Changes are afoot within Rio de Janeiro’s musical make up. Techno events are selling out on Morro da Urca. Live Jazz is causing roadblocks in Lapa. A group of entrepreneurs are bringing bands into the city with the shows paid for upfront by the fans. Music has always been Rio and Rio has always been music, but there is something afoot making today’s sonic map more exciting than ever.
To that end, the arrival of a new music venue dedicated to the discovery, support and dissemination of fresh music could hardly have been timed better. Having proved integral to the rejuvination of São Paulo’s music scene in the last decade, the team behind Studio SP have unveiled its carioca counterpart, Studio RJ, and you can almost hear the picking of guitars and the whump of amps being turned on as a new breed of musicians who have just seen the likes of CSS and Bonde do Role exported successfully overseas see their chance coming next.
Ale Yousseff is one half of the Paulistano team that has been manoeuvring its way into carioca minds for the last three years. With three jam-packed summer seasons in three different locations already under their belts (Botafogo’s Cinematheque (RIP) in 2009, Teatro Odisseia in Lapa 2010 and Teatro Rival in Centro in 2011) the waters were well and truly tested for the arrival of Studio RJ, providing a reassuring sign that they were on the right tracks. “We got the feeling that what we had planned would be well-received here.”
How right they were. Opened in October and now firmly ensconced on the very cusp of Ipanema and Arpoador, Studio RJ’s opening has been met with a warm roar of approval from all sides, including the jazz heads who flocked there in the ‘80s and ‘90s thanks to the rebirth of seminal event Jazzmania, the Tuesday night start to the weekly musical programme.
“It is an honour to take on the place where the historic Jazzmania once existed… Now we want to open up the space to the new jazz scene,” continues Yousseff.
The original Studio SP became synonymous with São Paulo’s emerging wave of hip, successful new bands in the middle of the last decade, opening at a time when the scene was still somewhat marginalised. “Studio SP was designed to bring together the city’s artistic scene that had little support… to create a reference point for the new music and urban art,”
That model also relied on several bands holding residencies, a format that will see Orquestra Voadora and Sargenta Pimenta become regular fixtures on the bill. “Our success was based on a self-sufficient micro-economy built around the artists, the venue and the public. There are a lot of myths about the differences between Rio and São Paulo, but when we began there it was also hard to get people out and about in the week. We’ll do here what we did there; give people the opportunity to appreciate great bands. I believe that in the end things happen naturally when you have the kind of structure we have put in place here.”
Whatever the knock-on effect on Rio music at large, it feels somehow fitting that this corner of zona sul once again becomes associated with live bands and all their trappings, with the surfers and sun-lovers right on the doorstep.