“Some of the people there (in favelas/slums of Brasil) were really wonderful people, and you want to be by their side because they’re living in the poorest places you can imagine but they are so happy—and they’re happy not because they don’t care, but because they have music, they have relationships with people around them and that makes them important.”
Listeners outside of Brazil may not immediately recognize the name Beto Villares, but with his self-titled debut album for Six Degrees Records and production credits behind one of the biggest selling international records of 2007 (the GRAMMY nominated CéU album), this is sure to change. For the past decade he’s developed into an established musician, composer, multi-instrumentalist and music producer. Back in his home country of Brazil, Beto is one of the most in-demand producers for award-winning movie soundtracks, hit-television shows, and multi-platinum selling recording artists. Now with his self-titled release, he is shaping up to gain the same reputation worldwide.
Beto is responsible for the soundtracks to TV shows including City of Men (the television adaptation of the well-regarded book and movie City of God), Antonia and Filhos do Carnaval, and also composed the music for hit films like The Year My Parents Went on Vacation and the Golden Globe nominated Behind the Sun. As a producer, he has worked with such acclaimed artists as Pato Fu, Zélia Duncan (of Os Mutantes), and the previously mentioned CéU. Those artists returned the favor when Beto was recording his first solo album, Beto Villares, on which all of them appear, along with Antonio Pinto and Siba.
Beto fell in love with the wildly varied musical traditions of his native land while traveling around the country in the late 1990s, doing research for the documentary Música do Brasil, which he put together in collaboration with anthropologist Hermano Vianna, in which the legendary singer-songwriter Gilberto Gil hosted. The project eventually flowered into a multimedia project that spanned fifteen TV episodes and a four-CD box set.
He sees his own music as coming from all of these traditions, but from no one of them in particular. “When I recorded this album I was really into Brazil’s musical diversity,” he says. “I’m enchanted with the complexity – the local scenes, the pop scene, both traditional and trashy music from Brazil. Music for feasts and rituals, commercial music also.” In his travels he learned that “we have a culture created in a completely irresponsible way – Brazilians take everything that appears in front of them and mix it in a pot without ever questioning whether they should do that or not. It’s been that way for centuries. We’re like a bastard culture, and the result is that we have literally more than a hundred musical styles here. It’s inspiring.”