Influenced by Krautrock and post punk, she used more electronic beats on the new songs, marking a fearless change of direction. Even so, Tropix still has the same relaxed melodies that are trademark Céu. With great songs such as “Varanda Suspensa,” “Perfume do Invisível,” “Rapsódia Brasilis” and “Minhas Bics,” the album cements the singer as one the most important acts from Brazil, and perhaps the one with the most consistent career.
June 17th, Céu kicks off a North American tour with 12 dates throughout the U.S. and Canada. Before she headed north, our Brazilian team sat down with her to talk about her writing process, her influences and what she expects with this new album.
Napster: Besides a fresh sound, this new album brings a whole new aesthetic, from the cover to the clothes and the makeup. What was your idea behind all these changes?
**Céu:**Tropix is about the mix between the tropics — a hot, Brazilian swag — with a more technological, synthetic world. I dug into this atmosphere, trying to create something colder, but with our own Brazilian signature. Tropix unites my composition method with electronic beats. When I’m working on an album it’s not only about songs, but it’s own universe. I think the union between song and the aesthetics help understand the work and translate the sound to the stage.
N: “Perfume do Invisível,” the first song on the album — and the first single — sounds, in its beginning, like a song from your previous albums Caravana Sereia Bloom, or even Vagarosa. The beats that are a trademark of this new album appear only halfway into the song. Did you conceive that as a sort of transition to this new sound?
C: In a way, yes. The arrangement of the songs in Tropix are similar to my previous work. I still write songs the same way. “Arrastar-te-ei” is a very relaxed tune that helped to make this transition, sort of a connection with my older material.
N: The first three albums have a similar sound and are a kind of trilogy. Does Tropix signal a new phase — or a triology — in your career? Do you think about the artistic course your career is heading before recording an album?
C: I don’t really think they are a trilogy. The beats are an important element in my first album, in songs such as “Roda.” My path in music is completely natural. I prefer to go with the flow of my music than to plan something ahead of time, that’s my personality. I’m the same onstage and offstage.
N: What were you listening to when you composed and recorded Tropix?
C: I went back to some harder sounds, such as Krautrock, post punk and punk. I always liked that, but I had never tried to use it on my own work. A lot of classics like Lou Reed, David Bowie, Velvet Underground and some new stuff, including Tame Impala and [Brazilian psychedelic band] Boogarins. I invited Dinho [Boogarins’ singer] to work together and we made “Camada.” that was awesome. Music, to me, is a living thing where you can’t be afraid to try new things.
N: When I first watched saw you in 2009 after you released Vagarosa, one thing that got my attention was that you danced really slow, you barely moved. On “Perfume do Invisivel” video you are very expansive. How was this process of letting yourself loose?
C: Four albums is enough time to lose my shyness on stage. I learned a lot in these 11 years of my career. I’m familiar with the stage, it got easier to sing live, and I’m cooler with this aspect of the job. I always loved to dance and now it’s more natural. Tropix headed to this dancing style. And Esmir Filho [the video’s director] understood perfectly what I wanted to show and guided me to be that loose on the video.
N: “Varanda Suspensa” is a song about the landscape of the beaches where you spent your childhood vacations. Do you still travel there? Are there any other places you go to escape the madness of São Paulo?
C: That’s an affective memory, a song about good old times. I remember my grandpa a lot, he had this house up on the hill and in the middle of the trees where we used to have fun throwing mangos and seeing who threw them the farthest, and a lot of other different things. My creation process goes through these memories a lot. I love going to the beach, whenever I can I travel to São Paulo’s Litoral Norte, it really brings peace to come back to this area where I grew up. But today, due to all the traveling I have to do to perform, my biggest safe place is my home with my daughter.
N: “Minhas Bics” is a song about creativity. How do you compose a song? Do the lyrics come first or do you think about melodies and harmonies first? Do you also write poetry and other things?
C: There are no rules when I’m composing. But it’s funny, “Minhas Bics” came all together — music and lyrics. I just sat at the piano and it was easily composed. Normally, though, I write a melody and then try the lyrics. I enjoy writing other stuff, but never anything too long — my songs are a great example of that.
N: Right after its release Tropix was in the top of the charts of the world music in the iTunes store. Do you think it has a bigger appeal to the foreign market?
**C:**Tropix is a very Brazilian album, but it’s a pop album rather than a regional thing. Maybe when Hervé [Salters, French keyboardist and composer] joined the album as a producer he brought another approach to it, but that was very natural. I noticed that everything I assume is going to sound a certain way ends up being completely different. It was well received in Brazil and abroad. It’s not a gringo’s album.