Coming from a musical family, Andre de Brito was lucky enough to be introduced to the arts early on. From there, his connection with sound was instant. Over the years he’s learned to grow with the industry as his first release came at the tail end of the ‘90s. Today though, he’s looking ahead and at his “Queen of Spades.” We talked about that – his new single – and more in this back and forth exchange.
Kendra: You’ve been creating music for some time now, and wear so many hats when it comes to the creative process. What initially got you interested in music and did you start more behind the scenes or as an artist first and foremost?
Andre de Brito: My parents were really into music and literature so I started having piano lessons when I was five years old for a short period. I just connected more seriously with music a decade later by studying classical and electric guitar. I always had a strong peculiar voice but put it aside for a long time because I was not the lead singer in the bands I was involved in since I used to play keys, bass, or guitar. I decided to go deep into songwriting, music production, and presenting myself as a singer later in life. I also prefer doing original music than doing covers. I might do a cover song from time to time on YouTube but let’s face it, there are musicians way better than me doing it. So I prefer to focus on things that make me unique and not really see music as a competition.
I now consider myself a singer and a songwriter, although I have played different musical instruments.
Kendra: Looking back to when you dropped ‘Into You’ in ‘96 to last year’s ‘Violet,’ so much has changed in the music industry. As an artist, how do you go about keeping up with an ever-changing landscape when it comes to not only evolving mainstream styles but also the technological advances that continue to flip the script when it comes to how we consume music?
Andre de Brito: I don’t have any problems with technological advances in terms of music-making. It is pretty amazing what has happened in the last ten years. You can get high-quality music instruments for a bargain and record music in your bedroom with better sound quality than a professional studio twenty years ago.
About the formats of music consumption, I was raised with the concept of music albums. I remember my father bringing home CDs or going to the local music store and listening to an entirely new album. I think there was something magical about that process of music discovery. So when I think about making music I usually think about making an album.
Since the music industry has changed so much in recent years, I am currently working on new material but decided to take a different approach. I will be releasing songs on Spotify and other digital outlets and compiling an album after the singles and music videos have been released.
Another thing that has changed a lot was the social media element, which does not come easy to me since I am a very private and introverted person by nature. I think it is a great tool since it puts you in direct contact with the listeners but I also feel too much adulation might not be beneficial to your music creation and I also miss the mystery surrounding artists or bands.
Regarding mainstream styles, I just try to concentrate on my music. While I believe it is important to be conscious of the new music trends, I also believe I should focus on what comes naturally to me.
I am always composing and recording music at my studio and I actually compose different music genres so I have a big unreleased portfolio. My goal now is to focus on creating solid material for my new album to be released this year.
Kendra: Focusing on the present, your single, “Queen of Spades,” has a pop foundation but it’s held up by pillars that are inspired by both funk and disco and to me even a bit of New Wave. What about those classic genres do you feel made them continuously endearing to music fans?
Andre de Brito: To me, great music endures for a long time, no matter what genre it is. I think funk and disco still endure nowadays since they are so connected to dance music. There has been a shift in the music industry from bands to music producers, DJs, and solo artists over the last years due to technological advances but also due to economical reasons. With the rise of music-making using computers, people still connected a lot to funk and disco may be due to its authenticity and organic feel. I mean, James Brown is the most sampled artist in history, I think that says a lot!
About New Wave, I also feel there is a certain nostalgia for the 80s music nowadays. Even hardware synths like the Roland TB-808 are being cloned nowadays by manufacturers. But I also think your reference to New Wave music has to do with my voice. I am a baritone so I can easily sing low notes even if I have a wide vocal range and can easily sing rock music as well. There were a lot of opportunities for baritone voices in the 80s and 90s (just think David Bowie, Dave Gahan, even Chris Cornell was a baritone) which I, unfortunately, don’t see nowadays in more mainstream music.
Kendra: As for the video, was that your actual queen of spades alongside you?
Andre de Brito: No, she is an amazing actress called Ana Lopes. You can find more information about her work on her website. The making of the music video actually has some funny stories behind the camera.
Due to the pandemic, the beach was almost empty which was actually great for the music video itself. Secondly, we had some problems with the sun and the constant movement of the clouds, they changed drastically the light conditions captured by the camera. The film director just told me, “Andre, we need to switch this to black and white during the editing process otherwise this will look terrible” and I said, “go for it.” I am really happy with the end result, it worked out really well.
We decided to simplify everything in terms of the music video making since the budget was very limited as well. So we decided to present some dancing elements to the music video as well as having some goofy moments. It was all about teamwork and lots of decisions done on location.
Kendra: Being based in a city like Los Angeles is such a blessing when you’re a creative person but with the pandemic, it was hard to watch it struggle last year. Are you excited about venues starting to open again and live music coming back?
Andre de Brito: Yes, playing live is always a thrill even if I suffer a lot from stage fright, particularly since I usually play solo. I would love to be part of a band or present myself in a band format, I love the interaction of musicians on stage, and being with other musicians helps me fight my anxiety.
Another great reason for live music to come back is of course financial issues. Live music is still one of the few outlets where musicians can get some sort of income. We all know that digital sales don’t bring money to the table unless you are a famous band or artist.
Kendra: So yes, it’s getting a little easier with the vaccine rollouts, but it’s still kind of hard to have a definite answer when it comes to future plans given the current state of everything, but as far as what you can control when it comes to your career and creativity – what do you have planned in the coming months for yourself?
Andre de Brito: My plans for the next months are to promote as much as I can my new single “Queen of Spades”, keep up with the recording process at my studio, release more singles (probably once a month), and eventually create a new music video. Apart from that, I also need to keep up with the social media posting content and start thinking again about touring in the near future.