For Zouk Bass week I had the chance to interview one of the people I respect the most in Portuguese music, Branko. He is one of the founders and main producers of Buraka Som Sistema, a very important person in the Portuguese music scene, and as you probably know already, one of the most important people in Zouk Bass so far. It was a pleasure to be able to ask him these questions.
Here’s the interview:
1. We all know what a big role Buraka’s Boiler Room had in introducing the Zouk Bass sound to the world. How did you come to that sound, as a group?
Branko: Kizomba is huge in portugal, way bigger than kuduro. Kizomba compilations have been charting for almost 10 years or so. So it felt only natural to extend what we had done with kuduro and other genres to something like Kizomba. This was the main idea behind it!
Why did you decide to proceed with it?
Branko: It just felt like the right time. We get along really well with people like Kaysha and Nelson Freitas and we also tried to do some stuff with Anselmo Ralph. So he had all these instrumental ideas that we wanted to do something with and a set for boiler room felt like the right move!
2. There’s been a Kizomba craze, so to speak in Portugal last year, and it happened almost simultaneously with Buraka’s announcement of Zouk Bass. What do you think about this?
Branko: As I mentioned on the previous answer, it was already big. Our ‘little’ universe probably just opened up to it a little more. It was already there, it was just a question of where the blog culture is focusing…
3. Speaking again about Portugal, myself, as a Portuguese guy I’ve barely have heard any Zouk Bass tracks here when I go out at night. I’ve also felt that it should have had more recognition by now in Portugal, seems people are slow to pick up on it. Anything you plan to do to change that? Or just let things run its course?
Branko: We’re gonna continue with our club night at lux every 2 months and we’re definitely focused on getting some proper zouk/tarraxinha people to dj that night. It’s not a big change but it’s our little contribution. Lisbon’s club scene is not the healthiest at the moment and people still keep on investing on the wrong scenes… We’ve got so much new music coming out of Lisbon these days that i’m pretty sure that if this was Paris or London it had blew up!
4. How many Zouk Bass tracks can we expect on BSS’s new album?
Branko: We got 3 done. Not sure if they all make the final track list!
5. Who are your favorite Zouk Bass producers at the moment?
Branko: We tried getting all of them on our ‘We Call it Zouk Bass’ comp, so thats a good way to start. Dance Kill Move is definitely the one who I identify the most as doing something closer to what ‘zouk bass’ is in my head. But JSTJR, Castro, all of them are amazing producers!
6. Which other African inspired rhythms have you been into lately? What do you think of offshoots like Tarraxo and Fodencia?
Branko: for me it’s all the same.. it’s too early in the game to actually have an opinion on them. I’m still trying to get people who follow what i do connected with the whole ‘zouk bass’ idea. It all makes a lot of sense on specialized fb groups or soundcloud, etc, but when your like trying to do a Radio 1 show it doesn’t make sense to start breaking up something that still needs that 1 hit to become an actual scene.
7. Where do you think Zouk Bass is going in 2014?
Branko: i wish it was going towards grabbing the attention of vocalists and getting them on songs. not sure if it is or not.. i know i’m trying my best!
8. Everything in music seems to be slowing down these days and people love it. Slower tempos (Zouk Bass, Kizomba, and Rasteirinha for example) are getting more and more fans every day that go by. What you think about this?
Branko: from a music production perspective i think that slower genres end up getting a lot of love because there a lot you can do on 90 bpms that it’s simply impossible on 140 bpms. from an audience point of view i think people just like music that sits somewhere in the middle of a club and your iPod. With faster genres, it might get too club oriented very quickly.
9. We love your BBC Radio 1 show, actually we think it’s hands down the best show on BBC Radio 1 ever!!! Is there any prospect that you will be offered a permanent slot as we need you on it to rep this whole scene?
Branko: Yeah I would love to make that happen. I really enjoy doing it and being able to connect all these scenes from around the world for one hour. I’ve also had the most amazing feedback.
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