Category: Bossa Nova

Los Angeles– based duo Complicated Animals— singer/songwriter Monica da Silva and multi-instrumentalist Chad Alger — specializes in what the duo have coined Indie Nova, a mesh of Indie Pop and Bossa nova. Complicated Animals can trace their origins back to 2008: the then-Chicago-based da Silva, who had been wanting to steer her music back to her Brazilian roots had stumbled across Alger’s Craiglist ad seeking someone to start a Brazilian music project with. The duo met during the winter and they survived the cold Chicagoland winter by drinking red wine and black coffee — and at some point, during that haze, Alger picked up a guitar and da Silva made up some lyrics. And the songs they began crafting transported them to the beaches of Brazil.

The duo collaborated on da Silva’s solo album 2010’s Bruce Driscoll-produced Brasilissima, which featured songs written and sung in English and Portuguese. Brasilissima‘s first single “Aí Então”, caught the attention of the blogosphere and Cumbacha Records‘ Jacob Edgar, who featured the track on Putunayo World Music‘s Brazilian Beat compilation. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the duo’s psychedelic “That’s Not The Way” pump dup crowds during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Written and recorded in a cabin in the Michigan woods, the duo’s Complicated Animals 2015 debut, the six song In This Game EP was released to critical praise by PopMatters, who called the effort “a 6 song masterpiece” and the “beginning of a new sound.” Since then da Silva released the haunting and cinematic “Soldado de Amor,” which was featured on the BBC TV dramatic series The Replacement . Last year, In This Game single “Phoenix” was featured in the Netflix’s Last Summer.

Complicated Animals’ latest single find the duo tackling one of my favorite Foo Fighter songs, and arguably one of their biggest hits “Times Like These.” Famously, Foo Fighters released an acoustic version of “Times Like These,” in which Dave Grohl accompanied himself on guitar and piano — and while leaning much closer to the acoustic version, the Complicated Animals cover is a breezier, folkier, Fleetwood Mac-like take on the song. In my book, “Times Like These” is the rare Foo Fighter song that works as an arena rock anthem and as an intimate singer/songwriter ballad, which is a testament to how well written the song is.

As da Silva and Alger explain, they gravitated toward the track, because the lyrics are in line with the events of this past year. “This year sure has been crazy. We’ve all had to slow down, and focus on familial relationships, and close friendships. We believe that these challenging times, are the times that shape us,” the Los Angeles based duo explain. “The most important thing we can do right now, is just be there for each other. We hope to inspire people with some positivity. The world needs more of that. We’re collaborating with a talented Brazilian artist named Karla Caprali. She has created the song art, and is working on a powerful visual (animated video) to go with the track. We’re staying hopeful for the future. As Oscar Wilde said, ‘Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.’”

New Video: Rising Duo Muca & La Marquise Release a Gorgeous Animated Visual for Breezy “Blue Moon Bossa”

Muca & La Marquise is a rapidly rising London-based duo featuring Brazilian-born, London-based songwriter and producer Muca and 22-year-old vocalist La Marquise. Their debut single “London.” grabbed the attention of Roberto Menescal and Will Gompertz. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding the London-based duo, their latest single “Blue Moon Bossa” finds Muca, the act’s primary songwriter crafting a João Gilberto and Tom Jobim-inspired bossa nova — for modern times.

Featuring an armament of looping and shimmering acoustic guitar, a sinuous double bass line from Yaron Stavi, stuttering percussion and a breezy melody the track is centered around La Marquise’s achingly melancholic vocals. And at its core, is a longing for home — and a longing for a simpler time, of moonlit nights with the one you let get away . . .

As Muca explains, the track came from a desire to visit his homeland to musically reconnect with his roots. “I have a rock and blues background, but really, I’ve always had the Brazilian music hidden somewhere in me,” Muca says in press notes. “I thought it was time to bring it back to my composition. Having La Marquise singing the song is fantastic, she really grooves, and she added such a magical touch to it.

The songwriting process for “Blue Moon Bossa” was rather straight forward. “Myself and La Marquise have an excellent music connection,” Muca says. “Most of the songs we wrote were quite fast, time flew by, it was so easy. It all starts with guitars and vocals. I bring the first ideas with chord progressions on the guitar and some melodies. She then adds her notebook and begins to add lyrics and add more melodies to it. I was amazed how the track naturally developed into the Bossa Nova/Jazz style, and I’m delighted with the song and album result.”

In terms of production, Muca wanted a much more modern approach. He enlisted the assistance of São Paulo-produced drummer, percussionist and producer Bruno Buarque. “I told him and wanted a different approach for this song, using more electronic elements to this track,” Muca says. “He added some exciting Brazilian style elements, using his MPC to reproduce instruments such as cuica, bumbo, tamborin, ganza, and shakers. He recorded them in Brazil and sent me the files, I worked with the arrangements here in London.”

Animated by Ed Murray, the recently released video for “Blue Moon Bossa” is gorgeous and dream-like visual that features La Marquise as a singing moon before eventually seeing animated version of the duo playing and singing. The result is an old-fashioned view of the cosmos, complete with astrological charts. “The minute I wrote it, I knew it needed an animated music video to follow it,” Muca says of the song and its video treatment. “I had some ideas in mind and decided to contact the incredible illustrator, Ed Murray, who I am a fan of, to develop the concept. I couldn’t be happier with what he created.”

The duo are planning to release their self-titled, full-length debut in early 2021.

Lyric Video: Paris’ MiM Teams Up with Selma and Jaw on a SLick and Modern Take on Samba

Emilien Bernaux, a.k.a. MiM is a Paris-based multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer and founder of Lafayette Street Studio. Berneaux can trace the origins of his music career back to his childhood: at a young age, he had classical training in guitar and piano. The Parisian multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer and producer’s first foray into electronic music was he joined drum ‘n’ bass collective UNC Audio.

Back in 2011, Bernaux made his national debut on Canal+ when he sang several songs including the credits for the TV series Bref. That same year, he co-foundend Pour Ma Paire De Jordans (PMPDJ) alongside Entek and Gress. And continuing on a productive period, Bernaux started ongoing collaborations with a diverse array of artists including Disiz, Tito Prince, Set&Match, Fils du calvaire’s and DOP’s Jaw and Laetitia Dana among others. Additionally, he has collaborated with his PMPDJ bandmate Entek in the side project MiM & Entek, which released their debut EP through Château Brouillard.

In 2013, the Parisian multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer founded Lafayette Street Studio, his creative home base. The year after founding the studio, he cofounded the Première Fois party, an event which mixed comedy and music — and this was done while taking on production duties for Mister V’s 2018 platinum selling album Double V.

Further cementing his growing reputation for being incredibly prolific, Bernaux released his solo debut EP 2015’s Saṃsāra while production Anna Kova’s EP diptych Pigments and Pixels. And by 2017, he had started composing movie for motion pictures, beginning with Benoit Forgead’s Yves, which earned the Directors’ Fortnight selection at Cannes Film Festival. Since then, he has continued to work in film, TV and commercials working on the scores for several Valentin Petit films, including Anthophobia, Portrait of Rafael Delande, Forests of symbols and The noise of light, as well for ad campaigns and TV shows.

Last year, he collaborated with Disiz la Peste, Fianso, Tito Prince, Youssoupha, Alina Pash, Kader Diaby 4REAL and Charles-Baptiste. Interestingly, throughout his career, Bernaux has developed a reputation for being both eclectic and versatile, with his work drawing from hip-hop, dubstep, grime, trap and trip-hop.

Earlier this year, MiM began working on his latest effort Cycle, which features collaborations with Nathan Daisy, José Reis Fontāo and actor Alice David. The effort’s latest single “Samba Do Gringo” is a breezy and modern take on Bossa nova and samba.. Centered around looped shimmering guitar samples and trap-like beats, the track features JAW’s mournful, mostly English versus focusing on a cold-blooded woman, who has done him and his heart incredibly dirty paired with Selma’s ethereal and plaintive vocals effortlessly switching between Portuguese and English. And under the slick production is an age-old tale of a meet-cute that has turned embittering and heartbreaking — with an infectious hook.

New Audio: French Singer-Songwriter Laure Briard Releases a Breezy 70s AM Rock-like Bossa Nova Cover

Laure Briard is a Toulouse, France-based singer/songwriter, who bounced around quite a bit before fully delving into music: before starting her music career in earnest in 2013, Briard studied literature and criminology and even did a little acting. 

Signing to Tricatel Records, Briard released her debut EP. A short time later, she met Juilen Gasc and Eddy Cramps and began working on her full-length debut, Révélation, a pop-rock leaning album released through 2000 Records. And with Révélation, the Toulouse-based singer/songwriter began to receive attention for a sound inspired by Françoise Hardy, Margo Guryan and Vashti Bunyan paired with modern and poetic lyricism. 

2016 saw the release of her sophomore album Sur la Piste de Danse through Midnight Special Records. But during the subsequent years, Briard’s work took on an increasing bossa nova influence — and with 2018’s Coração Louco, which featured acclaimed Brazilian JOVM mainstays Boogarins, Briard began writing lyrics in Portuguese. Building upon a growing reputation, the Toulouse-based singer/songwriter’s third album, 2019’s Un peu plus d’amour s’il vous plâit was released through Michel Records in Canada, Midnight Special Records in Europe and Burger Records here in the States. 

Continuing her ongoing love affair with Brazil and Brazilian music, Briard’s latest single  find her tackling the São Paulo, Brazil-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sessa’s “Grandeza.” While the original was centered around a sparse arrangement of looping acoustic guitar, gentle percussion and call and response vocals, it’s a dreamy song full of a wistful and bittersweet ache. 

Collaborating with Vincent Pieuvre and Emmanuel Mario,  Briard’s take on “Grandeza” retails the wistful and bittersweet ache of the original while pairing it with a breezy, 70s AM rock-like arrangement featuring twinkling Rhodes, a sinuous bass line and shimmering guitar and Briard’s plaintive vocals. In some way the song is a wistfully nostalgic ode to the lives and the things we can’t have right now; and probably will not have for quite some time as a result of COVID-19. “I was deeply moved by the beautiful dreamy lyrics of the song, the fearless statement made with vivid imagery yet remaining mysterious and abstract in a way which people can relate to on different levels.” 

Monica da Silva is an Los Angeles, CA-based, Brazilian-American singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentliast who has released a critically applauded solo album Brasilissima; however, she may arguably be best known as the frontwoman of the Bossa Nova influenced, indie pop act Complicated Animals with her longtime collaborator Chad Alger. And whether as a solo artist or as a member of Complicated Animals, da Silva has seen her music featured during the 2014 World Cup, TED, Ibiza Beats and Putumayo World Music’s Brazilian Beat compilation.

Now, it’s been some time since I’ve last written about da Silva or Complicated Animals, as the duo relocated to the Los Angeles area last year but in that time da Silva, Alger and Bruce Driscoll, da Silva’s brother, producer and other long-time collaborator, who’s best known as a member of Freedom Fry and Blondfire have spent their time working on da Silva’s latest solo foray, the haunting and cinematic “Soladado de Amor,” a simply arranged song that features da Silva’s gorgeous, old-timey, jazz-leaning vocals, Alger’s Latin guitar stylings, marching, polyrhythmic percussion and twinkling piano. And while evoking smoky, late night, jazz clubs and classic film noir, the song is largely inspired by the vintage marchinhas (marches) and popular samba songs of Brazilian Carnival.

Unsurprisingly, the song was recently placed on the BBC TV dramatic series The Replacement and will be included on da Silva’s forthcoming solo, sophomore album.