© Rita Draper Frazão

Inner Tour is a blog about People, Arts and Traveling by Rita Draper Frazão.
If you want to use my work, presented here, please send me a message.

quarta-feira, 11 de novembro de 2015

Dream come true (with Smoke City)


A dream made of Águas de Março (Joga Bossa)'s Banana,  London's city buildings, Beng Beng Beng, Tropical Forest, The Ocean, Devil Mood's Kiss, what we carry in a "Traveling luggage", and the Star stuff we are made of. In short, Smoke City.
The band Smoke City played in Lisbon and, this post is about this very special occasion.

In 1997, Underwater Love, outburst into the world, and got attention with the "Mermaids" Levi's commercial directed by Michel Gondry. They never stopped since then.

I was a teenager when their first single came out. Back in the days I remember thinking I had never listened to something like that. It was the contemporary music, the rhythm, the lyrics, the voice of its lead singer, Nina Miranda, and the amazing band (Chris Frank and Mark Brown) plus that  "international affair" deal - since Nina sang in three languages, English, Portuguese and French. It was unique, and marked a generation who looked for other thrills in music, with the electronics and DJing. Trip Hop was born.

 I became hooked from the beginning to this specific band, and I've been following their new releases and side projects, since then. And, along the way, this is not a detail, since most of them were having quite successful parallel work, specially Nina Miranda, whose voice was featured in many collaborations with people like Nitin SawhneyBebel Gilberto, Femi KutiHajime Yoshizawa, Arkestra OneLes GammasBaaba Maal, Faze Action, Troubleman, Nação ZumbiTocoJah Wabble, Earl Zinger, Seu Jorge among many others you can listen to here. Also, Mark Brown had the KV5 project and Chris Frank Da Lata (two projects where Nina sang too). Besides that, Nina and Chris did several stuff together, and later created the band Zeep.

Daughter of two visual artists (Brazilian father, Luiz Aquila and English mother, Liz Thompson-Miranda), Nina Miranda also paints, and some of her visual work is present in Smoke city's album covers (worth checking them out, see here). 

Nina Miranda is the only one remaining from the original group, and in Lisbon she presented herself with 3 other musicians about whom I'll write next.


I'm a fan of Smoke City and of Nina Miranda's work, so meeting them, being present on their rehearsal/sound check and drawing them live, moreover, on stage with them was a pleasure and a privilege! 

Nina was so eager to exchange ideas since we met and she gave me the motto, for the first drawing made, of this series. The image above is the door from the backstage to the stage of Clube Ferroviário, where the concert was. And for me this was it: a night with fireworks, colors in life, love emotion, music and lots of fun to come.


The concert started with a warm up from Pilo Adami, a musician, producer and DJ from Paraná (love that part of Brazil!) with Italian roots and based in London. He was the DJ but also played guitar and other instruments. Besides doing many things during the show, I had the feeling he also summed up a mixture of the Brazilian feel with an European touch. So I had the idea of making two Pilos, fusing in two different colors (the yellow part is made out of cellophane paper), creating a third new color, his own. I also had in mind colors that are traditionally associated with Brazil. 
At all times I think he was classy, groovy and knew what he was doing. One could say, he was the base of the band. 
He's been Nina Miranda's accomplice, the front man of Afro Samba and a member of bands like Nubiyan Twist.

Smoke City called two Portuguese musicians to play with them. 
This one is Ricardo Ayala. People might know him for his participations with Riddim Culture too. 
The major part of this drawing was made during the rehearsal where Nina and Ayala did an amazing reggae version of Underwater Love. A pity it wasn't recorded, since when the real concert took place, and they performed together that song, was much shorter. 
Ayala is a musician with Angolan roots and this drawing is about the appeal of things that come from earth and transform into fire, into creation. There's a spark in him I wanted to convey in his portrait. 


Most of the times, I am sat in the first row while drawing concerts. But this time, I was on stage, so that allowed me to draw the public too. All the persons I drew are real, were there, and inspired me very much.
The colors on the left represent the sound and the joy coming from the music performed.

Toni Clean was the other Portuguese musician playing percussion with Smoke City. He plays with Freddy Locks and One Sun Tribe too. It was so generous and humble the way he played. He was very sensitive to the group and his happiness playing was absolutely contagious! He made a difference, illuminated the music and the concert. A talented star, simple and clean. Can't wait to see him playing again :)


And finally, Nina Miranda. 
During the concert, Nina asked me to be a "Catadora de sonhos" - a Dream picker. The public would tell me their dreams, and I'd tell Nina, so that she could perform them afterwords. I loved that idea! And I was kinda comfortable with it, since dreams are so important to me, and I drew them over and over, since I can remember.

One dream I got from the audience was about a Flying Whale, so I wanted that to be on the drawing too. The red line represents the horizon line, working as the red mantle of dreams, like the one I wore during the show, that she did for me.
I wanted some element of nature (besides the whale) to be present, so I chose flowers.
Daisies represent the hippie 60's movement, peace and love themed, and Sunflowers, who loves the sun.

This drawing I've made, is a tribute and a big THANK YOU to Nina. 

To all the insomnia nights your voice could smooth. 
To the great sensibility and unique musical taste you have.
To the love for nature and joy of life you passed to me.
To the immense imaginary your made grow in my mind while listening.
To the butterflies, birds and monkeys you made my private jungle have. 
To the great artists you have made me know.
To the immense channel you opened between Tropical and European culture.
To all these intangible and deep things you've given us. 

The world is a nicer place with you Nina.

There's no possible description, whatsoever, to what I felt when I heard live themes like Flying away. It's a real testimony we move, we evolve, we are not from places, we are in places. It's human nature at its best. 
During the concert Nina sang classic songs like Underwater love and a bunch of new songs too. Refreshing to hear! Can't wait for what's next :) 
Sweets dreams are about to come, or as we say in Portuguese, Sonhos Cor de Rosa (Pink dreams).



And this one is the drawing I have made from Wilson Neves, the man behind Grooves Productions, Sound Waves Festival, and organizer of this whole Smoke City tour in Portugal that passed by Coimbra and Oporto too. 

The list of artists he represents in Portugal is quite impressive and includes artists like Smoke City & Nina Miranda, Crystal WatersKussondulolaFelix da Housecat, Kenny Larkin, Tiga, King Britt, and Frankie Knuckles just to name a few!

I wanted to use his hand (and not make a general portrait of him) because I felt that his greatest asset was human relations - how he made connections, how he stood firm, efficient and organized with all the things he had to do and, still, made part of the group with such a caring & empathic attitude. 
He's a former DJ that briefly passed by a Design course, so I wanted the look of the drawing to be very graphical. The music scores were my inspiration to the background lines pattern.
He was always "behind the scenes" and I felt his work deserved a mention and a drawing too. 
Well done! In the end, if it wasn't for him, none of this would've been possible! Thank you!

This was one of the most, if not, the most emotional concert where I was drawing. After all, it's not everyday one meets its favorite band and gets to do what one loves the most, with them. 
My heart is filled with joy, gratitude and colors. 
It's life and art happening and, the living proof that dreams come true!

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