Mallu Magalhães

Illustration by: Avgvstv.z

Interview by: João Miguel Fernandes (originally published in 2014)

Occupation: Musician

Click here to read the interview in Portuguese

1 – If you had to chose a person that has influenced you a lot who would it be and why?

There are so many! Nijinsky, Akira Toriyama, Leila Dinis, Lonilson, Domingos de Oliveira… The difficult thing is to think of someone outside the arts, literature, dance… Maybe Robert Anton Wilson is the furthest from my area.

2 – Tell me about a moment in your childhood that you remember immediately. 

Once, as usual, I rescued an insect from the pool. He was far away and it took a long time to find a branch. I watched his last attempts at swimming, and his paws weary until he stopped moving, just when I finally managed to reach him with a long leaf. When I put him on the floor, I couldn’t believe that that little thing that had been alive had died and, heroically stubborn, I breathed the softest I could. After a long time, I saw one of his paws trying to stretch. To this day I can still feel the thrill of having resurrected that little animal.

3 – How did your parents influence you to follow music?

I think that because I’m they are professionals from other areas (my dad an engineer and my mom a landscape artist), I always saw music as something else, as a way of expressing myself, as something to thrill or just to snuggle. My father played a lot of guitar at home, and my mother always asked me to sing. I even made a band with my sister! But we ended up having a very short career, with just a few rehearsal attempts in the basement. Knowing my reactive personality, I think that the limits that were imposed on me in my adolescence, when I began to make music professionally, made me wanted to be a musician even more. Maybe if they had been libertarians, I would have become a veterinarian, an administrator, or something else.

4 – If you could rule Brazil, what would change? Taking into account the political, economic and social context.

Wow… I don’t have the capacity to answer this…

“I find it very curious how two countries with the same language and of sister roots may have developed musicalities so particular, but now they gradually find themselves again.”

5 – How do you see the current cultural scene in Brazil? And in Portugal? At the musical level.

I find it very curious how two countries with the same language and of sister roots may have developed musicalities so particular, but now they gradually find themselves again. The modern, existential aesthetic that mixes the traditional acoustic instruments with the current sounds and electronic formats presents itself in various forms in both countries… Internet has given us this privilege of following everything from anywhere.

6 – What is the main secret to make a viral song on the internet?

I also wonder about that… Of course there is in me the natural desire to communicate with the greatest number of people, to be loved, to touch someone, to create something. But this viral success is a mystery! Maybe in time we can identify patterns. Or not. Perhaps what triggers curiosity is just the novelty, perhaps in a small detail that we don’t even realize, but that our head wants to go back to, back and back to that URL.

7 – You performed several times abroad. Ever thought of making a career singing only in English, to reach a wider audience?


The problem is the lack of time. I wish I could do everything I imagined. I try to separate a few weeks in the year for these tours in the United States and Canada. They are countries with admirable infrastructures and an amazing audience.

8 – How do you look at your own success with only 22 years?


I’m really proud. I know how much work I’ve done, how much I’ve endured… and I feel proud. Just as I feel proud in my little big daily successes: a good soufflé, a smile of a loved one, a chocolate in the coffee saucer…

9 – How was your collaboration with David Fonseca at Rock In Rio Lisboa in 2012?


My gratitude for David is immense. He and his team welcomed me, protected me, were really special. Neither the allergy to pollen nor the little practice time we had (only one day, just after arriving by plane) were able to even affect the amazing memory that remained, as well as the memory of that crowd singing some excerpts from my songs.

“When I left my parents’ house was a long and painful process, full of horrible moments. The love we have for each other has eventually trampled our sanity.”

10 – What was it like working with Mario Caldato?


Mario was a magician in the studio. I think he totally understood my music, he helped me with some english words, and he didn’t seem to give much care to my childishness on the AR (extinct studio where we recorded at the same place where The Beatles also recorded). I confess that I have the dream of being able to work with him one more time, so that we can talk about sound, choose microphones, elect takes, and so I can say that I have become more and more fan of him.

11 – What can we expect from the project “Banda do Mar”?


“Banda do Mar” is an inevitable encounter. We are a trio of great friends. We are three musicians. Whenever we want, we will be in that format, for pleasure, and for profession. Now we will start a tour in Brazil that soon goes to Portugal. I think these trips will give more life and shape to the band.

12 – What kind of music did you listen to when you were younger?


I’ve grown up with the internet coming up. I’ve searched a lot, via documentaries, wrote down the names, and rushed to the record stores to hear what I could find. I heard Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Tom Waits, and Jack Johnson a lot. It was perfect for our family car trips. Everyone liked it. And, to this day, it’s my soundtrack for several occasions.

13 – If you could play in a movie of your choice, what would it be and why?


I’d love to play the soundtrack of any movie! Making soundtracks is a big dream of mine. I can’t get enough of the classics of Henri Mancini, and so many other Disney composers. The soundtracks of Kassin, Yann Tiersen… so many idols! I’d love to play any movie.

14 – If you could choose several musicians with whom you never played to make a band, who would they be?


Dr. John, Elza Soares and Manu Chao. What a gang!

15 – Have you followed the Portuguese music market? Who are your favorite artists?


I like it very much and I follow Capicua, Nick Nicotine, Orelha Negra, Os Quais…

16 – What’s it like to tour in São Paulo?


Being in your hometown always brings more excitement. I always want to be proud of my family and, unlike the other places, I get nervous!

17 – Can you name one of the most difficult moments of your life?


When I left my parents’ house. It was a long and painful process, full of horrible moments. The love we have for each other has eventually trampled our sanity.

18 – Do you have any funny stories that come to mind?


In the first interviews in English, I was impressed by the faces of the journalists when I said that my grandmother, who is a lawyer, taught me “to sow”, meaning that I had learned from her to sew.

19 – What are the main differences between the artist Mallu Magalhães and Maria Luiza off the stage?


To play, for me, is when finally I feel safe, strong and calm.


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