Nick Suave

Illustration by: Sèrgio Neves

Interview conducted in 2014 by: João Miguel Fernandes

Nick Suave Música Portugal

Occupation: Musician, audio production, cultural management and event production

Click here to read the interview in Portuguese

1 – Which people have influenced you most in your life?

My parents and my friend João Cruz. My parents, because naturally we ended up going to get from them a lot of things, especially over the years and especially in the moral field. Clearly I have my father’s quiet side, but at the same time I have my mother’s more electric side, which never stops and never stays quiet. Musically João Cruz, who I met in 1998 when I was about 21 years old. The reason for choosing him is because he is a person with whom I identify a lot and being a very good person, in addition to being a rock encyclopedia, he has over 5,000 CDs at home and ended up influencing me a lot musically. He was always making compilations, often on tape, which he would later hear everywhere, especially in the car.

2 – Is there a particular moment in your childhood that you want to highlight?

Well, I have several stories. I don’t know why, but I remember breaking my head and panicking, and not stop asking my mother if I was going to die, I was about five years old. But I remember spending a lot of time listening to music as a kid. I took my parents’ records and spent hours listening to music. I think it was a lot of work for my parents, I even set the house on fire and other shit. As a teenager, curiously, I calmed down more. I think I spent most of my teenage years at home, reading, not even going out at night, I spent a few years there in a strange period. I got to a moment when I was afraid of being displaced, so I defended myself with the “oh, I’m different and stay at home reading”, but maybe it was my inability to be in the coolest scene, but luckily the thing changed later, I know who’s still stuck on that.

3 – How did your connection with music started?

When I was a kid I started to learn piano, I liked it a lot. I remember when I was 8 or 9 years old I went to a music school and it was boring, because you had to learn the theory before playing, there was a level of one or two years before you could actually play and that was super boring. I ended up giving up, later learning again, but music was never really my dream, only when I got to high school and met guys with other influences like metal I started thinking “wait a minute, none of this has keys” and I started learning guitar, with my dad’s guitar that we restored and I went crazy with that. From then on I bought an electric guitar, but interestingly the first bands I participated in I was playing the drums, since there were a lot of guitarists, but few drummers. My first band was formed in my 12th grade at Barreiro and we rehearsed during the week and that’s where I learned the most. Later I had another band like The Smashing Pumpkins and there is a time when I start to see some more inspired themes in the surf scene, around 97 and Los Santeros are born.

“There’s people who think I have an incredible life because I’m easygoing and I’m always laughing, but it’s not easy. My job is from monday to sunday and it gives me pleasure, makes me feel occupied creating stuff ( …) “

4 – Tell me about a moment in your life that was particularly challenging.

There is a certain natural imposition for those who are the son of a factory worker in which your parents still struggle financially and socially even today and you are a lot in that thing too. I studied philosophy and other stuff, basically running away from music, but the truth is that I’m a musician and producer and everything I do has to do with music. Living in this inconsistency is a huge challenge. When I opened the studio I felt that I was taking an important step and that it was what I wanted, but it was challenging to assume that it was really what I wanted. Of course, there are always two aspects that relate, the music itself or associativism and production. I’m not sure which one I belong to, I believe in both. It’s a challenge to be in this area, especially with social security and everything that people already know, unfortunately. It was only a few years ago that I left home, my parents helped in what they could, but it was never easy, it took me a while to find some stability for myself. I already had jobs from 9 to 5, but for what? What was the objective? I did it 10 years ago, but doing it limits me a lot, it atrophies me. There are guys who think I have an incredible life because I’m a good-natured guy and I’m always laughing, but it’s not easy. My job is from Monday to Sunday and I enjoy it, it makes me busy and creating things, while in a “normal job” you play a role, that’s what. I think I’m very similar to my mother in that, who is always creating new projects and doesn’t stop.

5 – What has changed in the music scene in Portugal since you started making music until today?

There is a clear distinction between what is said and the commercial environment, than what is actually the content. This last part I think is still the same, you have an underground that works, that the guys do because they like to do it and you have the others. Internet doesn’t change the essential that is the human being. People like to imagine that they are living in an amazing era, but I think I am living in an amazing era because I’m the one who is living it, during other times I don’t know. Musically, there were always cool bands, it’s now easier to record with more quality, although before that it was always possible to record. Pachuco has always worked with the material that was there, what matters is the music, if you point your phone at a good song it will always be a good song. I think there was an evolution, but it’s always relative.

Good music has always been made. Of course, internet has made it much easier, but at the same time there is a stimulation in relation to the “karaoke star”, where the creativity part is subdued in some types of television contests. In the past you had the crowd that was characteristic of these karaoke contests, which took a different path than ours, but with this globalization, instead of globalizing the good, it was the karaoke medium that globalized and even entered the underground world. It’s a strange time that leaves people thinking about the artificial and material and forgetting that there’s a big difference between a creator and an imitator and there are people who don’t understand that. I think the biggest difference is that the time things last are a lot less, we consume things very quickly, I don’t know if it’s good or bad, as long as it works and things go well, now being stuck in nostalgia makes no sense to me.

6 – Do you think that economical crisis encourages creativity and forces us to find different creative processes?

No. Do you remember a time in history when there was no creativity? You may not have had the same access to it, but it always has been there. Creativity is something stronger than social conditions, it’s something inherent to human beings, which as a species has nothing to do with social criteria. In music there are several areas linked to poverty, like the blues, but at the same time you have others linked to richer areas. I think whoever has this political speech in their art will always have it, because there are always problems. There is an economic difference between 98 and now, but I don’t think it’s something that justifies a big change. On a moral level, yes, you are going through a perhaps dark time, I don’t know if you had hit the bottom or not, but it started a long time ago, mainly in Portugal since its formation as a country. Nowadays, the biggest crisis is the fact that parents have children just because, yes, they get the kids to do five hundred thousand things just to say that they do it and at the same time they do nothing with them, they put the kids in front of tv shows like Secret Story or participate in them. The crisis that we are experiencing is this and is not about money. It has more to do with fame, which is something that marks this passage of the century a lot, because it’s fun to be famous or talked about and that is very bad for young people. So I think that the economic crisis can, on the contrary, hinder the creation . Let’s say I want to make a giant cockerel, then you need money.

“(…) and he invited me to do some tests on a radio and I worked with him and with another friend of ours who was Américo, basically until the day that Américo decided, in the studio, to shout “Caralho” during the children’s show and then our show ended.”

7 – Tell me about your nickname “Picos”.

Well, it was basically when I cut my hair. It was a day in the middle of the week when I left school and decided to go cut my hair and it was a little spiky, but only the day after, because wind. And there is a guy in my class, when I go into the room to have a German class, who says “Wow, you look like a Picos (Spikes)”, as if this made any sense. Of course, in the next break it was Picos, but only for the high school guys, specifically at my school, not for the guys on my street.

8 – How does Barreiro Rocks started?

This festival first emerged as Pachuco Fest, in 2000, with some bands from the label. It started, therefore, with the aim of promoting our bands, but it went quite well, we had a full venue and we thought we could grow more. In the second year we started to work with the City Council and we did two days of festival in a pavilion and already with international bands and money involved. Then there were elections and they thought we should change the name of the festival and put Barreiro’s name on the it. Someone suggested “Barreiro Garage International Band Festival”, but we decided on “Barreiro Rocks”, which was simpler. From then on, we continued with a more defined aesthetic line. The Festival has always grown and changed, and nowadays it’s better defined and has become increasingly multidisciplinary, serving various areas and using rock and roll as a social expression. We have worked with younger kids in order to stimulate them in musical creation, because unlike some guys of my generation who think that these kids are useless and that they are favored because they have facebook, I think the opposite, the kids are more lazy, they want to do things, but they don’t have the conditions that my generation had, where there were more rehearsal rooms, cultural spaces with safer nights and full of people, which caused fluidity of ideas. Suddenly there is a generation that is without all of that and that is accused of being privileged for the existence of facebook. Personally I felt stimulated to do things because I saw older guys doing things and it’s necessary to tell the kids this, to show them that it’s easy. I think my generation was more privileged, because the night life was more busy, Barreiro seemed like Bairro Alto, you had people from Lisbon and Almada coming here, with a very diverse crowd.

9 – How did you meet Fast Eddie Nelson?

Wow, there are stories about him that are even illegal, so it’s better not to tell (laughs). Well, when I entered 10th grade, the guy who sat next to me was him, who was already a few years ahead specially playing the guitar, because he played quite well, but more than that he had an electric guitar, which it was a great thing at the time. We had a sense of humor that fit and some common references. Of course, he gave me a series of music, thanks to his older brothers, references that I didn’t have. In the meantime he dropped out of school.

The following year, when I started 11th grade, I met him and he invited me to do some tests on a radio and I worked with him and with another friend of ours who was Américo, basically until the day that Américo decided, in the studio, to shout “Caralho” during the children’s show and then our show ended. There were two studios and one of them, where there was the morning show, which was made for the children, was the presenter and several children. And in the other studio were us, but on Sundays nothing happened, there was no news, just repeating the same stuff. And one day, when we were going to record the missing news, we entered in the recording room and asked the technician for a “tape” to record what was missing and he said “a beating? Do you want a beating? ” with his girlfriend by his side, he was basically playing smart ass, and when he gives me the tape and I start testing I say that I wasn’t listening to anything, because I had the phones connected to another place, but the microphone was at maximum. And at a certain point Américo sends this mythical scream and we start to see the woman in the children’s program in shock. So what happened was that the sound technician forgot to turn the volume down at that moment, so it was broadcast during the children’s program. Suddenly radio calls started to threaten the woman on the show, because they thought she was the one to say it live. And then in the afternoon we had a meeting with the radio owner and the sponsors to assess the damage, because they wanted to cancel the sponsorships and we had to listen to the recording of that again. I would love to have a copy of that, but at that time it was impossible to ask. It wasn’t too serious for us, it was more serious for the sound technician. For a kid aged 15 or 16 that was amazing. There are many stories, but I think we will stop here. The history of the radio doesn’t have that much to do with him, but it is funny.

10 – What is the reason for Barreiro to have such a strong musical connection?

Does it have more than other places? I think that the areas have nothing to do with anything, the guys make music everywhere and it doesn’t seem to me that Barreiro has more or less bands than any other place. Of course there is a festival with the name of Barreiro and a group of guys who have been making music with more or less the same names for over a decade, those thing create a strong cultural root and is promoted as being strong, but this idea is created by people out there. For those who are here, you have the connection that you always had and that exists in other cities. I think there is a cool scene, very dynamic and this community is more and more aware of what exists, while a few years ago each one walked to his own side, now we are more united, but that doesn’t increase the number of artists or quality, it’s still another social issue, although there is an image that there is a big thing here. Of course there are good things and cool bands, some with more media coverage than others, but there is everything, from DJs to rock and metal bands, but I also tell you, Barreiro doesn’t have as many bands as 20 years ago and at that time people spoke less about “the Barreiro scene”. It helps to have a festival named after the city, because it’s easier for outsiders to catalog the thing, but it’s worth what it’s worth. I don’t see this as a spectacular cultural place, it has conditions for that and people are more aware of it today, and that is more important than having more or less people creating stuff.

11 – What is the reason for the creation of your various personalities, for example, in Bro-X?

I really like music and some music I like is hip hop, and I also like theater. So there was a time when one of the bars here in Barreiro had nights when you could perform. And on one of those nights I gathered a group of friends to present an improv with beats and breakdance, that originated in me speaking with Ricardo, that invented Bro-X. We started to download beats from the net, then I started producing and that was it. Bro-X are the current Los Santeros, which were basically a performance, and which were constantly in an exercise of mixing ideas, were always the same jokes, always the same concept, while Bro-X, despite having picked up on that point, have a greater musical and aesthetic freedom. Hip hop is good for that because it has the lyrics and you can play with a lot of things. In one of the Fnacs in Almada there was someone who felt uncomfortable because our concert was happening and we were singing Karla Puta, despite the warning that the show was for people over 18, but that person decided to go and complain to Fnac’s complaints book, and managed to be more ridiculous than Bro-X themselves, and I’m talking about a girl who was my age, that’s it, that’s the moral crisis we live in.


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