Shortly after arriving in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2017, guitarist Zé Victor Gottardi joined eight more Brazilian and Portuguese musicians to form Carapaus Afrobeat. Before landing on the old continent, Zé had already played in the Abayomy Afrobeat Orchestra, of which he was one of the founders, and had also played with Jards Macalé and Céu. His goal with Carapaus is to revere African music, faithfully following the concept of the word afrobeat: “beat of afro origin”.
“I realized that the afrobeat scene was very vague [in Lisbon], there was only one band, They Must Be Crazy, [who are] very good by the way. I booked a Fela Day, which is an event to celebrate Fela Kuti’s birthday, and I set up Carapaus for the occasion. The members were very well chosen, they’re all monsters”, says Zé.”On the guitar with me there is Gabriel Muzak, who played with Frequency Selectors and Funk Fuckers, as well as Adriana Calcanhotto. On the drums there’s Del, who has played with Roberta Miranda. On keyboard there’s Cláudio Andrade who has accompanied Gilberto Gil, Jorge Ben Jor and Seu Jorge for 10 years. On the bass Ricardo Dias Gomes, who played with Caetano for 10 years. On the trumpet, Cláudio Gomes, one of the band’s two Portuguese [members]. He’s very active in the Lisbon music scene. On the trombone André Pimenta, also Portuguese, on the sax Alexandre Pinheiro, a saxophonist from Belém do Pará, who is fundamental to give a more Amazonian smell to the band. In percussion we have Duvale, a master who has ruled the timbal wing at the samba school of Mangueira (Rio de Janeiro), in addition to playing with Gabriel o Pensador and Sandra de Sá”.
This musical quality, added to the lack of afrobeat bands in Portugal, helped Carapaus quickly gain prominence. His commitment to maintaining all the original cadence of the African rhythm is clear on all eight tracks of the group’s second album, Dois. The influences of Fela Kuti and Tony Allen (who played on the single “Do Allen / Diabo na Terra”, along with with Boss AC and Oghene Kologbo, which preceded the album’s release) are evident. But it is not only the Nigerian source of afrobeat that supplies components. The bases also have funk, jazz, ska, elements of Portuguese musicality and spicy Afro-Brazilian seasoning, taking references from Naná Vasconcelos, Tim Maia, Elza Soares and from the batuques of African religions.
“We like to be broader with the issue of influences. We have Afrobeat in the name, but we take it more literally. Everything we like came from Africa: jazz, blues, funk, hip hop… everything had a direct influence from the African continent or its immigrants, so we think it makes more sense for us not to just be stuck with the Nigerian style of playing”.
This whole merger generates good results. The texture created also reveals the Latin DNA that Carapaus music has in its genetics. The different experiences used lead to a groove with Latin American rhythmic patterns, despite being recorded in Europe across two sessions. It has a swing. Some videos of live performances show the energy that the group led by Zé transmits. However, their upcoming performances had to be cancelled, as with everyone else, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, just at the moment when they had found their space, ascending in the Portuguese music scene with their new album freshly released.
“There was no time to do practically anything.
At first we were very weak, and little by little we resumed our
activities the way we did. We recorded a series of songs at home,
literally each one at home, and it was super cool. [The videos are on YouTube.]
But we are resuming contacts with festivals, sending material and doing
what we can”, says Zé with optimism. “We have content already recorded
for about 2 more records, but we still have to relaunch Dois,
since we were unable to play as we had planned. We hope that in 2021 we
will be able to circulate in Europe, because the band has extreme