Fabiano Do Nascimento on the Opposite of Standstill 

Foto: Bob Flowers © Now-Again
The Now and the Past, the Here and the There, the Space and the Void: Fabiano Do Nascimento connects all this on his new record »Lendas«. A conversation about legends, transience and feelings.

For Fabiano Do Nacimento, everything seems to be linked to music. In his home studio in Los Angeles, even the chessboard that lies on the floor next to the instruments and electronic equipment is made of guitar wood. A good friend and guitar maker gifted it to him, he says.  

On »Lendas,« the guitarist enters into an instrumental dialogue with Arthur Verocai and his string quartet. He worked on the album with Brazilian composer and producer Vittor Santos. In 2022 Do Nascimento released the record »Rio Bonito,« in 2021 »Ykytu«, and in 2020 »Prelúdio«. And now »Lendas« – in English: »Legends« – has been released. But resting on his laurels is not something that suits the Brazilian, who has been a musician all his life. In the interview, he explains how he keeps finding new ideas and why he now feels at home everywhere. 

What I first noticed about »Lendas« was the interaction between you, the orchestra and the strings. How did this collaboration come into place?
Fabiano Do Nascimento: I’ve always wanted to do something with guitar and strings. In fact, we are already finishing Lendas II. Vittor Santos is a prolific arranger and composer. He’s in Rio. He has worked with everyone in Brazil. Every musician that is known there, they all know him.

What makes working with him special?
His sensibility and work ethic. He’s very fast also. I met him back in 2017. We worked on a project for a mutual friend, Carioca Freitas. I’ve played with Carioca often, so he invited me to play guitar on the album he was working on with Vittor Santos, also with strings. Since then, we’ve been in touch and became friends. 

And then? 
During the early pandemic, we started collaborating. I sent him one song. I wasn’t thinking to do a whole album with him. Then he sent me a MIDI arrangement of the strings played on the keyboard. I was amazed.

You didn’t meet again despite composing together? 
It was all remote.

The songs on Lendas do seem like a conversation between musicians. 
Vittor understands the subtleties of playing the nylon string guitar. The way I play, I tend to play very understatedly, and softly. That’s my vibe. He liked that. He was trying to write things around that, that still kept a lot of space.

»The way I play, I tend to play very understatedly, and softly. That’s my vibe. «

Fabiano do Nascimento

What was important for you regarding the sound? 
I wanted to hear the arrangement. It does not sound natural to me when the guitar is louder than the orchestra. He told me that most people he works with want to be in front. But the way you naturally listen to a guitar is usually from a distance. We kept that in mind and created subtle melodies and movements. 

I get what you mean with subtle, but also feel like songs have the potential to evoke emotions. Strong, melancholic, and uplifting at the same time. Which emotions dominated when you were writing your guitar pieces? 
Many things I do have that feel. It just comes through; I don’t think too much. Writing music for me comes in many different forms. My antennas pick up whatever is happening. In my previous album, the solo album »Ykytu«, there is a song – also called »Ykytu«, that was inspired by a movie I watched.

And the movie? 
I forgot the name, but the story was located in the Amazon, on the border of Colombia. The protagonist is a woman who has a lineage to these tribes, but she is not aware of it. She works as a police officer in Colombia and has a really hard life. Then she has to investigate some things that are happening in the Amazon getting visions and memories of how she’s connected to this tribe, and all these things unfold. It’s cool! When watched that movie, I was so impressed. I immediately picked up my guitar. 

You draw from different sources, and also from both the present and the past. I was reading about »Lendas« on your webpage. There, it states: »Fabiano do Nascimento recalls places that no longer exist«. Could you specify that?
There are many places that I traveled to, for example in the Amazon, that have left an impression on me. I feel like time has changed them. If I would go back to that place now, it would be already different. The place could also only exist in my mind. You said the music evokes emotion. To me, it felt like it evokes imagery, memories. It takes you on a journey. Sometimes you listen to music and just start drifting off in your mind. 

Fabiano do Nascimento surrounded by Guitars / Bennett Piscitelli © Now-Again

You are from Brazil, but you moved to L.A. as a young adult. How do you define home and the feeling of home for yourself? 
I’m still looking for that answer! I feel Brazilian at heart. Brazil is still home. But I have been abroad long enough that I feel like anywhere is home. The world is home. When I go back to Brazil it feels like I get an energy that I don’t get in many other places. I’ve been in L.A. for a long time, and I’ve been thinking of moving for a few years. Because I don’t want to stay only here the rest of my life, even though I do like it here.

What made you move to L.A. in the first place? 
It was mainly family transition stuff. I had no choice. I was too young. But I’m glad it happened. 

You come from a musician family. Your uncle was one of your teachers. How exactly did you discover your passion? 
I was living in a big house in Rio with my grandma. And there was a time my uncle lived with us. Both my uncles are musicians. One played the choro mandolin and guitar. The other one played bass in Bossa Nova jazz groups. They would rehearse all the time. I was seven, or eight years old and exposed to that rich, beautiful Brazilian Jazz. I wanted to do what they did. 

From a young age, music was all around you. 
I was studying piano in school. And, I listened to all kinds of music as a kid. My grandma and I, we liked classical music. She had a collection of all the classical composers. Then I’d go to my uncles’ room, and he had a collection of all kinds of Brazilian and American music from Djavan, Guinga, Hermeto Pascoal to Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Nirvana, Miles Davis… A wide range. I was just flipping through records. I’d listen to everything. Music was very alive in my house. Eventually, I asked my uncle to teach me some guitar. Right after learning a few chords, I felt a strong connection to the guitar.

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Did you abandon the piano? 
Yeah. But the piano helped so much. I got to learn how to read music. Luckily, I learned very casually. I’d pick up what I hear. I enjoyed learning. It wasn’t something that I was forced to do. 

Do you play both on a six and seven-string guitar? 
Mainly on a seven-string. But I also play a ten-string on the album. And a soprano guitar. The song »Rio« on »Lendas« was played on a ten-string, and also the last song »Reflections«. 

When is »Lendas II« coming out? 
I hope sooner than later. From the moment of starting a project, recording until all the way through to release, that’s a process. But I don’t want it to take too long. Sometimes you can’t rush. Some things just have their own time. But I’m trying for the time frame to be shorter and shorter

I just feel like life is short. As long as we are alive and making the music, the music is alive. I do not want to wait for years to release just one album. If my pace is faster now, I want to honor that and release at that pace.