Confident about the future but with a firm eye on the past, Silva is the 23 year-old producer from Vitoria widely tipped for big things in 2012. As likely to namecheck Chopin and Brahms as Tom Jobim or João Gilberto and with a burgeoning appreciation for European electronica like James Blake and Lone, a five-track EP was enough to get him on the bill for São Paulo's inaugural Sonár Festival in May. And then came the hype...
A classically trained violinist, SILVA, real name Lúcio SIlva de Souza, spent 2009 living in Dublin learning English, playing in a band and busking to help pay the rent at a time when jobs in Ireland were hard for locals to come by let alone a bright-eyed Brazilian student. Earning enough money to return to Brazil in early 2010 with the basic kit to build a home studio, Lúcio set up camp in Vitoria once more and began the process of honing his sound and, ultimately, recording the EP.
When did you discover your love for music?
I've always had music in my life. Since the age of five i've played the piano, my grandfather was a baptist preacher so the tradition of singing was in there. I'm not so religious now but that is where my musical grounding lay. When I was living in Ireland a Brazilian drummer found me and we got stuck into the music scene there. They were real music purists doing music for music’s sake, not for money, and that was refreshing. Brazil’s culture is a bit more centred towards making pop, making money and playing big venues. If you're not mainstream its difficult here, but in Ireland I could find a place on the street, open up my violin case and earn enough to pay my rent. I couldn't do that here without feeling like I was begging.
Was it there you got into electronic music?
It was actually after I came back to Brazil that I began to find my sound, getting ideas together, i'd play my violin every day. I brought back enough equipment to build a little home studio and off I went. Its amazing what you can do with a little equipment. I wrote the EP in my bedroom, then met a carioca producer who let me use his studio in São Conrado – Carlos Andrade – and he introduced me to Lucas Paiva who in turn exposed me to artists like James Blake and ended up co-producing the EP.
Your sound is an intriguing mix of modernity and classic Brazilian melodies.
I confess that I like the real old-fashioned Brazilian sound, and i'm not just saying this, but I love Ernesto Nazareth, Ataulfo Alves, (early twentieth-century violinist) Cartola. Nazareth (who is sampled on the EP) was the first person to bring piano music to Brazil, he has the European romance of Chopin but adds something totally Brazilian. He invented choro music. I listened to (Tom) Jobim, João Gilberto and Chico Buarque a lot when I was little but only got to know Caetano (Veloso) and Gilberto Gil more recently. Schubert, Chopin and Brahms are always references, but today electronic music like (UK producer) Lone makes me think more about music, about sound and ask ‘how did they do that?‘
Tell us about your track A Visita
It began as an old-style track but listening to people like (Irish singer songwriter) Lisa Hannigan made me update it a touch. It’s the most organic track on the EP, it stands out from the rest. I listened to electronic music before but I never loved it and pop music left me cold, I was bored by radio pop. Now electronic music has brought me some relief from that with the infinite possibilities of sound you can explore. Paiva studied audio engineering in London and introduced me to the sound, to people like James Blake, who knocked me out.
Since the EP you've been tipped as One To Watch, does that affect you?
The hype thing worries me a touch, but I know that I can make this music and I’ve not happened upon it, its not luck. I made the record without pretension, at home, but now people are talking about it and im starting the live set up, it’s a little strange. Nobody has seen me play yet, but people are talking about ‘the show’ and that adds pressure of course. But the music came from me, its in me, it’ll be great.
How do you know the Comuna crew?
When I released the EP, it was a Rio crew that first got onto it, and they were friends of the Comuna lot, Duda etc. São Paulo only picked up on it after Rio; it was actually a carioca journalist who played it to the Sonar people and they booked me.
How is the music scene in Vitória?
It’s a strange city – there’s no history of samba like in Rio or pagode like São Paulo, nor classical like there is in Minas. It’s a little more straightforward there, but we have some great bands – We Are Pirates are really interesting, who have already been picked up by blogs in London. There’s no ‘scene’ like in São Paulo though, there’s a few things bubbling under in peoples houses more than anything.
Have many overseas music fans picked up on SILVA?
A German blog and Sounds and Colours in London who know a lot about Brazilian music and had clearly listened to the EP closely and picked out specifics about arrangements which was nice. I’d like to sing something not necessarily in Portuguese, something that makes sense to people who don’t know Brazilian culture, like Tom Jobim did for example. Tropical Futurism, something like that. Paiva writes in English too, but it would have to be relevant - anyone who can write a song that people all over the world respond to is obviously very clever.