Leo Fazio’s Imaginative Exploration of Jazz, Hip Hop and São Paulo Sounds

As art and culture enthusiasts here at Gozamos, we are forever in gratitude of those who continue creating, producing and sharing their extraordinary talent, especially during this unique time. Today we are thrilled to present the brand new video for the song “Se Pá” by composer Leo Fazio, who was also kind enough to speak with us about what he’s been up to during quarantine and all about his remarkable music process.

It was early in the year, while researching music for NPR’s World Cafe article Latin Roots: 13 Alternative Tracks to Jumpstart 2020, that we came across Leo Fazio on YouTube. As soon as we hit the play button and heard those first unique, jazzy and glitchy (in the best way possible) sounds we were immediately intrigued and needed to hear more and he ended up making part of our lucky list of 13, in which we wrote: “São Paulo composer Leo Fazio […] has a knack for pushing the envelope on alternative, eccentric and electrifying spins of traditional Brazilian music like samba, tropicália and bossa nova.”

In this case, Leo has just released a new video for that single, “Se Pá,” that we are overjoyed to share with you today. The video is a cinematic tribute, of sorts, inspired in part by the Eggers film ‘The Lighthouse,’ and Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. Leo says the “passion for the ‘Cinema Marginal’ underground movement” in Brazil also played into its creation.

Make sure to also check out our interview with Leo (found just after the video) because, trust us, you’re going to love the way his creative mind works. We do!

Before anything else, how are you and those around you handling the current pandemic? 

Well, the things are a bit crazy around here. Most people I know are taking the situation seriously, but we have a lot of people who just don’t believe in it and aren’t doing anything to help, ignoring the quarantine at all. Also we’re in the middle of a big political and social crisis here in this Brazil, our infamous president, Jair Bolsonaro, is a caricature of a fascist dictator who spread misinformation since before he got elected – and it’s basically how he managed to do it, with a little help of Steve Bannon and some powerful people who wants to prostitute the country’s labour and  explore our resources. Bolsonaro is telling everyone that the pandemic is media bullshit to sabotage him, and some people are buying it.

To quote Bob Dylan, “People are crazy and times are strange,” it’s like some bizarre mix between Aldous Huxley and George Orwell’s dystopian novels with the movie Idiocracy. Yeah… that’s sad.

How has this pandemic affected your creativity?

Well, I’m trying to take this as a opportunity to develop my music and myself as an artist. Of course, sometimes the creativity is affected by the anxiety of these times, because not knowing when it all will pass is really hard to deal with. But I guess I’m in a good way, I’m often looking at the creativity blackouts as a good time to absorb new references and to know better what’s being made right now, it helps a lot!

Where did you first know you were interested in music?

If I stop to think, music was always a thing for me. But, the exact moment when I knew this was what I wanted to do for life was long ago, I was 10 years old I guess, listening to the radio in the car with my dad, and suddenly, Smells Like Teen Spirit started to play, that’s the moment that changed everything for me, the sound that came out of the speakers revealed me a lot of feelings that I never had before, and I went crazy for the sound almost instantly. And now, the relationship I have with music is beyond anything in my life, I just want to consume and be entirely consumed by music, until nothing else remains. So thanks Nirvana! Haha!

Your profiles related to music refer to it as experimental. Can you explain the term and how it applies to your music?

This is something I just cannot escape. I see my creation process as a laboratory of possibilities that I use to express myself, my feelings and my way to see the world around me. I like to deal with all of this both in lyrics and sound, I like to push the things to new horizons and soundscapes that I believe I’ve never been before. And that’s why music is so important to me, because it gives me an intense and profound sense of freedom and self-discovery.

It also gives me the chance to know some amazing people who feels exactly the same way, like my friends who play with me in my solo project – Carlos Tupy, Dio Costa, Marina Mole, Skipp Worm and Leon Sanchez. And my friends of the record label Seloki, which is releasing this single with me!

Please tell us all about your new music video, the type of music, the visuals and the process of getting this recorded and done

I started to work on this new material in the end of 2019, soon after my old band, Molodoys, broke up. At the time I already had released my first solo album, which is deeply influenced by brazilian musicians like Milton Nascimento/Clube da Esquina, Elis Regina, Maria Beraldo and Itamar Assumpção. So I wanted to move forward and mix this with the new stuff I was listening, which was very diverse…

The result of my first attempt is this song I’m releasing now, ‘Se Pá…’, I like to call it a jazz-trap, but I don’t know, it have many many more influences and it would not be fair to call it only that way.

I was deeply into experimental jazz stuff like John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Robert Glasper, Yussef Kamaal and the brilliant sax-alto player Steve Lehman (and the whole catalog of Pi Recordings by the way). I also was, little by little, digging trap music like BONES, Lil Peep, Post Malone, etc… Some lo-fi infused music like the genius King Krule and Cosmo Pyke, lots and lots of Grimes, some brazilian new artists like Lau e Eu, Dieguito Reis and finally a lot of Frank Ocean, Kojey Radical, Tyler the Creator and Thundercat too. It all came gradually of course – I know, I basically wrote 6 lines only to describe my influences hahaha. Then I basically had more and more kinds of sounds coming and making my mind, and I just HAD to try to bring it all together, in my own vision and way of making music.

I started to record it in my home studio before the quarantine, I’ve played the clarinets and made the beats/drums, piano, synths and the lead vocals in this one, the bass was made by Carlos Tupy and the female vocals by Marina Mole and Alice Marcone (whom also have an amazing solo project of brazilian country-pop).

Last, but not least (not at all), the visual part is all about cinema. I’ve made this music video in a collaboration with the creative director Adriel Maia and the assistant director Leonardo Chagas, both helped me to find the way of making what I wanted. Basically, I told them I’d like to do some kind of expressionist film, I was so in love by the movie ‘The Lighthouse’ (by Robert Eggers) and wanted to bring some Ingmar Bergman’s references too. Adriel came with the idea of showing the body in a fragmented way (like Robert Bresson), and we all have a passion for the ‘Cinema Marginal’ underground movement here in Brazil, it also had a great influence in the music video. 

We’ve tried to transmit the dark and apocalyptical vibes of the lyrics, which is about technology, the superficiality of modern relationships, the chaos and madness our world is immersed right now, and death. I think we did it well.

After this new video is released, what are the plans for your next release?

Well, I’m actually finishing to record a whole new album, which will be called ‘Paranoia’,  but I have 3 more singles before putting it out.

I’m releasing it all, here in Brazil, with Seloki Records, a new independent label that began as a studio and a place for the local artists to reunite, develop and work together. So, for the next months I have plenty of stuff to come out, I’m very excited and I hope people enjoy it!

What is your favorite way to spend time?  

Right now, when I’m not working on my stuff, I spend a lot of time watching anime and movies, cooking and listening to records too. I also have started to read a cyberpunk classic called ‘Neuromancer’ by William Gibson, amazing book, you all should read it! 

Until the end of the quarantine I guess it’ll be just that, hahaha!

For my last words: Stay safe, wash your hands, and enjoy the music, see ya! <3

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