With her incredible voice and distinctive look, Mariza has taken the beautiful Fado music of Portugal to a global audience. Fly talks to her about fame, frocks and music.
New: interview with Mariza following the release of Transparente
Your first album relied heavily on songs by Amália Rodriguez. How did you feel about the inevitable comparisons being made between you?
Regarding comparisons, it is very flattering for me and I guess that’s the way for people to say they like my work in music. Of course, there’s a big difference, people remember Amália in her 40s, with her beautiful voice full of emotions, I’m only starting!
I have to say that Fado em Mim is an album where I tried to show people my story until that moment, and of course being one of my big inspirations, Amália had to be there!
Like everybody, I like to dress well for special occasions. For me, stage is the most special occasion of all, I just simply dress up to receive my ‘guests’, that’s it
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to meet Amalia. I regret I did not have the chance to listen to all she could have taught me. Of course, I also would have enjoyed thanking her for all that she did for Fado.
Your second album saw more original tracks and some new and interesting directions musically. Tell us more about what you were trying to do with ‘Fado Curvo’.
In Fado Curvo, I researched some of my favourite Portuguese poets. So, musically, I looked for my Fado, sounds and feelings that have to do with me. That’s the way I try to ‘up-grade’ Fado.
Remember also that I come from a very traditional fadista neighbourhood (Mouraria), which makes me respect the traditional base of Fado, but on the other hand, I try to go further and impress on it my own experiences and thoughts.
Outside of Fado, where do you look for musical inspiration?
I listen to all types of music from classic to rock, or rap (hehe). I always find something special in music, in all good music.
You are featured on a CD of chillout Fado. Is this a direction you are interested in exploring further?
Chillout Fado is a project with a DJ that remixed one of my songs. I liked it very much, but it will not be the direction that I’m planning to have in my solo albums. I think I will keep on looking for my sound, my Fado.
I also think that there will always be room for different projects. Whenever I like it, I’ll go for it.
Somebody calls me saying that there was a very interesting invitation to participate on the Olympic Games official album in a duet with Sting! I thought they were joking
Could you imagine making a record that had nothing to do with Fado?
Time will tell the directions, but there will be always Fado in my way of singing… even if I’m not singing Fado.
What are you working on now?
I’m concentrating on my next album, which will be recorded at the beginning of next year, and I also keep on touring all over the world.
If a friend of yours was visiting from abroad and had an interest in Portuguese music, where would you take them and who would you advise them to listen to?
I have already had some friends from abroad in Portugal. What I really like to do is take them on a ‘tour’ of the traditional Fado places, to listen to those artists that you really cannot listen/see/buy in record stores!
You have become a celebrity in Portugal connected with everything from the opening of Parliament to Euro 2004. How do you deal with this and have you had any interesting or funny experiences?
People really treat me well in Portugal. Hopefully, they like the way I’m passing our culture and language on to a worldwide audience, so they pay attention to what I’m doing and respect me. That gives me strength to keep going on.
The duet with Sting story was funny: It was a big dream for me to do something with Sting. I talked about it sometimes and one day somebody calls me from the record company saying that there was a very interesting invitation to participate on the Olympic Games official album in a duet with Sting! I thought they were joking with me because I call them a lot inventing voices and strange stories, so, I was thinking they were ‘paying me back’. I played along with it, I even went to the studio to listen to the ‘famous musician’. When we got there, there were a lot of recording tracks with the music and guess what… Sting was singing!
How important to you are clothes, style and how you perform as opposed to the music you make?
A lot of people think my clothes are a marketing thing — a studied style. But it’s not, I just happen to have a fashion designer as a friend. Like everybody, I like to dress well for special occasions. So for me stage is the most special occasion of all, I just simply dress up to receive my ‘guests’, that’s it.
Traditionally fadistas use black dresses and have black hair but that wouldn’t be me and — since I think truth is the main thing in everything I do — I dress my way.
Have you got a message for the readers of Fly and your fans?
Thank you very much for your wonderful support, please believe that I’ll keep on working the best I can in order not to disappoint you!
New interview with Mariza following the release of Transparente