Sango Discusses Touring, The Creative Process Behind Da Rocinha 2, North And Upcoming Projects

By | September 4, 2014 at 5:03 pm | No comments | Featured Post, Interviews, MUSIC | Tags: , , , , ,


Sango, born Kai Wright, has built an impressive buzz off his experimental production style. The 22-year-old has garnered international recognition with his most recent release Da Rocinha 2, which infuses the baile funk sound from the favelas of Brazil with surprising hip hop and electronic elements.

We caught Sango before a show at Zanzibar in Santa Monica, the last stop on the “Finally Tour,” a mini-tour with longtime friend and collaborator, Waldo. They performed in Detroit, Chicago – which has the best food “in life” – and Vancouver, where they were held at the airport by customs.

ISM: So what kind of story were you telling with Da Rocinha?

Sango: It’s really not even a story. It’s more like experimenting with different sounds that I’m not used to. That I didn’t grow up with. That I didn’t have to my disposal. Because I grew up on soul music. I grew up on hip hop, R&B, you know, typical Black kid stuff. My family isn’t from there. My grandfather played in a band that was Afro-Cuban, a Cuban Jazz band, but everyone else, originally, we’re not from there. So pretty much it’s experimenting with that sound [and] taking it further.

The second installment happened because more people wanted to hear what I could do with it. It’s kind of like when you find a new medium. Let’s take paint. When you first start and you’re using it. It’s kind of hard to control because it’s new to you, but once you start working with it, it gets better. The first one, the result wasn’t really what I wanted, but I still released it because I wanted to see how people would react. Then the second time I was like OK, I know how to use this right. I know how to sample it right and mix it in better with what I know already.

ISM: Have you gotten a lot of responses from people from Brazil?

Sango: Yeah a lot. More people that support music rather than musicians and producers. I don’t hear a lot of producers from Brazil – well, some on SoundCloud, on the internet, stuff like that – shouting me out. Not something major like, “Hey we wanna fly you down here.”

ISM: But the supporters really like what you’re doing with the sound?

Sango: Yeah it’s freaking them out they’re like, “What is going on?”

ISM: Is it more like you paying homage to baile funk or taking it to a different level?

Sango: Not even that. It was more like, wow, this is interesting. The only time I heard baile funk being used was like Diplo and MIA, but they were doing it kind of raw. Pretty much, they were doing their own version. They weren’t taking it and making it new, they were just doing it. Like when Lil Wayne did his rock album he just did rock. It wasn’t Lil Wayne infused rock. It was Lil Wayne’s voice on top of rock. So that was the very first time I heard that so it wasn’t really like an homage or anything it was just wow this is cool let me see what I can do with it rather. Now it’s an homage because I love the country.

ISM: Do you know Portuguese?

Sango: I’ve learned Portuguese throughout the process of doing that music. Anyone that knows me really well knows that I study languages in my spare time, only because I get a kick out of it. It’s something to do. I can definitely understand a lot of languages, but I can’t speak them.

Waldo: He speaks Spanish pretty well. We were just at Paco’s Tacos and he was ordering in Spanish.

Sango: That’s because my fiancé is from Mexico and she had a lot to do with my learning Spanish. Her mom and her father really helped. My father grew up around Spanish people as well so he knows Spanish. He spent time in Japan in the Navy. He learned Japanese so he taught us that when we were younger. My mom knows Tagalog. She was in the Navy as well. She spent time in the Philippines. So I’m like a little kid speaking Tagalog. Languages are fun and I feel they’re good to know.

ISM: What’s the proper way to pronounce Da Rocinha?

Dah Hah-see-nyuh-doyce. In Brazil, in Portuguese, they don’t pronounce the Rs like how we do. It’s more of an “H” sound.

ISM: How long have you been engaged?

Sango: About three months.

ISM: That was your inspiration for North right? The album was about her?

Sango: Yeah pretty much. North is about people who find someone that helps you become a better person. This music will somewhat explain why things happen in your journey. For example the track “She Yells,” that song is only and directly about women yelling at men, like, that always happens.

Waldo: It’s inevitable.

Sango: And the only time women yell at men is because they love them and they care about them. It’s just explanations. That whole album was explaining simple situations when you’re in a relationship with a man or a woman. It’s a soundtrack to normal situations. So basic. Like waking up and being tired. OK well I’m really tired today I’m going to make a song about being tired.

ISM: Is that how you approach every song?

Sango: Yeah I’m not into being super creative forcefully. Like make a song like… “Spaceship Cupcakes.” You know what I mean? Just spacey stuff. I’m all about realistic art, sonically, if that makes sense. Stuff about life. Simple things. Not to the point where I’m making a beat about a pair of socks. Just normal, comfortable, simple things.

ISM: Your mom, Tracey, played keys on the track “Until Saturday” on North. Was that a long awaited collaboration or do you work with her a lot anyway?

Sango: I work with my mom all the time. It was at that point where I was like, mom, you should get on this. She was like, “What? OK I will.” She’s kind of honored, like wow, my son.

ISM: So both of you have really good relationships with your parents?

Sango: First of all, we’re just lucky and blessed to have both parents to begin with.

Waldo: That are alive.

Sango: Because I know a lot of people who don’t have a father or a mother. And especially in the Black community you know, even my cousins, I have family members who don’t have their whole [family]. I don’t want to go against it, but I think having both parents does make a difference. I’ve definitely seen people succeed with one parent or no parents, but both parents really instill it. Like OK, be successful.

ISM: How does your creative process differ when producing your own album and working with an artist like Waldo?

Sango: Particularly with Waldo it’s like I’m making another album for myself with just vocals on it because I know his style so well and I know his vocals so well it just became a part of me. Sometimes when I produce some stuff I make for my album I can definitely hear him on it, but working with other artists other than him is kind of different. Mainly I work over the internet, far away, when I’m working with artists I don’t know. Typically you send like five or four beats. They pick one. It’s kind of hit or miss and then hopefully you follow up with a studio visit, because I like to get to know people. I don’t know how people just send beats to people and they get a hit and it’s like, you never met them. Those people are special. They know how to tune into somebody’s sound without even meeting them, not me, I need to. I’m not good at reading people anyway.

ISM: What is the craziest thing you’ve seen on tour?

Sango: In Europe, in Germany specifically. They were trying to figure out what kind of Black person I was. They were just astonished I didn’t know where I was from. When you’re in England most of the Black people are from Ghana, Nigeria, Jamaica. When I tell them I’m just African-American from the South they’re like, “Well I mean yeah, tell me more.” So over there they see Black Americans as like, “mystery black.” That literally came out their mouth. This cab driver asked me where I was from. I said I’m from Michigan. They find Black Americans fascinating.

ISM: What are you working on next?

Sango: It’s done, it’s being mastered. I don’t know if you know the artist SPZRKT, he was on my album. He’s from San Antonio moved to Austin and spent time in Houston. He and I are working on a joint EP together. It’s called Hours Spent Loving You. I don’t know how we came up with that name, but I love it. It’s pretty much about this dual, double entendre, thought [of] God and woman. A lot of emotions you have for a woman you have for God. When you love a woman you are so infatuated with that woman like how could I love someone as much? Same with God, how could I love God this much? It’s more of [SPZRKT] writing, I’m just presenting a stage for him to sing, but pretty much he’s singing about a relationship with a woman and a relationship with God and how it can be joined together. I’m really just touching the surface.

ISM: It sounds really conceptual.

Sango: When I get involved with other people it gets that way. Just to narrow it down it’s pretty much about relationships with a woman and a relationship with God and how they relate. How they’re similar and different. It’s a really spiritual album. There’s no release date. Definitely this year.

Kelly Hawkins

Photo shot by Tatsu

Also check out our recap of Sango’s “Finally Tour” Los Angeles stop here.

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