominated Brazilian singer Bebel Gilberto just before her first London headline show in 3 years. Bebel is the daughter of singer/guitarist João Gilberto and singer Miúcha and is famous for fusing the sound her father helped to create, bossa nova, but with a cool and contemporary twist of electronica which is seamlessly layered with her smooth and soft vocals. Her debut album, Tanto Tempo, was released in 2000 and became one of the most globally successful albums of Brazilian music ever. Since then Bebel has released a further 3 more albums and no doubt we will expect to hear more in the near future.
HQ: Your sound is quite unique and its understandable why based on your background. You have lived in Brazil, New York and London, how has this influenced you and shaped the music you have created to date?
BG: Being raised in Brazil was probably the most important thing as it helped me to create knowledge about harmony – I have my father influence to thank for that. Then in the early 80s I started listening to lots of different music, anything from Micheal Jackson to Sade. It’s around this time I started forming my profile as a musician. After being in New York for so long I felt it was kind of necessary for me to refine my taste. I came to London between 1998 – 2000 and this is when I really started to learn new things. I met many important people in that time such as Nina Miranda, Chris Frank, DJ/Producer Amon Tobin as well as many other people that I admire. All of these things helped to shape my sound.
HQ: What are your favourite things about London?
BG: The people that live here. I love the fact that there are so many bars around the city. I like to hang out with friends in the park during the summer if possible. It’s a beautiful city. As for food, I’ve found some nice vegetarian places here in comparison to other places around the world… but I’m not a fan of fish and chips [laughs].
HQ: Apart from our love of music, we also like fashion – what best describes your dress style and when in London what are your favourite shopping spots?
BG: I would say a mix of trendy, classic and improvised. I love Portobello market – I think you can find many, many interesting things there and obviously Harvey Nichols is Harvey Nichols [laughs].
HQ: What artists are you listening to at the moment?
BG: To be honest I don’t listen to too much music, I usually decide to listen to something specific and then I will keep listening to it. But lately I have been listening to a new artist called Otto, I recommend his album. Its Brazilian mixed with everything.
HQ: Have you ever heard of Dubstep or funky house? If so, would you consider doing any songs in those genres?
BG: Its fun but not my cup of tea. But if MIA invites me to do it, I would readily jump on stage tomorrow [laughs].
HQ: Are there any genres of music you want to add your own twist to?
BG: Turkish – I was in Turkey just before coming to London and I admired it a lot. I was trying to get some samples from there so I should definitely be doing something and maybe collaborating with a Turkish artist.
HQ: In your songs, your singing switches between English and Portuguese? Is this a conscious decision?
BG: It just happens, it just comes naturally.
HQ: Did you feel any pressure when working on your fourth album like you did when making your 2nd album – when following up on the success of Tanto Tempo?
BG: After making such a successful album that was so successful for those times and still sells – its forever pressure.
HQ: Do you end up with tracks you recorded that actually don’t get released? If so would these see the light of day?
BG: Yes, I have some songs to be released very soon on my new website.
HQ: Has your recording process changed much since your first solo album? In the sense that technology has changed a lot since 2000 and that many artists will take a laptop on tour with them so they can capture inspirations and ideas on the go instead of waiting till they get into the studio. Is this something you have found yourself doing?
BG: Yes it’s so easy now since you can have Pro Tools on your laptop; it’s just like a portable studio. But you got to have a good microphone. We have been sponsored by Shure who nicely gave us lots of toys and microphones.
HQ: Speaking of technology, are you comfortable with sending sessions and takes over the internet with your producers and other musicians?
BG: Oh yes, I have a home studio so it makes it easy and people do send me stuff. I’m open to most of the collaborations that come to me.
HQ: On your latest album, you had a track produced by Mark Ronson (The Real Thing). How did that come about? Did you reach out to him or was it the other way round?
BG: It actually came about through a friend of a friend. One evening we all went out for dinner just before I was about to finish my album and the idea just came out, we kind of both decided, it was just a natural decision.
HQ: Finally, we know you’ve made tribute to her live, but would you consider doing a studio tribute album in honour of the legendary Carmen Miranda?
BG: Why not…. I love Carmen Miranda!
HQ: Thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing your show!
BG: Thank you very much.
Interview by: Manish
Photography: Germaine Joseph for WeAreHQ