Brazilian-American singer and songwriter Alexia Bomtempo recently released her 3rd album and has been part of New York’s music scene. Come read about her arrival in NYC, the challenges, the new album, some of her top NYC secret spots and more!
The Brazilian singer and song writer, Alexia Bomtempo, just released her 3rd album and has been part of the best of New York’s music scene.
The new album, calling “Chasing Storms and Stars”, reflects a self-exploration of her identity and experiments with her surroundings over the past years.
After growing up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, she now calls New York City her “home”. Lucky us!
Moreover, she performs in some of the best venues around the city, so be sure to check out her website to see where you can find her and have a taste of her fantastic music.
The upcoming show will be this Thursday – November 9th, at 8pm, at Symphony Space, one of the best sounding rooms in Manhattan.
1) Tell us a bit about how you started your career, when/where was your first contact with music and when this gift came to life?
I had quite the distinctive childhood in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. My dad used to be a concert promoter and I grew up going to shows and experiencing that magical atmosphere behind the scenes.
So, while my friends were busy doing the normal things that kids do, I was going out to see legends like Baden Powell and Gilberto Gil.
Being exposed to music on this level as a child was very powerful and I knew then that I wanted to follow an artistic path. Later on, after studying classical voice in the U.S., I decided to move back to Rio and pursue a career in music.
I was very lucky to work with Brazilian music icon Dadi, who produced my first album (and became a great friend).
2) Why did you decide to leave Rio de Janeiro in 2013 and move to NYC?
After releasing my sophomore album “I Just Happen to Be Here”, a collection of English songs written by Caetano Veloso during his 1969-71 exile in London, I was invited to perform at “Brasil Summerfest” in NYC.
I was looking for a change of scenery and the borderless approach to music that New York has to offer really motivated me.
So, I moved here with a one-way ticket and one big suitcase – within a few weeks, I knew that the city would be my home.
3) Upon arrival, which were the biggest challenges you faced? Did something happen differently than what you had expected?
I arrived excited about exploring and open to new possibilities. Furthermore, I was looking forward to experimenting with my music and was fortunate to quickly fall into the East Village Nublu scene, which offered me the chance be exposed to many different genres and that significantly affected the way that I view and make my own music today.
Maybe, the biggest challenge was understanding that, if you’re going to be here as an artist, you have to commit to the pace of the city. Everyday life can be challenging and finding a routine that works for you is key.
4) How would you describe NYC’s music scene when talking about emerging bands that dream in spreading their music?
Being a musician in NYC forces you to go deeper into the meaning behind the art you make. The city has certainly driven me to be more resilient and focused – and that pressure is a beautiful thing.
And, the level of talent all around is inspiring and requires that you find what makes you stand out as an artist.
5) I’m sure there are many, but which are some of the bands that you’re most inspired by?
Mutantes, Radiohead, Caetano Veloso, Dinah Washington, Jon Brion, Blossom Dearie, Gal Costa… and the list goes on.
6) How would you describe your music style?
Cinematic dream pop with a tropical indie rock twist.
7) Tell us about your new album “Chasing Storms and Stars”? What’s the main theme around it? How was the process and challenges of creating, writing and composing it?
This is the third album of my career, but my first American release. It’s inspired by the massive changes in my life that have taken place in the 5 years since my last album came out.
Shortly after I relocated from Rio de Janeiro to New York I was offered a performance residency in Tokyo. So, I completely immersed myself in Japanese culture. I spent much time alone, reflecting on memories and experimenting with new melodies.
This lonesome state of mind inspired me to write and, for the first time, I felt the freedom and independence as an artist to make my own voice more prominent in what I was creating. I had always been a bit self-conscious about writing, especially having started out in Rio as a singer of Brazilian Popular Music, where historically, female vocalists didn’t write most of their material.
This album made me explore my identity and experiment with my surroundings. The collaboration with Jake Owen (my partner in music and in life) is an essential element to the album.
From the writing process to the final product, he challenged me to work hard and believe in my potential to create.
8) Do you already have a favorite song?
I go through phases where there is always one song that sticks out the most. Recently it has been “Mexico”.
Jake and I wrote this song during a road trip through West Texas. I had never seen that part of the country and was very moved by the desert, the sky, the open roads…
The landscape had a serious affect on how the song came about. The “murder ballad” tradition of the place we were in led us to explore different themes.
9) This is your 3rd album. What’s new and different about it, in relation to the first two? How have you grown from the first albums?
My first two Brazilian releases were heavily influenced by Bossa Nova and Brazilian Popular Music.
For “Chasing Storms and Stars”, I have written or co-written all the songs, except for one cover. Jake is a Texas-born, Brooklyn-based producer and heavily influenced by music of the southern United States.
With our contrasting backgrounds we managed to piece together a mixture of sounds incorporating cinematic strings, Brazilian percussion, electric guitars, and psychedelic keyboards.
We took the work we started in Brooklyn and finished it in Austin, with veteran producer and engineer David Boyle.
10) Where can people find your album to buy? Any upcoming shows that we can share so people have a chance to see you Live?
The new album is available on all digital platforms and the vinyl record can be purchased on my website, along with some cool merchandise: www.alexiabomtempo.com.
My next New York performance is part of the “LatiNew” concert series. It celebrates the synergy between the Latin and Brazilian music communities. The show is on Thursday, November 9, at 8pm, at Symphony Space, one of the best sounding rooms in Manhattan.
11) What are some of your favorite, off-the-beaten-track spots in New York?
“A hidden gem on the Upper West Side. The best Italian food I’ve had in the city. A local favorite!”
Location: 665 Amsterdam Avenue
Bar: Bell Book & Candle
“The bar at Bell Book & Candle feels like a friend’s living room. Sunday nights are particularly special where talented singer/songwriter Alfonso Velez holds down his weekly residency.”
Location: 141 West 10th Street
Live Music Venue: Berlin
“Berlin is my favorite hangout for local musicians. It’s an easy going and seems to recapture the old spirit of the East Village.”
Location: 25 Avenue A
Park: Riverside Park
“I love biking through the park and taking in the river views.”
Museum: Whitney Museum
“There is always a new piece that absolutely blows my mind.”
Location: 99 Gansevoort Street
Thank you, Alexia, for being part of our Insider Interviews and for sharing with us these exciting stories about your journey, career and favorite NY spots! Plus, we are exited to see your show on November 9th!
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Alexia Bomtempo
*Last Update on March/2020.*