Rafael Martinez Cláudio

Illustration by: Avgvstv.z

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

Occupation: Psychologist

Click here to read the interview in Portuguese


1 – Why did you, as a creative person, decided to study “Law”? What was the big reason to think “Okay, this is what I want to do with my life”?

There was no reason why, since I’ve never really decided that. I went to that course to find more about stuff. I always had many doubts about what I wanted to do with my life, even today. So at the time it was the least bad thing I thought it could give me some opportunities. It was what I, for some reason, thought was the best, influenced by some TV series and movies, which was a big mistake. I went to the course not because I thought it was really what I wanted, but because thought that it could show me what I wanted to do within the scope of law or other things around law.

I never really thought about being a lawyer, I thought it might be a useful course, but I was wrong. When I started I hated the course, but my older colleagues told me that during the first year things we would never learn anything useful, that the second year it was the thing! In the second year I also hated it, but I was loving the university environment and colleagues. And then my older colleagues told me, again,  that the second year was still very introductory, that the third was really the core.

So I got to the end of the third one and I still didn’t like anything, just Criminal Law. And then I realized that the opinion of my older colleagues wasn’t worth anything to me, so I did not ask them anything else again, but since the course was almost done I thought I should end it. And at the end of the last year I knew that I wasn’t going to practice Law. I gained a lot from the social point of view, but only found Criminal Law useful, which later led me to the path of psycho-criminology.

2 – Why did you decide to take a new bachelor’s degree? This time it was “Psychology”.

First, because I didn’t like the first one. Second, because for the area I wanted I needed bases that I would not have in a master’s degree. I thought a new bachelor’s degree would be useful, even without being absolutely sure it was what I wanted.

Again, I went to a course without being sure what I wanted, but here I was a little more certain. Later in the course I came to confirm that psycho-criminology was really what I wanted. Now I have a professional objective, in Law the objectives were mainly to be in the university bar.

3 – Where will the “Psychology” course take you professionally speaking?

Most likely out of Lisbon, quite possibly out of Portugal. It is complicated to have work opportunities in Lisbon in this area, most of them are in Porto. If possible I will try to stay in Lisbon, but it’s unlikely, it’s a matter of opportunities. I would like to work in the area of criminal investigation, more specifically in the part of scientific research that supports the criminal area.

“My experience of producing music came from high school, where I was sitting next to a friend who during a history class began to sing the names of the dictators and using the verb “to like” and associating all this with gastronomic products.I remember it started with “Me and Stalin like piripiri”. And I had that in my head and I thought, “Man, I gotta put this into a song.””

4 – When you studying Law you were involved in several cultural projects, two musical ones, “Prime Time Nation” and “Gato por Lebre”. Regarding the first one, at what point does someone without experience as a musician decides to create those samples and expose their music?

This was born like all my projects, in the university exams phase. I always create things to distract myself from study. Prime Time Nation came out in the second year of Law because since I loved Law and had nothing to study in exams phase, I decided to create this (laughs). My experience of producing music came from high school, where I was sitting next to a friend who during a history class began to sing the names of the dictators and using the verb “to like” and associating all this with gastronomic products.I remember it started with “Me and Stalin like piripiri”. And I had that in my head and I thought, “Man, I gotta put this into a song.” I downloaded a rudimentary program and sang that phrase with various effects. And from there came a mini project that became famous in that school. Prime Time Nation, then emerges from a speech by Che Guevara at the United Nations, which is a speech I find quite interesting, not that I fully identify with the ideology there, but rather with the form and scope as it is done. Since the speech had seven minutes, I remember that I wanted it to be slightly differently, so I made some guitars and effects and I created a song from it. I was quite amazed at how successful the project was, especially outside of Portugal.

The project ended for two reasons, first of all because I can’t motivate myself to do things on my own, normally the things that I create alone are those that develop faster, but in the end are the ones that motivate me the least. And the second reason was because I believe things have a cycle, the project gave me everything I wanted back then. When I had invitations to concerts, I thought it didn’t make sense to create that live. I thought it was a funny experience, I even got to record with a bearded Texan via the internet, produced music with several friends, all that I basically intended. When I tried to continue, I felt that I was repeating the product and it no longer satisfied me. We can say that the project is in hiatus.

5- Regarding your band “Gato por Lebre”, how was the transition from electronic music to a more traditional project, folk-alike?

I can blame the previous project, because at a time when I was still trying to keep it up in a different way, I thought I would make it live and still rehearsed with some people. I’ve always been more motivated to make music with more people rather than to make electronic music alone, although it had its purpose, it was quite therapeutic for me. Later I joined Jorge Almeida and Luís Feijão and tried to create a project that was evolving from that starting point. For me it was a natural transition because Portuguese popular music is actually my most ingrained taste. I’ve always loved making musical fusions, something I’ve explored a lot in Prime Time Nation.

“Gato por Lebre” had a positive growth during a year when everything worked very well, but then when Luís Peixoto had to leave Lisbon and go to Porto we had to find someone to replace him. I think that since then things have not worked so well again, first because it’s understandable that the people who found a project have a greater emotional connection than the people who come in to play songs that already exist. When we tried to call more people we lost some of the momentum. It was a natural process of dismemberment.

We still tried, even when the initial structure was just me and Jorge, but we realized that it did not make sense to be dragging the project. Without being the original four I think it does not make sense to get back on the project. We ended up with a new song recorded, so I think we had an interesting ending.

6 – How and why did you create “Fakebook dos Escritores”? Did you think the project would be so successful?

I think it’s my project that has had some real success. I always thought a good story is worth more than a bad truth. Once again the project itself was born during my examination period, now while I was studying Psychology. The idea comes from before, from a joke that I always had alone, which were the so-called surveys that usually people do. As I have some solidarity with these people, because I  worked in a Call Center for two days, however I escaped, I know how annoying that kind of work is. So I always try to cheer them up and play with them. Whenever you call me home I make a character that is not me. For a long time I pretended to be a foreign butler, I also tried to imitate a robber. And once I started to say I was Júlio Isidro, then it was funny, because it was the people who called me to hang up the call. Following these jokes, I thought it was nice to have someone retracting Fernando Pessoa (portuguese poet) answering a call saying that it wasn’t him but one of the heteronyms. This idea stayed with me until a few months later. I then spoke with a friend of mine who knew how to draw and asked him to try to make the writers having a dialogue. As he is very organized, up to this day I am still waiting for this drawing, in fact he even says that if he had done that drawing I had never done Fakebook dos Escritores. SinceI couldn’t draw I got a site that simulated facebooks and invented a facejack from Álvaro de Campos to Fernando Pessoa. I didn’t tell anyone that it was mine and I put it on Facebook without worrying too much about it. I remember coming back there two weeks after and the page had thirteen likes. Two or three days later it had two hundred and the next day it had almost two thousand. From there it rose until it reached almost forty thousand. I also started doing some comic strips with Miguel Angelo. Lately I returned to the original with Miguel Vieira, who is a guy who had a project with me, the Paradox in Black. Once again, since I get tired of doing things on my own, I involved people in this project and that’s the best part of it.

I’ve been talking with Miguel and there’s an idea to integrate this project as an animation project, not only about the writers, but as a humorous project with short sketchs of ten/fifteen seconds. It’s just the same concept in a different area. I don’t think this project has a scheduled date to end, but I also think it won’t go on forever. While it makes sense we will keep doing it. There’s always the surprise effect, since the posts with more success are not the ones I think are funnier.

7 – You have also been connected to poetry for several years. You even edited a book. How does this poetic vein work, do you take it seriously?

 

Poetry is a bit different. The other projects aim to have public visibility, poetry doesn’t. I wrote some things for contests, but I never won contests, no sweepstakes, nothing. I often get second but never win. In the poetry contest where I have an edited poem, that happened because I was second. In short films I already have several participations and congratulations, but never won. I write a few short stories in prose sometimes, but poetry is something I do very rarely. It has to do with a certain state of mind, I can’t be very happy nor very sad, for me it is very associated with a state of melancholy. This year I applied again for a contest, with something I had already written, but I certainly will not win. The first poem I wrote in my life was about my grandfather whom I never knew. And that’s where I started to enjoy writing poetry, although I never wrote about myself. I don’t write about anything personal, but the writing is intimate, which means that I pretend, but I pretend intimately.

8 – Tell me about a moment of your childhood that has influenced you.

 

I don’t need to think too much, I won’t choose a moment, but many moments that I think define very much what I am today. The humor we do, in general, comes from the feedback we have from others. My humor comes from various moments of my life with my grandmother. My grandmother taught me something that eventually is connected with my sense of humor, she taught me to observe. When we went to family dinners she told me to keep quiet and watch people. And it’s something I love doing today, people are very funny when they don’t know they’re being watched. Much of what I am today, especially in humor, comes from that, from the ability to stand in the subway and look at people. I often laugh a lot by myself, because I wonder what people are thinking. The person with whom I laughed the most in my life was my grandmother. I remember once when we were a wedding and there was an old lady talking to my grandmother, but she didn’t understand a word of what the lady saying. And my grandmother kept answering “Yeah, Yeah, of course” while telling me that she was couldn’t understand anything, (in Castilian, because my grandmother was Spanish). After a while, the old lady went to the bathroom and I asked my grandmother “How did she understand what the lady was saying, to which she replied,” Well, when she makes a sad face, I say, “poor thing”, when she makes a cheerful face I smile.” And my grandmother was able to talk to this lady for an hour and a half without understand almost anything.

Without realizing it, I began to do this in my life, because now I’m more deaf. In taxis I often didn’t understand what they said and I tried to have a dialogue with them without understanding anything. And it’s something I really think is very funny. I think my sense of humor defines me, so my grandmother was one of the most important people in my life.

“There is a writer of whom I can’t remember the name that said that Portugal is one of the smallest countries that produces the most smallness. He said this sarcastically, as an idea of ​​art being proportional to size, which is a totally false idea. In Portugal there is enormous creativity and artistic production.”

9 – We live in a difficult time in Portugal, in what way do you think creativity and the arts are supported in Portugal? What do you feel about your own experience?

 

There is a writer of whom I can’t remember the name that said that Portugal is one of the smallest countries that produces the most smallness. He said this sarcastically, as an idea of ​​art being proportional to size, which is a totally false idea. In Portugal there is enormous creativity and artistic production. I know the Spanish reality well, because I have a family there, I go there many times, and I notice that in Spain, although there is incomparably greater protection for culture, there is a much more linear production in many areas. Perhaps because there is such protection there’s a less need to innovate, because if I am a Castilian musician I know that I don’t need to do something so innovative to have an opportunity to be heard, this is also the same for a writer or filmmaker. This lack of protection in Portugal is not good, but the truth is that in Portugal we know that it’s not enough just to scream, I have to shout differently from all the others to get further. And this is something we do very well, we are innovating quite a lot in the musical level, just look at “Dead Combo”. In the literary sphere I think that the best known writers are not those who are innovating.

We have in Portugal one of the greatest living poets, Herberto Hélder. I think that in Portugal there is a large-scale innovation, which makes sense historically for a coastal country with a relationship with several countries. I remember a chronicle of Miguel Esteves Cardoso in which he said that there couldn’t be a Portuguese nationalist who was racist, because it’s a contradiction of terms, since Portuguese nationalism presupposes anything but racism, because Portugal has always liked to mix with other people. While the Spanish killed the natives, the Portuguese copulated with them. Portugal is a country with a very unique identity, linked also to all other cultures. Portugal is a good country to stimulate creativity. I don’t think this is harnessed, but I think we are the ones who define politics and not the other way round. I think it’s only worth having civilization if we want to be civilized. I think evolution is never made from top to bottom, but from bottom to top. We’ll realize that later, because there are a lot of people who don’t give up, whether to make their music, to write, to promote other artists, there are many people who will not give up this rich culture.

10 – You are connected to various streams of creativity. Do you think that there should be an organization / platform that bridges the gap between creative people and those who need creativity, meaning people with ideas and without means and people with means but without ideas?

 

I think there are already some platforms of the sort, they are just doing it in the wrong way. Whoever makes these bridges and platforms thinks essentially of profiting from it. I remember seeing a site that made agency and promotion of young talents from various areas, there was room for everyone, even for those who did a good “açorda” (famous portuguese dish). At first I found the idea very amusing, but I realized that the idea was only to profit from people’s ideas. Obviously there must be profit, but it should be in a transversal sense, they should profit from the success of people and not only with the ideas of people, because then they are the ones to be benefited first and only after that comes the artist.

There is also a lack of training in order to understand what good ideas are, instead of paying for something cheaper. I remember a time in Portugal when we were listening to Brazilian pimba style, however that phase disappeared and has returned now in recent years. I recently read an article, which I don’t know whether it’s true or not, that said that Anselmo Ralph is more successful in Portugal than Angola, where he is considered a pimba singer here while here he is considered an above-average singer. Nothing against Anselmo Ralph, who seems to me quite nice and cool, which does not imply that I find his music good. My question is why is Anselmo Ralph, without any depreciation for him, has a lot more airtime than other national artists? I think that’s where someone who promotes fails, I don’t know what the solution will be, because I think that there is a lack of cultural education, or maybe not, maybe the one who sells the most is the best. I think from this point of view we would be culturally poorer, but we would get richer financially.

11 – If you could rule Portugal what would you do about the crisis?

 

 

I would adapt the system that Miguel Esteves Cardoso purposed once. I would ask the TV stations to make a public announcement of a secret meeting on a place to be defined with all the Portuguese, but nobody could talk about it because the IMF and Troika couldn’t know about this meeting. In this way, the meeting would be available to everyone except the father and mother of Durão Barroso. Then we would all meet and agree that the money that came from the Troika would be divided by all the Portuguese, after that division I would say that when Troika would come here we would pretend everything was fine and that we were doing our best, which in reality we are. And then I would say that the money had been spent on what they had decided. I would also raise taxes, but tell people not to pay them. This to say that I couldn’t raise taxes any more and that I needed more money. If Troika lent more money I would repeat the process until the day they didn’t lend any more money. If they didn’t lend any more money, I would call a meeting without Durão Barroso’s mother and father and tell people that now, in order to deceive Troika, we all had to give five euros to a fund and say that it was a solidarity fund . I would call Troika again, and if they believe in my story and gave me more money, I would repeat the first procedure, otherwise I would pick up all the money from the fund and run away. It seems to me like a solution of the same kind of honesty that has been used lately, so it doesn’t strike me as shocking, and no one will think bad of me, at least the people who voted for them.

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