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Sleeve Notes: DJ Gilles Peterson Made Us an Exclusive Mix of Brazilian Music

By Errol Anderson

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Sleeve Notes is a new series where we pick an artist and get them to make a themed mix. This week: Gilles Peterson, the DJ, broadcaster, label boss, festival curator, and record collector who has been cementing his name i the musical soundscape since the 1980s.

The FIFA World Cup, the greatest event on the global sporting calendar despite being the one American audiences greet with the biggest shrug, starts next week. This year the event is being held in Brazil—home of everyone's second-favorite soccer team and, as we've been discovering, a lot of musicians' favorite country outside their birthplace. With this in mind, we asked BBC DJ Gilles Peterson—who has been supporting global music with his France-based Worldwide Festival, his eclectic label Brownswood, and countless other outlets since forever—to make us a mix of his favorite Brazilian artists. Here's what he came up with:

Noisey: Hey Gilles, how are things?
Gilles: Good, I’m just really busy with the [Sonzeira] record coming out in a few weeks. I’ve also got a few other bits, like curating a day for Meltdown and doing the final touches to the Worldwide Festival in Sète. It’s all good.

You’ve always been a busy man. How are things moving along with the Brownswood Bubblers series?
We’ve actually got about 50 tracks for the next one, but we’ve been so busy with the Sonzeira album. Mala’s coming back from another interesting destination, which I’ll have to wait to tell you about. We also put out our latest in the Brownswood Electric series, and I put out a record in Japan, which was a collection of tracks from the Brunswick label. That label was really big in the 60s.

Which smaller scenes from around the world deserve to get a bit more attention?
I don’t really think they want to get attention. The last thing these people would want is for me to expose these scenes. The problem these days is that there’s such a hungry media that things aren’t really allowed to develop before they get jumped on and suddenly broken down. With music these days, the culture doesn’t quite get the chance to fully form before it’s overhyped. One of those scenes was broken beat. The guys that held the flag for that scene were almost anti-'getting big,' and that worked for it in one sense—the music was really uncompromised. But in another sense, it led to the scene fizzling out a bit.

That’s so true. Moving on to Brazil, what is your favorite Brazilian cuisine?
In the cities, you get these really great buffets. Whereas over here if you go to buffets you end up getting the worst food, over there they weigh your plate, but everything is usually good quality. I would say all the variations of the buffet foods. If you want to go high end, there’s an amazing restaurant in Rio that does amazing seafood. There’s this delicacy of broccoli and rice out there, which I didn’t know about. They do that in a classic chicken and rice-type fashion.

Do you remember your first trip to Brazil?
My first trip to Brazil was about 20 years ago, and the first thing in Rio [was] the smell because the cars were using some sort of fruit to power their car. You go past all these great landmarks on your way out, including the samba schools and football pitches: all the clichés. But if you want to got Brazil for the first time you need to go to Rio. São Paulo is almost like landing in Derby and not necessarily what you’d imagine. It’s very industrialized and takes a lot of getting used to.

How about the soccer? Are you a supporter of England's Three Lions?
I’m more of a club guy and a season ticket holder at Arsenal for over 30 years. If you’d have asked me who I’d like to see win the cup out of Arsenal and England, it’d definitely be Arsenal. I hope England do really well.

What are your favorite record shops out there?
There’s a record shop called Tracks that’s very close to some chicken and rice shops. They sell a lot of Brazilian stuff, a lot of vinyls and CDs upstairs with books too. You should definitely check them out.

And finally, thanks for putting together the mix. What formed the basis of it?
I wanted to give people a different flavor from the obvious music that comes out of Brazil. I wanted to give people a couple of new names with some of the more regional stuff and a little bit of psychy, songwriting stuff. That stuff was a big influence to the record I made out there in January. The Sonzeira album was a massive privilege for me; taking Brazilian music as I know it as a DJ and [getting to] celebrate it by giving the non-Brazilians a deeper understanding of the wealth of the music. It’s not just a couple of people doing bossa nova on a beach. I wanted to get across the broadness of Brazilian music, and I'm so pleased to have got some of my heroes on there, including queen of samba, Elza Soares, who was also married to the great Brazilian footballer, Garrincha. Then there are some acts that are better known domestically, so it’s good to get them exposed and [share] a few quirky versions of songs I really like.

Tracklist:

Jose Mauro - "O Ninho"
Mpb 4 - "Cravo e Canela"
Luiz Eca - "Reflexos"
Nana Vasconcelos - "Aranda"
Sergio Ricardo - "Conversacao de Paz"
Joao Diaz - "Capoeira"
Arthur Verocai - "Boca do Sol"
Haraton Salvanini - "Salamandras"
Golden Boys - "Berimbau"
Gal Costa - "Baby"
Marcos Valle - "Ele e Ela"
Jose Prates - "Batucada Berimbau"
Joao de Pife - "Garota de Pife"
Carimbo e Sirimbo - "Pai Xango"
Hermeto Pascoal - "Mourning"
Sonzeira - "Plum Blossom"

Errol's on Twitter - @Errol_And

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