Friday 12 January 2024

Tetine, Music For Breathing / After The Future - full interview

Brazilian tropical mutant punk funk trio drop video for 'Music For Breathing' 

Jakia Cheatham - Myles

Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/SLBFCMYC16Y

“Music For Breathing” is the brand new video & single by the tropical mutant punk funk duo Tetine taken from their new album After the Future – out now on Slum Dunk Music, 2023.

Formed by Brazilian musicians/artists Bruno Verner, Eliete Mejorado and cellist Yoko Afi, Tetine have been producing a series of singular works intersecting electronic music, performance art, film/video, and spoken word, and acting in experimental contexts both in the music and art scenes since their creation in São Paulo in 1995.

“Music For Breathing” is a dreamy electro-acoustic meditation for cello, treated voices, electronics, and organ, dedicated to our planetary ecosystem in erosion.  Conceived by Eliete Mejorado, the video is an ode to Earth’s ancestral future as the only possible future. One that was already here: a non-human cosmic, forested and aquatic inherited future moved by the movement of rivers, trees, the stars, insects, birds, plants, landscapes, roads, stones, light, the sky, and the sun. It is a slow piece about electricity and a poetic allegory against the centrality of humans and capitalism as the mufflers of other presences.

“Music For Breathing” dwells on such complex relationships motivated by a strong desire for collective change, a shift towards a greater understanding of the cosmos without the need to produce for ‘progress’. The track also comes with “Spaced Out in Paradise”, a washed out, hypnotic melancholic track sung by Yoko and Bruno as they search for another planetary contact.

Stream TETINE’s latest album After The Future now here: https://open.spotify.com/album/1cPPymclUihI1oNdsKopST?si=yxUCdht6TE6iijLA4HTKHw

TETINE play London’s Rich Mix on 19th Jan 2024. Find out more and get tickets here: https://richmix.org.uk/events/tetine-music-for-breathing/

We had the pleasure of sitting down with TETINE to discuss music, touring and plans for the future: 

Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind “Music For Breathing” and the concept behind your new album, “After the Future”?

The idea to create “Music for Breathing” and the new album “After the Future” came during the first lockdown as we began playing together every day—myself, Bruno, and our then 10-year-old daughter, Yoko. We ended up composing a series of slow and atmospheric pieces for electronics, synths, organ, and cello while stuck in our flat under the influence of watching too much of the terrible news of the time. Much of the inspiration behind the work and the tracks we produced for the records were born out of constant contemplation of the idea of respiration, asphyxiation, the virus itself, acts of suspended breathing, and vertigos related to the experience of living in urban environments in political, social, and philosophical transitions. We were sonically and poetically trying to deal with the persistent sense of claustrophobia, panic, and a state of insecurity that took place in the world, and at the same time, channeling a real desire for collective change, for a greater understanding of the cosmos through our music. One in which the Western idea of ‘production’ and ‘progress’ often dictated by those in power could no longer make sense in the fractured world we live in. Both records were born as a kind of utopian sonic fiction around these themes.

“Music For Breathing” is described as a dreamy electro-acoustic meditation. Can you walk us through the creative process behind this particular track?

The track was born from the many improv sessions we would do at home at the time. I think it began taking form when Yoko and Bruno found the vocal melody and the harmony they wanted for the piece. I then recorded only Yoko’s vocals, and I began treating it electronically as I played with some images on Final Cut—just the voice and then her cello. I thought that they had created such a beautiful and simple melody, and I had this idea that I could make Yoko’s vocals resemble a spooky and alien chant. One that preserved both the organic and ‘human-like’ characteristics of the original vocals recorded and yet acted as a half-human, half-machine melancholic and strange element throughout the track. As I found the tone, then we began again improvising over the vocal line, adding layers of synths, and an organ counter melody. Yoko then added other cello layers, we doubled some of her vocals, and the whole atmosphere of “Music For Breathing” took shape. That was the first track we recorded, and from then on, we started creating the repertoire of After the Future.

In what ways do you hope the music and video convey a message about our relationship with the planet?

I believe that we all know by now (or at least feel) that our ecosystem is in frank erosion. Even those who are still in denial about it may feel that something is not quite right. There’s been so much destruction, endless forms of extraction, exploitation, social injustice, terrible wars, an inundation of poor mental health, and all this in conjunction with unexpected emergencies and climate shifts around the planet. Our “Music For Breathing” video was conceived as an ode to Earth’s ancestral future as the only possible future. Bruno and I were very influenced by the thoughts of the wonderful Brazilian philosopher and indigenous thinker Ailton Krenak, whose beliefs include the perception of the meaning of ‘life’ as transcendental. Something that is beyond our understanding and, therefore, undefinable by words and verbal language. “Music For Breathing,” both as a video and a piece of music, tries to evoke this notion of a future of the past without being necessarily nostalgic. One that was already here: a non-human cosmic, forested, and aquatic inherited future moved by the movement of rivers, trees, the stars, insects, birds, plants, landscapes, roads, stones, light, the sky, and the sun. The video is about electricity. For me, it also conveys a poetic allegory against the centrality of humans and contemporary capitalism as the ‘governors’ and mufflers of other presences.

How do you see music as a medium for expressing and challenging societal and environmental issues?

I think that music is a form of universal language. You can establish distinct types of sensory communication through sound and achieve modes of cultural, social, or political engagement. A piece of music may grab your attention in so many different levels than a purely verbal discourse would do. It touches me directly as no other art form can do. I use it as a poetic way of communicating my feelings, but there are so many ways and formats one can do it. No matter what kind of music. For me, making music is a powerful way to express, celebrate, and challenge any form of sentiment. And this, of course, includes societal, political, historical, philosophical, environmental, amorous issues, and so on.

Can you share some insights into the dynamics between the three members when producing your music?

Our music-making has been permeated by a domestic experience since the early days when we used to live in São Paulo. We produced ‘After the Future’ at home in East London during the unbearably intense hot summer that hit the city between July and August 2022. We set up our studio in our flat’s kitchen to better capture all the acoustic instrumentation (in particular, for the recordings of the cellos) as we would have much less noise interference from the street, and ended up assembling all the tracks in that space. It was such a beautiful process that involved me and Bruno and our daughter Yoko, who became the third member of Tetine and contributed with cellos, vocals, some additional keyboards, and who co-authored most of the repertoire in After the Future. The three of us became so intimate musically since the first lockdowns, and this record is the result of such dynamics. It was a natural kind of amalgam, as there was not much to do during this time except play together, watch films, listen to the news, and talk about the strange world we live. This was fuel for composing, and that’s how it all came about. It was an amazing period of collective discoveries for the three of us, much differently than if we were all each separately working on our own things musically. It also coincided with Yoko starting to compose her first pieces. She had just made a track called “Aurora,” which had also been released on a Brazilian electronic music compilation Baphyanas Brasyleiras (and that we ended up later including on After the Future) as it was aligned with what we had been composing for Tetine. So, it was a natural process the way she incorporated herself in Tetine’s world participating in videos and composing. And that’s how we ended up with a tropical mutant DIY piece of electronica and experimental chamber music.

In the text Bruno wrote for the “Music For Breathing” vinyl’s insert, he uses the expression ‘agile and naive as a child’ by Oswald de Andrade, to refer to the process of making these pieces, while at the same time commenting that the album was composed with the ‘arrogance of a second childhood’; a quote by British filmmaker Derek Jarman that has also influenced Tetine both visually and philosophically in so many ways over the years.

As a duo that has been active since 1995, how do you see Tetine evolving in the future, both musically and thematically?

The process of composing ‘After the Future’ was a way for us to review characteristics of Tetine’s own trajectory as a duo. Almost like a form of ‘self-cannibalization’. We went back to our roots as Brazilian artists living in the UK and to the beginning of our history as an electronic duo formed in 1995. Also, we went through places that were dormant, understanding things that we did in different ways in the past.

I see Tetine evolving into a powerful experimental DIY chamber ensemble, amplifying our blend of electronic and acoustic instrumentation while re-dimensioning our interest in the politics of day-to-day living and the domestic through the relationship between nature and technology.

For more information visit: https://www.instagram.com/wearetetine/ or contact terry@cannonballpr.com 

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