Name: Ana Moura
Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Current release: Ana Moura's Casa Guilhermina is out now.
If you enjoyed this interview with Ana Moura and would like to stay up to date with her music, visit her official website. She is also on Instagram, twitter, and Facebook.
Can you please tell us a bit about your own sense of identity – and how it motivated you to take an artistic path?
I have always been a person of extreme sensitivity. I value the small details, I am easily moved and ecstatic. I've been this way since I was very young.
And I think that these characteristics put me in a place of permanent reflection that naturally led me to a need for constant creation.
Your biography mentions that you had an early affinity for the Semba and Kizomba. What's your take on dance as a form of artistic expression and how sounds and movements complement each other?
Since I was very young, I have felt that dance is a vital form of expression. And lately I have been working with two choreographers, one Portuguese and one Angolan, for the concert that will integrate the songs of the new record. These have been fascinating experiences, even discovering certain characteristics of my personality.
One example is, when I was working with the Angolan choreographer, she would show me a choreography and I would always tend to do it with my head slightly turned down. And she would say that this was a dance that celebrated the Angolan matriarch culture and the strength of the woman - so I had to lift my head up with the certainty that I was a strong, self-assured woman.
Your new album incorporates more contemporary dance styles. Tell me a bit about what interest you in them and the process of combining them with the fado.
I chose these two producers for that reason. Pedro da Linha for bringing the infamous Batida de Lisboa, which is the sounds of the Lisbon suburbs that carry our more African heritage.
[Read our Pedro da Linha interview]
And Pedro Mafama who combines Portuguese rhythms and sounds with a wink to our Moorish heritage, projecting these sounds into the future.
Bringing these worlds together was what I felt the need to express at this moment in my life. Celebrating the various bloods that run through my veins.
How did you discover fado?
I discovered fado at a very young age because my parents regularly listened to and sang fado at home and at the gatherings they had with friends and family.
What defines it for you?
I think that what best defines fado is that it's a vehicle of soul sharing. Since no two souls are the same, it is a vehicle of parallel communication, where souls communicate in their own unique language.
What can you personally express through this music? How does it compare, for example, to the music of Angola or Cuba, which you also have a direct connection to?
It's a little difficult to explain because they are places so little cerebral and consequently less possible to describe.
I have always loved Cuban music. And actually Angolan music has been influenced a lot by Cuban music. Personally, I feel that Cuban music combines some of the Angolan rhythms with some of the emotional cadence of fado.
The truth is that when I sing fado, I feel that I pass on the fado soul and when I sing traditional Angolan music I pass on the Angolan spirit.
The fado is often concerned with darker themes, with 'matters of the soul' as it were. What draws you to these topics, would you say?
I think it all conflates in my hypersensitivity. In this condition I become a carrier - for better or for worse. (laughs)
I have a natural tendency to feed my darker side and fado, bringing with it in the melodies and lyrics a very own sorrow, makes me feel consoled.
But at the same time, it feeds all those feelings that sometimes, when things turn dark, become food for the soul.
What role does the fado still play for the people and musicians in Portugal, would you say?
I feel that there is a growing movement of the younger generation to revisit the past and project it into the future. This in many different areas, not only in music. And the public relates more and more.
What role does the Portugese language play for the lyrics – what would get lost in translation, do you feel?
There are indeed many expressions that are part of the Portuguese language that carry a unique poetry that is often difficult to translate. And that, for this reason, makes it so unique.
What were some of the considerations for the lyrics on the new record?
This is an album full of intimate stories and a tribute to people who were part of my life and who helped me build myself. Some are no longer on this plane of life.
One of the things that made the new album feel so connected to me is the use of nature recordings in quite a few of the pieces.
I'm so glad to hear that.
Were these taken from specific places?
Yes, much of this record was recorded in my house and some of these sounds are part of the various rooms in the house. In fact, this record is an invitation to everyone to get to know the various rooms that compose me.
Starting in the living room, where you can feel the more festive, dancing, Angolan side, to the most intimate of the bedrooms and maybe the most Portuguese. (laughs)
As with the blues and in jazz, some may feel that the new songs are moving too far away from the traditional sound of the fado. In reality, the fado actually started out as a form of dance music originally. So in a way you've taken it back to its roots.
Yes. That’s true! (laughs)
How concerned are you with questions of purity and staying true to the essence of a particular style?
I do appreciate the essence of the particular styles. But also think that that shouldn’t stop anyone to discover their own and new paths.
Music can express the unspeakable. What can it express about life and death which words alone may not?
Everything. That’s the magic about music. And in magic we cannot touch or explain. You just feel it.