Zuzuka Poderosa just did this exclusive in-depth interview with DC’s Forward Fest. Really enjoyed it and thought you would too. Catch Zuzuka at House of Yes in Bushwick, Brooklyn this Saturday, Forward Fest in DC on May 17th and on June 1st with A Tribe Called Red & Jubilee at Glasslands in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. POWHER!
Zuzuka Poderosa Gets Down with FORWARD
Prior to her DC Debut at FORWARD 2013, we asked Bass friend/fiend Nick W. to pull together a few questions for Zuzuka Poderosa. Below is what happened.
NW: How would you describe Carioca Bass to someone who hasn’t heard your music before?
ZP: Carioca Bass can be described as a style of music that has my influences and experiences coming from Funk Carioca (or Baile Funk), Dancehall, Electronic Music and Drum & Bass. Carioca Bass is basically what I do and what I identify with.
NW: So you are from originally from Rio de Janeiro but now live in Brooklyn?
ZP: I’m not originally from Rio. I was born in Espirito Santo state, which is the state above Rio on the coast. I moved to Rio at early teenage years, then I relocated with my family to Grand Cayman, British West Indies.
Moving around to different places, learning different cultures and music established my signature sound.
Coming from a tropical place like Brasil, you have samba, boss nova, baile funk, MPB, just to name a few. When I moved to the West Indies I was introduced to Soca and Dancehall. After I came to the US, I was very into the rave scene and was crazy into drum & bass. I also used to deejay and am a vinyl collector, so I’m a curious about the past and the future of music. I am an interracial music baby.
NW: You are obviously multilingual, is there a particular reason you choose to express yourself in Portuguese in your music?
ZP: I feel very comfortable in my native language. I think Portuguese has tones and accents that are very musical already, but I also have done songs in Spanish & English as well. When I’m on stage, I want to make sure the I communicate with the audience, whether it’s in all the 3 languages or just one and of course, in body language always!
NW: Your video for Seda, which came out this year, is pretty intense. Can you tell us about the concept and the people you worked with on it? [designer Babatunde Ajiboye, dancer Tay of Subway Acrobats, director Artur Ratton, etc]
ZP: Oh, intense is a good word! I worked on the “Carioca Bass EP” with Kush Arora, a producer in the Bay Area, and released it on a label in Los Angeles called Little Owl Recordings. We wrote the script for the video but it didn’t go as planned, so we kind of let it flow. I had no video producer, so I had to put together everything pretty fast because we had a deadline. I’m really happy with how it turned out.
The people I worked with, like Tay for instance, I was on the J train in NYC when him and his crew were doing their acrobatic thing. He handed me the hat and I asked him how I could find him. I looked him up on Facebook and sent him a message. Months later we worked together. Very NYC and digital age thing.
Babatunde Ajiboye and I met 10 years ago, but lost contact for years. I have always admired his work. This year we connected again and I told him I was looking for a stylist for the video. He was very excited to actually design the wardrobe. Amazing, he’s just amazing and bold. How I like it.
I’m also a big fan of Artur K. Ratton’s work, so I approached him about directing the video and his agreed to do it. That was great because I know he has a good production team. The two female dancers are my good friends Charlene Foster, a jewelry & glass designer & DJ Supervixen.
Having a team of people around who you actually admire their work is inspiring and a huge bonus.
NW: So “Seda” means rolling papers?
ZP: Yup. There’s a lot of double meaning with sexy references but at the same time what I’m saying is that it’s time to legalize marijuana.
NW: So do you think we’ll see more US states and other countries decriminalize or legalize marijuana in the near future?
Yes, I think we are stepping into a new era full of new & different thinkers in society where we have leaders telling us what’s good for us, but it’s actually really bad. Money-making pharmaceuticals are killing so many people every year and we’re foolish enough to get addicted to what they’re pushing. We’re being blinded and have become so dependable on their pills. The FDA and huge multinationals are spoiling our food too. I’m really into cooking, so it’s a big deal for me.
So, little by little we’re starting to see everything that’s been hidden behind the curtain. So I’m hoping that we – the next generation – can speak out and have the guts to choose what’s good for us, not them. And that we chose the natural.
We all can acknowledge that Marijuana is not a harmful drug and it should be legalized already. I see that in the US a few states are legalizing it and I’m pretty optimistic that the laws will change and decriminalize it. I admire the way the Uruguayan government is promoting the idea to pass the law to combat narco-traffic and having the state selling high quality medical-grade legally, for affordable prices.
Looking FORWARD, right? This is why I do this music; for the dancefloors around the world.
NW: How did you hook up with Kush Arora, who produced your latest EP?
ZP: I hooked up with Kush through Dave Sharma of Sub Swara, who I’ve done some work in the past alongside DJ Rekha (Check out our song ‘Pyar Baile’). Sharma told Kush I was coming to San Francisco to play at Tormenta Tropical, so Kush & Sakura, his wife, were kind enough to let me stay with them. From there we immediately started working together. It was destiny and faith. We share a musical openness and willingness to take chances.
NW: What singers or MCs have influenced your style?
ZP: I think there is a strong wave of female MC’s taking over the music scene right now and much respect to the powerful ladies out there making it happen. Recently for example, I collaborated with the amazing Swedish artist Gnucci, for a remix of her song “Goodah” and it features amazingly fierce women doing it their way like Jasmine Solano, Lady Chann and Nadia Nair. Watch the video for it, it’s amazing:
As for influences, I like to say that I have my muses. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with the style of music I do, but instead I look at their courage, their techniques, philosophy and apply it to my own expression. These are some of my musical mentors, forever my muses who are: Elis Regina, Nina Simone, PJ Harvey, Janis Joplin…
NW: Who are your favorite producers right now?
ZP: I’ve always been a fan of Nego Moçambique, a producer from Brasil who is based in Toronto. He’s also a big influence on my music. He’s also done Psicodelia remix on Carioca Bass EP. Hear the remix: https://soundcloud.com/zuzuka-poderosa/zuzuka-poderosa-kush-arora
You know it’s hard to answer that question because I’m not into the words “right now.” I think the “right now” does not give an artist long term possibility. So consistency is the key. But I’m really into music coming from Night Slugs, Mixpak, Shabazz Places, Rashad & Teklife crew, just to name a few…and of course, my vinyl collection.
NW: What’s next for you?
ZP: I’m working on music, getting the creative juices flowing after releasing “Carioca Bass” EP. I’ll be playing an amazing show in Brooklyn on June 1st at Glasslands with A Tribe Called Red from Canada and a collaborator in the past, Jubilee. I’m also building a lot with some amazing artists who I can’t wait to share with you all and working on touring in Europe this fall.
NW: Balance is the theme for FORWARD 2013. What does that mean to you and your life?
ZP: Balance is something that is hard to achieve just in the very act of being a human being. Everyone is striving for it. I think the key to having a balance in life is to be fully focused, plan and accomplish what you set for yourself. I can’t say I have full balance in my life, but I’m always working on being better and focusing on the good things. In the music, well, we have a long way to go towards the balance, but in the new digital age, I think we can use these tools for the better to get there. We have to remember we have the power. That’s why Zuzuka Poderosa is my name. Poderosa means power. See you on the dancefloor.