Eight years separate “Cavallo” (Easy Sound, 2013), the debut album of Carioca musician Rodrigo Amarante’s solo career, and “Drama” (Polyvinyl Records, 2021), which hits streaming platforms on Friday (16).
The musician – bringing together successful projects such as Los Hermanos, Little Joy and Orquestra Imperial – introduces 11 new tracks. in conversation with CNN, commenting on the effects of the pandemic on the production process, discussing the album proposal and considering the construction of masculinity itself.
Zoom’s invitation as background was where much of the album was produced. In his Los Angeles studio – where he lived for over ten years – Rodrygo showed no qualms on the eve of the release.
“The closer we get to that relief, the better,” he joked, lighting a cigarette. “I want this to leave me.”
Pandemic is on the way
Drama comes into the world later than planned. The pregnancy process began at the end of 2018, in the United States, with recording in the studio of Brazilian Mario Caldato Jr. – a producer who has worked with the Beastie Boys, Jack Johnson and Björk, for example.
Rodrigo’s intention was that the recordings would follow the first recording form, which was recorded in 2018, into the sessions. This means that the band’s musicians come together to perform live and record. With the pandemic, production logistics had to be rethought. The singer ended up producing and recording most of the songs on his own, in his own studio.
“Since I was on my own here, I had more space and time to experiment. I think this gave vent to the accomplishments that made the record what it is – in the sense of calling it ‘drama,’ embracing the confusion and practicing these dramatic arrangements,” he commented.
Who is born to a man
He served the extra time to think about the album for the project to consolidate his proposal. Rodrigo says his initial intention was to make an album focused on rhythm, straight, dry, with no excessive frills. But he says that when he started writing, the songs weren’t unintentionally released as he expected.
He says that he was able to better understand his creative process and unify the “drama” proposal with the help of the book: “The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love” (The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love, in Portuguese). Author Bill Hooks’ work (written in lowercase), among other topics, discusses the construction of masculinity and how it negatively affects the expression of emotions.
Rodrigo says the book made him better understand the construction of his masculinity, and his hardening period in “the transition from boy to man.” That’s how the singer gave up on making a dry and straight album, to adopt his own feelings into a more ornate album. “I have found it far more musical to investigate these sounds, these echoes from the past, to put on the masks of the ghosts that haunt me,” he said.
The suggestion for the name “Drama” came from a joke to singer Cornelia Murr, a frequent collaborator on the album. Rodrigo remembers offering her an arrangement he was composing, justifying the selection of the elements he used, when they were cut: “It was called drama then.” “She was kidding me, she said and left,” he said with a laugh.
In the end, the name stopped and ended up christening not only the album, but also the opening song: a chaotic montage of sounds that mix laughter, string orchestras, and even shower noise (which this reporter only noted because the composer himself said). Rodrigo thinks this track is a warning to listeners.
He said, “When you choose a movie, you enter the drama category to be surprised with the feeling that you don’t know what exactly. The opening of the album is a warning: Are you sure what you want to feel?”
Anticipate the round
With the release on Friday (16), Rodrigo Amarante’s tour to present his new album already has nearly 20 concerts scheduled. The premiere should take place on October 22 this year, at Ford’s Theater in Los Angeles.
“I really miss going up the stage. I’m not in the stage of adapting arrangements to play with a band yet, but I love this part. I love training and can’t wait to do it,” says the artist.
In April next year, the tour moves to Europe – with dates in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, England and Belgium. Rodrygo says that while he would like to play in Brazil, he still doesn’t know when that will be possible.
“I am dying to play in Brazil, but with the pandemic it is impossible to score. Everyone is unaware, everyone is not sure to score,” he said.