Interview with Lucas Arruda
With his second album "SOLAR" at the latest, Lucas Arruda has established himself as one of the most talented young musicians and composers from Brazil. On his new album "Onda Nova" he again inspires with his unmistakable fusion style, which combines influences and elements from his Brazilian musical background with American jazz, soul, pop and funk. Late Night Dream talked with the multi-instrumentalist about his new album, his passion for West Coast and AOR, old and new collaborators, the legendary Brazilian producer Lincoln Olivetti and early musical education.
* Lucas, you called your new album "Onda Nova" – the new wave. Do you see yourself as part of a new wave of Brazilian music?
Well, actually the album title is a reference from a Brazilian movie from the 80s, called "Onda Nova" too. I just love the soundtracks from this period. There's a lot funk, soul and AOR on it. So, for me the album is a soundtrack from an imaginary movie, you know. But I consider this album as a new moment in my career. There are a lot of meanings in the name. But there are no connections to the new Brazilian music scene, although there are many amazing new artists now.
* Your last album "SOLAR" was released four years ago. In the meantime a lot has happened in your life, you have become a father. To what extent is this development reflected on your new album?
I wrote the songs before my daughter was born, but the whole production process was during my wife's pregnancy. This was one of the reasons why the release of the album took so long. Last year I was very immersed in becoming a father. I'll start composing new songs now! I think it's gonna be very different, but let's see! My life is completely different now.
* Lucas, you mostly wrote, composed and arranged the album by yourself. Tell us a little about the concept of the album and the recording process.
I started writing the songs shortly after SOLAR was released. Once finished, we went to the studio to record the basic tracks (Rhodes piano, bass and drums). After that I recorded a lot in my home studio as well. I had a lot of help from my brother Thiago in the process, especially with the grooves. We talked a lot about it. I also had great partners for the lyrics, like Fabricio di Monaco and Gaël Benyamin. The album was mixed at the Question de Son Studio in France and mastered at Carvery Studios in London. I am very happy with the final result!
* On "Onda Nova" you combine Brazilian music with sophisticated boogie, blue-eyed soul, Californian AOR and jazz funk in an excellent way. A mixture that strongly refers to the 70s and 80s. What fascinates you so much about this music?
Well, for me it's a perfect mix of all kinds of music I love since I was a child, you know. There's a lot of soul, funk and a little of rock 'n' roll too. And in my case I like to add some Brazilian flavour as well, you know. I've been listening to this kind of music since forever. It's very natural for me.
* Lucas, you come from a musical family, your father and your brother are also musicians. Your older brother Thiago is also your musical collaborator on this album. How long and how closely do you work with him?
Oh, we've been playing together for ages! In the beginning we had a lot of groups together. Our communication is very natural and we never lose time in the studio, you know. He's a great musician on stage and in the studio. This is great! We had our first band in 1996, I was 13 years old and he was 16.
* You also worked with the French West Coast artist Gaël Benyamin, better known as Geyster, on your new album. How did this collaboration come about?
Yes, he's a great guy! I had contact with his music for the first time on the internet. Since then I have admired him. I thought that would be a great name for the record. He wrote two lyrics and participated in the backing vocals of those two tracks. He's an incredible artist.
* You recorded the basic tracks for the album in the same studio where the legendary Brazilian producer Lincoln Olivetti (Marcos Valle, Jorge Ben, Tim Maia…) recorded his last works. Is your album in a way a bow to his oeuvre? What does his work mean to you?
Oh man, it was very emotional. I decided to record in this studio after talking with Kassin, the studio owner and a great friend, besides being an excellent and respected producer in Brazil. In fact, there are some of Lincoln's instruments, such as the Minimoog, which he used on several recordings during the 80s. I also have to mention Edu Costa, the sound engineer, who worked on the album. He was a great partner of Lincoln and it was truly amazing to hear so many amazing stories about him. I have to say that the sound of the record is incredible!
* Lucas, Brazilian boogie and AOR seem to be experiencing a renaissance, especially in Europe. How important is this kind of music in Brazil today from your point of view? What significance do artists like Marcos Valle, Lincoln Olivetti or Ed Motta have in Brazil today?
I think this renaissance is still not happening in Brazil. I have to be honest with you. We have great artists in the country, but most of the music that has great success in Brazil today is pure commercial junk, unfortunately. Of course there are always underground movements and people who are interested in those names you mentioned, but they are not the majority. I think the golden period for this kind of music in Brazil was the 80s. People like Rita Lee, Marcos Valle, Azymuth (a little more for the 70s) and many others were huge in Brazil. It is not what happens nowadays. But we have big names right now. However, they are more influenced by musical movements of the 1960s like Tropicália.
* Your third album will be released again on the French label Favorite Recordings. Given the great albums you've released there so far, the collaboration seems to be going very well. How did you get in touch with label owner Pascal Rioux?
The person who introduced us was my great friend and partner Fabricio di Monaco. He sent my songs to Pascal and that's how it all started. Fabricio had already released an album by Favorite, his duo called Modo Solar. Since then it has been a great partnership. They do a great job!
* Lucas, what are your next plans? Can we expect concerts in Europe this year?
I want to record a new album or at least start producing. I have felt very inspired, musically and philosophically, to write new things. We are having a bad time in Brazil, at least in my political vision. I would love to make a slightly more critical album. I've already started to write some things. I'm also going to release three video clips with guest singers reinterpreting songs from my albums. The tracks were recorded live in the studio and the result is getting incredible. The project is called "Lucas Arruda invites". About the tour, I would love it! I need partners and business people in Europe. Anyway, I want to spend some time out there this year, promoting the album and getting to know the music scene a bit more.
* A last question: Lucas, you've become the father of a daughter. Music is an important element of early childhood education. Does your daughter already have music favorites? And does she like dad’s new album?
Well, she really loves music! Especially acoustic and percussive things. Her favorite show is Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, who celebrated 50 years of career together. She loves it! And she loves music from the Bay. And I think she likes my next record. When I play, she dances a lot! She will be the next Esperanza Spalding, you will see! Hahaha...
Lucas Arruda's new album "Onda Nova" will be released on February 11, 2019.