Feature: SURMA Interview & Review

SURMA Interview & Review

SURMA spricht im Interview über ihr neues Album „AllA“; Fotocredit: Rui Palma; Make Up: Raquel Laranjo; Styling: Sara Soares; Styling Assistant: Carmen Alves

SURMA, hat mit „AllA“ ihr neues Album veröffentlicht. Wir hatten wir ja bereits ihre Single mitsamt Musikvideo zu „Islet“ vorgestellt. Die Portugiesin steht zwar meist alleine auf der Bühne, ist aber von einem Dutzend Instrumenten umgeben und dazu gehört dann noch dazu ihre Stimme. Die eklektische Komponistin formt auf ihrem neuen Album ihre eigene musikalische Sprache und somit auch ein breites Klangspektrum. Das ist auch das, was mich so an ihr fasziniert hat. 2017 debütierte sie und hat jetzt ein neues Album im petto. Von 2017 bis 2019 spielte sie von New York bis Guangzhou, Sao Paulo, Reikjavik, Macau oder auch Ljubljana eigentlich überall auf der Welt. Die Corona-Pandemie war dadurch unweigerlich der schwerste Schnitt in ihrem Leben. Denn sie konnte nicht mehr reisen. Damit hatte sie ordentlich zu kämpfen. Während der Pandemie komponierte sie fürs Theater, Kino und Konzerte für Babys. Mitten in der Pandemie kam dann auch die Lust, ein neues Album zu produzieren.

„I always wanted to explore different ambiences and musical genres within the Surma universe, with this album I wanted to give that eclectic side.

Das Klangspektrum auf ihrem Album ist schier unendlich. In dieses Spektrum kann man als Zuhörer:in eintauchen, ohne, dass man sich über irgendwelche Barrieren hinwegsetzen muss. Für SURMA ist das ohnehin auch auf dem Album so, dass sie für sich neue Genres und Sub-Genres im Kopf überwinden möchte. Insgesamt 11 Tracks sind auf der neuen Platte enthalten und es ist ein wahres Potpourri an Sounds. Man merkt ihr einfach auch die Reise-Erfahrungen an und wie sie all die Einflüsse bis heute aufgesaugt hat.

Im Interview sprechen wir genau darüber, wie schwer es ist bei all den Einflüssen seinen outstandingen Sound zu kreieren und wie schwer sie Corona wirklich getroffen hat.

In the last 5 years you have developed your very own musical language with your jazz and electronic compositions. How would you describe this language in a nutshell and how is it even more like an open code for you that you can tinker with at any time?

SURMA: „Since the beginning of Surma I wanted to create a universe of my own where I can explore without any barrier or pressure and without looking for a specific genre. I try to gather all my influences whether on a musical level or on a more interior and personal way. I never really think about the kind of music I’m going to create, it just happens. That’s a really genuine process without force anything. It’s a little bit of exploring my subconscious on a daily basis and trying to explore worlds and sub-worlds inside my head, in a safe way or not, and break that same insecurity. It’s a constant challenge and that’s what gives me the inspiration to create. It’s never the same.“

In your new album „AllA“ you once again create your very own universe of soundscapes and melodies. Aren’t you sometimes amazed at how varied your instrumentation turns out to be in your tracks?

SURMA: „I usually say that I’m the luckiest girl in the World to be able to work with all of this unbelievable and talented people, in my team, that allows me to create whatever I want to create with no barriers, alongside of one of my greatest friends. We have an inexplicable chemistry in the studio and we work the production process very much as a team. There are several times when we think of a certain instrument, or voice, for a specific part of the song and when we record it and the result is completely unexpected we always look at each other, with a really funny face, and I can say that this happens a lot in the studio. I use to take a lot of the initial demos into the studio and then that’s where the exploration and production process begins. In this album, in particular, we reached a sound that we were not expecting at all. For the complexity of production and experimentation of each song. We were very, very happy with the final result and we weren’t expecting this atmosphere and this World, at all. We enjoyed everything in the moment and it was such an amazing process to do this album. So genuine and I was truly secure about myself, one of the things that never happened before. It was the magic, of all of the process, of this album.“

The melody progressions and arrangements don’t seem easy or straight-forward either. Does simplicity also mean simple-mindedness for you?

SURMA: „There it is, I think the magic of all this is not to think too much and let yourself be carried away by the moment itself. This album was produced, very much, within that mind set, without thinking too much about what was going to come out and just enjoying the moment and having fun producing and exploring interesting instruments funny melodies and ways of singing and playing that brought us joy. I think that was the essential reason for all this to happen so smoothly.“

You’ve been traveling a lot this summer. Among others in South Korea, the USA and Europe. Did you have to keep catching yourself because after two years of the pandemic, that’s anything but a matter of course?

SURMA: „I have to say, they were some of the most unbelievable years I’ve had. I met inexplicable people, countries and cultures that inspired me in so many different ways but this unforeseen event, unfortunately, brought us all to an halt, meant that I had time to reflect on everything I wanted for myself as a person and an artist. I needed that time to think about what I wanted to say and all the themes and persona that I would like to mature for this second album. That same time, allowed me to grow as a person and explore those sides that I never had the time to explore.“

There is already a good contrast between your tracks at times. „Islet“ for example and the following song „Tous Les Nuages“ and then the transition to „Nyanyana“. Can you bring these contrasts closer to us?

SURMA: „I always wanted to explore different ambiences and musical genres within the Surma universe, with this album I wanted to give that eclectic side. Having several collaborations, with friends who are so important to me and who inspire me so much daily, who come from worlds so different from mine, gave me that freedom of being able to explore these ambiences and composition processes completely different from what I was used to. ‘Islet’ is a track simply composed by me and Rui. It was one of the first demos that I completed at home and that paved the way for the rest of the album. ‘Nyanyana’ is a track composed by me, Rui and Selma Uamusse, Mozambican living in Portugal for many years and a great friend of mine. I wanted her to bring a lot of her roots to this album. She sings in Changana (one of the Mozambican languages) in which she talks a lot about her childhood spent in Mozambique with her Family. Theme that connects a lot with the other themes that I wanted to talk in the album. ‘Tous Les Nuages’, with the participation of Cabrita (from the Jazz World) and Victor Torpedo (Punk World), completely different genres
but that’s where the magic of all this comes from and being able to share opinions completely different but that connects so so good, precisely what I’m looking for. Just 4 friends recording in the studio and having fun all together. It was so beautiful to share all of this with them and learning so much from them.“

On your new album it seems as if you are still constantly diving into new worlds of sound. How meticulously do you search for new sounds?

SURMA: „I try to explore the strangest elements that an instrument contains and I also explore many different ways of playing that demonstrate different timbres and very funny sounds, for example, in guitar and bass I try to explore the whole body that goes from the strings to the string change part in order to discover sounds from the string material itself and even from the body of the guitar. I love to explore the material itself. I really like to explore the instrument as a whole and not just for the sounds it already contains or was made to make. For me, an instrument is much more than that. Sometimes, I feel like I’m in an anatomy class, meticulously analyzing the material and the instrument internally in order to see what I can and cannot extract from it. I really like this exploration process.“



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