Carla Hassett

Carla Hassett

worldbeatcanada radio – INTERVIEW



Carla Hassett


 Carla Hassett


‘I think each role takes a little from you and circles around you for the rest of your life. I don't think you ever abandon any of them.’
Nicole Kidman


worldbeatcanada: Life rarely points us in a straight line. Instead we seem to move in concentric circles, touching base with our past again and again as we come around for another spin. Carla Hassett is a gifted singer/songwriter who has combined two distinct worlds from her life journey on the new album Circulo. She joins us by phone. Congratulation on the disc, Carla.


Carla Hassett: Thank you Cal. It's nice to be here with you.


WBC: Let’s talk first about Chicago, where you were raised on great radio with healthy dollops of R&B, Motown and Soul; you notice we don’t get that kind of diversity on hit radio any more?


CH: No, it's been a while hasn't it? I was so lucky when I got, I think it was for a Christmas present or a birthday present, I got an AM radio when I was a little kid. And, I just carried that thing around with me day and night. And, the radio stations weren't genre-specific like they are now. We were hearing Stevie Wonder then Led Zeppelin then Fleetwood Mac; you know it would just keep generating all these amazing artists one after another.


WBC: That's what I really miss about it too. Before recording Circulo you went back to where you were born. Tell us about the music scene you found during that year you spent back in Sao Paulo.


CH: I think the music scene in Sao Paulo is the greatest music scene in the world. It’s just extraordinary! I remember when I first got there, I opened up the newspaper and the first page of the entertainment section was this picture of all these women, and hey were all the local female composers who were creating music and still are. And, they all collaborate with one another and they all get played regularly on the radio. They all play shows together. So, this article was about their collaboration they have going and I said, 'Wow, this is a pretty interesting idea. This is a great thing.’ So, I started hearing these girls and getting to know their music and they're all just amazing; so much creativity in that town and it just keeps feeding on itself.


WBC: I hope to see it someday myself. You bring both these distinct influences to the fore on the album. Why do you think they are so complimentary?


CH:  Well, they're all based in African roots. That's pretty much it! They all came from the same place and they were literally brought to two different countries and developed in different ways but they're rooted in the same thing.


WBC: OK, recording the project, you obviously have connections in the Brazilian-American music community and hand-picked some monster players. And, then bringing in James Gadson and this mixing desk bought off of Barry Gordy – could you get any more authentic from a Motown perspective and a samba perspective?


CH: You cannot! Not only was the board one of two of the original Motown boards, the microphones I sang on were all vintage microphones from that era. And, James' studio is in his home and it's actually where the Bill Withers Band used to rehearse. It just felt very historic and timely in the right ways.


WBC:  worldbeatcanada radio is on the pod with Carla Hassett. Explore her world online in English or Portuguese at I picked up some interesting asides at your site Carla. First, I love the colours and composition of your cover painting which you did yourself. Tell us about the Frida Khalo influence in your visual art.


CH: I'm a big fan of her and her work. It's just so beautiful, so tropical and there's so much depth. That she found her life's saving grace in art speaks volumes to me.



WBC: Just a couple of rock 'n roll tidbits I want to touch on. What on earth inspired you to cover Smoke on the Water as a Samba?


CH: (laughs) Good question! Smoke On The Water was a conversation I had with a friend of mine who used to be at EMI Publishing. And, he had asked me to cover some EMI song and for some reason I picked Smoke On The Water. I don't even remember why.


WBC: And, what’s  your role at Flea’s Silverlake Conservatory of Music?


CH: I'm one of the teachers there at the conservatory. It's a tiny little school with a great big heart. Flea's very involved when he's around. In fact I was seeing him regularly on Saturdays. He would bring in his little daughter for piano lessons with me.  You know, he's doing a great thing. He's trying to cater to the community and most of what they do is on a scholarship basis. He does a lot of fund-raising


WBC: What a plus for the arts. That's great. Carla we love Janela but, speaking of rock, there’s another favorite I’d like to go out on which has a very cool rock kind of progression. Aquela Menina. Can you set up this one for us?


CH: Do you hear the Fleetwood Mac influence in that one?


WBC: I think that's maybe what I'm hearing. What can you tell us about this?


CH: I think that's what it is. It just took me back to that sort of '70s rock vibe, reinterpreted in a singer/songwriter modern sort of way. And, of course it's in Portuguese so the story is told in that sort of way. That was actually the first song I wrote for the record. I'm particularly fond of that one too. I'm glad you like it.


Carla Hassett was interviewed by phone on August 2nd, 2012