My month in Brazil began here. Eternal happiness. Music, food, exploration, people, music. The Sao Paulo chapter of my Brazil trip was about opportunities in music business. Got to learn from meetings with YouTube, iTunes and Spotify down here. The thing that is different about Brazil compared to other music markets is that it is so rich in music until itself that in my opinion it doesn’t even really need to focus on bringing in music from abroad at present. It could focus on nurturing its rich music scene, celebrating and marketing local artists to local Brazilian fans. Those working in music in Brazil could focus on using digital media to create a seamless system that allows music fans to access local music in an easy and organized way. In my opinion the goal should first be to market and sell local music to Brazilian fans. To figure out why streaming has not caught on. To conduct user testing sessions to understand why Spotify might have too foreign a feel to it. To understand willingness to pay. To understand what is the missing ingredient that is so specifically Brazilian, that once this is fixed, music streaming will explode. There is so much opportunity there alone. It’s so insanely exciting to me.
My quest to come to Brazil began probably 5 years ago when I first started working with Chris Brien in Hong Kong in 2010. We worked through several Brazilian rhythms, and to this day when I perform these rhythms live they are the ones that get people in the audience dancing. These are the rhythms that make me happy to be a drummer, to want to keep advancing my craft. These are the rhythms that are everpresent in MIA’s music today. I was studying at Hong Kong University at the time and took a music ethnography class too. I’ll never forget the day the professor played Candomble for us. It literally brought tears to my eyes, I remember feeling such intense goosebumbs. It comes full circle being able to access candomble through Spotify today. It’s fucking crazy.
I had 3 countries on my list that I told myself I would only go if I could do a minimum of 2 weeks. I know it’s hard to find that kind of time to travel but these countries are too special to just go for a week like a tourist. I wanted to go in a way that would allow me to get involved! To make friends! To learn! To remember! To lose my iPhone and not care! These 3 countries are Turkey, Nigeria and Brazil. Last year I was fortunate enough to go to Turkey with HBS for FIELD 2, and this year, I used my J term to go to Brazil.
I started learning Portuguese with Ana this year and then added on Pimsleur and Duolingo and then took it as a full class at Harvard College this fall. I am so happy I did. I thought I would stop after this trip but I love it too much and am going to make it fit into my schedule so that I can keep with it. It’s so flirty and rhythmic and esoteric and sexual. Portuguese sentences get stuck in my head at night like a good song. There is so much attitude in Portuguese. The flow of the language feels so human – there is joy and sadness and sensualness and so many different human emotions packed into the various sounds and sentences. I love that most words end with a vowel. It feminizes the language.
In Sao Paulo I lived at Tofiq House, a mansion dedicated to the arts. They allow artists to stay as guests, “sing for your supper” style, as long as you help out, work on your craft and contribute to advancing the arts in a way that is meaningful to you. There were several artists who had studios in the back of the house, and I felt so lucky to meet new people every day and see their work. The house makes money by renting it out in the evenings for private parties, and so I got to see the house come alive almost every night I was there. It was an incredibly magical time. Here are photos of Tofiq House, where I lived for a week:
I never felt alone because my friend Bea and her boyfriend Lucas took care of me every day. She was doing her masters at Harvard last fall and was my roommate! I think one of the things that struck me most about my time in Brazil were the amount of loving couples I met during my time. Brazilians are such lovers, but beyond that, they are such good partners to each other. I know there is a culture of cheating and flirting and being wild but I experienced the other side – the side of deep love and romance and being a team. It was very inspiring to see my female friends find such loving and supportive male partners.
I made a pact with myself to learn one beat from each Brazilian city I visited on this trip. It would be 4 in total.
Beat #1, Sao Paulo:
– Brasil a Gosto
– Kot Cafe
– Mercado Municipal: try fruits called goiaba, atemoia & sapoti, as well as strawberries + dates together
– Casa de Pao de Queijo
– Deli Deli
– Unique Hotel rooftop
– Bar do Juarez
– Coffee Lab
– Beco de Batman
– Farm, Vila Madalena
– Tofiq House
– Jardim Ibirapuera
– Sociedade Rosas de Ouro Samba School
– Galeria do Rock, Centro
– Portuguese Language Museum