An Interview with Deolinda and Nelson Carvalho

Photo of Andy VanDette with Deolinda(This post is also available in Spanish.)

Andy VanDette (pictured with the band in the photo to the right) has been mastering music from Portugal and Brazil for years. One of his clients is the quartet Deolinda, who are now on tour in their native Portugal, as well as the UK and Germany, until June. Deolinda is Pedro de Silva Martins, his brother Jose Luis Martins (guitars), their cousin Ana Bacalhau (voice) and her husband Jose Pedro Leitao (bass), and together they play an optimistic and faster-tempoed version of the classically fatalistic fado. Their second album, Dois Selos e Um Carimbo (Two Stamps and a Seal), released in April 2010, hit the Portuguese charts at #1.

I spoke briefly with the band and their producer Nelson Carvalho, who also works with other chart-topping bands in Portugal such as Wraygun, Clâ, Virgem Suta, Sergio Godinho, David Fonseca, Ornatos Violeta, Rita Redshoes, Christina Branco, and others.

MW: How did you find Deolinda?

NC: They chased me for a while. I was not feeling too keen on working on what someone told me sounded like fado. Then I was sent a demo with a very nice booklet and the music was a very refreshing way of playing the old tired Portuguese fado. They knew what they wanted, all of the songs were good, and I connected quite easily with the members of the band.

MW: How is it to be a family quartet? Is the music-making more enjoyable? Or more complicated?

Deolinda: It is quite nice, actually. Being in a band is like being with your second family, because you travel together and go through so many things together. For us, because we are related, the process of getting to know one another, musically and personally, happened way before we were in Deolinda. When the band started everything just went faster and easier. The sound was already there, perhaps because the human connection was already there.

MW: How was this recording different than the first album?

Deolinda: With Dois Selos e Um Carimbo, we wanted to try out new things in terms of song structure, themes and sound, but we also tried to maintain some of the characteristics of our debut album, Canção ao Lado. So we decided to record all the songs live on tape, with all the musicians playing and recording at the same time.

NC: It was a live setup, with clear eye communication between them. Deolinda is more jazz ensemble, and less pop group.

MW: How did you find Andy VanDette?

NC: Pedro Tenreiro, A&R from Valentim’s label, introduced me to him on the first Suzana Felix album we did together. I like how he works and we have built a solid working relationship. He is great, and I don’t talk about people this way very often!

MW: Did your lives change because of the #1 song in the Portuguese charts? The Beatles say that people started treating them differently, did this happen for you, even in small ways?

Deolinda: Well, they did change. For the better, of course. We had other side jobs we had to ditch, much to our content. We became full-time musicians and did nothing but music, so it was quite a thrill to be able to do that. We did not feel that people in general started treating us differently. However, we can say that all our technical requirements for the live shows started being met by promoters without much negotiation, which has made life on the road quite a lot nicer.

MW: What’s next for Deolinda?

NC: Touring and touring and the next CD maybe, with me I hope.

Deolinda: Lots of mileage on our part, which means a solid and dynamic show, with every ounce of feeling and delivery we have inside of ourselves put into it.

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