Stellamaris, lo-fi Shoegaze from Rio: interview and presentation
Firstly, a big thank you to Mauricio and Stellamaris for having been so helpful in providing materiala and interacting during our collaboration. It was a pleasure working with them.
Stellamaris started Mauricio Cordeiro and his sister Suzana Cordeiro, composed and recorded the first songs, in 2013.
They had another band before, from 2003 to 2007, and started Stellamaris in 2013, as a duo. Their other friends Talita Garcia* on guitar, Benjamim Bello on bass and Jeremias Bello on drums used to play with them on this older band. They are still their friends and collaborate with them on recordings, and if Stellamaris play live, they are the first guys asked.
Some good videos
A music video for their song Seesaw:
Their music video for the song Digital Emotion
Their music video of the song Flourish
SOCIAL & OTHER MEDIA
Noise Artists (NA): Where are you from in Brazil? Where are you living now, what did you study, what is your day job at present if any?
We are from Rio de Janeiro, Suzana and I are brother and sister. Suzana lives in Niteroi near the city and I'm living in the countryside for the last year and a half. She is a nurse and works in hospitals, I just finished an engineering degree and I used to work on shipyards in ships' construction.
(NA): Do you dream to live from your music or is it a passion you do not want to spend your full time on?
It would be a dream to me to live for music only, but now, it's something we do in parallel to our day jobs and family. Suzana has a three years old daughter, and I'm looking for a job as an engineer.
(NA): Could you tell me how the band met and decided to do music together?
We use to have another band together that ended in 2007. We were in different music projects until I started to write some songs in this My Bloody Valentine style in 2012, and later I asked Suzana to record some vocals on this songs. That's how we started.
(NA): Can you tell me the inspiration behind your band? You can detect the influences of shoegaze and post-rock, with more subtle hints like Stereolab. Can you tell us more?
The main influence is pop music in general, 90s alternative rock, girlie bands, many things from the underground scene. Sometimes someone has compared us to bands I don’t even know, but I like to hear those comparisons. The obvious influences to me are MBV, Astrobrite, Velour100, and Ringo Deathstarr.
(NA): Was there a vision of sorts or did you know what you wanted to do when you started up? i.e. when you started in Stellamaris was it always a project to create a shoegaze band? Or was it different from now?
We already wanted to start a shoegaze band. We use to play other styles on our past projects like powerpop and punk-rock. This time I had in mind that I wanted to play something with much more noise and reverb,
(NA): Do you have any other musical side projects apart from Stellamaris?
Besides the band, right now I'm recording a synth-pop/electronic project with a friend. I also want to play guitar in a church group on Sundays, but I don’t now if they will let me be part of the group.
(NA): Could you tell me more about the band composition? Do you have plans to add new members, or is there possible departure scheduled from existing band members?
The band itself is my sister and me, but we would ask some friends to play with us live or to record a video or do anything. We can have different formats, no problem.
The Creative process
(NA): There’s a degree of unconventional songwriting with you guys. Was it kind of intimidating going to record knowing people might not be engaging with the songs in terms of hooks and such and trying to deliver an engaging sound on record?
Yeah, we have to work and record on our own, its hard to find someone who understands our sonic intentions. It is really bad if you have to explain why you are playing with so much reverb, or why you play the guitar using the wammy bar all the time.
(NA): You have a great way about your guitars, with tones and melodies answering each other, almost like discussing. Could you tell us more about how you work together on this?
The guitars are the most important thing in our music, everything else is an accompaniment to the guitar sounds. We try to make sense when changing effects and layering the guitars. We do this by testing and practicing, using different modes of the pedals, finding how to combine the sounds by practicing a lot.
(NA): Talking about the lyrics: who write them? Is there a common thread in them, a theme?
I write lyrics, sometimes they are kind of surreal, but most of the time, they are about real feelings, trying to express them. For example, in “Seesaw”, it's about the feeling that you are always returning to the same place you should not, like to an ex, or when someone tries to quit smoking but always returns to that psychological situation.
(NA): Do you labor over your lyrics? Is that something that comes easy? Do you have a message that you want to get across in your music? If so, what are some of the messages you want to spread?
Yeah, I have to work hard to write something that translates my thoughts. I need to rewrite several times until I have found the right words. We don’t have a specific message to spread, the lyrics are fragments of our lives. It's more like a diary, or sometimes they are a surreal poetry.
(NA): Has the increasing popularity of the band affected the way that you write songs or think about how you’re making them?
The more people know the band, the more I want to be better, to write better songs with different ideas. I would like to reach more people with our music.
(NA): Did your listening habits change between album? Do you change what you listen to, and does it affect what you write?
When we started in 2012/13. I knew just a few artists in this music style. I was listening to A place to bury strangers and Asalto al Parque Zoologico. Today I know much more shoegaze/noise artists from everywhere, we are learning, discovering other bands, and trying different things.
(NA): Tell me more about the following songs, how they were written, what they are about, any anecdote or story you want to share; You did a collaboration with Duelectrum resulting in a fantastic song. Could you tell us how you met, how the work was done and if you plan other collaborations?
Thank you, Filipe (Duelectrum) and I first met in 2005 by letters. He used to write articles for some publications and I had a printed fanzine at that time. I was a fan of his band already, and we become friends since. Almost ten years later, when I showed him my new project, he was one the first one that encouraged me to go along with Stellamaris, we always talk about guitars and music gear, and I wanted to do something involving both his band and mine.
We wrote the song “Fallen” together. I had the chords, and Filipe wrote lyrics and melody, he recorded vocals in his own house, in another city, sent the archives to me, and I mixed it into the music.
Now we are working on another song together. We would love to have more collaborations like these from other musicians from around the world.
(NA): How did you get to do lo-fi Shoegaze and what made you go that direction. There are very little bands doing this.
I decided I would start the band when I went to two shows of Ringo Deathstarr, in Sao Paulo and Rio. After seeing them, I was energized qnd inpsired and wanted to do it too. I realized that I could get that guitar sounds with pedals and a guitar with tremolo.
(NA): How is your recognition going in Brasil and Abroad? Is it growing? Are you happy with it.
I'm happy with the recognition we are getting little by little. We stopped between 2013 and 2016, and in less than a year we restarted and many people come to talk to me about the band on the internet. People always put us on their shoegaze lists on SoundCloud, we are played on internet radio shows. These kinds of things make me think that we are on the right way.
The path to music
(NA): You have a very good sound, with a clear intention. Can you tell us more of your recording process?
Thanks, yeah, we engineer our records ourselves. There are just a few studios in Brazil with good indie rock producers, so the best way to do it, is to “do it yourself ”. You can record drums separated on a standard studio and work at home with those tracks, or use loops, there are some options.
We use simple gears, a digitalUSB interface and a mixing program. On the interface, you can plug mics and instruments. To record the guitars, the vocals and the percussions we use the mic, and to record bass and synth we plug directly to the interface, connecting to the computer by a USB cable. Then you can edit everything on a mixing program. We used this process to record every song until now.
A funny thing that happens sometimes while recording, is that some things make noises around us, like a dog in the neighborhood, or Suzana´s daughter yelling near us. Sometimes these things go behind the reverbs on our records.
(NA): Instruments: you seem to be mainly a Fender band. Could you tell me what inspire you to use fenders rather than other brands?
The fact is that I need those tremolo systems from the Jaguar and Jazzmaster models to play this ¨bendy¨ style. Some call it "glider". Also because the designs of these instruments, maybe because of Kurt Cobain too, I prefer single coils. I really love that velvet sound of the vintage Fender pickups, so there are many things that make me choose fender guitars.
(NA): A question for a future paper I have in mind: I have seen on videos that you use often a Fender Jaguar. Could you tell me more about what makes it good to play (sound, neck, …). I find there are a lot of noise artists that are using this guitar and I am interested to know why.
Alright, Jaguars have the most comfortable neck I ever knew, it’s the short scale type, you will find this same neck type on mustangs too, they are smaller, perfect for small hands, they have seven built-in setups of sound configuration, because of a filter option and a parallel circuit for the neck pickup, the pickups tone are very bright, and its perfect to my ears combined with distortions and fuzz.
(NA): Do you have one favorite instrument or do you change often?
My favorite instrument at present is a Squier Jaguar in surf green finish, I got used months ago, and used to record “ultraviolet ”
(NA): Tell us what you are looking when trying to achieve your sounds? Do you experiment a lot or have a clear idea of what you want? Who is the more knowledgeable with pedals? You use them a lot, to great effect.
We experiment a lot, but also have some references that we want to sound like, today is easier to get digital reverbs, and other effects, my pedalboard now is: Marshall guv nor plus for distortion/little big muff fuzz/ Dunlop wha/ Boss bf3 flanger/ Boss dd6 delay/ Digiverbfor reverse mode and Boss rv5 for deep reverbs, into a Marshall solid state amp
(NA): How many concerts a year would you do on average and what would be the size of the venue?Would you mind sharing some good anecdotes from your touring? What are some places around the world that you hope to take your band? Do you have any plans at present to tour in other countries than Brasil? Is there any reason in particular that you want to go to these places? Is there something about indie-rock/post-rock in those places that makes you want to go there?
If we get the chance to travel to other places, it would be great to play the maximum we can. I would love to have ten or twenty people in audience, but to do a tour even a small one, necessitates some logistics, some people interested in watch the gigs, pay transports, places to sleep, food …
The Brasilian Scene
(NA): I have read that Brazil has a great music scene but I don’t know much about post-rock or indie-rock music in there. Could you tell me more about the Brazilian indie music scene?
There are some cool people working on Brazilian indie scene, some bands that organize their shows, some labels, and blogs. In Rio, I appreciate the label Transfusao noise. They have a very cool place for small concerts downtown There is also Audio Rebel that is a place for concerts and also a studio and music store. I think that in Sao Paulo they have more places to play. TBTCI is a blog and label from Sao Paulo that works with shoegaze/alternative bands from all over the world.
(NA): I have listened to artists like Camille Claudel (very soon in Noise Artists), Devilish dear. They seem to be mainly famous in Brazil. Is it easy for Brasilian indie bands to be known internationally?
These two bands are really great, I like then too. The internet makes this kind of things happens nowadays, you can show your work to anywhere easily. It's so good that some people from far away can interact, like you and me right now. Ten years ago we already had the internet but I was sending letters with cds at postal service, spending much more time and money. Thanks to he internet, independent artists can be known internationally faster today.
(NA): Has the scene changed since you began, and if so how? Apart from Rio, is there any other cities with a strong indie scene? Is there any Brazilian band(s) you want to recommend in the indie/shoegaze/post-rock genres?
Yeah, it changes every time. At the same time, the internet makes everything more practical. Everything turns less organic too, many places have closed, but others places and bands started. I think that Sao Paulo has a bigger scene. it’s a bigger city with more cultural options. Some bands from Brazil I recommend are: Wry, Pin ups, The John Candy, Duelectrum, Le Almeida, Camille Claudel, Travelling wave, Tropicaos, Céus de Abril , My magic glowing lens…
(NA): Do you have a label? Could you tell us a bit more if so.? How did the funding work for the EPs? Did you invest a lot yourself? Was your label supportive in that respect? Where does the majority of the money go when you’re paying your own way?
We don’t have a label. We record everything at home so we don’t spend much money recording. The only way we sell our music is on our Bandcamp page, but you can download everything for free, its “name your price”.
Right now we are recording some new songs. One to be part of a compilation by TBTCI with other Brazilian bands, One more song with Filipe from Duelectrum. Some other songs for a new EP out soon on Bandcamp. We also want to do new videos to promote the songs. These are the plans for the next weeks.