[INTERVIEW] Miranda: the bucolic enchanting​ project of João P. Miranda 1

[INTERVIEW] Miranda: the bucolic enchanting​ project of João P. Miranda

4 Setembro, 2019 0 Por Artes & contextos
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By Where the Music Meets

Miranda is João P. Miranda do-it-yourself ticket to fame. That’s what we think. The musical producer from Portalegre (Portugal) turned himself into a singer-songwriter while keeping the producing tasks and taking on his hands every single job that comes to mind when we think about launching a new music project. Inviting several vocalists to his home-studio in the middle of a natural park, he built his first songs releasing Happiness into the world a few months ago.

 

This is a mind-blowing song that touches every single corner of our soul like many few songs can. The cinematic ambiance all-around and enchanting vocals are merged into an overwhelming bucolic sonority. Happiness feels infinite in meaning while it also can feel light. A song that builds up dreams or accentuates the darkness depending on which feeling the listener embarks in.

Obsessed about this first single we wanted more, so we went to have a conversation with him. This is the result. Meet Miranda:


Introducing Miranda

[Where the Music Meets] Who are Miranda?
[João P. Miranda] Miranda is a Project that I created in 2011. I had dreamed about composing and singing my own tracks. I always wanted to do everything: composing, writing the lyrics, recording every component and instrument. And as I have my own home-studio I also want to take care of all the production involved. Meanwhile, I met Liliana who was studying here in Portalegre. People said to me only wonderful things about her voice, and at the beginning, I did not quite believe them. Maybe because it’s not that hard to find people who can sing well, I wasn’t expecting for her vocals to be mind-blowing. But they are.

Miranda - João P. Miranda

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One day I heard her sing and I immediately knew she had a fantastic voice. We got to know each other, and soon after we started talking regularly, we made some work and composed some songs together.

[INTERVIEW] Miranda: the bucolic enchanting​ project of João P. Miranda 2

Liliana Bernardo who gives voice to several of the first singles from Miranda.

Professionally, you are a sound producer?
Yeah, I am! At the time Miranda started recording I was producing and recording for a band called A Jigsaw their album entitled Drunken Sailors and Happy Pirates. I recorded the album and it was a very complex one, with 27 instruments in one studio. At that time I had already recorded some albums for the internationally known Clean Feed Records. These challenges made me grew as a sound engineer and studio producer.

 

It projected me work-wise and I started to have a lot of bands coming to Portalegre to record with me. That was important because I am based in Portalegre (almost Spain) and it’s not easy for Portuguese bands, who rarely have the resources to focus 100% on music, to have the time to take one week off to come and record. And it’s very hard to have bands who live exclusively on music (in Portugal). Typically, they have to earn their money working at least one other job.

[INTERVIEW] Miranda: the bucolic enchanting​ project of João P. Miranda 3

Photo of João Miranda home studio.

The Before

And, you never had a musical project before Miranda?
I was in several bands, but I don’t think any of them had the goal of being serious projects. I was in a rockabilly band with a friend who is the brother of Ana Miró (from Sequin), and in another band who did a merge between Ska and Metal… But both were more hobbies than bands with big goals. In terms of sound production, I recorded with a lot of people and did live sound for a lot of bands. I also work with Salão Brazil in Coimbra, and I am technical director of Jazz ao Centro (an initiative that organizes concerts and artistic residences in cities in the middle of Portugal, and they have also a label called JACC Records). I also recorded many albums for Clean Feed Records. Recorded for A Jigsaw, Flávio Torres, Murdering Tripping Blues… and a lot of Jazz-related artists such as Carlos Barretto, Chad Taylor, Ken Vandermark… Can’t even recall them all. Live, I did sound for A Naifa, A Jigsaw and currently, I do a live sound for a band called D3O. I’m also working in the CAE Portalegre (Center of Arts and Shows of Portalegre) which is a venue with great shows and extraordinary technical conditions, and I am a professor of sound design at Portalegre Polytechnic Institute. And that’s it! It already takes most of my time (laughs).

As Miranda, you released your first song entitled Happiness some months ago…
I already have 5 tracks recorded as Miranda, but I only released one so far, yes. But the other 4 are ready to be released. I decided to put Happiness out into to the world to understand the reaction around it. I want to gradually release the other tracks and at the end of this year to release a full EP, or even a debut album.

Natural Inspirations

Have you consciously been inspired in any bands or sonority to build Miranda sonority? 
In 2011, I was listening to a lot of Rock. From the most varied genres, but a lot of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s rock, but I don’t quite know how everything came up together. A Jigsaw were probably a strong influence… And also, some projects like Woodkid, and Lana del Rey first songs, Bat for Lashes too. And then a lot of classical music. Happiness is heavily influenced by a Schubert song for example…

One time I said to a friend of mine that I wasn’t fully picturing how Miranda sonority was being created, and I recall a thing he said. He was in Portalegre spending some time and watching a concert and stayed at my house. One day he said “You don’t understand where this comes from? Comes from this place! The place where you live!”. And he was right. I think that living alone in this place, in this house, surrounded by the natural scenery of the Serra de São Mamede, in the middle of a natural park, really inspired a lot the sonority of Miranda. This bucolic feeling… In Winter days with rain and fog, there are a lot of things that are transported into my music.

Miranda - João P. Miranda

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Lyric-wise, is there a theme or inspiration common in the several songs you’ve written and recorded as Miranda? 
Yes, there is, but it sort of happened by chance. These five tracks that I’ve finished, two of them have my own lyrics, and three of them were originally written by Liliana’s friends. It was curious how all of them talk about unrequited love. And the ones I did not wrote are extraordinary. This is even more curious because I’m tipically a joyfull guy! I’m not a sad guy or dispirited human-being (laughs loud). I think this type of music, this type of lyrics, pleases all kind of persons. And almost everyone has their own melancholic side. At least for me, those are the songs that really make me shiver and that I grow obsessed with. I can listen to the Beatles, or The Kinks, or something like that, and dancing and drinking and it’s cool. I like it! But it doesn’t shiver me inside. Does not make me think about the lyrics in the songs or at least about the deeper feelings. In the ’90s there was a band that almost everyone listened to in Portugal, a band called Madredeus. Everyone loved them, but it was a super-melancholic sound… But either way… when we built the songs we still changed the lyrics just a bit, in order to make more sense with the melodies. So, in the end, almost all of them are based on several other’s poems that were partially adapted by me. That’s how Happiness lyrics came together.

HAPINNES

You came to me for a sing along

We ended in the backseat of a car

The melody just melted on my tongue

And so, we kissed by the first note

 

Your love was greater than your voice

I guess you know that

But you shot me down

Our souls hanging in the sky

Like birds

Or bats

 

Chorus

 

Happiness has never been my greatest hit

Well, angels don’t pray for those who live

Their life riding from god to god

Calling them lover by mistake

 

You came to me for a drive along

The track i haven´t always kept my eyes

But the road led me to your words

And I got lost in your lullabies

 

Your love was greater than this world

Like the angels

Whom never blessed it

Our souls hanging on a tree

Like fruits

Or dead leaves

 

Chorus

 

Hapiness has never been my greatest hit

Well, angels don’t pray for those who live

Their life riding from god to god

Calling them lover by mistake

 

(Instrumental)

 

Chorus

 

Hapiness has never been my greatest hit

Well, angels don’t pray for those who live

Their life riding from god to god

Calling them lover by mistake

By the time I finished those 3 songs I enjoyed that kind of feelings around them so much that even though all of it is fiction – I don’t have that many heartbreaks (laughs), just one or other like everybody – I continued with the same vibe.

So, and just like that is there a creative process that takes everything to the same “scenery”? Or it varies from song to song?
I tend to let myself go a lot. That’s the creative process I think… I don’t have anything pre-conceived or pre-aligned. I have no preconception of what the song and the sonority should be. I know there are a lot of bands, that before creating anything, already know what they want and how they want the track to sound like, the instruments they will use and everything or at least some of those things. I don’t! I play a lot of instruments – the one I play the best is the guitar, but the ones I play the worse I feel my ingenuity leads me into making some enjoyable melodies-. I think that when someone does not completely master one instrument, that can lead him to let himself go more easily. But I would say Miranda songs are typically born from the piano or from the guitar, but then the process varies a lot. The people who enjoy Happiness a lot may be let down with the other songs I’m going to release, I don’t know… Because even though all 5 tracks keep the same melancholic vibe with a strong and long chorus, they are very distinct from each other. And that is a natural result of the distinct creative processes. Still, in the end, is all up to the listeners and what they fell like.

A One-Man Band with Some Help from His Friends

In Happiness, it’s Liliana Bernardo that sings. You said previously that the songs are not meant to have always the same vocalist. Does that mean that the other 4 tracks you are going to release have different singers?
Most songs are recorded with Liliana’s vocals. But I would love not to go into further detail about the others just now…

Mirnda - João P. Miranda

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Ok, but being Miranda a one-man-band in terms of production, do you see it as a project where you invite others into the creative process and to sing? Or do you envision it more as just your own?
I see it as my own thing. I mean, I see it that way in terms of production and composition. Me and the singer who transforms it and makes each track his or her own. But live, I see it in a distinct way. If I’m able too I would love to have several musicians playing all the orchestra like components I built into the songs. Even though I know the songs work quite great just with a guitar or a piano and a singer. In my view, a great song, a beautiful song, works great in several ways. But for composition, I’d love to manage to keep the process a bit more closed.

So, there is a Jazz and classic influence and also a modern influence in the songs you make. But can you say any names that have always been a reference for you?  And are there any new names?
I am a very weird guy when it comes to what I listen to. Typically I listen to one thing almost obsessively and then I never listen to it again. In fact, I would give anything to not be like this, to be honest! I don’t know if that is a result of working in this area, I do concerts almost every week, then I do the production for the bands, then I teach sound design and there is natural auditive tiredness… If I go out at night, and there is one of my teenager classics playing I will love it! But when I listen to anything at home I typically focus on new things, or on old things that are new to me.

The last thing that it really stroke me hard was Anna Calvi, but she is not that new I suppose… But I really really love her. Everyone should listen to her. In the same line I love a contemporary composer called Max Richter. His soundtracks are really strong. Really loved Beach House in the beginning… Absolutely love Chelsea Wolfe! I love feminine vocals the most, but there are some very good male vocals too, still the reference for me is Johny Cash last record… I also like the last album by Charlotte Gainsbourg which is already two years old but still sounds new…! And I really like Grandfathers House! I did sound for them in Coimbra and I’ve been a fan ever since.

On Lessons Learned, Advises and Getting Out There

Considering you are doing it all by yourself (with no help on the production nor on PR) you are probably the perfect person to ask the next question. What would be the main advice you would give to new emerging artists, or artists who are yet to release their first song?
What helped me the most was beginning to work in the studio. Miranda would not be possible if I hadn’t a background in production either. Even the edition for the video-clip of Happiness was made by me. But when you really love something, and you are really in love with what you do (be it music or other things) … People that are really good at what they do are obsessive about it. In a good way of course. There is nothing good about being wrongly obsessive. But I think there is a natural selection there. People that want to succeed as musicians, cannot think about anything else. And they work and work and work.

Trying to answer your question regarding how to put your music out there, I decided early on that I would not hire a press representative and I’m suffering with that decision. I’ve been investing and focusing on Instagram, trying to be very communicative every time someone gives me some feedback or likes my song. But I would say that having a press representative is essential. Music-wise, I think it’s every important to know how to record a song or doing a pre-production. Buying a sound card, a set of microphones, and starting to record and learning how to by yourself. We live in a era where we have everything made easy for us, and people should be capable of making the best out of it before they take their songs to a producer. It will save them a lot of money. And believe me, it will save them a lot of time too.

Miranda

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In the next two years, where do you see yourself? And with who you would like to play? 
I think every artist will answer this question the same way. Concerning the first part of the question, I would like to be in a place where a lot of people had listened to my songs. Be it on the radio, on the TV, or in the press, wherever. I’d love to have reached a lot of people and a lot of distinct people too. We do these songs for ourselves but there is no bigger comfort than receiving feedback from people that actually listen to our songs, and who like our songs and feel touched or moved by it.

Clique para Visitar

Concerning the second part of the question, the person with whom I recorded the next single I’m going to release, is already a dream come true. Internationally, would be a dream to work with Anna Calvi. I admire her very much, and I love her vocal tone and the way she expresses herself with the guitar is out of this world.

 

We personally thank João Miranda for the precise and honest insights on how launching a completely independent musical project. And cannot recommend Miranda enough. Follow the project on the bellow links as the second single is going to be released very soon


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