Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Leonardo Campelo Gonçalves, stage name Negro Leo, stands out from Brazil’s flourishing experimental music scene, without a doubt. By adding elements of free jazz, no-wave, African-noise tropicalia, and floating psychedelia, he gives Brazilian pop music a whole new and surreal dimension. With lyrics addressing delirious images of everyday life, Negro Leo’s quirky sambas are a bold representation of Brazil’s bustling society of nowadays.
1. Be like water or like Peter, the apostle
2. Believe enough to doubt and doubt enough to believe
3. We are all Marcos.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
My mother. Once i had to struggle against her ideals, it made me strong. But in the other hand, i am exactly, with my daughter, the way she raised me.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
My mother had a lot of greatest hits albuns of many motown and pop artists from 60’s and 70’s. I remember going to the turntable at the age of 8 to play nightshift (the comodores). My father gave me the sense of samba, the sense of community and joy.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
I have no idea. It’s impossibe to answer this question.
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
I’ve been in berlin. 2014. I went thru a lot of shit, part of them, probably due to the fact that the common citzen is not able yet to assimilate city’s cosmopolitism. The security guard at the museum, the bus driver, the guy at a performance exihibiton who thinks he can teach you how to educate your own daughter during the performance. These apparently silly misunderstandings that show challenges to this big city. But i had lovely time at oranienstraße and tempelhof.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
I was born in Pindaré (Maranhão), then i moved to Rio de Janeiro, and now i made Sao Paulo my home. I’ll pick a place for each one of these cities. Pindaré is a small city in the Coco babaçu zone, the homonimous river has piranha fishes and porpoises. Claudio Coutinho track at Urca neighborhood, amazing hiking and diving area. Agua Branca park, where we practice “temis”, an unlikely tennis played with frescobol racket in a precarious cement court.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
It was a long time ago, probably freak out of the mothers of invention.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
People who i ‘would’ like to collaborate with are dead.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
at Audio Rebel (Rio de Janeiro) i did my best concerts.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Technology is everything to anyone, from the can picker to the aircraft engineer, but somehow, in between, is the artist pushing it to another level by its symbolics interventions.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have a younger brother, he is schizophrenic, and i’m sure i’ve learned from him, back in time we discovered his ‘disease’, much more than i’m able to already understand. what makes me an artist today is part of what my brother feels in his disease.
Photo © Rafael Meliga