Discussing Brazilian Music with Toshiyuki Yasuda

By 12 July, 2011

Toshiyuki Yasuda and Atom™’s cover of “Aguas de Marco” is one of the highlights of the recent Red Hot + Rio 2 album which we reviewed here. It’s not the first time that Yasuda has worked with Brazilian music. He has released two albums as ROBO*BRAZILEIRA, a project which unites a bossa nova backdrop with a robotic Portuguese voice.

Once you’re familiar with ROBO*BRAZILEIRA it’s easy to see why Yasuda collaborated with Atom™ on “Aguas de Marco.” After all, Atom™ is sometimes known as Senor Coconut, an artist who has perfected the mix of Latin rhythms and electronic sounds over the years.

After speaking to Atom™ recently then it only felt right that we also spoke to Yasuda, whose ROBO*BRAZILEIRA project actually predates Senor Coconut and whose love of Brazilian music is apparent on those releases as well as many others in his canon.

First off, when did you become interested in Brazilian music, and what were the artists that first made an impression?
My first experience that I’ve listened to Brazilian music was Getz/Gilberto when I was in an elementary school at the age of 10 or so. I borrowed the CD from my uncle. It was actually a bootleg, with a cheap jacket of a seaside landscape somewhere. I remember it well because the music itself was so impressive, even to such a brat. It was relaxed but I found there were some nervous textures. I felt it was simple but complex as well. Brazilian music has always charmed me.

What was it about the music that appealed to you?
Free of preconceived ideas. There are some geniuses who can abandon unconscious frames, limits and etc. For example, Master Atom Heart (a collaborator on Red Hot + Rio 2) and artists I’m distributing from my label MEGADOLLY to iTunes Store.

Could you tell us a little about how the ROBO*BRAZILEIRA albums came about?
When I was producing my first solo album in 1999-2000, I set a target that I would mix my 2 favourite types of music, electronic music and Brazilian music. I noticed that the vocal was the most powerful and catchy factor in any music. After a deep thought, I found Brazilian music sung by a robot. I named the fictitious robot “Robo*Brazileira”, a little perverted.

I was thinking it would be one concept album and didn’t intend to continue but quite a few people liked the idea and sound, so it became a series..

Why did you decide to focus on Brazilian music with your first releases?
As I said in the 1st answer, Brazilian music had been my favorite since a childhood for the ultimate hybrid power so discovering “my own Brazilian music” had been one of my big attacks and themes when I composed.

On Red Hot + Rio 2 you do a cover of Aguas de Marco with Atom. Why did you all decide to cover this particular song?
Actually Atom and I have been attacking this cover project of “Águas de Março” for a long time since Atom proposed our collaboration about 2 year ago. I think this song is one of Jobim’s greatest pieces, integrating his uniqueness and it has the power to be immortal, far from a “trend”. In other words, the composition is so matchless and great that any arrangements would be granted. Therefore I recognised the difficulty of doing an “interesting” cover of it. I perhaps wouldn’t do it alone (at least at that time) but with my master Atom I convinced myself of that we could do an amazing update of the song.

And I couldn’t imagine other singers than Fernanda Takai on a female part of it. I love her warm vocal and featured her in my previous solo album Children’s Songs 2050. On a male part, Atom invited his friend Moreno Veloso. I recorded the piano by myself, guitar by Taro Sukegawa, drums by Norihide Saji and bass by Ichiro Fujiya who are all great musicians in Tokyo.

At the end of 2010, Fernanda introduced Red Hot Organization to me and Atom and I mixed for the exclusive version for Red Hot + Rio 2. And soon we’ll be doing our own version (probably more electronic) which will feature on an EP.

Would you be able to name one particular album that you would recommend to someone as an introduction to Brazilian music?
It’s not an easy question but if I have to do it, I select Elis and Tom. It has various opposed sides and universalness covered with a psychedelic mood. I think the album shows that If you go deep inside of you to discover yourself, you’ll be in a very far place miraculously. Listen!

Have you been to Brazil or have any plans to go?
Not yet. Possibly imaginations help me to compose Brazilian-like music. No, it’s a bravado!

You can listen to more from Toshiyuki as well as buy his music at ysd-to.com and megadolly.com. You can also read our interview with Atom™ right here.

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