Luiz Murá: I hope that I can improve my Czech accent

19 October 2022, 1:00

Luiz Murá: I hope that I can improve my Czech accent

The Brazilian singer-songwriter with (not only) Japanese roots Luiz Murá first appeared in Moravia five years ago, when he performed at the Folk Holidays in Náměšt' with his then international band Miramundo. This summer he came to Brno. Not as a musician, but as an organizer of club concerts in Barcelona, where he has been living for the last few years. As an official foreign delegate he participated in the two-day Central European Jazz Showcase at the Husa na provázku theatre. During his stay in Brno, we asked the likeable world traveler, who is still first and foremost a musician, a few questions. Not least because Luiz's previous stay in Moravia was reflected in his latest solo album.

While a few years ago you played in the Czech Republic with the international band Miramundo, on your latest album we only hear your voice and guitar. Can you tell us about the record?

The album is called Origem, I recorded it alternately in Budapest and Barcelona since 2019 and it was inspired by the music of João Gilberto, the "father of bossanova", who died in 2019. I have always been a big fan of his and in the last few years I have studied his music and his life story in depth. He is therefore one of the sources of my new album. The other is my family. I have Japanese, Italian, Portuguese and Brazilian roots.

Why did you decide to record a solo album?

There are several reasons. First of all, I've been planning it for a long time. I liked the fact that I have so much freedom as a guitarist and singer to change the song at any time. Also, João Gilberto performed mostly alone at the end of his life. I knew that some details in the songs would only stand out if there was only guitar and vocals. Finally, I also wanted my recordings to have space, silence. We're surrounded by a lot of sounds, and I liked a certain emptiness between the notes.

Is it also somehow related to the loneliness and isolation that virtually all of us experienced unplanned during the covid pandemic?

The fact that the album came out during the pandemic is more of a coincidence, because I recorded most of it in October 2019. Actually, I already consider this album as a closed chapter, because it came out in the summer of 2021. But it's true that it still brings me new fruits. I recently got an invitation to record a new solo album, and I think I'll accept it and continue to pursue my solo career.

You said that the album is also inspired by your family. Your original surname, Murakami, is Japanese. So what's Japanese about the album?

There's one song on the album in Japanese called Kitaguni no haru, which means Springtime in my hometown. It's the story of a man who comes to the big city and is homesick. This song is often sung by Japanese people in Brazil, and it was also sung by Japanese people who were affected by the tsunami. It's a very popular song in the "enka" style. But this song is not the only thing that connects my album to Japan. João Gilberto was very popular in Japan and many of his songs are well known there. So the fact that I dedicated the album to him also indirectly refers to Japan.

Czech listeners will definitely be interested in the last song on the album, an arrangement of the polka Škoda lásky. How did this happen?

When I first played with Miramundo here in the Czech Republic, we had a concert at the beautiful Folk Holidays festival in Náměšt' nad Oslavou. We really liked the environment and the people at the festival. With Miramundo we always tried to learn one local song. So we sang Škoda lásky, people liked it and told me that I should record it. It's a good fit for my current album now, because I've adapted the song into a bossanova style. I thought that in conjunction with the other songs on the album, people might see it in a different perspective. But I apologize for my pronunciation of English, which is definitely not perfect. The album was very spontaneous and for the most part I recorded it live. So I hope to improve my Czech accent next time.

How is playing solo different for you compared to performing with a band?

The first thing that comes to mind is that I have more freedom when playing solo. I can even create a new song on the spot. Even when I used to play with a band, I was sometimes alone on stage, but now I'm actually alone all the time. And I really like it. Of course, everything has its pros and cons. I miss traveling with friends and sharing experiences with each other within the band, but that will come again sometime. I've been performing with Miramundo for ten years and now it's time for me to develop my solo skills.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on two new projects. Firstly, I have received financial support from the Barcelona government for a concert project on cultural cooperation between Japan and Mediterranean countries. I conceived it as a history of my Murakami family, whose members from Japan first went to Peru, then to Brazil and now to Barcelona. So it's a long migrant journey. I think of it more as a theatrical performance than a concert, although I also sing there, but without words. And the second project will be this new album of original songs, which I will be working on now in the autumn.

You were born in Brazil, but you've lived in Europe for a long time. Do you go back to your native country?

I was in Brazil this February, for the first time in four years. So it was a very powerful moment to see my friends and relatives after such a long time. I breathed in the atmosphere of my native country and it was really beautiful.

photo by Milan Tesař

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