Interview: Kiko Loureiro

Guglielmo Malusardi: How do you feel, after years of planetary success with your band Angra, releasing a solo instrumental album?

Kiko Loureiro: I think for all guitar players that grew up listenning to Jeff Beck, Malmsteen, Vai and Satriani, it is just a dream to record an instrumental album. It was something I did for me, a way to express my music having the guitar as the main star. A project that I could do on my own from the beginning to the end, showing that I was able to compose, produce and organize the recording, play different instruments, promote it, etc. It was for the pleasure of doing it. My goal is to please myself (that is why we do music), as well as all the fans that always asked when I would record a solo album. I hope people can see there are other styles of music I like and I can play - "No Gravity" is me exposed to the max - there are all of my music tastes there.

Guglielmo Malusardi: AHow did the whole thing start?

Kiko Loureiro: I am always composing, so I had tons of ideas and finished songs - most of them I used for "Temple Of Shadows". The dream of doing a solo album was always there, so when Dennis Ward (producer of Angra and "No Gravity") listened to the ideas he made me confident to go further and record the ideas.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Tell us about the creation process.

Kiko Loureiro: It was mainly the ideas I had in 2003; at the time I was concentrating with recording for Angra. I just got these ideas later and reheased with Mike Terrana. The process of creating happened with the Angra process, because I am always absorbed in composing and recording at home. With Mike it was fast; in 4 days we prepared the drums arrangements. He is very, very professional and quick to get what I wanted.

The studio work took 23 days in total. It was pretty fast I think, but I was totally prepared and I recorded10 hours a day with Dennis.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Did you write all the songs before you went to the studio?

Kiko Loureiro: Yes, except for one song, "Beautiful Language" This one I did at night after recording. I had the feeling the album was missing something more Brazilian with bossa nova harmonies and Brazilian rhythms on a nylon guitar. That is something that I love to play and study, so I felt it should be on the album.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Let's talk about the gear you used during the recording process.

Kiko Loureiro: I have a Tagima guitar. He is a luthier pretty famous in Brazil. So I used my model K1 (maple, 27 frets, Seymour Duncan humbucker), Tagima Strat (ash and maple DiMarzio pickups), Gibson Explorer, Takamine Hirade nylon, Takamine 12-string, Mesa Boogie rectifier, Mesa Quad pre amp, wah wah, Dunlop, Tube Screamer, Power Drive Zoom, MXR Dynacomp, and a Tech21 Sans Amp.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Did you basically use the first takes?

Kiko Loureiro: It depended on each part. But we tried to let the natural feeling go. For the drums and guitar, I wanted to have a heavy sound but with a loose and fusion kind of playing. So Dennis and I were not so strict on the playing. We wanted the sound of somebody really playing, and not a quantized sound - if you know what I mean.

Guglielmo Malusardi: How do you compose your music?

Kiko Loureiro: Guitar, acoustic guitar and piano. It really depends. I can also start with a drum groove. Each song comes together in a different way. I think we have to let it flow; if we try to always compose in the same way we will get stuck.

Guglielmo Malusardi: I remember when I saw you couple of years ago at your previous clinic in Milan. You performed several tunes playing over a DAT. Are some of those tunes found in the "No Gravity" track list?

Kiko Loureiro: No. All composition are new. I still like the old ones. But the fun is always doing something fresh.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Why did you choose to play all instruments on the CD (except for Mike Terrana on drums)? Nobody in Angra got angry?

Kiko Loureiro: Not at all. Angra is a different thing. If I had called the guys it would be Angra, and not Kiko. I had to do it like this first because it's fun playing other instrments, I just like it. The other thing is because I was in Germany, and I don't know many people there - and the people I do know were not available at the time.

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Guglielmo Malusardi: Did you choose Mike "the omnipresent" Terrana to play drums on the CD, just because he is one of the top drummers, or was there some other reason?

Kiko Loureiro: Yes, because he is one of the top drummers, and because he can play different styles that he doesn't always show in his work with German bands. He is a drummer that can play like Steve Gadd, Steve Smith and others, so he was really happy to do my record.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Your music, in my opinion, is an amazing cocktail blending Brazilian music, jazz, rock and metal. Tell us about your musical formation, did you attend school for guitar?

Kiko Loureiro: Thanks. For me, showing the Brazilian influence is really important. I love Brazilian music; every time we play we feel that it's in our blood. Yes, I had classes and gave classes. I still do lots of clinics. I just did one in Trieste and I will do more in Milano and Venezia. I really like to explain music to students. Actually, music is my passion, so I'm always happy if I'm playing or talking about it. I still study music when I'm home in Sao Paulo.

Guglielmo Malusardi: How would you descibe your playing style?

Kiko Loureiro: I know I'm very technical, but I use it as a tool for expressing - without limits - my musicallity. I'm searching for a good balance between a rock guitar player and my Brazilian and Latin roots. I think Carlos Santana is a good reference in this regard.

Guglielmo Malusardi: It's not so easy nowadays to find a label and release an instrumental guitar oriented CD. Being the lead guitarist of a famous metal band, has been easier for you?

Kiko Loureiro: No, it is not easy, but of course, as I'm not a beginner, things were easier.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Do you plan another solo album in the future?

Kiko Loureiro: Yes. It is just a matter of having the time in between Angra's projects.

Guglielmo Malusardi: What do you see yourself doing in 5 or 10 years time? Did this album change something in your musical perspective?

Kiko Loureiro: I will be playing music for sure, hopefully with Angra in a bigger position. Also, as I like to play Brazilian jazz and stuff like that, after a rock album, I feel more free to experiment with other ways of composing. We'll see...

Guglielmo Malusardi: In my personal opinion, instrumental music is the highest form of musical art. Every human being from every country, language and even religion can enjoy it immediately and totaly without any barrier. What is your opinion about this?

Kiko Loureiro: I could go further. Music is the highest form of art. It is the most abstract art, while being the one that reaches deep emotions in all of us. Instrumental music is Pure Music. It gives to the listener only vibrations to get inspired and emotional. There are no lyrics to guide the emotions. When I play, and I'm sure every musician is the same, we have this feeling of being totally abstracted by the music.

That's why the name "No Gravity", because the feeling of having being taken by the music.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Tell us someting about your 'relationship' with your guitars. Do you collect guitars?

Kiko Loureiro: One of the songs on the album is called "La Force De L`Ame", and this name comes from the idea that all instruments have a soul. I really treat an instrument like a person. We have feelings of love, caring, hate and more. Sometimes you do' t want to see your instrument, some times you want to stay with her all day. No I don't collect, but I have around 20 guitars. I always love the one I play the most. I had one before but she is retired now... I was sad. It was like chaging your 50 year old wife for one of 25 years... but that is life. I have a Tagima K1 always with me.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Do you still practice a lot?

Kiko Loureiro: Not really, because we are always on tour. But I try to play every day at least two hours. When I'm home, it's diferent. I play much more. But now I divide my time with the piano as well.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Do you teach?.

Kiko Loureiro: Not any more, only clinics and videos.

Guglielmo Malusardi: In your opinion, what are the most important things a young player has to learn?

Kiko Loureiro: How to use the both sides of the brain. Beeing mathematical and intuitive - objective in regards to scales, harmony structures, and subjective in knowing how to use all of these to get an emotional response from everyone - not easy! You should learn everything: scales, arpeggios, harmonies, then play, and don't think anymore about the grammar of music - just let the "No Gravity" feeling take you

Guglielmo Malusardi: If you could collaborate with any guitarist in the world on one recording project, who would be and why?

Kiko Loureiro: So many... Steve Vai, and Steve Morse.

Guglielmo Malusardi: List for us, in your opinion, the three best guitar solos ever.

Kiko Loureiro: "Voodoo Child", "For The Love Of God", "Eruption".

Guglielmo Malusardi: Do you do any outside studio work?

Kiko Loureiro: Not much. I just recorded some stuff here and there. And now people from other bands are always calling me to do solos on their records

Guglielmo Malusardi: Some guitar players like to listen to other guitarist's music. Some not so much, and some not at all. What about you?

Kiko Loureiro: I listen to a lot od acoustic guitar players like Yamandu Costa, and Paulo Belinatti Guinga. All Brazilians. I also like to listen Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, George Benson (his jazz stuff), Tuck Andress, and Heraldo Do Monte.

Guglielmo Malusardi: How is the musical scene in Brazil? Is it true that you do some 'blitz' in jazz clubs in your town (Sao Paulo) to jam with other musician?

Kiko Loureiro: Yes. When I'm there I always go to play with friends in small jazz clubs or at home. Sometimes on keyboard and sometimes on guitar.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Thank you very much for the interview. Feel free to say anything to the readers.

Kiko Loureiro: I thank you very much for the interview and thank all the fans for all these years of support. I hope "No Gravity" can please all of you guys. All the best.

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Famous worldwide for the 'prog/metal army', thanks to his main composer/guitarist role in Angra (a band that sold millions of copies and toured several times the whole world), Rio de Janeiro born and Sao Paulo based Kiko Loureiro, finally offers to music fans his first solo CD, "No Gravity", displaying his global musical vision and passion - playing every instrument but the drums.

Guglielmo Malusardi met him before a clinic in Milan, Italy where he performed several tunes from his solo CD.