new music + interview: the brazilian band aláfia salutes 11 orishas in the album “corpura”
By Sound Check
September 28, 2015
Ten men and a woman open paths as suggested by the name of their Brazilian band, rooted four years ago in São Paulo: Aláfia. In the African language yoruba, the expression means exactly that – and also happiness. In a musical production which connects the drums of candomblé (afro-Brazilian tradition of orishas) to Motown, the big band debuts “Corpura”, its second album.
By Ligia Hipólito, AFROPUNK Contributor
Photos by Cintia Augusta
The band accepted “funk-Candomblé” to classify their work, a term coined by a British journalist who works for the BBC. In Corpura’s first track, “Salve Geral”, Aláfia fights racism supported by their African background: “You cannot escape from capoeira… [you’re] accompanied by gods and partners… spread through the alleys. Listen to the echoes of punches and slaps. Listen to the dry noise of the streets. We will shut you down under the sunshine…”
Eduardo Brechó, who accumulates vocalist, guitarist and musical director roles, believes that the main goal of the band is to resist the standards imposed by eurocentrism, reinforcing black culture in Brazil – a country with plenty of African’s influences. “The self-esteem strengthening depends on the knowledge of the ancestors history and their importance “, he says. Not coincidentally, the disc salutes 11 orishas. The single track in English, “Blacksmith”, celebrates one of them: Ogun.
“Have you heard iron sound?
When Blacksmith chief comes to town
And he comes to dance once a year
There is no chance if you don’t fear
We all know that the blacksmith’s soul
Is full of good and evil
Working people’s future
On his sacred anvil”.
Read below a full interview with Brechó:
What is the importance of Candomblé in the composition of the songs in the album?
Brechó: Since the first album (“Aláfia”), I often think about the topics to be discussed, related to the issues on the yoruba myth. I used to support myself in the symbols that Candomblé introduces. Furthermore, the Candomblé exposes the African origin of our culture. In this album (“Corpura”), all the drumming is dedicated to the African-Brazilian Candomblé; whereas the first album had a lot of African percussion. We recorded the new album tracks based on the rhythmic touches of orishas..
What is the familiarity of the band with the Yoruba language, present in some album lyrics?
Brechó: The Yoruba is the mother tongue of some Candomblé’s nations and much of the signs brought to Brazil are worshiped thinking in this Yoruba root. It is natural that the Yoruba is present in the album, because it is an identity code for people who are embedded in these communities.
The black culture resistance is present in many lyrics. Which is the importance of this for you?
Brechó: Resistance is not the focus. Resistance is important, but should not be the focus. It is important to reinforce the idea of black culture and to bring out aspects of the Brazilian culture, highlighting the magnitude of the contributions of Africans in Brazil. This idea is still linked to reverse the processes of acculturation and reification, which the ancestors went through. The black family is still facing this in the media, because it lacks representativeness. To build self-esteem depends on the knowledge, the importance and the journey of ancestors.
Can music be used to speak on politics?
Brechó: If everything is politics, yes. If not, no. Music cannot be linked to politics and this gesture is a political movement or that can be interpreted politically. Being oblivious to politics brings political consequences because politics is related to every citizen and directly affects everyone’s lives. To me, music as a divine being, that almost goes beyond this notion.
Aláfia is a largely male band with a woman (Xenia) at the forefront with two other male vocalists (Brechó and Jairo). How do you interpret this relationship?
Brechó: On this issue, I cannot speak for Xenia. She stars this fight, inside and outside the group. Xenia is an empowered black woman and recognizes those who struggle against sexism and racism. That is where the group steps in. We fight together. We try to balance our speech from an arrangement of the band’s voices based on each of our experiences. The issues related to black women that we discussed with the band are brought to the stage and Xenia has the ownership of the subject, she lives it / it is on her skin. Behind the scenes, we learn with several sisters and discuss, in a balanced way, about power, its relationships and privilege. The men in the band try to deal with the contradictions of sexism established in our society and, occasionally, we still come across these contradictions in our sector. However, the whole band knows that the end of chauvinism is an essential cause in our struggle and, from center of the stage, Xenia radiates power in this regard..
Explain the term “Corpura”, which is the name of the band’s new album.
Brechó: “Corpura” is something about the dimension between the body size and color. In English, I would think of something like “colorbodyness”. This neologism came to me randomly, when I played with the alliteration and the echo of the verse “the pure color of your body”. In the music verse, it is dismembered. However, in the disc this notion of representation and representativeness is about body manifestation and color of the spiritual dimension, that guided the album’s creation. By dealing directly with African roots, the idea of pure colors becomes affirmative in an inversion of values, since the history of European art subdued the use of these colors, that represents the African art. The use of “pure colors” is placed as primitive. We know, however, that the concept of primary color is just convention and may vary depending on the culture. In nature, the color is set and it is a color by itself, and this is what I mean when I talk about the pure color manifested in corporeality. There is a manifest that every color by itself is pure in its body within the album. The actual natural essential aspect of color in the body.
Who are the composers of the tracks?
Brechó: Some songs are mine, Lucas Cirillo and Jairo Pereira are composers too. The composition process happens sometimes together, sometimes collaborating and sometimes not. Fabio Leandro and Filipe Gomes Leandro also participated in the process of compositions.
What are the main differences of this second album comparing it with the first one?
Brechó: For me, the presence of Fabio Leandro in preproduction gave another side to the job. In this album, there was a starting point to link Motown to Candomblé. The hall to the Candomblé yard. For that, we would need a ‘agogô’ (Candomblé drum) and a piano to play soul in Aguere (Candomblé rhythm). It was well done. Piano upon agogô.
What are the band’s plans with the album release?
Brechó: Do many shows and music videos.
Does Alafia have influences from other artists? If so, who?
Brechó: Moacir Santos, George Clinton and Racional MC’s are the pillars of our job.
Beyond making a digital distribution, you are betting on the vinyl culture. How do you see these kinds of distribution niches (virtual and physical)?
Brechó: The vinyl record is a spell, but the music does not depend on it. We are where the music is and we distribute it through. Vinyl is a luxury that particularly attracts me a lot. It’s what I spend my money on and what inspires me. I use it to record the CD thinking about vinyl. Cover, side A, side B, bass, middle and treble. But I make the song itself thinking about music only, and it does not depend on its format.
Aláfia (since 2011)
– Aláfia (2013)
– Quintal (single e music video 2014)
– Corpura (2015)
Alysson Bruno e Victor Eduardo – percussion
Eduardo Brechó – voice and eletric guitar
Filipe Gomes – drums
Gabriel Catanzaro – bass
Gil Duarte – trombone e flue
Lucas Cirillo – harmonica
Fábio Leandro – keyboard
Pipo Pegoraro – eletric guitar
Jairo Pereira – voice
Xênia França – voice
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