LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE
A pretty girl is like a melody
That haunts you day and night.
Irving Berlin (1888 - 1989) US composer
worldbeatcanada radio: You know, we think we’re so diverse and sophisticated in the 21st century, but back in the 60s rock, psychedelia, funk and R&B lived side by side on the airwaves with the fresh, smooth, sexy Brazilian sound of Sergio Mendes. Today’s radio has put the screws to its playlist, setting the margins so tight, they fear the slightest deviation from their prescribed sound will send core listeners fleeing for safer ground. Yet with each passing decade, Sergio Mendes defies the odds, enjoying critical acclaim and new generations of fans, at the same time, moving Brazilian music forward through reinterpretation and seamlessly mixing in more modern idioms. It’s an extreme honor and pleasure to welcome Sergio Mendes to the program. Vancouver welcomes you with our version of Brazilian sunshine.
Sergio Mendes: Thank you very much. It's great to be here in Vancouver. We haven't been here in a while. And, thanks for the nice intro!
WBC: What do you think about that? Are we expanding our musical horizons and is radio just not keeping up?
SM: Part of it is true. Fool On The Hill, even Mas Que Nada, all those hits, even Never Gonna Let You Go, the radio was playing them. Now, there's a lot of labels and subdivisions of radio. So, you have the pop stations what have you ... I'm talking about the United States now. In Europe and Asia we get a lot of airplay and I hope in Canada we will too. In the US we get the world music programs and the jazz stations...
WBC: Well, if there is any justice in this world people are going to hear a lot of Bom Tempo. How did you end up with the Bacharach and David tune, The Look Of Love all those years ago?
SM: For me, coming from Brazil, you know it has produced such incredible melodies with composers like Antonio Carlos Jobim. It's a country full of melodies as well as rhythms. So, when I heard The Look Of Love I thought, "What a wonderful song!" I met Burt (at that time we were both at A&M Records) and I said, "Why not Brazilianize The Look Of Love because it's an international melody. I recorded not only Bacharach, I've recorded Beatles, I've recorded Henry Mancini ... a great melody is a great melody, period. It depends on the arrangement, it depends on the way you treat the song.
WBC: Your collaborations with pop artists didn’t begin with Will I Am knocking your door. You had already successfully combined talents with people like Stevie Wonder on The Real Thing and it must be very gratifying that along the way, the love and respect back in Brazil continues to grow.
SM: Very much so! And, not only Will, but all of his friends that he brought into the project, like John Legend, India Arie, Justin Timberlake and everyone else. They all told me they were BIG fans of Brazilian music. So, I think the seduction continues (laughs) I hope!
WBC: I mentioned The Real Thing, which is reworked beautifully on the new album Bom Tempo. Congratulations by the way. It just puts you in a beautiful space from beginning to end. What I especially like is that you didn’t make fans wait to buy the remix album; you just included it as part of the package.
SM: That's right. That was an idea the record company had, and I said, "Go ahead, you can do the remix album." Which, I think reaches a different kind of audience. The young people, they go to clubs. I have a 24 year old son and he goes to clubs and knows all those DJs. So, I think it's a good idea to have those songs reinterpreted by the young DJs. I think it helps.
WBC It’s worldbeatcanada radio and we’re thrilled to have the legendary Sergio Mendes spend a few moments with us by phone. Bone up on the maestro’s accomplishments, hear what’s new and tap into his community at the official site, sergiomendesmusic.com. I’m really happy to see Carlinhos Brown contributing a track to Bom Tempo. I just find him to be one of the most intriguing of the newer crop of Brazilian artists.
SM: That's correct! That's amazing because I brought him up from Brazil about 4 days a go to work with me on music for a movie. It's an animation movie coming out next year called Rio. So I was working with Carlinhos yesterday and the day before and we will continue to work on Monday. Yeah, he’s very talented musician, no only a great percussionist but he's also a very good songwriter; very innovative, very different and we both enjoy working with each other. And, I think this movie is going to be very important. Although it's animation, it’s about Brazil, it's about Rio, it's about Carnaval and the diversity of music in Brazil so watch out for Rio next year.
WBC: yeah, I can hardly wait! One constant throughout your career has been the singular voice of your wife, Gracinha. Has she been a rock in your life?
SM: Absolutely. She's flying right now from LA to Vancouver with the band. She performs with me most of the time when she can, but absolutely, she's been a very important sound in my band for many years and it's impossible to do a great Brazilian song without her.
WBC: I thank you for your time, Sergio and wish you continued love and happiness through your music. I’d like to go out on one of my favorites from Bom Tempo featuring another Brazilian whom I’m sure you’ve known for sometime, Milton Nascimento and Caxanga (Kah Shun Gah). Can you set this one up for us?
SM: Oh yeah! OK, here we go, this is Sergio Mendes from my new album Bom Tempo, a song written by Milton Nascimento called Caxanga. Obrigad.
Sergio Mendes was interviewed by Cal Koat on August 6, 10 for worldbeatcanada radio.