Lucio Rebello

Lucio Rebello has a problem. A unique, difficult, (maybe good?) problem. The Brazilian-born instrumentalist and current NYC native is… too good. That’s right. You heard it. The Berklee College of Music graduate and creator of Virtual Jungle is too damn original! Producers known the world over have told him, “I love your music and your voice. But there’s so much going on musically, that I don’t know what to do with you”. Apparently the industry isn’t always a supporter of work they can’t categorize – but the acclaim Lucio receives from his fellow musicians alone is enough to keep the artist pushing... not to mention a great fan base.

Rebello’s self-titled debut came in 2005, but the latest work is an effort titled “Cycles”. It contains the kind of sound that Lucio has become known for (a mix of progressive rock, jazz, electronics and bits of Brazilian influence), and is “simpler than the previous album.” Rebello continues, “(It’s) More direct. But it still features the same fusion of styles, only perhaps in a more subtle way. The title-track is full-on electronica, but with guitars and some crazy synths. The rest of the album is more rock-based.” Lucio is busy working on some film scoring as we speak, but it won’t be long before he’s back on the road and releasing more new music. Check him out. There’s a whole bunch more to get into, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Lucio Rebello
PEV:  With a rich collection of styles, how would you describe your sound and what do you feel make you stand out over the others in your genre?
Lucio Rebello (LR): My music has elements of progressive-rock and fusion (jazz-rock), electronica and Brazilian music. The Brazilian influence is subtle, showing up mostly in the lyrical melodies, rich harmonies and syncopated rhythms that I frequently use. The uniqueness also comes from trying to combine these seemingly disparate styles in a concise way – no fifteen-minute opuses in here! Cinematic-rock? It makes sense, considering that I studied to be a film composer, and have recently gone back to it. But I’m a little reluctant to use it, since the boundaries of the genre (and its bands) are not yet clearly defined.
PEV: Born in Brazil but living in New York, what kind of music where you into growing up? Was anyone your main influence?
LR: I’ve always had a curiosity about the history of all music styles. For instance, if I were listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan in one week, the other I would be tracing old records of Albert King. I liked the directness of pop music, and was particularly fond of songwriters who weren’t afraid of trying new things, like Peter Gabriel and David Bowie. Grunge also had an impact on me. As my chops got better, I played lots of Jeff Beck, Steve Morse, Steve Vai, Rush and King Crimson. Living Colour and King’s X too. Radiohead and Jeff Buckley were also big influences. Though I’ve listened to jazz and Brazilian music as a kid, I only really got serious into studying and playing these styles shortly before attending Berklee.
PEV: Now that you’ve been able to play in the business. What was it like for you when you first started out?
LR: It was exciting, because I’ve had no concept of “the industry”. My goal back then was to be original. Later on I was told I was too original! That was frustrating. I remember one famous producer who worked with Led Zeppelin and Ozzy telling me: “I love your music and your voice. But there’s so much going on musically, that I don’t know what to do with you”. Unless they can put you a tag and you have a significant following, labels won’t invest on your music. There’s no such thing as artist development anymore. I’ve had a lot encouragement from other great musicians, though, and that kept me going.
PEV: Do you remember the first time you thought to yourself – “I am really onto something!”?
LR: In 1998 I recorded an EP with Odd Search, my rock band in Brazil at the time. Though the production sucked and the lyrics were kind of lame, every guy in the band knew that we had found something special during those sessions. We weren’t emulating our idols anymore. There is a great sense of pride when you find your own voice.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Lucio Rebello show?
LR: I try to keep things fresh every time I go on stage. Since I have fantastic musicians playing with me live, I let them do their thing. Sure, we do have arrangements, but there’s always room in it for personal expression and improvisation. Hopefully the audience can feel how much fun we’re having and join us in that.
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?
LR: Let’s rock this place out! lol
PEV: Tell us about your time at the prestigious Berklee College. What was that atmosphere like for you as an artist?
LR: It was great, particularly the first year or so. There was such a diversity of music styles going on, so it was the perfect place for me. Later on, the studies got real intense, and I started feeling the competition around the college, which I guess, also had its positive effect, because it prepared me for the real world.
PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?
LR: It’s mostly about life: Love and relationships. There’s always been a strong autobiographical aspect to my music. I’m trying to get away from that a little bit, and come up with characters and situations that don’t necessarily have a connection with my personal life. After living in NYC for 8 years, I feel that I have plenty of stories and new characters to draw from! lol
PEV: Tell us about your latest release,  "Cycles". What can fans expect from this work?
LR: It’s simpler than the previous album. More direct. But it still features the same fusion of styles, only perhaps in a more subtle way. The title-track is full-on electronica, but with guitars and some crazy synths. The rest of the album is more rock-based.
PEV: Do you ever find yourself getting writer’s block and if so, how do you get over that?
LR: Sure, we all do. Whenever I feel that I’m not being able to create, I try to perform or listen to new music from other artists. Reading a book or watching a good movie also helps. That can inspire me back into “the zone”. If it doesn’t work, a few days traveling can shake things up. Sometimes, silence is the cure.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Lucio Rebello?
LR: I was a skater and a surfer in my early teens! I was really into it. Hosoi and Martin Potter ruled my world! lol
PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?
LR: I think it was when I performed at the Skol Rock Festival, in Brazil, around 96’.  It was the first time I performed for a big crowd (couple of thousand people). I was high on adrenaline!
PEV: What one word best describes Lucio Rebello?
LR: Curiosity.
PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?
LR: I’ve only done short tours, so my impressions are mostly positive. I enjoy the camaraderie between the musicians and traveling to new places.
PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
LR: I’d love to play in Paris or London.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?
LR: They’ve all been very supportive. It’s been a really long time since I played in my hometown. The last time I did play, ten years ago, it was great. The crowd enjoyed it very much. I’m in Brazil now for a few months, composing a score for an animation feature film. So maybe this is the time to throw a concert over there, whenever I have some time off the movie.
PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
LR: I enjoy reading, and also watching movies. As far as sports go, I really want to go back to surfing and playing tennis.
PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
LR: I’ve been listening to Woven’s “8 Bit Monk”. It has some great sonic textures.  As far as guitarists go, Oz Noy’s “Fuzzy” and Joel Hoekstra’s “The Moon is Falling” are both quite innovative. Check them out!
PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think you would be doing as your career?
LR: I’d like to be a filmmaker, a chef, or a luthier.
PEV: So, what is next for Lucio Rebello?
LR: I’m writing the music for this very cool animation feature film here in Brazil. I had to change my original plans of touring to promote this album because of it. But I couldn’t pass on the offer, as I really wanted to go back to film scoring. Once I’m done with the film score, I’ll start recording a new electronica album. I don’t know if I’ll release it under the Virtual Jungle name or not, since the music will be a bit different from I’ve done in the past. In the other hand, my fans know me for my eclecticism, so I don’t think they’d be shocked or alienated. Hopefully I’ll release many records, regardless of trends, or the creative and economic crisis in the music business.
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