Brazilian music | The retro soul of Céu

Two decades marked by happy musical explorations have made Céu an artist who is among the most interesting architects of current Brazilian music. His most recent album, Novelaaffirms his love of retro sounds and the optimism that drives him.

Céu took advantage of the pandemic to take a step back. Um Gosto de Sol, his album released in 2021, was in fact made up of covers of well-known songs, especially Brazilian ones, which have always been with him. She still listens to the past Novelareleased this week, but in a completely different way: it’s a collection of brand new pieces, dressed up in the fashionable sounds of the 1960s.

Skillful fusion

There is nothing frankly psychedelic in this very cinematographic music, but still colorful clouds of flutes, violins and Wurlitzer pads lifted by a round and somewhat dry bass. The decor is in the colors of yesterday, but the manner is very much of today, that is to say a skillful fusion of Brazilian music, light soul, jazz and an energy that is sometimes almost rock which knows intimately the hip-hop culture.

Novela, it is obvious to anyone who has followed the previous episodes, does not resemble any of the other albums of this charming Brazilian artist. Especially not at Um Gosto de Sol, created in the seclusion imposed by the pandemic and recorded in isolation. “I wanted openness,” confirms Céu, reached at her home in São Paulo.


Céu in concert at the Montreal International Jazz Festival in 2022

She opened her game by first fulfilling a promise she made to herself a few years ago: to make music with Adrian Younge. Passionate about the sounds of the turn of the 1970s, this director from Los Angeles is known for his expertise in recording records the old-fashioned way, that is to say live in the studio, without digital tools.

Céu is deeply attached to the music of the late 1960s and early 1970s. “The albums that made me want to make music all date from that time. I feel like I’m a retro soul, says the 44-year-old singer. I would have liked to live in that time. »

An invigorating alchemy

Céu admits to having felt dizzy when she left her comfort zone. “I felt like when I started working with Hervé [Salters] “, she says, speaking of the French musician with whom she explored electronic sounds on her albums Tropix And APKA. The chemistry between her, Pupillo (her husband and musical accomplice) and Adrian Younge quickly worked, she specifies, however, even speaking of “alchemy”.

She evokes the atmosphere that reigned in the studio by aligning onomatopoeia – “boom”, “bam”, “poum”, “tchac”! –, for lack of finding a better way to describe its invigorating electricity. “What attracted me to music,” insists Céu, “was the music itself. Not the idea of ​​performing, but of making music. »

Extract of Gerando Na Altafrom Céu

This surge of enthusiasm that we feel in the singer also comes through the themes covered on the record. In addition to the inevitable love songs (“I am very romantic,” says Céu), she wanted to encourage people to move forward, to pursue their dreams, evokes coexistence with nature essential to human beings and pleads for fairer, decolonized teaching of Brazilian history (Reescreve).

Novela, even if it addresses serious subjects or the inevitable grayness of human feelings, is carried by a positive vibration. “I am an optimist,” she says, specifying that she does not see life in rose-tinted colors. I tell myself that, since we are here, we must do our best. Every facet of our lives is an opportunity to develop as mothers, citizens and artists. »

“It is important to point out the negative things, of course, but I believe that change comes when we try, when we propose things, when we tend in a direction,” she believes. That doesn’t mean I have all the answers, but I try. »

Céu was supposed to be in concert on May 17, at 8 p.m., at the National, but the show was postponed due to illness.

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