As a boundary-pushing TV and radio journalist with boundless enthusiasm and curiosity about her country, Renata Simoes has spent 12 years exploring all avenues of Brazilian culture, from the hottest new bands to the grittiest urban art. So who better to captain the Red Bull Music Armada? We asked the hostess with the mostest to introduce herself and her passions…
Why did you want to get involved in this project. Are you looking forward to captaining your own ship?
"It feels unique and special. It’s a privilege to experience and report on the diversity of Brazilian culture and music. I think the project concept is also part of our DNA - everyone has dreamt once in their life about taking a ship and journeying to different places. I’m really excited."
In a nutshell, what makes Brazil such a brilliant country for music fans to visit?
"Brazil encompasses so many unique musical expressions. Whatever the genre, it's possible to experience music in a spontaneous way throughout the country. The Brazilian atmosphere enables the music to flow through your veins."
"I could talk about what's new and fresh in the music scene for hours… but I’d rather you just joined me on tour!"
When we talk about the ‘music of Brazil’, the first sounds that spring to mind for an international audience are often Samba and Bossa Nova. How out of date is this perception?
"Bossa Nova and Samba give some clue about what has been produced in Brazil since the end of the 50s. The simplicity and lyricism of Bossa Nova and the low tone beats of the drums of Samba are still perceptible today. We aren’t afraid to mix different styles: that’s why the drum ’n’ bass made in Brazil has its own balance or Ginga [‘way of life’], while Mangue Beat, from Northeast Brazil, is a unique mixture of rock and traditional music. And when it comes to funk, you have the reinvention of the traditional base in Rio de Janeiro through the Carioca funk scene. I could talk about what's new and fresh in the music scene for hours… but I’d rather you just joined me on tour!"
You’ve interviewed so many singers, DJs and stars of the Brazilian music scene through your radio show, Radioteca (aired weekly on Oi FM). Tell us about some of the people you’ve met and why what they’re doing excites you…
"Radioteca invites all kinds of music lovers - musicians, DJs, producers, promoters, journalists… - to share their gems and discoveries. I love to be in touch with people who are always searching for a new song, a new tone, a new effect or reference. I love their generosity and the constant surprises those meetings provide. Once a DJ brought a reworking of some classical music, while a musician who works with a delicate instrument named a Rebec [a bowed string instrument] brought a metal track. The result was a radio show full of ‘Wow!’"
How much does the music of Brazil vary from place to place?
"It varies a lot from city to city, from state to state. If you go to Bahia you'll get the drums; move a little north toward Pernambuco, and you get the high tones from the Frevo [carnival] bands; come to Sao Paulo, and there are a lot of sub-genres of electronic music. Rio has this funk and soul vibe, and Florianópolis has its house feelings. It's very amusing, even for us Brazilians, how much musical diversity our country provides."