HI! HOW ARE YOU? WHERE ARE YOU? Very well, thank you very much for asking! I’m working on the PC as usual, in my office in Lisbon. SORRY FOR THE LONG TIME IT TOOK ME TO GET THIS INTERVIEW TOGETHER. THE ALBUM HAS BEEN OUT FOR SOME TIME NOW. HOW HAVE REACTIONS BEEN SO FAR? Well, the album has been released almost four months ago and the reactions so far have been really nice. Most of the reviews published up until now are quite positive – some of them even quite flattering – and there has been quite a lot of interest in this record by most of the press. The first edition of 1000 copies sould out in less than two months and we’re almost finishing the second pressing already. CAN YOU TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT THE WAY, “HUMANA” CAME INTO BEING, ESPECIALLY THE PRODUCTION? THE RECORD SOUND GREAT! We’ve had quite a long time to prepare this record. Some of the songs were already written when we released „Moments“ in the end of the summer of 2001, and the remaining songs were written during the following year. The production took about 6 Months, including recording sessions, editing, mixing and mastering and we had to delay the release a bit due to a few production problems. The first master that we received was rejected due to some background noise, and had to go through the whole process of mixing and mastering again. We tend to be a bit obsessive with small details, and we’re still not 100% happy with the sound, but it’s is as good as it could get with the means we had at the time. I’m really satisfied to know that you like the way it sounds. IS IT TRUE THAT SONGS WERE IN GREAT PART INSPIRED BY THE ALGARVE SEA SIDE? Not all of them, but there is some phrasing in the record that was written back in ‚97, when both me and Catarina were still living in the Algarve. It was adapted and revised to fit the new concept but the original feeling is still there. As an example, I can tell you that most of the track „Tecelões de uma Nova Realidade“ was written back then. I used to go to the beach during the winter, just to sit around playing guitar, reading and enjoying the sound of the waves – I have always found the ocean quite inspiring! WHAT FEELINGS DOES THE ALBUM BRING UP IN YOU, WHAT THEMES ARE ADDRESSED? JUST AS MUCH AS IT SEEMS TO DEAL WITH GENERAL QUESTIONS OF HUMANITY, I THOUGHT IT WAS ALSO VERY MUCH ABOUT INTIMACY AND PRIVATE MATTERS. Yes, in a way it is about intimate and private matters. As everything in this album, there is more than one meaning in the lyrics, yet things will become clear if you take the time to reflect on them, and the metaphores they contain. For the concept of the album, we have created a small dystopia of our own, a bit based on the work of George Orwell, Phillip k. Dick, William Gibson and a few others, in which we describe metaphorically the rise and fall of an hypothetical civilization. At the same time, the songs are related to the life cycle of a human being, as they portray key moments that could be atributed to any persons life. JUST AS MUCH AS LYRICS DEAL WITH THE OFTEN AMBIGOUS EMOTIONS OF LIFE, HARMONIC SCHEMES SEEM TO AVOID A CLEAR STANCE AND SONGS ARE NEVER SIMPLY “SAD” OR “HAPPY”, BUT RATHER A SIMULTANEOUS MIXTURE OF BOTH. WAS THIS DONE INTENTIONALLY? Yes it was. Rather than having everything pointing at a specific and absolute concept, the songs contain various shades of different feelings, much like we can find any situation in our lives. We feel that nothing is truly bleak nor merry, so the songs reflect a bit on this. The idea that there is always more than one perspective to the same idea and that each of them can arouse different feelings depending on your point of view. Life would be a bit boring if everything felt the same, wouldn’t you say? EVEN THOUGH ENGLISH AND PORTUGUESE SONGS BOTH WORK, I PERSONALLY FELT, THAT YOUR MOTHER TONGUE SUITS THE MUSIC JUST A LITTLE BIT BETTER. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO RECORD AN ALBUM WITH BOTH LANGUAGES? We believe that this use of both languages allows a little more room to work with the different sonorities of each song. The songs in Portuguese carry a bit of our own country’s tradition, while the others are more classical or a sort of Jazz, Bossa Nova or Contemporary Music oriented. We have discussed the use of other languanges in the future, but this is still a bit unclear, let’s see where the future leads us. It’s nice to know that you enjoy the sound of Portuguese, we’re quite proud of having it as our mother tongue. INSTEAD OF GOING FOR A SLOW BALLAD, YOU FINISH THE ALBUM WITH THE FASTEST SONG, “THE REALITY REMAINS”. WHY? This song, in a certain perpective, is an ode to „The Bitter End“. It describes a landscape after a powerful storm, the love relationship that ended, a life terminated, etc. We felt that it was just perfect to finish the album. AS THE ALBUM IS CALLED “HUMANA”, THAT BRINGS UP THE QUESTION WHAT YOUR IDEA ON THE “GOOD” AND “EVIL” OF MEN IS AND ON THE PURPOSE OF LIFE? On the purpose of life, I think everyone has to answer that question for themselves. We feel that our purpose is to enjoy it as much as possible, just as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. No dogmas, no preconception. Regarding „Good“ and „Evil“, I’m not really sure. Everything has its positive aspects just as well as the negative. I’d probably say that, in a nutshell, the „good“ would be all the communication on this era, the availability of information, even considering the downside that is having to dig through all the false or inconsequent excessive information. The „evil“ would be probably the way we are suffocating ourselves, the total lack of contact with nature, the modern warlords and the economy corporation tyrants, even considering the upside of all of these: they allow our modern way of life – technology, transports, money, bitching about Bush. “HUMANA” SHOULD WORK GREAT IN A LIVE ENVIRONMENT. HOW HAVE THE OPPORTUNITIES BEEN UP TO NOW? HOW WAS PLAYING AT THE ARCANA EUROPA INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL? I think this band depends a bit on the type of venue we are playing in. I think the best concerts, up until now, were the street concerts in the historical part of Lisbon, during last summer, and the release party for „Humana“ that took place at the water museum – the stage was a floating platform placed on a water reservoire 7,5m deep. Regarding the Arcana Europa Festival, we enjoyed playing there quite a lot, and we even got a good reaction, but I think this band works better in a more intimate setting rather than a modern auditorium in broad daylight, which was the case during the festival. As far as opportunities go, we have had some invitations and we are still making some moew contacts for a few concerts abroad, but we have nothing confirmed yet so I think it’ll be better if I don’t get too specific about it. We are also preparing a small set of concerts here, in Portugal, to be held later this year. All of this should be annouced as soon as everything is confirmed and scheduled. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO EXTEND THE BAND BEYOND A SIMPLE GUITAR-PROJECT? WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE BAND MEMBERS BACKGROUNDS (AND YOUR OWN)? Basically, it was very, very restrictive. I wanted to build something to allow some breathing space for creativity and the solo-project was a closed circle. Regarding the backgrounds, all the band members have had very different experiences as musicians. Catarina had never sung before in a project before, and her vocal experience is based in Bossa Nova, Jazz and Fado; Silvia is almost finishing her classical music education and used to play in a Celtic Folk band; Jaime was in a progressive rock band called Ramshackle, he has had informal training on bass and doublebass; Nicholas is also studying classical music and has played in a few Rock bands; I am a self tutored guitarrist, and I’ve played in a blackmetal band for two years apart from my creations with classical guitar. WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU TO KEEP DWELLING ACOUSTIC? WHAT ADVANTAGE DOES THIS APPROACH HOLD COMPARED TO AT LEAST PARTLY ELECTRIC MUSIC IN YOUR EYES? We feel that it is important to keep this band totally acoustic because it is a way to keep in touch with music in its original form. Also it is a link with all the past and tradition inherent in being a musician. Personally, I think that there are more disadvantages in this approach compared to what you can do with all the technology that has been made available for musical creation, since you can’t use any different sounds other than the instruments you’ve chosen. Instead of just selecting an instrument from a large pool of options, and programming anything that you can’t really play, you are confined to these five instruments and the ten years you’ve spent playing them in order to learn something. It is quite a challenge, as composers and as musicians, to work without any of the normal subterfuges of modern music. The main advantage is, of course, the natural sound of the acoustic instruments. I find them a lot richer than the ordinary electric instruments and/or samples. I WAS JUST RECENTLY ON A PARTY AND TALKED TO A PORTUGUES GIRL, WHO WAS DISAPPOINTED WITH PORTUGUESE MUSIC FOR MERELY DWELLING (!) ON THE PAST ALL THE TIME AND LAMENTING ABOUT THE GOOD OLD TIMES, INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON THE PRESENT. WHAT’S YOUR IDEA ON THIS THESIS? I think that your friend has little knowledge about the reality of Portuguse music. There are quite a lot of people working on new genres and there is quite a lot of proximity with what is happening all over the world. Generally, a lot of bands are cut off from mainstream media and they have a lot more difficulty to promote their music, so this is probably why your friend has this theory. If you get a chance, and are interested in this sort of music of course, have a look at Blasted Mechanism (Electronic/Dance/Ethno), The Gift (Trip-Hop), Bizarra Locomotiva (Industrial/Metal), Rodrigo Leão (Neo-Classical), Mão Morta (Indie Rock), they are fine examples of bands that are quite progressive and that have set new standards in Portugal. Of course there are a lot of people looking back, and this is quite fortunate since some of our tradicional genres were saved from extintion, during this last decade. You have to understand that we had 40 years of dictatorship and it had quite a strong censorship towards arts. When it finally was overthrown in the 70´s, a lot of young people felt that these traditional genres were somehow related to the regime, and they were almost totally abandoned. Finally, just a small note: There were never, in the past, any good times for Portuguese music. ON A SIMILAR NOTE, WHAT DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE STATE OF PORTUGUESE MUSIC AT THE MOMENT? WHAT ABOUT ARTISTS LIKE MADREDEUS AND MISIA – OR EVEN NELLY FURTADO FOR THAT MATTER? Like I mentioned previously, I think we’re going through quite a prolific period. Our market is rather small, but we are finally managing to export some of our music, and getting recognition abroad, sometimes even more than in our own country. Examples like the ones as you mentioned and a few others, such has the ones I mentioned on your previous question, are building international careers and creating really interesting art. Maybe these are the best times for Portuguese music ever. Nelly is Canadian, by the way – the bird isn’t quite portuguese… WHICH ARTISTS AT PRESENT INSPIRE YOU? SINCE YOUR MUSIC IS RATHER DETACHED FROM CURRENT TRENDS, ITS NOT EASY TO TELL YOUR INFLUENCES. We tend not to look so much for inspiration in this or that artist, but rather in our own personal experiences, both in our personal lives as well as musicians. Between the intire band, we have had experience with quite dissimilar genres such as Classical Music, Celtic Folk, Hard and Progressive Rock, Blackmetal, Fado, Bossa Nova, etc., so we get our influences everywhere, rather than a specific artist or genre. ON THE PRESS INFORMARTION SHEET, THERES A PHONE NUMBER – IS IT YOURS? HOW MUCH DO YOU TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS MATTERS AND HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS ASPECT OF MAKING MUSIC TO YOU IN GENERAL? Yes, it is. My whole life has been taken over by all the aspects surrounding music. During the past three years, I have been working at Equilibrium Music, the label that has released both records by Dwelling, along with João Monteiro, my comrade in arms. Generally, all the band works in our bussiness matters, and have been quite a huge helping hand for the label, especially with the promotion in Portugal. I tend to have a predominant presence in these affairs because I work on both sides, the band and the label, so I can answer for both at the same time and coordinate all efforts in the same direction. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD? WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM DWELLING? I’m not really sure what the future will bring. We are already preparing our next album, maybe a videoclip to be released at the same time but this is still a bit unclear. We are also making a few contacts for shows around Europe, altough none is confirmed yet, so the future is still a bit hazy. I think you can expect that we will keep on the same direction – No concessions! – and that we’ll keep on working to bring some more music to life! Thanks for your time and all your support! Cheers!