Kiwi musos take inspirational trips to India and Brazil. It’s a rewarding exercise for everyone involved.
From the Beatles’ first trip to bohemian Berlin to Ry Cooder’s award-winning dalliances with old and forgotten Cuban talents, musicians have long used international musical odysseys to kick-start the creative process.
“There’s something about being taken out of your usual routine, smelling unfamiliar smells, eating new food and generally being immersed in another culture to let the creative steam out,” says Wellington soul-folk muso Raashi Malik. Born of Indian immigrant parents, Malik returned to India in September with her partner, electronica musician Rhian Sheehan, to collaborate and record with local artists on a distinctly Kiwi–Indian debut album of Malik’s songs, produced by Sheehan. And Sheehan fans can look out for field recordings of trains, crowds and so on that’ll no doubt make their way into future tracks.
It’s a great way to find inspiration—and even better when you can get someone else to bankroll it. That’s the brilliance of B-Live OE: Brazil, the recent collaboration between Bacardi New Zealand and Loop Media that sent six of New Zealand’s top musicians to Brazil in June. Local artists include Barnaby Weir of The Black Seeds and Fly My Pretties, DJ/producer Recloose, rising star Hollie Smith, P Digsss, Maaka Phat and locally-based Brazilian soloist Alda Rezende. The Brazilian artists include Zimbo Trio, Max de Castro, Barbatuques, Clube do Balanco, Apollo Nove, Drumagick and the fabulously named Funk Como Le Gusta (imagine a 15-strong Brazilian Fat Freddy’s Drop and you’ll get the idea).
“Music is inseparable from Brazilian life—that for me was very new.”
The brainchild of Markus Sawyer and Mikey Tucker of Loop Media and Loop Recordings, B-Live OE: Brazil is essentially an ‘experiential’ marketing campaign that builds on Bacardi’s existing music brand, Bacardi Live. All going well, OE: Brazil will be the first in a series. A crew from Nektar Films made the trip and the resulting one-hour feature will show on C4 in October and the Arts Channel in January 2007. A return trip is already planned: in December a Brazilian entourage will tour here.
The success of the undertaking, says Sawyer, lies in balancing the artistic and credibility concerns of the wary musicians with realistic expectations about commercial return on the part of the backer. “Bacardi New Zealand seems to understand the savvy nature of the local music scene and realises that doing this properly requires care. The artists wouldn’t have gone if the thing reeked of commercialism, or if we couldn’t secure things like the royalties from CD sales. But if the process can benefit everyone—which OE: Brazil is doing—it’s a beautiful thing.”