Brazilian Girls, once a downtown New York City staple, always had the charm of the city itself—a multicultural, polylingual source of expressive creativity. The music, appropriating rhythms and modes from around the globe, had the feel of something completely exotic. Mellow in groove, lyrically provocative, and outlandish on stage, it always felt as though the group was visiting from some far off utopian place (no one in the band is actually Brazilian). It’s been a few years since Brazilian Girls (there is only one girl) released new material, but front-woman Sabina Sciubba has kept herself busy during the hiatus, spending time with her children while putting together her first solo release, Toujours. She’s simplified the sound on the new record, and relished the chance to craft her singular vision after a decade of the creative compromises required of working within a group. Ahead of next month’s release, Sciubba caught up with us to share her recent influences and her thoughts on energy.
Tell us about the new album. When did you decide to put it all together?
I’ve been wanting to do a solo record for ages, but between touring with Brazilian Girls, watching movies, and making babies I didn’t have one free minute.
In 2010, when Brazilian Girls went on a hiatus, I was so charged with the desire to write new songs and record music, that it was extremely gratifying to work on TOUJOURS with Fred Rubens (the producer). Like meeting up with a good friend, very recreational.
You’re living in Paris now? Did the city influence your sound?
Of course, everything influences everything. Paris is a metropolis, but it isn’t half as fast and furious as NYC. I enjoy living here, because the city has a discreet charm, and a great intellectual energy. Great sophistication. The songs on Toujours speak about my experiences here, in Paris.
What have you been watching and reading and listening to these days?
A movie which really struck me (although it isn’t so recent) is Close Up and ‘Where is my friends house by Abbas Kiarostami. Also, Asghar Farhadi’s films, like A Separation or About Elly, are very humane films, speaking about philosophical conflicts and moral choices, exposing mechanisms in our society (or the Irani society, but it applies very well to any human society), showing us, that a movie doesn’t have to have a shooting, a giant explosion or a graphic sex scene to be entertaining.
I’ve been listening to a lot of latino music lately, Willie Colon, Toto la Momposina (I just saw her perform it was AMAZINGISSIMO), Victor Jara, Atahualpa Yupanqui, and Violeta Parra. As for recent artist, I like La Yegros. Very unique voice and style. Her boyfriend and producer Gaby Kerpel, is a genius.
I’m reading C.G. Jung’s On the Interpretation of Dreams. It’s not a lexicon with dream interpretations, but a conference with his students, discussing dreams of historic personalities. Jung is inspired and inspiring, and very spiritual.
Did your approach to Toujours, your first solo effort, differ from working within Brazilian Girls?
Oh yes. I am quite an opinionated person. When I like something, I’ll fight for it, teeth and claws. In Brazilian Girls, I had to fight so hard, sometimes I wore myself out over a bass line or a chord, or just a seat in a van.
In Toujours I was the chef. Fred Rubens proposed and I disposed, it was very liberating after having worked in a band for so long. Musically, my solo record is much more simple, naïve and minimal than Brazilian Girls. I needed some simplicity.
It’s been a few years since Brazilian Girls put out a record, and nearly two years since you celebrated your ten year anniversary. Is there a future in store for the group?
We recorded our fourth record over the past two years, in Madrid, NY, and Istanbul. And we’re fine tuning it now, it’s almost ready for mixing. We’re planning on releasing it in late 2014.
What does good energy mean to you?
Good energy means freedom to me, carelessness and humour. But good energy is more crucial in times of crisis. Looking for solutions, remaining hopeful. Helping others, being polite and considerate. Allowing others to be themselves.
Whom do you consider a style icon?
My children. Whatever they wear, they look extremely stylish. Also, Keith Richards, Adam and Eve.
What is your WILD Wish?
Playing a show that inspires so much love that everybody in the audience starts making out.
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Blaine on Twitter Follow @themindofskank