THE INTERPRETER: WINTER AND TRIPTIDES
photography by maxmilian ho
Samira Winter—of the band Winter, of course—and Glenn Brigman of Triptides spent the last two years writing and working together to make an album steeped in the music of Brazil. Their Estrela Magica is a celebration of samba, Tropicalia, MPB, bossa nova and more, and it’s out now on the OAR label. (They’ll be performing at the Roxy on Tues., Oct. 23.) They met to share some of the records that inspired Magica: past classics, contemporary contenders and a few extra-special discoveries in between. This interview by Kristina Benson.
OS MUTANTES SELF-TITLED (BRASILEIRA DE DISCOS, 1968)
Samira Winter: These are records that we really love together and bonded over and because of this music started working on music together. That was inspired by this and really wanting to honor these bands and musicians.
Glenn Brigman: I bought this in Indiana in college at a local shop called Landlocked. It’s one of the best record stores in the midwest. It’s a reissue—it’d be really rare to find an original. It’s important for the stuff we’re making because it was a landmark album for the Tropicalia movement—it was a combo of Tropicalism and the ideas of the time. [The band] was obsessed with the British invasion. So it’s like a Brazilian Beatles record—like Sgt. Pepper’s but —
S: It’s really rock’n’roll. It’s really avant garde for the time. It was two brothers and one of the brothers would make distortion pedals and all these fuzz pedals and guitars. It’s probably one of the first times in Brazilian music people were using fuzz pedals. There’s a song called ‘The Clock’ and there’s a ticking clock. It’s just a very cool guitar record.
ERASMO CARLOS CARLOS, ERASMO (PHILIPS, 1971)
Samira Winter: Erasmo was older. He was part of this group called Jovem Guarda—a TV show with artists, kind of pop. They would sing a song every night, and he branched out from that scene and became an incredible songwriter. But he was more under the radar than his partner and this record—I feel like he’s the Todd Rundgren of Brazilian music! It’s cool because this is a record he’s still playing today. It’s timeless and it’s cool to see a younger generation in Brazil listening to him.
Glenn Brigman: I love this song ‘Gente Aberta.’ It heats up at the end with brass, but starts really chill! Reminds me of Beggars Banquet. Rock ’n’ roll but chiller. It’s good vibes!
Samira Winter: Mine is ‘Masculino, Feminino.’ Just a super sweet song, and if you’re first picking up the record that’s an easy song to get into. Laid back and pretty.
CHICO BUARQUE DE HOLLANDA VOL. 3 (RGE, 1968)
Glenn Brigman: He’s part of the transition from singer-songwriter bossa samba— he didn’t immediately jump into psychedelia. He was still singing about Carnival and the classic samba archetypes.
Samira Winter: If you were a teenager your parents might be into him. He was part of the bossa nova movement, part of the apartment scene, playing guitar in apartments in Rio. It took him longer—some point after this record—to really break out and be rebellious. You can see it in the album art. He’s a kid and he’s clean-cut and it’s OK to like him.
Glenn Brigman: It’s a kid the record company saw promise in and they produced it and it’s awesome—he probably recorded in the best studio in Rio.
Samira Winter: He was like the Beach Boy—he looks like the Dennis Wilson of Brazil. His uncle wrote the Brazilian dictionary. His family is Rio middle-class intellectual. A lot of musicians and writers in his family.
Glenn Brigman: My favorite song is probably ‘Roda Viva’ —
Samira Winter: Oh my God, this song is really poetic and it ended up being very political and it was even a play. They made a play out of this song. He is really intellectual and political but he did it in his own way—he wasn’t a hippie or a rock ‘n’ roller, he did it through language and being smart. People didn’t realize how political that song was.
Glenn Brigman: My Brazilian friend was moving back to Brazil and gave me tons of records for $20 and this one has a note from someone who gave it to his mom’s friend who he got the collection from.
Samira Winter: ‘A friend from faraway misses you!’
Glenn Brigman: May 25, 1968!
GILBERTO GIL HISTÓRIA DA MÚSICA POPULAR BRASILEIRA (ABRIL CULTURAL, 1982)
Samira Winter: This comp starts with 60s and goes through the 80s. It’s got one of my fave songs, ‘Lugar Comum’ by Joao Donato—it’s really jazzy but it’s got such beautiful melodies. This comp gives a lot of insight into how collaborative those musicians were. it was common to record someone else’s song, it was common to give someone a set of lyrics to work on songs—it was a time of creativity and collaboration. ‘Here, have this song! You should re-record it!’ It’s a different etiquette.
Glenn Brigman: It was a communal thing—no one was trying to out do each other. My favorite song is ‘Domingo No Parque.’ It was a really big deal when he first performed it—it was the coming out of the Tropicalia movement. It was hippie people playing songs with fuzz guitars and there was even an orchestra there. It was such a big deal that the government and the military got freaked out.
Samira Winter: It was a festival that was a song competition, and coming from an era of bossa nova where everyone was clean-cut and soft and pretty with acoustic instruments … they were jamming out and people started booing and throwing stuff at Joao Gilberto and Os Mutantes and those people were going to be censored and they had to live in exile. At the time artists had to be extra creative in using figurative language so the government wouldn’t censor them. So ‘Domingo No Parque’ was part of a counter culture movement.
Glenn Brigman: One of the songs is in Spanish and Portuguese: ‘Soy Loco Por Ti America’. Back and forth line by line. Like ‘It doesn’t matter what our language is. We’re one group of people.’
JORGE BEN SAMBA ESQUEMA NOVO (PHILIPS, 1963)
Glenn Brigman: It starts with ‘Mas Que Nada,’ which was a huge song for introducing the U.S. to Brazilian music.
Samira Winter: Whenever we play in Portuguese, people say ‘Mas Que Nada’! That song is so universal. This song is so classic. It will forever be part of Brazil. Everyone knows it. It was still when he was very samba—it’s early 60s, but Jorge Ben is such a good song writer and it’s so cool to have a record like this and to have the Gilberto Gil comp record and listen to him and his songs in a different way.
Glenn Brigman: ‘Mas Que Nada’ is Sergio Mendes’ signature song, but when you feel Jorge’s version, it’s so much more personal.
RODRIGO AMARANTE CAVALO (EASY SOUND, 2014)
Samira Winter: I grew up listening to his indie rock band Los Hermanos—like the Strokes of Brazil. Big indie rocker, and then he branched out and came to L.A. and he was part of Little Joy, and recorded his first record in 2013. It’s very intimate. A lot of it is him on guitar and some of the songs are in English. It’s a nice record if you want something Brazilian yet current. I really recommend it.
BOOGARINS AS PLANTAS QUE CURAM (OTHER MUSIC, 2013)
Samira Winter: The biggest indie band in Brazil is Boogarins, named after a jasmine flower in Brazil. This first record is very psych. Home recorded by two childhood friends in their house. The record took off and they put out two more but I think this is a good intro. There is still good Brazilian music being made! There’s still a lot of hope and it doesn’t have to be about the past. This is a great record: lot of beautiful songs, more in the rock ’n’ roll genre, but also songs that are like acoustic guitar. ‘Lucifernandis’ is probably my favorite.
Glenn Brigman: It showcases a lot of aspects of the band that made them famous: cool guitar licks, psych production, upbeat, not too heavy but nice. The singer has a beautiful voice. He sings like a bird.
Samira Winter: He looks like Jimi Hendrix—
Glenn Brigman: —when he sings like a bird! I met them at SXSW in like 2012. The first day they toured in America I saw them, and I spoke to them in Portuguese and they were like, ‘Oh thank God you speak Portuguese—we speak textbook English and this has been intense.’ I kept in touch for the past six years.
Samira Winter: Our record is the same label as Boogarins! We’ve been very inspired by them! I met them at Lolipop in Echo Park! I think Glenn was there! It’s very close to our heart cause we personally love the band! Go see them live!
Glenn Brigman: Yes—they put up like a forcefield around everything in sight. No one talks. They make this … atmosphere. And they jam!
PAULINHO DA VIOLA FOI UM RIO QUE PASSOU EM MINHA VIDA (ODEON, 1970)
Glenn Brigman: I got this one from my Brazilian friend Pedro as well! Every song is about the classic staples of samba: happiness, sadness, Carnival. Just a classic Rio Brazilian sound.
Samira Winter: In Carnival there are the samba schools—in a way it’s a school, but you don’t like have classes. A lot of people are together, and each of them has a percussive instrument and a string instrument and women and men dance. It’s a ‘school’ because it’s lot of people and each one has a history. It’s kind of like with soccer—there are people who cheer and there’s a lot of rivalries. And there are people who have different samba schools. Every year in carnival one wins the best outfits, best presentation, and Da Viola was part of that. We chose this record to represent the samba and the samba roots of Rio.
Glenn Brigman: This record is from 1970 but doesn’t veer much from the classic style of the 1960s. It sounds good—Brazil 1970s sounds like America 1960s. I love the 60s sound so I love this. Just a bunch of people in a room with nice mics dancing and playing while he was singing live, so it’s got a really good feeling and energy. He wasn’t trying to trip out and fight the government or anything.
ASTRUD GILBERTO / WALTER WANDERLEY A CERTAIN SMILE A CERTAIN SADNESS (VERVE, 1966)
Glenn Brigman: Astrid was married to Joao and they came to New York and were recording with Stan Getz. It was a weird love triangle and there was lot of alcoholism. Eventually Astrid and Joao split up, but she kept his name.
Samira Winter: It was very classy too! The bossa nova drug of choice was alcohol. Those guys would be playing guitar with whiskey next to them.
Glenn Brigman: I have five of Walter’s records—he’s incredible. Jazz virtuoso Hammond organ. Every bossa nova, every samba song, just with him, bass and drums. Astrud will sing these beautiful verses and he’ll shred these tasteful Hammond parts. It feels like you’re on a boat in Rio. Classy and beautiful. Allegedly Joao plays guitar on three tracks but he is not credited. It’s a pretty great record!
Samira Winter: Bossa nova is all about nostalgia and melancholy—something so beautiful and also so sad.
VARIOUS BRAZIL’S SUPER HITS (ATLANTIC, 1968)
Glenn Brigman: I think it was meant to introduce an American audience to Brazilian music in 1968. It’s really the record that set me off on the whole thing. Pedro lent it to me and I wouldn’t give it back to him. I was like, ‘I’ll trade you three records for this one record!’ It’s got Joao, Sergio Mendes, Herbie Mann, all these people doing classic songs. A lot of them are from Orfeu Negro, which is part of the Brazilian new wave. A French company went to Brazil and worked with a Brazilian film crew and it’s the story of Orpheus, but they mix it with macumba and the African spirits. Its’ a uniquely Brazilian twist on the classic Greek. And there’s tons of samba! It starts with ‘Disafinado’— both sides start with Joao. I’d put this on and play it and flip it again. It has Sergio Mendes, which I like because he’s a great piano player and I’m a piano player, so I was really into that. My dad actually had one of these records. My dad wasn’t like a serious record collector but the Brasil ‘66 first record was on A&M. I was trying to learn all these songs in the guitar and that’s how I got into speaking Portuguese. Samira helps me and we talk sometimes for fun! And whenever I see Boogarins I try to speak Portuguese!
WINTER & TRIPTIDES WITH HELLOGOODBYE ON TUE., OCT. 23, AT THE ROXY, 9009 SUNSET BLVD., WEST HOLLYWOOD. 7 PM / $20-$30 / ALL AGES. GET TICKETS HERE! WINTER & TRIPTIDES’ ESTRELA MAGICA IS OUT NOW ON OAR. VISITT WINTER & TRIPTIDES AT WINTERTRIPTIDES.BANDCAMP.COM.