Friends from Rio Project 2014

Friends from Rio Project 2014

Brazilian Beats — Huck speaks to Joe Davis, founder of Far Out Records about his mission to share the best of the Brazilian underground with the world.

Brazil is where African rhythms collide with European musical traditions to produce a vibrant, technicolor array of sounds. When Joe Davis, founder of Far Our Records, first visited the country over two decades ago the musical discoveries he made set in motion a chain of events that led to the creation of the Friends from Rio Project 2014. With this record Joe goes full circle and commemorates 20 years since one of the first major project he completed in Brazil, the original Friends from Rio LP in 1994.

Why did you start Far Out Recordings?
I started Far Out Recordings because I had approached many major record companies about putting a label together, many of my friends had done so at the time, but no one was really convinced about the idea of having a label dedicated to mainly Brazilian music. I had met many musicians and produced and coordinated musical projects around the world by then and I felt confident that I could do it myself. There was also a boom in the world of the independent record companies at the time which definitely helped. Many of the artists I loved were out of a recording deal in Brazil, so I had the idea of recording them and releasing new music from them.

What have been the challenges in keeping Far Out Recordings going for this long and how do you hope the label has had an impact?
I wanted to share the excitement and the greatness of some of the artists that I had worked with, with the world. For sure the people that we work with have really developed their international careers and even in Brazil as a result of our being. For us it has just been great to see and to share that and to have our music played all over the world.

It’s particularly exciting to do shows, however small or big and see the audiences for our artists. I also feel that over the last 20 years we have been progressive, visionary as a company and managed where others have failed in a very tough environment. I feel that we have been at the forefront of a new movement that has been rediscovering the appeal of Brazilian music over the last 20 years outside of Brazil.

We have always made a unique style of music and have tried to focus on our artists and their image and music, and to develop each ones marketplace. Musically speaking I have chosen original artists who make music so unique that they can’t be copied (even though people have tried). So that has always been the idea and not to have copyists but the original thing. This will help you as a label when someone has a unique sound which you cannot copy. I feel Azymuth, Joyce, Marcos Valle, Nana Vasconcelos, Sabrina Malheiros, Mauricio Maestro and the others bring that. We try to be very meticulous with that.

Where does the Friends From Rio Project 2014 fit into the story of Far Out?
Friends from Rio was one of the first records I had produced in Brazil which I funded myself, before I had officially started the label. I had decided that was the name and I worked with some excellent musicians. The results were great and the release was very successful. I had consequently done another, Vol 2. As it was going to be our 20th year anniversary, I wanted to revisit this idea working with some of the other old school artists that I knew and liked very much, but not had the time to work with over the years. One thing is that we wanted the music to be based on groove so Alex Malheiros was brought in and Daniel Maunick the son of Bluey from Incognito who we constantly work with. The result is this album, maybe it was the album we wanted to do 20 years ago when we were doing DJ club nights all those years ago.

Which record are you most proud of releasing?
The first Azymuth record Carnival recorded in 95. I have to say and everyone knows, all my artists too, that they are my favourite band, ever. I have to say that working with them at first was a challenge in many ways. But I love their music. I remember thinking in 1995, that if I do nothing else in Brazil after this, I am contented now. I funded the record and it went really well for them and us. Its not the best record on Far Out by them but it was the whole experience of working and having them on the label, it was very special to me and our friendship and relationship just grew. The label has gone on to release a number of records by them. But in truth I am really proud of all the releases and artists’ records, but especially everything by Joyce, Marcos Valle and Sabrina Malheiros.

What have been the major inspirations?
The artists have been the major inspiration for the label, its music and for me. You would have to go back another 10 years back beyond 95 to know all about that and my digging and selling records days. I discovered many of the these artists’ unreleased records in Rio and Sao Paulo and brought them back to the UK. It was like a whole new world of music to our scene at the time.

What’s the future for Far Out?
We will just keep going. Our Maestro Jose Roberto Bertrami sadly died two years ago but we will keep working and producing, despite it being challenging to stay independent and on the job. We have great plans to introduce some new artists and projects to the label, and I am currently working on developing five albums.

The Friends from Rio 2014 Project is out now, check it out at Far Out Recordings. Also, look out for The Far Out Monster Disco Orchestra released in June.