Ed Motta lets his inner voice out in <i>Dwitza</i>

Singer/composer talks about his breakthrough work and his moving off pop career

Marco Antonio Barbosa
Even more surprising than Ed Motta's new album's name - Dwitza - is the story behind it. After one of the most successful phases of his career - the albums Manual Prático para Festas, Bailes e Afins Vol. 1 and As Segundas Intenções do Manual Prático - Ed gives a break in his pop vein. Dwitza is mostly instrumental; there are only two songs with lyrics. Unlike the danceable pop funk that he was very familiar with, the new album is a blend of jazz, non-orthodox soul, orchestral music and Brazilian samba-jazz from the 60s. Ed produced the album and recorded it in only 20 days. With a cast of excellent musicians, he played various instruments such as a Fender Rhodes piano and a Wurlitzer, vintage keyboards which Ed collected along his career. More surprising yet was what he schemed in order to release the album: Ed requested from major label Universal Music the right to record the album in his own ways and ideas without interferences. More: the album had to receive the same commercial treatment of Ed Motta's pop albums. To check out how Ed developed the amazing sound of Dwitza and how the record will influence his career, CliqueMusic talked with the musician.

Cliquemusic: Dwitza came through a contractual breach, unusual in the Brazilian market: You've recorded an album which explicitly breaks with the patterns that you've established in your career, and without any interference in the final result. How did you get it?

Ed Motta: This idea came when I thought about what I could possibly achieve in the negotiation with the label staff. Many artists think in money and material things, but I'm different. I wanted to record a special album. I wanted the same treatment that they gave to my pop albums. Ahh... and nobody interferes on my music, even on my pop records.

Cliquemusic: How to classify Dwitza?

Ed Motta: I like to say that's an instrumental record. There's jazz, there's a peculiar soundtrack mood, some references to Broadway musicals, French movies and, of course, Brazilian music. I always had interest in making instrumental music, I've been preparing for that. I learned harmony, composition... I know the ground I'm stepping on. At the same time I'd like to make a record of many facets, showing each of my musical interests.

Cliquemusic: There' s a strong presence of samba-jazz in the album, something inspired by J.T. Meirelles...

Ed Motta: I do samba-jazz in the synthesizer with a 60's flavoured mood. But it's not an orthodox samba. It's like Amon Düul (a German psychedelic-progressive rock group from the 70's) doing samba, a very weird thing! (laughs)

Cliquemusic: Talking about the musical references, it was all intentional? Did you know that the album could probably be a showcase of your influences?

Ed Motta: I' m a guy who cares about music. When I feel interested by an artist I make a deep research on his/her career. Music is my life. I collect books, records and even articles about it. Then I feel like I have to mix everything. But we can't do everything we want to. I have a wish for an example: to record an album in a hard rock style with heavy guitars, screaming vocals and all those things, like Thin Lizzy (English rock group from the 70's).

Cliquemusic: What do you expect from people more used to your pop facet?

Ed Motta: I can't imagine. All I want is the freedom to make my records. The sensation of freedom is what really matters. I like to compare myself to Frank Zappa; he didn't follow one musical pattern but an amazing and rich variety of styles...

Cliquemusic: Do you want to produce more albums like Dwitza in the future? What about that Ed Motta whose songs have a "pop appeal"?

Ed Motta: Nobody tells me to compose more commercial songs. I have an instinct of survival, so the big hits come naturally. Even in Dwitza we can find two compositions with a certain commercial appeal: Dôce Ilusão and Coisas Naturais. Sure I have conversations with the label staff. I hear what they have to say; the propositions to guide the direction of the record. Maybe that' s why I don' t live in an apartment that represents my talent, with a status of a pop idol... my lifestyle looks like a jazzman's lifestyle more than a popstar's. It happens because I organize myself to do things other than selling records. I don' t like the idea of selling millions of records. In the United States and Europe, musicians can live without sales numbers and figures, they don't need to depend on it. In these places, an artist won't risk staying 20 years in ostracism, like in Brazil. That's why my patterns are inspired by names such as Hermeto Pascoal and Egberto Gismonti. They survive with dignity making their own music without any interference; they record and release their own records and have a public which is not huge but... I prefer to be an Egberto Gismonti to go platinum with an Unplugged. Like Hermeto, Gismonti and others, I want to make art, not just entertainment.

Cliquemusic: You've faced some problems with the public in a concert at ATL Hall in Rio de Janeiro last year, where you refused to play some of your most successful songs. How is your relationship with the public going to be from now on?

Ed Motta: I never had the intention to be the man who manages to get the Maracanã packed with people and lucrative. Ur, I' m lying! Yes, I want to be this man, but I want to play only in nightclubs (laughs). The cool thing is playing for a crowd of 200, 300. It's the best way for me and my music right now. What happened in ATL Hall was pure bad luck. I was doing a solo concert, piano and voice, and some guy in the audience asked me to perform Manoel (an Ed' s song from his first work which is very pop and funky). No way, right?! You see, having that kind of people in the crowd is what I call bad luck! (laughs)

Cliquemusic: How are Dwitza's gigs going to be?

Ed Motta: I'm gonna hit the road with a basic small band. I' m thinking of rearranging not only the songs from Dwitza, but my old songs also.

Cliquemusic: Dwitza is due to be released outside Brazil. What have you planned for the international release of the album?

Ed Motta: The album will be released in England and then distributed to other countries outside UK. It will be licensed by English label Whatmusic.com and will be released in Japan too. Ah, Dwitza will be released as vinyl and will be pressed in a special wax that is heavier and sounds better. In the first week of February I'm going to England to do a massive advertising of the album. I hope the record gets filed as Brazilian jazz. I don' t want to be a slave of pop outside Brazil. (laughs)

Cliquemusic: In retrospect, how do you analyze the phases in your music? From the young guy who sang "Eu não nasci pra trabalho..." ("I wasn' t born to work") to the sophistication of Dwitza?

Ed Motta: Jazz has complicated my life (laughs). Life could be only Motown songs with one-and-a-half minute... The ignorance is a blessing! (laughs). I wished I could understand that and sticked to simple things, not the complex ones. But I just do what I believe. And it gets better with time. A real happy guy was Ravel, who was sponsored by the aristocracy. He managed to spend his lifetime composing and drinking wine. I don't know what I'll be doing in the next five years. Maybe I'll be singing ahead of a band of teenage girls doing Ramones covers (laughs).