Pedro Barbosa speaks to Richard Chemaly on Reborn:
Mozambique-born Pedro Barbosa is no stranger to the South African music scene. The Pretoria-based frontman became a household name performing as a singer-songwriter for Mrs B and the eponymous The Barbosa Experience, churning out blends of flamenco-inspired roots rock on the stages of venues and festivals, like STRAB and Mieliepop.
What does it take to go Solo?
Richard Chemaly (RC): Hey hey! Congrats on finally going solo Pedro Barbosa! You’ve probably been asked a stack of times why you did it but I’m more interested in what it takes. How did your history in the industry help and us it advisable for the kids starting out to aspire to a group before heading out on their own?
Pedro Barbosa: Hey! It took a lot out of me, to be honest, and you don’t have those other four or five other guys ideas behind you so it’s a bit of more pressure in a way but its also more of me on the music.
I believe its more honest and it came out deeper as its what I wanted for the album, I think people generally expect the more happy Pedro who generally makes you stomp your foot or your ass, this was different.
I would always say get experience before recording anything
Regarding the you generation, I think playing in a band is really great, you learn a lot from those around you, and you get to experience different music views and its great to have that support, and back in the day rehearsal used to be one of the highlights of my day. I would always say get experience before recording anything, but also don’t be like me and wait 20 years to record your solo album if you have so much to say.
Crazy Love Is a Favourite:
RC: The new album is relatively upbeat save for “Crazy Love Is“, but you picked that song as the first single. Was it your favourite? How do you go about picking the singles?
Pedro Barbosa: To be honest we haven’t decided what the first single is. Choosing a Single is hard. The reason Crazy Love features more will because of the video, but that was a lucky thing that I got an offer from Dapper Media that I couldn’t refuse.
I did notice that during shows that Crazy Love does stand out as one of the favourites. Also sales wise online it is by far the song that has been streamed the most. For me, I would go with a more upbeat single on the album though, plus I am a bit old school I wouldn’t release your biggest song immediately.
I have never done a solo album
RC: Most people come out shy, maybe with a single or a 5 track EP. You’ve, however, broken out with a full album. How long did it take to record and why did you opt for an album in an age when more are putting out less music more often?
Pedro Barbosa: That is a good point. Initially, I was only going to record 3 songs due to budget and I wanted to put everything into those 3 songs, but I enjoyed the recording process with Mark Beling so much, I was like Screw it lets go for a full album!
I have never done a solo album, why would I release just a few songs and I have so many just lingering on my computer. It took us about 10 months to get the album done, I would go to Mark Beling once or twice a week.
It was a gamble to release a full album, but I didn’t care; I booked more gigs so I could afford it and pushed through. It was an absolutely great journey recording that album, and I got really close to Mark, I wouldn’t change anything.
Pedro is Honest about Auto-Tune:
RC: Thank you for avoiding auto-tune in a genre where most would go directly to it. What are you takes on the auto-tune effects on the music industry? Is it tougher out there?
Pedro Barbosa: There is a bit of auto-tuning here and there, to be honest, but Mark wanted me to get as close as possible and made do the songs over and over till I got them right, Crazy Love I recorded nine times as he was looking at getting one take and not parts of each take.
I know Mark Beling used auto-tune on some backups ups, but very little.
I don’t care what other musicians do with their music, its their choice and their view on their music. I am a firm believer that when you record you try your best to make the song great, and you give all to the song, its not about you but the song. I would prefer not to use auto tune.
Modern Music vs Old School Music:
RC: Speaking of letting go of what is perceived as cool, my favourite track on the album is Burning which, had it been any other artist, would probably be titled Burnin’ or replacing some letters with numbers. Your approach to music seems to be minimalist; no extra bells and whistles but just the music. In the modern world, are you finding the side issues in the industry (social media, VR video capture) distracting or helpful?
Pedro Barbosa: You seem to be more connected to the music industry than me; Distracting for sure! Helpful as well!
Think you have to find a balance on that. Social media opens doors to the bigger picture, but you can get consumed by it as well, spending time on reading comments and dealing with a lot of the social media stuff, that includes the digital sales platform as well.
I have people handling my social media, digital world and I also have a great publicist behind me. I don’t know much about social media so I rather have someone take that over as well as the publicist side.
I am a musician
I am a musician and it pretty much ends there. As to my approach to music, well as you grow you realise you are just a medium when it comes to the music, music is an expression of emotion that many can relate to or hate as the artists we are just the medium from which the music channels through.
We don’t really own the music, I mean there are people who covered songs better than the original artist and they didn’t town the original, but maybe their depth of emotion towards the song was just deeper than the original artist.
I am there to try and express the songs a best as I can. The rest is social media and VR video capture which by the way I don’t even know what that means ha!
Pedro Barbosa talks about Radio Dreams:
RC: Looking forward to following your solo career. Do you have any ambitions for this album?
Pedro Barbosa: Yes! Lots. I wouldn’t release it if I didn’t I guess. I am not gonna lie when I released it I really wanted to have a single on mainstream radio which is something I never had and I never really aimed at.
That was the main thing after releasing the album. If it happens it will be great I can scratch that from my ambition. If it doesn’t, I obviously need to work harder on my interpretation of my own songs.
I just want people to connect to my music, and to inspire them. Make them feel good about themselves and not feel alone In the world. Its a great feeling when you go on stage and people sing your song with heart! its an amazing feeling. that is what I want. the rest is part of that journey.