Today we are here with one of New York City’s best guitarists Andre Vasconcelos. Hailing from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Andre has been living in the United States for quite some time now, playing with several different bands in stages throughout the world.
We’ve written in the past about The Brazilian Johnsons, a band Andre played in, so we’ve been hearing about guitarist Andre Vasconcelos’ amazing musical talent for some time. Since we hear and see his name constantly showing up on band’s concerts line ups and posters around NYC, we decided to attend a show this past June 3rd, at Rough Trade. There, we were able to witness his performance first-hand. Our immediate reaction? We were in awe, and speechless!
Andre was performing as the lead guitarist for the band “The Velvicks”, who were interestingly acting as the openers for Andre’s main band, the RANN. We were blown away by the performances. Victor’s songs are catchy and energetic and the band that backs him up are made with some of the most incredibly players we have seen live.
Andre took some time to answer a couple of questions for Behind the Scenes NYC. We are thrilled to hear a little about his journey as a musician.
1. When did you start playing music? And what was the moment you decided that this would be your professional path in life?
“I started playing music when I was around 13 years old. My brother was having guitar lessons so, when my mom offered me to start doing those too, I accepted just so I could be better than him (laughs).
Having done that, I moved on to developing a true relationship of love and devotion to the instrument. I started on nylon string guitar, but quickly changed to electric after coming back from the massive Rock in Rio Festival, in Brazil, where I witnessed Guns n’ Roses melt my face.
I don’t think I have ever decided that this would be my path, but also never really saw myself doing anything else. Then, I attended Business School for a while, just to find myself skipping classes to practice and/or learn new material.”
2. When did you move to New York City? What is the day-to-day life of such an in-demand musician living here?
“I moved to New York City around a year after I graduated from the renowned Berklee College of Music, in Boston. Many of my peers and collaborators were making the move to the big apple so the timing felt right. I had been playing in New York City for many years before I moved here, which is how it eventually works anyway.
The city requires you to be smart about your planning, scheduling and all of the logistic aspects of the profession. You need to understand immediately how big the city is, how long it takes to get from one place to the other and how costly it is to do so.
My day-to-day varies immensely as I have a Music House (Ghidrah Music) in my home studio, in Bushwick. There, I am a writer and producer for my own original rock band, called RANN, where we are always working on new materials. My jazz/rock band, called Racha Fora, does yearly tours in Japan, several other projects and side gigs that keeps our schedule very busy and diverse.
To answer your question, it is basically a combination of studio production sessions in the morning, followed by pretty intense rehearsals or performances at night.”
3. Talking a bit about RANN, how did this amazing project come to life? You guys went on 3 tours, what were they like? Plus, when can we expect new material?
“RANN is the main project I work with. There are four of us: Apoena Frota is the lead singer and also my partner at Ghidrah Music. We have our drummer, Joe Ullmer and Rafael Russi is our secret weapon playing guitars, synths and bass. I play guitar and sing harmonies.
We all met in Boston, but we only formed the band around January of 2015 when we rented a cabin upstate NY and wrote our entire full length record “Yellowgun” during that trip.
Quickly after finishing the album and seeing our shows get more and more hype, we went on our first US Tour. The, we won the Deli Magazine award of “Best Indie Pop Band of 2015”, had our song placed in a massive movie in Brazil and performed extensively.
In 2016 we crossed the country twice playing shows in over 45 different cities, driving from Cape Cod to Seattle and back.
New material should be released soon! We are very excited about it.”
4. After seeing your show with Vic, at Rough Trade, we decided to invite him to be part of the Sofar Sounds event we organized at the Greenpoint Gallery a few days ago. The show was a tremendous success and we were sold out! I heard you’ve played at several of these Sofar events with countless different artists. Can you tell us a bit about the event and what it feels like to see it from different artists’ perspectives?
“Absolutely! Sofar is always a fun experience. The name stands for “Songs from a Room”, which is a great concept. I’ve played Sofar shows with Brazilian artists singing in Portuguese, with Brazilian artists singing in English, with RANN, with heavy rock bands, but also with very soft and subtle singers…and pretty much everything in between.
Sofar Sounds shows are usually ‘stripped down’ versions of the original musics. So, adapting some music to that setting is both challenging and really fun. The show I did with “Victor & the Peculiars” was a particularly interesting one. The band is usually a full blast rock band, taking no prisoners. For our Sofar show last weekend, we managed to rock out, keep the energy up there, but still play the room. It was awesome!
I usually have around 10 guitar pedals with me, but for this show I only had 4. After the show I saw so many posts and comments from people complimenting the guitar sounds. It is always very rewarding. I have the Strymon pedals to thank for that – they are truly incredible pieces of gear.
One of my favorite Sofar concerts I did was with Racha Fora, the powerful and fiery jazz/rock ensemble, led by Hiroaki Honshuku. The music composed and performed by Hiro, myself (guitar), Rika Ikeda (violin) and Sebastian Chiriboga (percussion), pushed the envelope so much that the crowd’s reaction was stunning. Everybody really loved the concert. Being able to share our international touring experiences was another highlight.”
Andre, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, at Behind the Scenes NYC! We are very excited to share this inspiring feature on you and continue rockin’!
“Thank YOU so much! This has been so much fun. Hope to catch you at our show soon!”
We’ve chosen two, to share below. One was filmed at a place we love, with some of the coolest people in town, called Pianos.
See you all there, for we are definitely going!
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Andrea Vodickova, Rescalla Cury and Alyss Tyler
*Last Update on March/2020.*