Frederico7 fuses Afro-Brazilian beats with American funk, soul, dub and other psychedelic sounds. A Pan-American rocker, born and raised in Brazil, he also lived in Mexico and Argentina prior to setting roots in the Austin. Macaxiera Funk is his most recent band, but his bands have been a constant presence in the “Best of Austin Chronicle Poll” and festivals such as SXSW and Austin City Limits. He is an ambassador of Pan- American music who’s performed with Grupo Fantasma, Jair de Oliveira, Los Amigos Invisibles, Lee Scratch Perry, Cafe Tacvba, Damien Marley, among others. His festival appearances also include the Houston International Fest, Saturnalia 2018, as well as international tours in Colombia and Mexico, aside from the U.S.
Frederico7’s debut album, “Exótico Americano” is now available for streaming. Across the diverse set of ten tracks (and one remix), Frederico sings in three languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese) and brings all his influences from previous projects and personal experiences into the mix.
The celebration for the release will be held on Saturday, February 23 at the Empire Control Room with special guests Kiko Villamizar, Cilantro Boombox and Maracatú Texas, followed by DJ Manolo Black (and in between sets).
This record is an exploration of Frederico7’s journey as an exotic human being and immigrant who was born and raised in Brazil, explored his formative years in Mexico, and evolved as an artist and musician in both Mexico and Austin. Exotic can mean many things, including originating in a foreign place, to being attractive because it’s out of the ordinary, and even colorful or unconventional. This album encapsulates all of those ‘exotic’ flavors and Frederico7’s life experiences as a singer songwriter by bringing a beautifully complex cross cultural musical experience to listener’s souls.
I had the opportunity to interview Frederico about his life and the album we are about to celebrate.
EL -What can you tell me about your background in music as a child and any influences?
F7 – I can remember vividly being 13 years old in the backyard of the house – those days when the days seemed longer. Sometimes it takes one good teacher to make a difference. I was studying Brazilian/Portuguese Literature and then I started to write poetry, without knowing it was poetry. I learned to add up words (1 plus 1 +2) and how that became the poem. Years went by and in the Latin American society, there is lots of machismo, so I was not encouraged to write. No one in my family was doing any kind of art.
When I was in Mexico City, I found myself hanging with a group of people; 4-5 of them were musicians and played the guitar, drums, etc. At 17 years of age, I did not know how to play an instrument, but I could write a verse. I started collaborating with these guys, as the hunger for music really took hold. Once I was collaborating, my musical curiosity increased. When I came to college in the Austin area, I thought about taking classes in music.
As it was apparent that music is my passion, my parents were insisting that I do not go into music – they wanted me to have a different career path, but I was stubborn.
I came to college during the Clinton years, and the US was very welcoming of international students. Coming from Mexico City where I learned English and Spanish, I attended Southwestern University and in four years I received my undergrad degree. A reason to be drawn to the Austin area is that two friends, Pablo and Alex, were also coming to Austin. Sometimes forces point you in a certain direction.
EL – What is your undergrad degree in?
F7- There are some things that the financial aid did not cover, so I had to rely on my parents and they were not going to support my studies in a music career. I went into Communications with a concentration on Latin America. I did get a minor in music though! In college, I sung in the choir and graduated in 1998. By that time, it was clear I couldn’t shake the music bug. I then moved to Austin and as I look back, I went out every day – because I knew it was my “Music Masters” program without the school. I went to see great musicians; watched the drummer’s foot, the guitar player, keyboardists – all to see what their challenges were – and I instantly knew. I was comparing, contrasting everything here to Brazil and Mexico.
In my 20s, I needed a visa to get a job. I had a day job with a film and video company – did local commercials- and I am very grateful for it, as it sponsored my Work Visa. I have always been here legally, but have been here through 25 years of the immigration system (student/ work visas, etc.) – it is another layer of my history. I think this did slow down my professional development a little, but I also gained a lot of empathy towards “the others” – the populations of women who are not getting paid the same in the workforce, other immigrants.
EL- At what point did you stop and say “now is the time to do my music”?
F7 – In Brazil, I played teen handball (soccer with your hands) and it instilled in me how to be a team member, overcome obstacles, etc. This helped when I started to work in music.
My first official band was Ghandia in the early 2000s. With no wife or children (then), I could be a team member, think and do things collectively, but there is a compromise. We were together for seven years- and really were a team.
On a personal level, in 2006, I received news that I was going to be a father. It was great news, but then it was “oh my,” this will be in 9 months.
Ghandia played ACL and also played with Ozomotli, and we were charting on Billboard. Then it came time to hop in a van with other guys, BUT, it is not a living wage for yourself and another person. It was TOUGH – I left the band and told the guys to continue – it was hard for them to continue because it was a fellowship – a team. Now though, all the musicians in Ghandia have gone on to do amazing things.
Three years of my life I dedicated to being a Dad. I did not want to be gone the first 3 years of my daughter’s life. I didn’t know if I was going to return to music, but I did get depressed. Yes, I was extremely happy as a Dad, but I needed to have the expression – to be well, I needed to be creative. It is about a need to feel the creative waters moving.
Five years after my first born; I started back in Austin with my musical life and from 2010-2016, I was in several bands; my second chapter of being a musician. I began to work with Michael Longoria as a duo, Os Alquimistas. We started to perform in 2012, but I had an offer to record songs in a studio. This could have been Frederico 7, but was not.
A friend, Antonio Areas, started a studio in his home and needed a band to test it. He offered five songs for free. Antonio wanted to have music outside of what I was doing. I started calling specific musicians I would need. I had the songs and handpicked the members. It became the Suns of Orpheus. This was an experience back in the Austin scene. Sons of Orpheus felt great, but there were still lessons for me to learn then.
In 2016, I was still missing something. It was a different time in my life. I was trying to understand this; constantly writing songs and with different bands – I tried to not make it harder for people to understand me, considering that I am from South America, Mexico and Austin. Ultimately, I decided I have to make something to be happy – to be more comfortable as a musician, but also as a man. In a sense, in the last 18 months, I started to embrace a solo career. All experiences have led to this point.
EL – You wrote all the songs on this record?
F7- Yes, I had some collaborators. In some (songs), I thought of a certain feeling, which led to who and when was I to collaborate with. A long time friend, Greg Jones is a co-producer and I co-produced some with Adrian Quesada too. I thought of two songs I would ask him to collaborate on and I am happy he said yes, since he is always busy. It is important to have an extra pair of ears in the room; someone to be honest with you.
We discussed writing and he said: our personal stories have power – I really believe it. I feel when we have a forum to share stories; we find so much we have in common, more so when I hear personal stories, I start to see myself in them. A central message of my life is living and adapting to different places. Part of the reason for the title – people ask me where I am from (with so many guessing different areas of the world). I played with the stories/DNA, etc. and think we are all ‘Exoticos.’
Aside from the album release party this month, Frederico will be hosting the Brazil daytime showcase (during SXSW) at the Sahara again on March 16th and he will announce bands soon. This is the 11th annual show that has been very grassroots. Others have been host, but this is his 2nd time.
You can find more information at frederico7.com.