Yet Another Love Song
O Que Não Foi Dito
"I think about music all the time," Bebel Gilberto tells Apple Music. "Now that I have a puppy, for example, I already thought about maybe five songs for her." The Brazilian singer says the songs on her sixth studio album were created in different periods of her life, before she sat down to work with Thomas Bartlett, her producer and longtime musical partner. "When I started composing it, I was taking this wonderful trip to Puglia, Italy, a whole other vibe," she says. "Then I went back to New York, sat with Thomas and we started writing. The first two songs, 'Tão Bom' and 'Agora,' came out right away." "Cliché" was written later, during one of the toughest periods of the singer's life: two days before the death of her father, singer and composer João Gilberto, in July 2019. "I wasn't even thinking about music, but Thomas invited me into the studio and showed me 'Cliché.' I fell in love. It came out right away." Below, Bebel tells more stories about each of the tracks from Agora.
"That was the first song that I wrote. I composed 'Tão Bom' with Thomas Barlett and it was so fun. He selected a few samples, some ideas, and it started flowing. This music is simple, almost hypnotic. I heard this one and immediately told him, 'Don't bother to play it anymore, I'm already feeling the idea that I want,' and so it was born. At least for me, composition is not a straight line. Many times we try to compose a song for days, not being able to actually make it work, and some days we just write it and the song comes out ready. That was the case for 'Tanto Tempo,' 'Preciso Dizer Que Te Amo,' and also 'Tão Bom.' And the lyrics are a bit autobiographical, because I sang it for Thomas, who is a great friend: 'Tão bom estar com você, tão bom te encontrar.' It was our moment, and the beginning of it all."
"We kept getting together without making a fuss of it—we didn't know what was going to happen, you know? Thomas gave me a lot of ideas to take home, like homework. When I heard the beginning of 'Agora,' I couldn't think about anything that wasn't this kind of spoken word. Because it was an exotic, exciting sound that made me think, 'This here sounds like a 007 soundtrack.' Then I recorded it at home, over a track he sent me, then we got together and the song came out."
"This song came later. It's one of the last ones we put together for the album, and it has an important story. I decided to leave New York and come back to Brazil to take care of my parents—my mom [singer Miúcha] passed away in December of 2018, and six months later, dad also left us. So when I got here, they were both sick; I left my whole life hanging there and came here, without a house, a structure. After 27 years, it was hard. With all this going on, I didn't have the mindset to think about a record. I was worried about mom and dad; I was very sad, exhausted, it was a hard time. A short but very intense period. Then, in the middle of it all, I had to go to New York for a couple of shows that were already scheduled, and Thomas called me and said, 'I have four tracks ready for you.' But I went into the studio, and there he was, playing 'Cliché.' When I heard the first chord, it was like, 'Oh my god, what is this?' Then the song came out right away. I wrote it two days before my dad passed away."
"This was also one of the last ones to make the album. Actually, I wrote this song before moving to Brazil but only recorded it when I went back to New York, a month after my dad passed away. I was worried about the Spanish, but Jennifer Charles, who is also our composer and has worked with Thomas for a long time, is married to a Spaniard and speaks the language perfectly. So she helped me with the lyrics and I recorded the song with both of them—Jennifer by one side, to make sure I was singing it right, and Thomas on the other side, wanting me to be as Spanish as possible."
"This one is about a relationship, a very particular story that I lived, which I don't talk about very often. But I really like this song, and it also has a fun story. About a year ago, we participated in a campaign for [designer] Francisco Costa, in which he used little samples of songs from the album. While we were there recording, people kept coming in and out of the studio. There's a funny part: Right at the moment when I say 'perdoar' on the song, the studio door opens and the sound leaks on the recording. I didn't want to do it again; I guess it worked out well. Of course, I took my time finalizing the vocals, but the clack from the door is there, from the day I wrote the song. I guess one of the coolest things—not just about this track, but from the whole album—is the fact that it was a very natural production, spontaneous, with no voice effect, just the microphone."
"This was one of the melodies from these Puglia days. Then, right after I came back from the trip, I met Mart'nália and we had lunch. I sang the melody to her and she said, 'I love it, let's record it.' But we didn't keep in touch, so we were only able to finish the song over a year later. She ended up doing the vocals, too."
"This was one of the first songs we made. I guess Thomas wanted to create some kind of samba, Carnaval, you know? We had a lot of fun with 'Deixa.' Right away, my manager said, 'This one has got to be the single. I love it. It's got the energy.' It came out as kind of a crazy track, with lyrics that don't make much sense, but I'm impressed because people like it a lot. It makes me happy, actually. My style is kind of melancholic, so it fits just fine to have a song with that kind of vibe. It changes the mood a bit, right?"
"This one was created in a way that was similar to 'Essence.' We were recording the voice for 'Na Cara.' I already had some sort of idea in my head, started singing it to Mart'nália, and she gave me those vocals from the beginning as a gift. Then I wrote the song right away, and it turned out to be 'Raio.' We're fast writers, me and Thomas. We have this skill, which is very cool."
Yet Another Love Song
"This one is from that period when I went back to New York, and Thomas wanted to make new music. I started with this counting thing, and then, in the studio, we thought it would be cool to have different people counting. So I called a Jewish friend of mine, asked her to sing it in Hebrew, called my German cousin and asked her to sing it in German, too, then another friend sang in French, and Jennifer sang in Spanish. I don't always write lyrics thinking it has to compromise with the music. So when I wrote 'She's crying diamonds all over her face,' it was something I was also going through in my life, but in the song it sounds almost like an acid trip. I think it's got a psychedelic vibe, and I like it. It's a special touch for the album."
O Que Não Foi Dito
"I wrote this song for dad. It was from the time the interdiction was being granted [the singer asked for her father's judicial interdiction in 2017]. He never got to listen to this song, and it's a shame, because he died just before the album came out. But for me, it was really important because I said everything that was going on, and 'O Que Não Foi Dito' is all about what was not said to him. I felt guilty many times because I was always his little daughter. But deep inside, I guess he knew I was taking care of him."
"This was also one of the very first songs we made, right after 'Tão Bom' and 'Agora.' I just love, love this song. I guess it's about that moment, a really cool period for me and Thomas, because he was on fire, doing millions of things, with a super tough schedule, and I was always telling him: 'I wish I could teleport you.' So it was an inside joke for us, really cool."