Industry Profile: Fabricio Nobre
By Larry LeBlanc (CelebrityAccess)
This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Fabricio Nobre, director, A Construtora Música e Cultura.
To best capture Brazilian promoter Fabricio Nobre plan to set the camera speed at 1/1000th of a second.
Bearing down on being 40, the fast-talking Nobre oversees Brazil’s annual indie-styled Bananada Festival which, since 1999, has played host to the best of contemporary music available in Brazil.
For a week-long series of concerts around the city, culminating in main stage shows on the weekend of May 12-14, 2017, Goiânia will be a whirl of Brazilian enlightenment as Nobre’s vision of a “daily 10 hour experience,” encompassing music, food, tattooing, visual arts, skateboarding, and other activities, will take place on 5 weekend stages at the Centro Cultural Oscar Niemeyer, as well as during the week at a number of local nightclubs, pubs, and studios.
Among the 100 musical acts on hand this year are: The Mutants, Mano Brown, Céu, BaianaSystem, Maria Gadú, Boogarins, Karol Conká, Liniker and the Carmelows, Tulipa Ruiz, Carne Doce, Teto Preto, DJ Patife, Rakta, Black Drawing Chalks, and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Goiás.
For decades, the only Brazilian musical figures known globally were composers Antonio Carlos, and Jobim João Gilberto who introduced the world to bossa nova, and a handful of singer/songwriters including Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Marisa Monte, Roberto Carlos, Jorge Ben, Vinicius de Moraes, and Milton Nascimento.
In recent years there’s been the emergence of the heavy metal band Sepultura, singer/songwriter Céu, singers Ivete Sangalo, and Anitta, and the psychedelic rock band Boogarins.
Despite recent economic difficulties the recorded music market in Brazil has grown by nearly 50% over the past five years, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) that represents the recording industry worldwide.
Brazil is the world’s 11th biggest recorded music market (according to the IFPI) and the 8th biggest for music publishing collections (according to the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers). The growth of music streaming services has been rapid, already overtaking downloads, and with smartphone penetration still less than 50%, streaming is expected to grow further and substantially.
Nobre heads the holding company A Construtora Música e Cultura founded in 2010 which, with partners, Lucas Manga, and Daianne Dias, oversees the Bananada Festival; and a booking agency with Dias that handles such artists as Boogarins, Bike, Bonde do Rolê, Legendary Tigerman, and others.
Previously, Nobre, a former musician who studied law, managed Brazil’s biggest independent label, Monstro Discos for over a decade.
What many people fail to comprehend is the vast size of Brazil. It’s the world's fifth-largest country by both area, and by population—with over 210 million people---with three time zones, and with varied forms of Brazilian Portuguese being spoken.
It’s the same language with lots of different accents.
[Brazilian and European Portuguese vary little in formal writing, but the Brazilian Portuguese language differs from varieties and dialects spoken in Portugal and African countries.]
With all of the music available internationally today, including the great music from Brazil, would you like, perhaps, to be 20 again, and experience it as a youth?
Yeah, but I’d like to have the same experiences that I had back then. It was really cool to live in that part of the Brazilian music scene as well.
Turn the clock back to 1994 to when you were 15. You had sex for the first time. You saw such bands as Raimundos and Planet Hemp for the first time. You bought an album with your money for the first time...
(Laughing) I don’t need to turn back the clock. I feel that it’s better now. A lot of my friends look back to 2005 when it was about being a stoner and there was hardcore, but everything is better now. Life, despite having ex-wives, is now better than being 20-years-old, you know.
With a dynamic music scene, and all of the festivals going on, it’s a great time to be a young adult in Brazil today.
It is a great time. At 18, 19, 20 or 21, it’s a great time to be in Brazil. Kids that age can go to the park, and enjoy themselves. There are a lot of cool bands that they can see in the city. Kids can see bands like Boogarins here, and then next they are playing in São Paulo. It’s a young generation, now. It’s better now I think. My generation kind of developed the market, you know. As a teenager, it was really really impossible to bring your beers with you (in public). Or, if you played (as a musician) you had to have another job or you were working in the mainstream. Now you can be in the middle. We have 10 producers now working 100% of the time. They pay rent and spend money. But kids can go to clubs, and they can buy cool records today.
[The legal drinking age in Brazil is 18, but it is rarely enforced. Beer, wine, and liquor can be bought on any day of the week from grocery stores and snack stands. Drinking is allowed in public places, and in motor vehicles.]
Today, you can make a living as a musician or as a club DJ in Brazil whereas years ago you couldn’t.
Yes. Now you can. Of course, now there is diversity and all of the possibilities that you can make things happen.
Music used to be your hobby in that you were a hardcore music fan, and followed your favorite bands. Today, music is your business. Do you miss being a fan?
Yeah. I’m still a music fan. I’d like to be more of a music fan, but I’m still a music fan. I saw PJ Harvey play last year, and It (her performance) really captured me. This style of music, and seeing kids listening to it, and some other cool types of music touches me. Music, like with a local band like Boogarins, their new record makes me really happy. I am crazy today to see new and exciting bands. I’m happy with all of that. When people ask me...of course, I nearly 40 years old now. A lot of friends ask me if I like what I do. Well, I’m doing what I like. I am producing a music festival. I’m drinking beer a little bit. They say, “I wish I had a life like you. You don’t have to properly work.” I work 18 hours a day. I’m at the office late at night and early in the morning making internationals calls and talking now to an international music journalist. It’s really hard work, you know?
You were the chairman of the Brazilian Association of Independent Festivals (ABRAFIN) from 2006 to 2010. What was the association’s role in Brazil in that period?
The initial idea of the association was to exchange technology information for the independent music festivals in Brazil and, of course, to lobby the government and the secretary of culture for more support of Brazilian music. It was really important for about 5 to 6 years. It helped to change the Brazilian music scene.
This marks the 19th edition of the Bananada Festival?
How many bands are booked?
We have more than 100 attractions this year.
You started working on the festival more than a year ago?
Yes. We are already booking the festival for next year.
Why such a lead time?
We want to be the very cool festival name. It’s really important for us to have the bands booked in advance. People know that the festival will happen because it has always happened for the past 15 years on the weekend. So the best thing is to book it as soon as possible.
In booking so far in advance you risk having bands in the interim play close to or in Goiânia itself. Like (prominent Brazilian rapper) Karol Conká did only a few months ago. That doesn’t bother you?
Not much. I don’t really believe in exclusivity. I want to develop the local scene so the more the bands play here that, if the show is good, people will want to see it again. The more people who want to see these acts play for me, they don’t have to come back again for awhile. So I really don’t mind. Karol Conká played here two months ago. It was in a small venue. It was awesome. We booked her six months ago. She’s one of the most important acts (in Brazil). She wants to play? Well, she sells tickets. So let’s do it again. No problem.
The same thing with Heaven who played the festival two years ago?
Yeah, the same thing.
Have the city officials of Goiânia been supportive of the Bananada Festival over the years?
In the beginning, the city had no idea of what we were doing. About three years ago, we got some support from the city, and from the (Goiás) state. In the first two or three years, we didn’t have any public funding. We have the state now to support part of the festival, say about 10% of it which is great. It (funding) comes, and it goes. To be independent with the amount of money that you have, and the support you have, you just keep doing it. That is what independence is from my point of view.
Do you have the support of major advertisers?
We have had a number of sponsors. Every year, we have to start again.
This year there is a Spotify stage.
Yes. We have one Spotify stage. Slap Records, which is a record label from Rio, also sponsors a stage, and El Club is doing the electronic stage. And then we have two other main stages, the Chilli Beans (sunglasses) stage, and the Skol (beer) stage
A number of music festivals take place in Brazil including such homegrown festivals as Rock In Rio, XXXperience, Universo Paralello and the Festival Tribaltech electronic festival. As well, international festivals like Lollapalooza touch down there.
Yes, but they are not in Goiânia. Lollapalooza will never come to Goiânia. Ten years ago acts would not always come to Goiânia. It’s a 12-hour drive from São Paulo to Goiânia.
Nevertheless, Goiânia is hailed as Brazil’s “Rock City." However, unlike Grito (aka Grito Rock, and Grito Goiânia) or Goiânia Noise, the Bananada Festival is not a rock festival.
It is not a rock festival. It is a music festival now. It started as an indie garage punk rock scene. When I was 19, I played in a band, and we played with bands that were current at the time, and we exchanged music from all over the world.
You were the lead singer of the band MQN until 2012.
Yes, I was with MQN from when I was a teenager to about 5 years ago. But that was being part of a band, you know. ‘Cuz we are from Goiânia which is...well, we are not from São Paulo. Goiânia is the capital and the largest city of (the Brazilian state) Goiás. So the idea of doing a festival here was hard to believe. We tried to get in touch with bands from São Paulo, Curitiba, and Brasília. At the beginning, it (the festival) was based on rock but, of course, over the years your ears get opened to new music and different connections. The local music scene is connected to the Brazilian music scene, and the Brazilian music scene is connected to the global music scene which has changed over 18 years. That’s why we changed a little bit, you know.
Música popular Brasileira (MPB), rap, EDM, punk, and alternative rock--all popular in Brazil--are found at the Bananada Festival.
In 20 years, we have established a lot of connections in Goiás, and we have started dialogues with other people, and not just those in the mainstream. We have established connections in alternative, the underground, even in pop music, and we have a lot of connections in hip hop. There is Brazilian EDM, and local rock bands Boogarins and Carne Doce, a new generation of MPB with Maria Gadú e Céu, and rappers like MCs Racionais (Mano Brown, Ice Blue, Edi Rock and KL Jay) and Karol Conká. So the music scene here is really diverse.
What’s unique, perhaps, about the Bananada Festival is that includes performances by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Goiás.
The Bananada Festival is trying to be as diverse as possible with the music in our city. It is hard to try to have a diverse dialogue with Brazilians in an international way. It’s really diverse.
There are also cutting-edge rock bands like Brazilian all-female band Rakta, and the Black Ceiling.
We really seek to introduce new contemporary international and Brazilian acts like Rakta. Bands that are really fresh and contemporary.
Plus, Bananada includes such mainstream acts as Heaven, the São Paulo singer Liniker and the Carmelows, and singer/songwriter Céu. All are very popular with Brazilians, and artists who have received Grammy nominations.
They are all very popular. They are more popular than the EDM bands, but they are not mainstream. They are somewhere in between. In the Grammys, there are a lot of acts that are not mainstream.
One music genre, however, that has become increasingly more important to the Bananada, as well as to global music in general, is EDM. This year marks the first electronic stage at Bananada. How did that come about?
We’ve always had more than 20 acts even before we had an electronic headliner Tropkillaz in 2015 with Brazilian DJs and producers like André Laudz and Zé Gonzales. Last year, we had Omulu as a headliner as well as DJ Mau Mau (one of the biggest names in electronic music in Brazil), Renato Cohen, and Anderson Noise. This year we said, “Let’s have a full-out electronic stage.” There are a bunch of local electronic acts on the electronic stage like Karol Conká, DJ Patife, Teto Preto, Jaloo, Patrick Tor4, and NeguimBeats. There are some really cool new acts in electronic music. We have a really diverse electronic lineup. For the first time, we are doing an electronic stage, and people like the idea of having one electronic stage. People like to party, you know.
This year Lucas Manga joined you and Daianne Dias as a partner of the Bananada Festival.
Yes. Lucas in an old friend from the local scene. He has a local nightclub called El Club. Every cool DJ plays there, including DJ Mau Mau, DJ Renato Cohen, Bonde do Rolê, Oliver Huntemann, Jillionaire, DJ King, Digitaria, Eli Iwasa, Carlos Capslock, and Batata Eletrônica. The El Club did backstage at Bananada, including the dressing rooms and other things twice. We next asked Lucas to run the bar at the festival for the past two years. That completely changed our bar service. Then Lucas made a proposal to participate in more of the event. This year, he was incorporated as one of the heads of the festival, so now he works with us. He understands the electronic music audience. So we have a DJ in the band that is pushing the thing (festival) to the electronic and party crowd. I appreciate the idea that the festival has this kind of (diverse) character.
Has Lucas become a partner in your booking agency, A Construtora Música e Cultura which you founded in 2010?
No. A Construtora Musica e Cultura) is still myself, and Daianne (Dias). Daianne is my partner. He and I have the booking agency and the production company. Myself, Daianne and Lucas have the festival.
With the festival, the booking agency, and the production company, that’s a lot of work.
Yes. And I have a club here now, The Rock, which I opened six months ago because I’m a stupid mother. It’s a lot of work, but haven’t had a heart attack, yet. But I have high blood pressure.
You can develop bands at The Rock at a club level for the festival.
That’s the idea.
At least you aren’t managing bands.
I’m not managing bands anymore. I gave up management two years ago. I did it with Black Drawing Chalks, I managed a lot of bands including Lucy And The Popsonics, Macaco Bong, and Hellbenders. The thing about managers is that they are like babysitters.
How much full-time staff do you work with?
We have up to 900 people working on all the aspects of Banadana and from 5 to 10 people in the office full-time. It depends.
What is the annual economic impact of the Bananada Festival on Goiânia? How much revenue does it generate locally?
I think that the festival makes in hotels, restaurants, and tickets around $1 million (U.S.) which is very good for a festival in this region.
Other than the weekend happenings at Centro Cultural Oscar Niemeyer, a number of nightclubs, restaurant pubs, and studios in Goiânia are involved with the festival. This includes shows at El Club, The Rock, The Retetê, Roxy, Complex, Diablo, Shiva, The Republic, The Shed, The Sesc Center, and The Cafofo. How exactly does the festival work throughout the week?
It is like this. From Monday to Thursday there are the showcases, and in the weekend from Thursday (using one stage) to Sunday we use the Centro Cultural Oscar Niemeyer. Through the week we have food with 20 to 25 restaurant participating, and we have a skateboard competition. We have a kid’s stage, Meninada No Bananada, for kids from 2 to 12 years olds.
On the weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, there five stages situated in Centro Cultural Oscar Niemeyer along with a food court, a skate park, a kid’s stage, and a bar.
Everything, of course, is centered around the local scene.
In 2011 or 2012 we invited the clubs that are part of the music scene of the city to promote some showcases. We have around 12 venues. So during the week, we do some showcases. We have El Club, The Rock, and Complex. Real cool rooms that have opened their entire rooms to bands and DJs during the week and are doing some special showcases. A record label from the south part of Brazil, Honey Bomb, will do a showcase. Also showcasing are Dulldog Records, Midsummer Madness, Falante Records, Taquetá, PWR! Records, Proposito Records, and Algo Records from Chile.
The festival is culturally and musically a diverse event. Some local venues like Complex, they will have a jazz showcase. They will do a special concert during the week.
Tell me about the kid’s stage at the festival.
We have a band called Rock is Dad that will play. (Laughing) They play really loud. This was one of the things we needed to do to get my kids, and the younger kids to the festival. I want my friends and their families to be part of the festival. They can go if they know that they have a kid’s stage.
Each club seems to have its own pricing. Is there a ticketing tier system for the clubs?
Different clubs have different prices, but we have some tickets you can buy for all of the clubs for the week, and we sell tickets for each day or for the weekend as well. We have lots of different kind of tickets. The highest tickets go for about 55 real. Most are 30 real or 40 real which is something like $12 to $13 US. If you go to a club at the festival, it’s about $10 US, and some shows are $2 U.S.
How many people daily attend the festival on the weekend?
From 6,000 to 9,000 each day.
You graduated from a private school in Goiânia but continued to attend its year-end parties. Then you decided to produce the graduation party in order to book your band, MQN, which was then playing covers of the Brazilian punk hardcore band Raimundos, and Sonic Youth, as well as some originals.
Yes. You know when you are 19, and if you play in the garage as a rock band nobody wants to book you. So I had to book the band myself. Nobody wants to release your album. So you have to release your own demos. In a way, it was like it was in the ‘70s with acts in the UK, and it was the ‘90s in Brazil. So we were about 20 years late, but it happened here. Now we are kind of the same, you know. We are not, of course, big, but if an international band books a world tour they are playing in Brazil and, if it’s around Banadana, they are going to play here.
I was fascinated to find that you have a law degree. You studied law at Federal University of Goiás, Direito UFG, and at the Faculdade de Direito UFG. Why study law?
If you are middle class in Brazil in the ‘80s or the ‘90s, for your family to be proud of you, you studied medicine or went to law school. I wanted to make my parents proud so I went to law school. I did law school at night, and I worked in the record label (Me and My Monkey Records), and the booking company during the day. When I finished law school, I wanted to become a music promoter. I didn’t know that I already was.
Do you come from a family of academics?
My family are not academics. My mother is a lawyer. She worked for the state government, and my father just went through high school. He’s a salesman. There are no musicians in my family. I don’t know why, but I was crazy about it (music).
One of your fondest memories of Bananada is your hero J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. performing.
He played for 5,000 people but I think that only 200 people were looking at the show. It was in the main arena. Many of the people loved it. We have had a really good connection with Sub Pop Records. So we brought in many of the Sub Pop bands like Mudhoney.
Your relationship with Mudhoney goes back to when you were bringing in bands like Superchunk, and Luna.
Since I was a teenager record labels like Sub Pop in Seattle, and Touch and Go from Chicago, they were my inspiration. I used to buy records from them. I am a real big fan of Estrus Records from Bellingham, Washington. (Founder) Dave Crider is a really good friend of mine. So we do have international connections with indies like Sub Pop, Axis, and others.
[The grandson of a honky-tonk bluegrass guitarist, Bellingham singer/guitarist Dave Crider first performed with Roof Dogs followed by a decade stint with Mono Men who were featured in Doug Pray’s 1996 music documentary, “Hype!” The band split up in 1998, but reunited in 2006 to play a series of concerts called the "Spanish Attack." They also reunited in 2013 to play shows in the US, plus tour Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. Crider started Estrus Records in 1989 as a way of releasing Mono Men cassettes. Today, the Estrus catalog includes a broad collection of rock.]
Mark Arm [guitarist and lead singer of Mudhoney] played at the 10-year party of Monster Discos and sang along with your band, MQN.
The first time we did Man Or Astroman?, and Mudhoney it was like a dream come true. I did not believe it. It was crazy. I had a poster of Mudhoney on my wall. What I find fascinating today is that I work with the guys like Mark Arm, and Dave Crider who were my grunge heroes.
It must have been difficult making international connections being based in Goiânia.
I never thought that it was possible. The first time we met Man Or Astroman? at the airport, I was 19. Coco (bass player Robert "Coco the Electronic Monkey" del Bueno), and Birdstuff (drummer Brian "Birdstuff" Teasley) came to the gate of the airport, and when I saw them for the first time I couldn’t stop shaking. When I talked to Coco he said his real name, and he asked me how I was. I didn’t think it was possible to be friends with a guy like this. I was 19 years old.
Ten years ago, it was really hard to see international acts here. It was unimaginable. We did shows with Luna, Mudhoney Trail of Dead, and Superchunk. It (grunge) was really a part of me. We saw that they were normal people. In 2001, the guys from Man Or Astroman? invited MQN to record in the U.S. So we flew to record in the U.S. with Jim “The Bullet” Marrer at Zero Return Studios in Atlanta. Then we had a record deal with Monstro Discos. In 2003, we were invited to play South by Southwest in Austin. We also played Seattle, Stanwood, and Bellingham in Washington, and Dallas in Texas. Then suddenly everything was possible. The international acts were possible, but you do have to work hard for it (access).
Of course, you had already started producing shows in Goiânia clubs. What were your first shows?
Relespública, Wry, and Autoramas, I think. And, at the end of 1998, I did Man or Astroman?
You apparently booked Man or Astroman? In Goiânia in order to have MQN open for them.
I saw Folhateen (the weekly youth supplement of the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper) which is like our New York Times, saying that Man or Astroman? would be coming to Brazil. I was really excited that they had announced the tour in the newspaper. My family was having lunch, and I showed the newspaper to my mother, and I said: "I'm going to do this band's show here in Goiânia". My brother started laughing. I got the phone number for Folhateen, and I called. The person who answered was (pop culture journalist) Lúcio Ribeiro (who edits Popload and writes about music for Folha de S.Paulo). I told him that I was a producer in Goiânia, owner of a label and that I wanted to know who was bringing Man or Astroman? to Brazil. Lucio said the newspaper wasn’t promoting the show, but put me in touch with the promoter Marcos Boffa, and I told the same story to him.
What was Marcos Boffa’s reaction to a teenager calling and trying to book a show in out-of-the-way Goiânia?
I think he thought I was crazy. He said that he had never done a show in Goiânia before and that if I wanted it there I had to pay money upfront for tickets and other things. For a $2,000 deposit, he’d fly in the band. I said, “Okay.” I did everything the next day. I had a little money saved, my mother gave me some, and I deposited the whole amount in his account. So we have been doing international acts in Goiânia since 1999, and Marcos Boffa is one of my best friends now. He became a really big partner with me. He’s my guru.
When you started the festival is it true that bands like Wry, Thee Butchers Orchestra, and Walverdes stayed at your parents’ house?
Some of the bands stayed at my parents’ house and some stayed with me or at a friend’s house. A lot of bands stayed with my parents’ house because the food that my parents have is really good. The (garage rock power trio) Thee Butchers' Orchestra did stay with my parents. They are friends of mine and sometimes they wanted to stay at my father’s house.
The music scene in Goiânia heated up in the 1990s, with the creation of independent rock festivals like Goiânia Noise Festival, and the Bananada Festival, as well as the launch of independent labels like Monstro Discos, Two Beers or Not Two Beers, and Insetus. In 2001 you started working at Monstro Discos, which then oversaw the Goiânia Noise Festival, and was a promoter for International bands touring Brazil.
When I joined Monstro Discos 2001, the first thing that we did together was the Mudhoney concert in Goiânia. They weren’t really about doing records. I stayed with them for about 10 years, and we released more than 130 records. We released a lot of really important records like the Mechanics, Walverdes, Jupiter Maçã, Autoramas, Mundo Livre S/A, Violins, Hang The Superstars, Black Drawing Chalks, Ratos de Porão and, of course, MQN. We had a #1 record with Walverdes’ “Anticontrole” (2001). Monstro Discos was a really important part of my life. I joined in 2001, and I left in 2010. During that time Bananada, which I had started in 1999 with Me and Monkey Records, was produced by Monstro Discos. Since 2011, it’s been our company A Construtora Musica e Cultura overseeing it.
You stopped touring with MQN when your daughter Ana was born?
I stopped touring with the band in 2012. With a family, it’s hard to travel that much. I have two girls. Ana is 9, and Lara is 7. You know that when you turn 30, and then you turn 35 (laughing), you start to work out that it’s time to focus on other things.
Larry LeBlanc is widely recognized as one of the leading music industry journalists in the world. Before joining CelebrityAccess in 2008 as senior editor, he was the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard from 1991-2007 and Canadian editor of Record World from 1970-89. He was also a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record. He has been quoted on music industry issues in hundreds of publications including Time, Forbes, and the London Times. He is co-author of the book “Music From Far And Wide.”
Larry is the recipient of the 2013 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, recognizing individuals who have made an impact on the Canadian music industry. He is a board member of the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, Ontario.