Flavia, I first heard your voice listening to Tom Fire's debut album 'The Revenge'. How did your paths cross?
Flavia Coelho: "Tom Fire discovered me through my MySpace profile..."
Ah, that's surprising, because it's often said the MySpace network is as dead as a doornail.
Flavia Coelho: "(laughs) Yes, exactly! In fact it was a friend of his who told Tom to check out this great gal on MySpace. It's true that you often hear that MySpace is past history, but personally I still often get messages there. The same with Tom; he contacted me and a few days later we recorded the track ('Mina De Niteroi', red.) for his album."
You live and work in Paris now, but your roots lay in Brazil, no?
Flavia Coelho: "I was born in Rio de Janeiro, but grew up in the northeast of Brazil in the states of Ceará and Maranhão."
Were you already involved in music before you came to Europe?
Flavia Coelho: "Oh yes, absolutely. My musical path started at the age of fourteen; I was a member of a number of different bands playing a whole host of styles ranging from Brazilian forró and pagoda over rock and blues to jazz. At one point I felt the need to do something more personal and that's when I left Brazil and ended up in Europe."
And why Paris?
Flavia Coelho: "I had already briefly visited Paris in 2002 when I was there with a band I was part of at the time. We stayed in Paris for two weeks and to me the city was like one big musical crossroads. Every night we would go out to see a concert somewhere and I vowed that if one day I would record a solo album, I had to return to this incredible cultural melting pot of a city!"
For you debut album you created a new mix of Jamaican and Brazilian rhythms, bossamuffin. Why not simply have done a Brazilian style record?
Flavia Coelho: "Because I'm a young girl with one leg in her cultural heritage and the other in a whole range of other genres; I love Joao Gilberto just as much as I do Dr. Dre, I like the music of Caetano Veloso, but I'm also crazy about raggamuffin. I really wanted my debut album to reflect the variety of styles I listen to. I never intended to invent something new; developing the songs for ‘Bossamuffin' was more of an organic process. When I left Brazil, my main goal was to broaden my musical horizon. When you go in search of the roots of Brazilian music, you'll find it's a mix of influences from the four corners of the earth and that's exactly what 'Bossamuffin' is as well."
I shouldn't forget to mention to quote the names of Bika Bika Pierre and Victor Vagh, two musicians that played an instrumental role in the creation of 'Bossamuffin'.
Flavia Coelho: "Bika Bika Pierre was the first musician I started to work with when I'd just arrived in Paris. At first we played anywhere we could, from small cafés to tube stations. Bika is originally from Cameroun and he introduced me to the riches of African music. I really felt at home with those rhythms as they are very similar to the ones you'd find in Brazilian music. When we started working on the songs for the album, we met Victor Vagh who owns a studio in Paris. He found what we were doing both risky and refreshing and decided to join us in our adventure."
In reggae music, who would you say are the artists that have really influenced you?
Flavia Coelho: "Oh that is a long list, ranging from Barrington Levy and Abyssinians all the way to Bob Marley of course. The state of Maranhão in Brazil has a prolific reggae scene. My mother was born there and I spent a lot of time there as a kid, so to me it felt absolutely natural to incorporate these reggae influences in my music. I'm from a lower class background, I was born in a favela and reggae has always been the music of the oppressed and have-nots!"
Would you consider doing something completely different for your next album?
Flavia Coelho: "Of course! Music is one of those things you can't really put limits on. Musicians who do set themselves certain limits really haven't understood what making music is all about. Furthermore people here in Europe are curious and love influences from other cultures. As long as I keep travelling and meeting new people, my music will continue to evolve. I wouldn't want to get stuck in one genre, but the basis of my music will always be Brazilian rhythms."