I remember seeing Bruno Pernadas, by-then a jazz student, performing with Walter Benjamin in Lisbon before the latter’s departure to London, a couple of years ago. Walter Benjamin would normally have Manuel Dordio playing guitar in his live band, who’s a very talented guitarist in his own right, but I almost gaped watching Pernadas’ playing wonderfully well in such a relaxed way. I even recall, weeks after that, talking about it with a local musician, who, if I’m not mistaken, asked or wanted to ask Pernadas to join his live band.
Some months later, Julie and the Carjackers, the band Pernadas and João Correia formed, released their EP, which contains a number of very enjoyable songs. Then followed their debut album; live performances here and there and some time later “Wait By The Telephone”, one of the tracks on the album, got hold of me. However, I was far from imagine that that flawless guitarist would come up in 2014 with the most brilliant epic tune I’ve heard in years, “Ahhhhh”. I was also far from imagine that I would gape again, this time even more widely.
While listening to his album, one could find himself/herself thinking about 21st century bands such as Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear or Animal Collective, but I think Pernadas’ output, which might be clear to some listeners, is that at certain moments he surpasses some of his contemporaries whose music we might find similar to his. I believe that this has to do with one thing only and that’s Pernadas’ ambition; he dares to do very appealing and unusual sonic combinations or intertwine music genres, just to point out a few examples.
Thus, he does not only want to deliver a good song, he dares to experiment; turn expectation and genre conventions upside down (the album cover, in which we can see a turtle, the symbol of knowledge, upside down is clearly a hint of such intention) and not to replicate the formulas, the demands of acquired knowledge. That’s precisely what we admire in some of the groups I’ve mentioned, because they also did it at least once.
Francisco Torres (FT): Why did you decide to do your own album now? Did it simply happen to be in 2014? Could it have been earlier or later?
Bruno Pernadas (BP): It was mainly a question of time; of having some free time to work on it, because I had already done a solo album in 2008, but I decided not to release it.
FT: Can you tell me a little bit more about that first attempt?
BP: It was quite different from this album, it was kind of chamber music made by a jazz ensemble. However, I wasn’t pleased with the end-result, particularly with the musicians’ performance.
FT: But were you at that time thinking about doing an album closer to pop grounds?
BP: I knew I wanted to do different things, different albums . If it would sound like this, I didn’t have the slightest idea.
FT: Do you think that this album is a consequence of the considerable variety of musical genres you’ve been working on, from jazz to pop? You’ve been playing with several pop acts such as Márcia and Walter Benjamin.
BP: I don’t think so. I really don’t think it is linked with that. I believe it has to do with the music I’ve been listening since I was a child, which I wasn’t able to explore before because, at an academic level, you don’t get away too much from jazz or classical music. Thus, I simply didn’t have the possibility to do so.
FT: Why did you name your album ” How can we be joyful in a world full of knowledge”?
BP: I think that’s a hard question to answer. However, I believe the sentence in itself gives the answer, don’t you agree?
BP: Yes, maybe. I’m not sure if I read that sentence in an interview or if I made it up in a way. Regardless of that, it came up when I was recording the album and it is a question that makes sense not only to…
FT: A question without a question mark.
BP: Yes… I think the sentence makes sense not only concerning the songs on the album, but also with pretty much anything.
FT: Forming the band Julie and the Carjackers with João Correia, was important to you, concerning studio work, for instance? When you recorded both the EP and the album, was it your first great experience production-wise?
BP: I had already recorded music with several groups. Even as a music student, I had rock bands like everyone else. It wasn’t that initiation experience when you learn all the pretty relevant stuff, but you’re constantly learning when you’re recording, even if it’s new studios; different material; different ways of thinking about music production.
FT: Do you think that the difference between this solo album and the music made by Julie and the Carjackers is to be found in the experimental side; in exploring a wider palette of music genres? Julie and the Carjackers’ music is more pop/indie-oriented, with more songs in the verse-chorus form…
BP: Yes, I think so. The songs I do for Julie and the Carjackers normally have that structure you’ve mentioned. When those tunes come up, I usually leave them aside for Julie and the Carjackers. Moreover, the creative process is not the same, so that also explains the difference between them.
FT: Finally, since you’re speaking to Blue Walrus and you know already what animal we would like to be, we would like to know what animal would you choose.
BP: A crocodile.