I´m in Brasil baby!

view from my window, villa zilda, sao paulo


waking up in another country is surreal but it´s especially so when you´re not in a hotel.
first you get this multi layered, some how subtly non anglo noise soup of kids, dogs, and distant radios.
i´m in a dark room with metal shutters. for a minute i have no idea what time it is or where i am.
and this is too perfect: my friend´s cel phone goes off and the
ringtone is a song of the band i´m down here to produce.
OH YEAH that´s right. Brasil.

so let me back up. here´s the whole story: back in New York we recorded 4 days @ seaside lounge, the studio featured in the newest New pornographers video, which is insanely awesome btw. our engineer was Jon Altschuler who just nearly got a grammy
with TMBG but was beat out by Pete Seger. Jon and i both learned quite a bit of portuguese
while we were recording. it was a hysterical session. it was also the bands first time recording all together
in such an environment. after a few deer in the headlights looks and the typical sitting around and setting up mics
(for hours) things began to rock out. there were marshal stacks involved.
i made a few changes to their songs on the fly, gave a pep talk or two, but mostly it was just a matter
of ´you guys know the deal. play like you mean it.´ we ate muito pizza.

cut to the airport. i can´t believe they let us on the plane with all that gear.
i took many pictures. it didn’t make any sense. we had enough amps and mega bags to build a wall around us.
the 10 hour flight was a breeze. i wrote last year that TAM airlines is powered by elves and magic fairies.
it stills holds true. the food is good and the coffee is amazing. they try to do the announcements in english sometimes
which is usually pretty broken and reminds you of how far away from home you´re getting.
we all slept half the flight thanks to the night before. the rest of the time i killed with protools editing (NERD NOTE: i made a sampler patch using hand claps that we recorded @ seaside with multiple velocity layers that trigger round robin, so it sounds very real. i named it FAT CLAPS after a Holger in joke for when someone F´s up while recording. ) i also watched cartoons on the plane. the landing was hard enough to snap jaws closed but nothing fell out of the over head bins
and i was happy as hell to be on the ground.

we strolled right through customs without even a sideways glance. 2 amps in road cases, an entire drum kit. 5 huge wheeled bags, etc. totally bonkers.

then Brasil happened. we threw everything into a VW bus (which they call a combi) and made a mad dash to
a hood called Vila Zilda. i´m pretty sure my chair was a propane tank btw.
it´s not a ghetto, but nor is it anything like alta de lapa where i lived last year.
we met the parents and family. the house where i´m staying is like nothing i´ve ever seen.
it´s a verticle collection of rooms with indoor and outdoor staircases
interconnecting everything. this must be for ventilation and it´s brilliant. to end the night we jumped into an orange
VW bug and drove 2 of our friends home, making a pit stop for some mystery burgers with mad mayo @ 2am.
the last 2 people in the car were Anderson and myself. he´s learning english and i´m learning portuguese and
it´s pretty awesome to laugh @ the language barrier with someone. we talked like cavemen to each other and swapped slang while trying to reverse engineer each other´s vocabulary. he explained that the house is under constant rennovation by his dad, a retired cop.

it was super late and i fell asleep with my clothes on.

(time passes.. somewhere a dog barks… to be continued)


day 2-3

we set up the home studio. it’s very modest and temporary, we’ll be setting up a more permanent
situation in a house a few hours out of the city. (megalopolis note: it takes about 2-4 hours in
a car to get out of the city in the first place. the sprawl is MASSIVE)
i had a pretty cool surprise when anderson said ‘Ì have a drum mash-eeeeene’
(i just realized that brazilian keyboards lack quotation marks in favor of the ^ and ç keys.
so bare with me) anyway, i’m expecting him to pull out an early-madonna-record-sounding roland 727
but from out of a pile of boxes he instead produces something called SLCIE ELECTRONIC BATTERY.
needless to say, gringo happy. it’s got some electrical grounding problem i might try to fix later
but i managed to record it clean enough to program a sampler from the audio.
also discovered in the room was a yamaha psr 630 with a floppy disk drive. epic win.
unlike it’s cousin, the much feared PSR-282, it lacks DJ mode, but has a fireworks, roller-coaster, explosion sound. rad.
we probably wont use much of any of these toys on the record, but anyone who knows me knows that a day without synthesis is a day without sunshine.

speaking of the weather it’s been raining on and off since we got here. since i have no intention of
going to the beach any time soon it doesn’t bother me @ all. it actually makes the all the streets
look like a hosed-down Bollywood romantic comedy.

the next 2 days were mainly spent listening to all the raw tracks we recorded @ brooklyn and picking the best ones.
it’s a long and occasionally humbling process, but you can really get a sense of how well things were recorded
by Jon and how satisfying things sound when printed hot to 2 inch tape.

this is going to sound awfully cliche, but meal #1 = Fajoita. they took me to a little place
that looked like any other eatery in SP, bright colors, beer coolers, amazing smells that north america wouldn’t understand.
i find that people are always excited to show off food to foreigners. (sweet tomato jelly from portugal!?!? wtf?)
dinner consisted of an appetizer of tourismo (deep fried pork belly that many brazilians wont even eat)
stuffed pickled peppers with salsa and quail egg, deep fried pork chops, manoica, pork stew, beans, rice, and something very like collard greens.


Rita had told me that the caipirinhas were the best in the universe and the only place where she will even bother to drink
cachaça. she was right of course. after 1.5 of them you get a powerfully unique buzz somewhat like absinthe.
in typical Roger-style i was making some speech about how i have to make the record sound as good or better than
last year’s Holger record and right at the crescendo i knocked over my small glass of beer and it shattered all over the table. great job! then for reasons i’ll never know we had a second course of rice with meat and cubed cheese.
eating, eating, and more eating. always with much bi-lingual cursing and laughing.
the end of the meal saw me getting a free shot of cachaça because of my translated lavish praise and probably the sum total
bill for our dinner. to further emphasize the culinary culture shock we were given a caipirinha TO GO
in an empty coke bottle, which i’m pretty sure is completely legal.

finally, while the 4 of us were crossing the quiet street i heard Fernando scream like a little girl.
he had unknowingly stepped on a dead rat and it had made an audible squishing guts sound.
we all lost it at that point. south america is surprisingly full of lols when you roll with the right people.
to illustrate this, here’s a video from my rude awakening the next morning
that involves 3 dudes and 2 dogs.


my life in south america is a lot like outtakes from a bill murry movie.

en route to brazil, my luggage consisted only of T-shirts, speakers,
a keith richards autobiography, and 1 pair of smuggled women’s boots.

the shower here seems to have 2 settings: freeze and scald.

a friend raises chinchillas in his bathroom and sells them on brazilian ebay.

last night i realized that i was explaining the meaning of the english expression ‘no doubt’ while listening to lisa lobe’s ‘stay’ on youtube.

every night 2 dogs insist on sleeping in my bed which is no bigger than a cot. their names are lily and liza minelli. they are both muts.

Lima house via rainy VW winshield

anderson’s dad, the awesome ex-cop just came into the studio and gave me a slight,
‘you come here’ motion.
i followed him to the kitchen where i found cafe con leche, sweet coco cake, and some crazy carnival shit on the TV.
he wouldn’t let me do the dishes. LOVE this guy.