Brazilian musicians have a long history of absorbing American and British musical influences and then spitting out something completely new and different. In the '60s, Os Mutantes and Gilberto Gil caught a whiff of the psychedelic revolution and birthed their own hallucinatory genre, tropicália. More recently, the Rio de Janeiro performer Seu Jorge has been traveling the world playing Portuguese translations of David Bowie songs. Now the Rhythm Foundation hopes to continue the tradition of Anglo-Brazilian musical fusion by bringing Tiago Iorc to the North Beach Bandshell July 16 for his first Florida concert.
The Brazilian-born Iorc came upon his English-language influences by osmosis. When he was a baby, his family spent a couple of years in Cambridge, England, and as a sixth-grader, he lived in Raleigh, North Carolina. By that time, he was already strumming a guitar and marrying himself to music.
"My mom used to sing to me and my brothers when we were all little kids. Maybe the love for music came from her love for making us feel loved," he tells New Times. "Music has that power, I suppose — that power of connecting us all to something truly meaningful. As soon as I laid hands on an acoustic guitar at age 8, it all made sense to me, and something just clicked. The connection was immediate and effortless and keeps on giving me the chills."
Though his time in foreign lands was brief, it had its influence. "Having these different experiences as a kid is so enriching. Everything sinks in so seamlessly. Whether the influence came from the sounds or just the minor idiosyncrasies from each and every place I've ever been to, there's no doubt it's all built up into what I put out there." So much so that when Iorc released his first two albums, 2008's Let Yourself In and 2011's Umbilical, the lyrics of his folk-pop songs were written in English rather than his native Portuguese.
His last two albums, however, have been written in Portuguese. The transition was a natural one, he says.
"In the end, it's all about getting a message through. Idioms and words have their own intrinsic music, and the sound is usually what drives me to search whatever feeling I'm channeling. Usually, a melody will come up and I can tell immediately if it will fit better in one language or the other. But there are no pros or cons, just different singularities for each one."
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His songs in either language have found admiration in some unlikely places. His English-language debut became a hit in Japan of all places. Simultaneously, producers of Brazilian telenovelas have found a soft spot for Iorc's voice. He released a compilation called Novelas featuring all of his compositions that have soundtracked steamy soap opera scenes. "I've fortunately had over a dozen songs placed in telenovela soundtracks over the years, but I have never actually written anything specific for these productions. It's always been songs taken from my albums and featured as themes for certain characters. But I'd love to write themes and build music and sounds based on a plot and a specific story. I'm sure it'll be something I'll end up doing in the near future."
Those future compositions will have to wait. The rest of 2017, Iorc says, will be dedicated to touring, including Sunday's show in Miami Beach.
"I'll be touring until December, mainly in Brazil but also Europe and of course a few cities in the U.S. The ride has been amazing, and I can't wait to see you all in Florida. I'll be singing songs from my latest album and also some stuff from my previous records. It'll be fun."