Voz Vibrante

writes to the best singers in the world


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The Focus

Lately I’ve been practicing basketball. When I indulge in a new activity I always find it rewarding to get the essence of how to improve in the art. I have noticed that when I feel the weight of the ball and focus on getting it over the rim into the basket my score rate improves.
But today I had a revelation. I did this really simple exercise where I tip the ball over my shoulder and catch it behind my back with the other hand. You can struggle with where to place your catching hand, how hard to tip over the shoulder and all kind of detail, but this time something beautiful happened. I suddenly had a profound feeling of the ball and the ball only. I could feel the path behind my back, and the exercise started to flow. When I then shot for goal I felt the course of the ball all the way into the basket.
I know from learning the bandoneon (the argentinian accordion) that the brain will figure out a map of where to put the fingers. On this instrument you can’t see the keyboard. You have to trust that your motor skills will find a way while you focus on the music.

Last year I had a chance to work as an actor in a TV show. I was overwhelmed by what I perceived as a nearly insurmountable task. I have no formal training in this art form and found a whole set of distractions and possible ways of maybe keeping the focus on set. All aspects of camera angles, where to stand, what level to keep the voice and what lines to say got me off balance.
One of the last days of shooting the actress Boel Larsson said ”Just focus on what the other actors are saying and the rest will fall into place”. This didn’t only solve my puzzlement with acting, but I took it back to my profession as a musician and I consciously tried that approach when improvising. I focused for instance on the drum playing while soloing on the organ and it opened up for a different kind of flow in where the music went.

Playing music, performing and dancing on stage is a thing I do a lot. Yesterday was a good day. We did two beautiful shows, Grinda and Uppsala, with Timbuktu & Damn!. The music and the reactions from the audience moved my hips without effort. I didn’t even consciously try to dance. The playing and dancing simply where vessels for energies floating in different directions. When I have flow, catching the music and molding it into movement comes naturally, but by examining the target of focus in other art forms I get tools for how to meditate better in the middle of the storm that a live gig can be. After 25 and more years on stages I’m still a novice when it comes to focus control.

Man, it would be great to hear LeBron James or Dwayne Wade contemplate on their relation to the basketball during a game. And where is the focus for my favorite actress Claire Danes when she’s doing a scene and the emotions flow effortlessly? How does Cory Henry perceive the music during one of his marvelous improvisations on the organ? When the musical ideas and harmonic possibilities just keep coming. There seems to exist commons aspect in all art forms when performed at a level that is elevated; A focus on the ball, a sense for the direction and an intake of the full scenario.


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Dear Tinashe

Nois3.com posted an acapella of yours some days ago. You enchanted this Drake composition with heroic pop melodies and I felt an urge to add some weltmeister chords and big atmospheres to go with that.
I know nothing of your art nor your career but if you and I don’t get world famous when people hear this music I will fry this hat in butter and black pepper and eat it.

eat a hat

For me, this is the default feeling after finishing a new song; A profound delusion of grandeur. It’s the extension of the bubbly euphoria of creating new music. The next day you are back to being the same 41 year old piece of rotting meat, but right there in the epicenter of a composition you are the Bömb.
My wife told me that she once found her sister in front of the mirror. While she gently combed her long blond hair she sang ”They will fall in love with me”. Even if the sister got bullied for years for that episode, I think it’s a beautiful illustration of a fulfilling delusion.
What’s the drive behind these grandeuresque excesses? A longing to be liked? What if I really believed in a god. Then I could compose a Cantata to honor the god and then lean back and be fully content when I felt the divine liking.

devine liking

Instead every day I’m digging, exploring, deconstructing and re-building.

Dear Usher,
your new single was just released and there it is again; The rich harmonic possibilities. It’s like the overtones of your voice is telling much more than the music is doing. I just got to jam with that.

But what’s up with the lyrics on this one? Maybe you shouldn’t settle for a life partner on basis of what your dick is telling you. A little too much detail on your manly body functions aswell. You should consider finding another speechwriter.
Your sense of melody though. No one can take that away from you.


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Dear Flora Matos

I was down with the band in Maputo, Moçambique, doing what we usually do; Playing funk for people. One night there was a party at Gonçalo Mabunda’s Arts Collective. That’s where we met. You and your friends had come from Sao Paolo to perform in Moç. We started a jam in the backyard. I instantly felt a musical connection. When I came back to the hotel I made a beat from the vibe I got from this meeting.
The next evening we met in your hotel room for a recording session. We wired my music through your TV. The 808 bass line distorted beautifully on that poor TV set.
Your friend translated a text you had explaining your love for uma morena. You wanted to know if I would approve of this concept on the beat. It was so poetic and so street in the same time. I had never-ending goose bumps knowing that this was poetry that would end up on my music.
We worked out the outlines for two songs that night.
Ever since we have tried occasionally to collaborate over the internet. Sometimes it feels like computers are the bluntest of tools. How I wish we could meet again to carve out more music.
When I saw a lofi clip of you performing in a club in Brazil I felt your kickassness again. I made a tune in sync with that clip. I fantasize how it would sound in a Sao Paolo nightclube. Big. And your voice on it. Maximum Respect.


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Dear Jean Grae

I quite recently came across your music, via an old DJ Premier mixtape. I sat by the piano playing along to your song Keep Livin’ when my tears started falling. Sometimes music hits you that way. It has happened to me listening to for instance Tom Waits or Nina Simone. And last year I was touring East Africa with my band Timbuktu & Damn!. Somewhere over Ethiopia my colleague handed me his headphones with Kendrick Lamars track Sing About Me. I cried unstoppably. What’s that phenomenon evoking emotion? Is it the human being seeping out of the music and in to the listener?
I find some of your lyrics nearly unbearably sad. It’s a fine and rare facet of rap music that I appreciate a lot. It takes courage by the lyricist to write that way. But also a well developed poetic sensitivity.
I have a correspondance collabo with one of Sweden’s finest producers, Patrik Collén. He lives up North and I live in the South. It’s an exciting way to work. The first year we didn’t even talk by phone while getting maybe five or six tracks down, sending skeletons back and forth, adding flesh, skin, features.
This beat is a child of that relationship. I send it to you as a gift with a hope that we will one day work together.

Best Regards
Voz Vibrante


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Dear Missy Elliot

Dear Missy Elliot,
when your and Timbaland’s music first came around Sweden I felt such a relief; Finally the future is here. This is what I have waited for music to sound like.
I did several remixes of your songs in that period and gave to my DJ friends. Whether I did tango:

funk:

milonga:

or my first attempt, an electro track:

your voice always glued the music together.

I love your voice. Even when you’re not singing yourself, like in:

there’s still that clarity of the song writing.
I recently wrote this really empty beat:

I figure it could be great with that amount of space for vocals. It would be lovely to hear you fill it up with your musical ideas. Please go ahead. The space is yours. 88 bpm baby.

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