Manuela Leal is a Brazilian artist who ended up doing the reverse path if compared to most national musicians. Having spent most of her years in America, where she majored in Fine Arts, she then returned to her hometown, Rio de Janeiro, when she began writing and recording songs from her first EP “Last night I lit the moon.” Under the name of Anna-Anna, the “one-woman-band”, as she describes the project herself, she now focuses on her music, an electronic experimental project, based on sci-fi, pop, soundtracks, sad songs and french tunes.
Through Encounters, a project promoted by the BM&A that promotes new Brazilian artists to international audiences, Anna-Anna has found her place in major international publications such as the websites of The Guardian, NPR.org and ID magazine. As a result of this exposure, she has performed at The Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City, major international music festivals.
BRMusicExchange spoke to Manuela Leal to get to know more about her projects and career:
You majored in Fine Arts? When and how did you start to work with music?
Yes, I majored in Fine Arts and then did a Masters in the same specialty. I studied music as a child and teenager here in Rio. Much later I decided to start making music, writing songs. I had lived my entire adult life in the United States and returned to Rio in 2010 to concentrate on making music. I started from scratch.
What exactly is Anna, Anna?
Anna, Anna is my “alter ego”. It is a character who has the power to travel through time and space. It is a music project, which also covers the visual arts. I just made a video that incorporates the practices of image that I did before I started making music. I managed to do a project of “total art”, where video, painting and music are united aesthetically. (See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFjzYuRvkwc).
Your name was mentioned by broadcasters and foreign journalists as Max Reinhardt and Ruth Barnes. You think you have more space in the international market than in Brazil? Your compositions in English were made to reach an international audience right?
What happened was that I ended up having a review in The Guardian in England and it really opened some doors. They have a fairly open dissemination of new artists out there. Max Reihardt has a radio program of experimental music and world music on BBC3, I discovered that he had played some songs, very cool, I don’t know how he found them. With Ruth it was different, I had sent her some links for her to put on her blog and we kept in touch until I went to England in May – and now we met at The Great Escape. About me singing in English, well, the music had to reflect my personal experience in some way, I spent most of my life away, it is inevitable. As I was starting from scratch, as I said, it was easier to write lyrics in English, after so many years with the language in my everyday life.
You met the British journalist Joe Muggs on BM&A’s Encounters, which was held in Rio de Janeiro in 2011, right? How was this meeting? He included his music in a podcast, too. Were you surprised?
Joe Muggs is a very nice person. I already knew the things he wrote before I knew he would come to participate in this project – he has some very interesting ideas about the culture of electronic music. I didn’t know he was such a nice person, I had no expectations. In the conversation I had with him through the Encounters project, I learned a lot, he gave me strength to continue. It is very nice to find people who are already embedded in the context of the current music scene and give you support. When you are in Brazil, things seem so distant, but is actually closer than it looks, the Internet brings people together and somehow disarms barriers. Regarding the podcast I was surprised because I never expected a response. I kept contact with him and sent him the new songs, and he included a new song in the podcast.
You played at The Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City. Are there more international shows planned for this year?
I’m considering going to New York later this year to do some shows but nothing is certain.
For further information on Anna-Anna: http://anna-anna.tv/