Showcase Festival “Tomorrow Comes Today”, Porto – Portugal, October 12th – 2017
The Groningen – Porto Report
Round about half September this year I received a very surprising invitation from Nelson Graf Reis, a very talented and energizing 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 organizing 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 organizing 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.
Earlier, 60Minuten.net already presented O Mau Olhado/João Cardoso and Pedro Melo/Giant’s Magazine in very impressive interviews and for the first time in English, please check it out, just follow the links!
Today I am very happy to present my talk with Miguel Anibal, lead-singer of the band To All My Friends! This pop-punk-rock band features Miguel Ângelo Moço Aníbal as lead singer, Diogo Miguel Augusto de Azevedo on guitar, Nuno Filipe Martins de Oliveira Cunha on guitar, João Vasco Leonardo Bueno on bass and Vasco Manuel Barbosa Lages Martins on drums.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Would you like to introduce yourself and the band?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: I’m Miguel Anibal and the lead singer of the band “To All My Friends”. Then we have Diogo and Nuno on guitars, João is the bass player and Vasco is the drummer. We are five happy guys, we are always into Pop-Punk-Rock and we just simply love to make our own music.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: How did you start?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: We started the band in 2014, as a celebration of our friendship and our love for music. Creating the band was the best decision ever.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Where do you all come from?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: We all live in the beautiful town of Setúbal in Portugal. Our city sets by the sea, has plenty beaches, many sunny days the entire year and great food, which is definitely inspiring and a part of our creative process. Setúbal has that California feeling of great weather, great beaches and landscapes. It gives that summer vibe to our songs and makes a perfect place to create pop punk. We usually joke around saying that our city is the LA of Europe. Our city is also known for its contribution to the musical scene in Portugal. We have many bands here and we all know each other. It is a very “musical” city.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Which food should I really try, when I come to visit Setúbal?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: All the gastronomy of our city is delicious, with fish dishes being the most famous, like roasted horse mackerel, grilled sardines and fried cuttlefish.
Setúbal is also well known, not only in our country but also international, by the Moscatel de Setúbal which is a very sweet liquor. Not to mention that we have one of the best markets in the world, which has been already awarded for an excellence due to its fresh and high quality products and is known as “Mercado do Livramento”.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: What is your music about?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: About emotional experiences, the good and the bad ones. Our music is mostly about our friendship within the band and all the friends around us. It is that important to us that it became the name of the band.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Tell me about your musicianship, about the sweat, the pain, the dance, the energy, the will to do what you do!
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: About our musicianship, I can start by saying that it’s very hard to be a musician in Portugal. First we have to work to buy our instruments, for gas and food and to pay the rent for a place to play and rehearse in. All payments of our gigs we have to spend every time for the costs. The amount musicians are payed usually never fits the amount we spend to create and maintain our project. Here you can find the sweat and painful part of the process. The dance and energy can be found in the love we have for creating our tracks and playing live. You have to really really love this way of life to live and maintain it. We do all this for our love for music and this love creates all our energy. Like mentioned before, we really enjoy creating songs and playing them live. The creative process is where the hard work comes, but when everything is done we just have to be professional and have some fun while we share our music with everyone.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Why do you sing in English?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: We sing in English mainly for two reasons. First one is, that nowadays English is the language of globalization and it makes it easier for the international public to understand the words and sing along to the songs. Second reason is about phonetics. We like the way the words sound and how we can express ourselves with English vocabulary. We have many Punk-Rock-bands in Portugal who sing in Portuguese. We like that too and listen to them but we prefer to write and sing in English.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: What is your general message in music?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: It’s about closure, being in peace with your demons and the importance of friendship.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: How busy are you in Portugal or in other countries?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: We had some shows in November and some scheduled in December, but they are all in Portugal. We never had the chance to play in other countries, but we’re looking forward to it.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: What do you like about your band members in general and what do you respect and even adore about them musically?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: Honesty, trust and respect. Even in our darkest moments we can always count on each other. Friends are always there for the good and the bad. What we respect and love more and more is the energy of our songs. We choose this musical genre because of this. Playing pop-punk-rock gives you the liberty to create tough songs but with happy and positive vibes. You can write fast or slow songs and most important, you can always fill in words with a strong message and attitude.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Just recently you released your debut album called “Head Above Water”. Do you have some stories around the recording and the songs?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: This new album means a big step for the band and its members It speaks about emotional experiences and the strength in bonds of friendship. The work on this album brought us even closer to each other, as we built together a piece of our dreams. We recorded the album in approximately one month time. For some of us it was a new experience, as they had never been in the studio before, and it’s always a good thing when you are about to record the songs you’ve been playing in the garage for months.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Do you have a label?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: We do not have a label, but we work with Infected Records only as a booking agency. We got in contact with this agency through a band competition we followed in Lisbon. They watched our show and liked us. We’ve been working together since and it has been great so far.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: You are having your rehearsals in a garage, please explain! How big, where in the city, do neighbors complain? Or does the Police comes regular?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: We rehearse in a garage we rented in 2014. It’s located inside a small farm outside the city limits, so we don’t have any problems with neighbors or police. It’s not a very big place but enough for the five of us. We can rehearse at any time of the day we want and that’s why we choose this place. We have the freedom to play, write songs or just hang around with our friends when we want. We also have a great relationship with our landlord. He loves the band and respects us. We call him Don Fernando (smiling).
Bernd Ihno Eilts: You played at the showcase in Porto an acoustic set, was that new and how did it feel for you? Same as electric or different?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: Playing acoustic showcases is as fun for us as playing electric. It’s much more intimate and personal. We always loved bands who have this kind of dynamic. That’s why we worked hard to bring this side to the band. Playing acoustic and electric also opens up more venues for us to play and reach much more people.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: How do you know Nelson Graf Reis, the organisator of this Oh Lee Music Showcase?
Miguel Anibal/To All my Friends: We met Nelson a year ago when we shared the stage for the first time in Lisbon. We immediately had a great click, I assume because he’s a easy going and straight forward guy. He has deep thoughts, is great for a good laugh and a good friend to give helpful advice.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Why are you a singer? How does this feel, to express your voice like you do?
Miguel Anibal/To All my Friends: My friends sometimes make jokes saying that I’m a singer because I can’t do anything else, but I sing since I was a child, when I was about three years old. I used to sing at family parties, for example those ones like Christmas. The feeling of being me, the voice of a message is simply amazing and it gets even better when the audience sings that same message with me. It’s absolutely incredible!
Bernd Ihno Eilts: What inspires you as a singer?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: Really important for me is to be not only the voice of a message, but also the fact that this same message can be mine. It’s inspiring when people like and sing our songs, especially when they feel related to the lyrics. It’s like I’m speaking to each person individually. And those small gestures inspire me and the rest of the band to do more and better.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Do you always bring your own microphone to the concerts?
Miguel Anibal/To All my Friends: Yes, because I like to do certain maneuvers in the music spaces where I do not sing. I like to rotate the microphone at its cable and use it like a demolition ball and toss it in the air. I often give my microphone to the audience to sing with us, knowing that if I screw it up, I will not have problems with anyone since it is my own microphone. That’s why I always bring mine, except in acoustic shows where it’s more intimate.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: How are you before entering the stage? How do you warm up and describe the feeling you have while interacting with the audience!
Miguel Anibal/To All my Friends: I’m probably the one who’s the most nervous before we go on stage. I try to act calm, but inside I’m like a bomb about to explode. I’d be lying if I say I do not like the feeling of being nervous, because it means I’m worried about wanting to do things well. The day I don’t feel nervous before a concert, maybe I’ll think about changing my life’s dream (laughing)! I remember a concert with the band, still in the beginning, where we played in one of the biggest events in our city, the Feira de Santiago (carnival) and all our friends and family
were there to see us. We still had ten minutes before going on the stage and I was so nervous that I ran to the bathroom to throw up. I washed my face and left the bathroom and when I approached the stage, I did my personal ritual: with my right hand I hit the floor three times, hit my chest three times and then look up very focused. From that moment on I stepped on stage and the band played the first chord, the nervousness simply disappeared. And even today they make jokes about it (laughing)! We usually warm up before the shows with singing the songs and have some good laughs. It prepares us physically and psychologically for every show and it takes out the stress and brings positive vibes.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: How do you compose? What is important to have in your songs? How do you create your energy?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: We compose in parts like we did during earlier school projects. We have an awesome teamwork, because both the guitarists and the bassist make their part of the instrumental sound and the drummer quickly fills the rhythms. The vocals are usually the last thing that comes in. I write much of the words but many times we do it all together. Everyone gives their ideas and that’s how we come to great conclusions.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Why do you sing your way and not opera or folk? Or do you?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: Speaking for the band, it’s a genre of music that appeals to everyone regardless of whether we listen to other musical genres. But speaking for myself, when I’m alone at home, or with friends for example, I also listen to and sing other styles of music. I had the greatest pleasure of being born in a family where a lot of different kinds of musical genres were heard, such as rock, classical, blues, bossa nova, opera and many many more.
In between all of these musical genres another beautiful genre got crystallized in my life and left the most important and also the most painful mark of my childhood: fado.
When I was young, I spent my entire days listening to Amália Rodrigues. She is the best voice of fado that Portugal ever heard. Then I tried to work on the same vocal techniques she did and sang it for my grandfather, who liked to listen to me. He was a very important person for me and was the last person to whom I sang fado. I was seven or eight years old when he passed away.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Which advice do you give young musicians, who might want follow you musically?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: Never give up on your dreams, no matter how hard they may seem to be and no matter what difficulties might come along. Nothing is impossible until it is achieved. Have faith, work hard and be very persistent.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: May I ask you, which inspirations you had the last 7 days?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: My parents, who support me in everything I do and of whom I am very proud of. Then my friends who are always there in the good times, but especially in the bad ones.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Tell me about your videos please. How do you work, where do the ideas come from, do you work with a film-maker?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: We work with a friend, who is a touring photographer and filmmaker. His name is Manuel Casanova. He has a lot of experience and has toured with many Portuguese and international bands. He knows what to do with a camera. We filmed our video’s for “Pieces” and “Forever With You” with him. All the ideas came along very natural and were easy to shoot.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Who are you in private?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: I am a person like so many others with qualities and defects. I try to enjoy life to the fullest and enjoy the best it has to offer me, whether it’s good or bad, and regardless of whether I think that everything that is bad has a purpose or that it is a lesson.
I believe it is in the smallest things that are the greatest treasures of life. I also love reading, writing, watching movies, walking down the streets of my city and letting its culture influence me. Basically this is what gives me strength, peace of mind and which inspires me musically.
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Which future plans do you have for the band?
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: We want to play on as many stages as possible and we want to grow not only as a band, but also as individuals. To experience new things in the band such as tours, to continue making songs that people can relate to, but above all, never stop having fun (laughing)!
Bernd Ihno Eilts: Thank you very much for being that open with me!
Miguel Anibal/To All My Friends: Thank you!
For further information please check: www.facebook.com/pg/toallmyfriendsband
Interview: Bernd Ihno Eilts
Cover photography by: Peter Pix Photography.
Upcoming shows in Portugal:
30.11.2017 – STAIRWAY CLUB – CASCAIS
08.12.2017 – POPULAR ALVALADE – LISBOA
02.02.2018 – CAE – PORTALEGRE
03.02.2018 – FNAC – ALGARVE SHOPPING – GUIA*
03.02.2018 – ARCM – FARO
04.02.2018 – FNAC – FARO*