Brazilian-American singer Alexia Bomtempo delivers a dreamy blend of blues, folk, Motown and Brazilian soul on her debut US release and third studio recording, Chasing Storms And Stars, out September 22, 2017.
Single “You Took It All” has an easiness and intrigue that prompts further listening. One can hear Bomtempo’s Brazilian influences in the soft rhythmic percussions and subtle melody that floats from your ears down to your fingers and into your toes. Tying everything together is Bomtempo’s effortless and supple vocals. While singing of someone who wronged her, she manages to sound unscathed by the affront. Perhaps because she’s at peace with herself, so the rest doesn’t rock her boat. “I was hiding in the dark feeling safe in my own arms,” sings Bomtempo, “dreaming alone as it all carried on around me.” It would appear sweet dreams are made of this. Below Bomtempo talks Rio’s music scene and how to experience the city like a true carioca (Rio native).
Listen to the premiere of Alexia Bomtempo’s “You Took It All” now and pre-order Chasing Storms And Stars here.
How would you describe the current music scene in Rio?
I think we’ve come a long way from the youthful celebration of romance and beach culture echoed in Bossa Nova. The Brazilian political and social turmoil today has forced artists to become more resilient. There is constant pressure to get a message out, to express sentiment and to resist. I see a music scene that is full of life and grit, with contrasting generations of artists on the same wavelength.
If someone only had 24 hours in Rio, what would you recommend they see and do?
Start off the day like a quintessential carioca (native of Rio): on the beach- I would recommend Ipanema for a classic experience. On your walk over, hit one of the standing only juice bars (located on every other corner) for a healthy breakfast. Whether you’re working on a suntan or enjoying the ocean breeze under a big umbrella (which you can rent right in the sand), Rio beaches are one of the best spots to people watch. You’ll get a good picture of what cariocas are really about- warmhearted, spontaneous and set apart by a desire to enjoy the moment and live life to the fullest. Be sure to try some of the many snacks and drinks that are sold by vendors across the sun-drenched sand, such as Biscoito Globo and Mate com limão. Break for lunch at Braseiro da Gávea and enjoy the mouthwatering food served in large family-style portions. Drink a couple of chopes (ice cold Brazilian draft beer) and take in the local vibe. Head over to Jardim Botânico for an after lunch stroll and observe the thousands of plant species in this beautiful garden. Walk through the row of palms and you’ll understand why this was one of Tom Jobim’s havens in the city. Take a car up to Vista Chinesa and get a glimpse of the surrounding rain forest (bring your camera- the mountain top view is not to be missed).
Catch a spectacular sunset in the neighborhood of Urca. Bar Urca is known for its popular snack stand- order cerveja and pastel, grab a seat on the seawall across the street and enjoy the splendid view of mountains, ocean and fisherman boats. As night falls, head over to the picturesque neighborhood of Santa Teresa for a special dinner at Aprazível. Lose yourself in the Brazilian flavors and relish the lights of the city below you- all this in an elegant garden setting. Just down the hill from Santa Teresa, you’ll find yourself in the epicenter of Rio’s nightlife: the neighborhood of Lapa. Take a peek at the various live music bars and make a solid stop at Semente for some of the best samba in the city.
Who are some of your favorite artists to come out of the city?
I love singer/songwriter Rodrigo Amarante, with his beautiful blend of tropicalia and indie folk. Roberta Sá is a fantastic vocalist who’s managed to combine elements of traditional samba with a contemporary sounds. Abayomy Afrobeat Orchestra is a killer band that I’ve seen live and had a great time dancing to.
Quintessential Rio meal and where to get it?
Picanha! This traditional Brazilian cut of beef will bring your conception of steak to the next level. Go to Braseiro da Gávea for an epic meal: get things started with linguiça (sausage appetizer) and move on to your main course of picanha, broccoli rice, fried potatoes, farofa and banana. Enjoy the open seating and the local buzz. Don’t worry, old school waiters will keep the ice cold Brazilian draft beer flowing.
What’s the biggest misconception about Rio?
The laid back paradise image of the city is being openly contradicted by the political and economic coverage like never before- particularly over the last few years, with the Rio Olympics and the World Cup. There were high hopes for Rio- and Brazil. The country was expected to be a huge economic force this decade and has been held back by political corruption. Still, despite the darkness of these current events, there is optimism that this is the process of growth and development and things can get better, which somehow keeps that original laid back spirit intact.
How has the city informed your music?
My dad used to be a concert promoter and I grew up going to shows and experiencing all the buzz behind the scenes of live performances. While my friends were doing the normal things that kids do, I was going out to see Baden Powell, Caetano Veloso, and Gilberto Gil. Being exposed to music on this level as a child was very powerful and has unquestionably helped shape me as an artist. Later on, when I decided to pursue music, I was very lucky to work with Brazilian music legend Dadi, who produced my first album (and became a great friend). He introduced me to the wealth of world-class talent Rio had to offer, and being around that caliber of musicianship and creativity is what ultimately drew me to NYC a few years later – to experience that feeling all over again.