Showcase Festival, “Tomorrow Comes Today”, Porto, October12th, 2017
The Groningen – Porto Report
About half september this year I received a very surprising invitation from Nelson Graf Reis, a very talented and energising singer-songwriter from Porto in Portugal. Nelson and myself met during the big Eurosonic Festival earlier this year in Groningen, The Netherlands for an interview, please check it out if you haven’t already, just follow the link!
Nelson was organising a small festival, the Oh Lee Music Showcase, inside a bigger showcase in Porto and he invited me to join! This smaller and free access event, featuring local Portuguese bands and artists in acoustic sets, took place in a very beautiful club in Porto downtown. The place is called Casa Do Livro and is located at Rua Galerias Paris 85. Check this place out, if you can!
Nelson Graf Reis and his team were organising this two days lasting showcase in partnership with a conference festival with the very beautiful and inviting name Tomorrow Comes Today.
“Celebrating life through music and people connecting with each other” was the main motto of this event. Nelson’s event was kind of a warm-up of the main conference, where people like James Stirling (BBC Music), Jon Eades (Abbey Road Red), Josh Saunders (Warner Music) and Paul Pacifico (Association of Independent Music) were discussing their opinions and perspectives regarding the music industry nowadays and in the future.
The Oh Lee Music Showcase was presenting these very surprising and amazing artists: O Mau Olhado/João Cardoso, Giant’s Magazine, To All My Friends, Emmy Curl, We Bless This Mess, Fast Eddie Nelson, Tio Rex and Mojave.
This time I am very happy to present to you my inspiring talk with Catarina Miranda. She performed here in Porto as Emmy Curl. She likes to listen to artists like Andrew Bird, Little Dragon, Zero 7, Goldfrapp and Jorge Palma. Earlier this year she performed in Groningen during the Eurosonic (ESNS) festival with the electronic pop music band Papercutz, lead by Bruno Miguel and herself. Please enjoy the conversation we had after her concert outside the club in the busy street called Rua Galerias Paris!
Bernd Ihno Eilts: I’m very happy to meet you tonight here in Porto, dear Emmy!
Emmy Curl: Finally! (Laughing).
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Where did you play in Groningen?
Emmy Curl: I didn’t play with Emmy Curl, I played with Papercutz. It is an electronic project I am involved in. But for Papercutz I do not compose the songs. I am just a singer and create the melodies of my own voice. All the lyrics and all the music is from Bruno Miguel. Here in Porto tonight you heard me with my own project in a solo performance. In Groningen we played on the ESNS – Eurosonic 2017.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Please introduce yourself and tell a little bit of all!
Emmy Curl: Yes! I grew up in Vila Real here in Portugal, a little city between the mountains in the north. I was and am very inspired by the nature, which I was surrounded by. I started to sing and compose songs when I was 15 years old. My father was a musician and I was always able to listen to a lot of music at home since I was born. This influenced me a lot. My father taught me how to play the guitar and I was able to start creating my own music and producing my own songs in my father’s studio. He had a humble studio at that time, it was nothing special but I recorded with a shitty microphone and I was really patient about all these circumstances. Today I produce all my songs and all my albums, I also mix them. Then I do the artwork of the albums and even the videos myself. Basically I like to have my hand in everything, which is a little bit different than just to be independent. I’m a big control freak (laughing) in what I expect from myself! I think, that’s the right way to say (laughing)!
Bernd Ihno Eilts: You play the guitar and you use these electronic devices to loop textures?
Emmy Curl: Yes! This, what you saw, is kind of the minimal style of my show. Most parts of my shows I use my mac, my instrumentals and I play keyboards and guitar and loop all and of course I sing! Tonight you saw the minimal version of my sets. Normally I bring all my production I do at home to the stage.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: What are you singing about? What is your message?
Emmy Curl: I like to spread messages about nature, about what is really important in relation between nature and human beings and all its connections. That’s it in general. I am asking questions. I am very philosophical. I am very much interested in physics, philosophy and the questions you create a lot of times but often don’t have the time to think about. I like to talk about all these issues in my songs and to travel with the audience. Sometimes I even get conclusions in the middle of the songs (laughing) and sometimes I don’t, but all is good. There are some songs about myself, for example the song „Morning“, which was the third song I played tonight. This song I dedicated to my ex boyfriend. But the emotions are superficial and I rather like to talk and sing about philosophical questions.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Like what?
Emmy Curl: For example, how can you be happy if you are not surrounded by nature, how can a human being be connected to another human being, how can I get inspired. Another song called “Euridice” is an example how beautiful melancholy can be. Some people are melancholic and others give them a negative feeling. In my opinion it can also be good to be melancholic, because it brings inspirations to the more lighter and artistic things and can work very uplifting and even into the direction of being artistic. The story of “Euridice” is very sad, because she ends up killed. But in my opinion we can all give a meaning to something bad in a good way, in an artistic creative way. That is the feminine side of human nature. I like to see myself as very feminine in my music, because I think there is a big lack on feminism in music nowadays.
When women started to vote a hundred years ago, it’s just a very short time until today. It is very soon to say that music is in balance when you look at women in music, because it’s not. For example, I was the only girl playing here tonight at this showcase. I told this to Nelson Graf Reis, you need more girls, you need more women. In music we need more women and in everything. Life needs to be in balance. We cannot say, I like feminism, because feminism is the balance between male and female. And at the same time not taking action. Nelson is a good guy, he really knows what he’s doing. So I told him, you need to bring women to live shows. You know, how to make it, so please do it (laughing). Basically, it is like that. I just demand feminine energy in this world. I think, this is my purpose.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: What in specific is your energy? Can you describe this for people who don’t know you?
Emmy Curl: I am very feminine. You know, people use to look at women as fragile beings, not knowing what they want. They just say: Oh, she is beautiful and that is it. Or: She’s is good to be at home and take care of the kids. And all that kind of stuff.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: That’s really old fashioned!
Emmy Curl: I know, I know! But so far I know I am the only woman here in Portugal producing her own music from the start to the end, like really taking care of everything. In Portugal the music scene is very close and most of the time women are told to stand behind the man. We ofcourse need men but the music scene should be more in balance. Our extreme feminine energy should inspire the world and the other women, so that they can start also doing great independent work. And maybe they will end in the balance between these extremes and start to do something more than just composing. Computers are very masculine and the energy of the technology is very masculine, because men create technology. Women do not create this, they help, but they do not create. We are not that much mathematical, we do not like that much physics and science. We are more into literature and poetry and joy, you know? But I think, in the future women will become more self controlled. They will be able to show and integrate more their feminine side, in power and in important movements. For people who don’t know me yet: I am just encouraging women like myself to do just everything and just believe in themselves, because they really can do it.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: And you have to do it, you even do it already!
Emmy Curl: I am doing it, yes I do. You asked about my energy and I just tell you, my energy is there for doing all this right now. I am very happy when women talk to me and say that I am an inspiration. When I was younger, I didn’t had such an inspiration. My inspiration was Sailor Moon. She was not that much important, she was just a silly girl sometimes. But she had a lot of good sides. Just in general we don’t have a lot of examples of women who do everything themselves.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: I noticed, you sing a lot in English, but sometimes also in Portuguese. What is the difference for you? The expression of these different languages?
Emmy Curl: I think, both these languages are universal. My generation here in Portugal is talking in Portuguese and English at the same time, even in one sentence sometimes. So, if our generation is doing this already right now, I think in two more generations from now, they might say one Portuguese word and continue in English for the rest of the sentence. That is even brilliant, because we need to connect with people. When you find the connection between people, the conflicts in the world that still exist could slowly disappear. Empathy is the most beautiful force we have. I sing in Portuguese and English, because I say it and do it. I talk in both languages, so it’s just normal for me to sing also in both languages. I could sing in whatever language I want. I understand that some people do not understand this way, but my people here around do. For me, this is absolutely okay.
If some people who don’t speak Portuguese listen to one of my English songs, and he or she likes it, then maybe this person will become interested in my message. And even in spreading my traditional vocabulary. Which is good as well, to spread our roots. But at the same time English is also fine for me. Many here in Portugal ask me not to sing in English. They want me to sing in Portuguese. And I just say: Fuck off! The next song I am doing is singing one sentence in English and another one in Portuguese. I just don’t like this tunnel view. Like this they bother my artistic way and at the same time they open my mind to another new opportunity. It is a process, an activism.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: It is even beautiful to mix these languages!
Emmy Curl: Yes indeed! Why not doing it? It is language! If you say something in English and you don’t understand the words in Portuguese while you are in Portugal, you will be curious to know what I am talking about and you will search for explanations. So, it’s like this (laughing)!
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Are you touring a lot?
Emmy Curl: I am finishing the work on my new album now. Which means, I am not touring a lot these days. I am very focused on finishing this album, which is my fifth one, but it is my second full album. Because I launched EP’s and that kind of work and this album is my second one. But I will have some shows in the next months and I will even perform with Papercutz again.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Will you also have shows again outside of Portugal?
Emmy Curl: In the beginning of this year I had a tour through Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland. It was my Eastern Europe Tour and it was very beautiful. I just took my pedal and the guitar and it worked (laughing). And of course my amplifier, but that was all.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Can you tell me please, what inspired you the most the last 7 days?
Emmy Curl: 7 days? (Laughing very beautifully)! That’s a tough question! I am very inspired by Porto. I came here one year and a half ago and I came from a really small village. This time it is like the old mixed with the new. You see many old houses and very kind old people and at the same time there are a lot of tourists and a lot of new technology appearing here. People here are very creative nowadays and this is madness, but so beautiful. I used to go out at night and the last 7 days I was inspired by the pure beauty here in Porto. But it is not just the beauty here, I know that. I am living in the perfect place right now in this world, I feel this. I am very fortunate about my life. I am very inspired here!
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Here, in Portugal?
Emmy Curl: Yes. And the people around me also inspire me a lot. I take all my energy and want to spread it to the people. To all of them. I just want to give what is being given to me. I don’t know if this is an inspiration, but at the same time I want to sing about people, who sometimes do not listen and are very closed in their good ways. Sometimes people settle down and they don’t do anything at all anymore to change, even they complain about it. A good friend of mine, I really adore him, is always complaining about life. He is really beautiful, he has a lot of talent but he is working in another place and he does not do what he likes to do. But he does not want to change, because he earns money. That is frustrating. I just want people to realize to not be afraid. I have a good purpose to be alive, to spread that information.
For example, last night I was watching a documentary about the physicist Richard Feynman. He is one of the brilliant scientists of the 20th century. He had a life I think everyone should know. He has done really everything. He was an artist, sculpturing and a musician, so he was very passionate about life. In my opinion there is a good thing in everything. You just need to find the good taste. I used to say, when you are not able to try different tastes, except those ones you already know, you will never find out different possibilities. You know, I know people, who don’t like funk music. I showed them what I think is good funk. Maybe I have some bad taste in other things but I know what is good and I show it. Sometimes we just don’t dig enough to find the real purpose of things. Then we don’t see why people are like that. We just don’t want to get involved, because we just don’t know it. People are very afraid to enter in something they don’t know (laughing beautifully). As I said, I am very philosophical (laughing again)!
Bernd Ihno Eilts: That’s beautifully said, thank you! Then you are a musician, you work with sounds and all its energies. Are you maybe sure about something, you cannot find in music? I mean, you can find a lot in music and you, Emmy, do express a lot. Your sound is very beautiful, very warm, very touching.
Emmy Curl: Thank you.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Is there something, you can’t or will never find in music?
Emmy Curl: Sometimes, when I don’t find what I want or need to find, I just go away. If I don’t feel connected with a song, I just leave. Kizomba is an example. For sure, there is good Kizomba, it must be, but sometimes I am facing the wrong music or a wrong song. Is it that, what you were asking me?
Bernd Ihno Eilts: My question was more in general. All your universe is pretty much focused on music. Is there something you know already, you will never find in music?
Emmy Curl: Of course, music is not everything. I am not just a musician. Next to this I am a photographer and I make video clips. I cannot find the quality of movies in music. Cinema for me and for mostly everyone is a master art form, that includes many other art forms at the same time. One day in the future this will become even bigger, within 3D and 4D at the same time. It will be awesome! Right now cinema is the most complete version of art. Music must follow that. With these glasses they are creating for us, we could create more than just a show, we could use these glasses and you could see me in the mountains, where I am always highly creative. You could see me wherever I want to be and wherever I want you to see me and you would have an amazing and much deeper experience than its possible today. In my opinion this is where the future will bring us, where we all will go to. We are going to express even more and better than that. Nowadays I can’t find this visual concept in music.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: You are very happy in Portugal right now, but could you also imagine to live somewhere else?
Emmy Curl: Yes, I am very passionate about the idea of living in Amsterdam!
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Really? So, you will come to Holland!
Emmy Curl: Yes. (Laughing). I would love to. I have a lot of friends studying over there, especially in jazz universities. I know, that I have to move from here. Sometimes I am just bored of everything. I am here now for a year and a half and I feel like, this is the same place I’ve been yesterday, these are the same people around.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: You need some refreshment!
Emmy Curl: I need refreshments all the time. Even in my relationships it‘ s always like that. I get bored very quickly. I need information, I need to learn. I can’t stop thinking about anything. I just want to settle down when I imagine myself as a mother, having a child and give all my knowledge and love to the kid. That time I will settle down in a house, in a city for a longer period. Till then I guess I must keep moving.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: You will continue moving maybe forever!
Emmy Curl: I have to move and learn so much. I will even grow more, when I move. I know a lot of very good musicians in Amsterdam, it will be nice to meet them again (laughing beautiful). If you could schedule a show there, I will be there!
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Come to Groningen again!
Emmy Curl: Yes, yes! Groningen was really nice. I had a really good time there and the people there are very special, even the climate. Here, when it starts to rain, my hair is a big mess because of the humidity of the air. I didn’t feel that in Groningen. I like rain but I don’t like being wet and all that mess. So that felt already very pleasant. But I need, sorry to say, warmth too. That’s why I like to be here.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: I have the same. I just came now from lower temperatures, I think we had last sunday 12° C and it was constantly raining. Then I came here Monday evening and thought: Wow! My god! How is this possible? A warm and dry evening! What a pleasure!
Emmy Curl: Yes, we are like in a micro climate (laughing. Beautifully of course again)!
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Thank you very much for this talk Emmy!
Emmy Curl: Thank you!
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Actually, I came here with the big wish not to work at all. But what can I do?
Emmy Curl: (Laughing very beautifully)! You cannot get away from what you love to do. That’s amazing!
For more information: www.facebook.com/pg/emmycurl
Interview by Bernd Ihno Eilts.