Mariza has just begun a major European tour to promote her new album, Transparente. Fly caught up with her somewhere between Cologne and Munich to find out more about her new directions in sound.
In the space of just a few years, Mariza has gone from an unknown singer of a barely remembered musical style to a major star across Europe and a celebrity in her home country of Portugal. Fado — the style she has championed — has in turn been recognised as one of the most important and fertile native musical idioms on the continent.
I believe that these cultural exchanges have helped to contribute to a greater knowledge and maturity, which is completely necessary for singing fado
Her latest work, Transparente, will delight audiences and divide critics because it has a more lush and orchestrated feel than previous albums did. For Mariza, “Transparente, reflects my maturity as a singer and embodies an unstoppable search for my sonority, for my fado.
“With Jacques Morelenbaum’s help as producer, I was able to achieve a greater intimacy, not only with music but with poetry as well. For this intimacy I had — as I always do — to do some research about poets from my country in order to find poetry in which I can see myself, for me to show the world a sonority which I crave more and more for being my own.”
Jacques Morelenbaum, perhaps better known as Caetano Veloso’s musical director, is a veteran of over 500 recordings and one of those producers who can play every instrument, adapt any style to their purpose and achieve almost any result with an artist. He is also connected with: Egberto Gismonti, Gal Costa, Chico Buarque, Milton Nascimento, Carlinhos Brown and Ryuichi Sakamoto. If you could choose someone to help you on the search for your own voice, he would be pretty high on the list of any musician.
Whatever the challenges in developing her voice and in the selection of poetry, the process of recording the album was pretty idyllic, “It was wonderful. We flew to Rio de Janeiro, because Jacques Morelenbaum’s entire working environment is in Brazil. For two months, I didn’t do anything but thinking, working, and singing on this new album.
“I woke up every morning and waited for the hour to start working. It was very good for me. Besides having the chance to meet and work with new musicians, it helped me to concentrate completely on my new album.”
Certainly, the new LP shows an artist who has successfully developed her sound and introduced new musical elements into her work at a rate that allows her to grow as an artist without losing touch with her base, the fado fans around the world who see in this extravagantly presented singer something of the magic of Amália Rodriguez.
In contrast with the process of recording her latest album, Mariza knows as she embarks on a huge tour that life on the road is not always so easy, “Sometimes it’s very hard work. But it’s very rewarding, due to the fact that I’m able to show my music to different cultures and in different countries.”
In fact, she takes it further than that, for her there is an element of hardship that is necessary to allow her to develop as an artist of that most tortured of musical forms, “I believe that these cultural exchanges, and my traveling around the world, have helped to contribute towards a greater knowledge and maturity, which is completely necessary for singing fado.”
The third album was never going to be easy. How do you please fado traditionalists and offer something fresh and personal? When I last spoke to her, she told me that she was open to different kinds of music but unlikely to go down a more obvious commercial route. “Time will tell the directions, but there will always be fado in my way of singing… even if I’m not singing fado.”
With the help of Jaques Morelenbaum, it is clear that Mariza has pulled it off once again and, like its predecessors, Transparente is certain to top the world music charts this summer.
Read our interview with Mariza from last summer
Fado em Mim
Mariza — Live In London DVD
Transparente released on Real World
All links go to amazon.co.uk
New: Pictures of her London gig at the Royal Festival Hall, 2005
Mariza — fan site