Published Jun 24, 2008Sergio Mendes has a career that spans over 45 years and has gone from the nightclubs of Brazil in the 50s and 60s, during the time that bossa nova was first being invented, to touring and recording in the U.S. with Cannonball Adderley and Herbie Mann to founding the seminal Brasil 66. Now, Sergio Mendes has returned to bring his original Brazilian flavour to a younger audience by teaming up with will.i.am to create Encanto, a mix of Mendes classic melodies and rhythms with modern, urban vibes. A follow-up to 2006s very popular Timeless, which again featured Mendes tracks reworked to fit modern day artists, Encanto features covers of one of Mendes most popular songs, "The Look of Love, this time featuring a very sultry vocal courtesy of Fergie.
"Every time I make a new record, its a new adventure, says Mendes. "My main motivation is to record wonderful songs. In the process, I enjoy sharing with the world the diversity of Brazilian music both in terms of rhythm and melody."
Sergio Mendes is undoubtedly one of Brazils biggest cultural ambassadors who to this day continues to take pride in the fact that he can represent and share his musical heritage with the entire world. Now, a younger generation is starting to discover the genius of Sergio Mendes and the beauty of Brazils musical legacy and we can only hope this is the beginning of a new era for his long and deep career.
What are you up to?
Right now, I am promoting my new record Encanto. I'm in Europe, as I'm speaking to you I'm in London. I was in Germany, Austria, France and England, doing TV, radio and press. The album is going to be released in Canada and the United States on June 10.
What are your current fixations?
Well, I have no time to do anything. Facing jetlag, which is a drag. Like, tomorrow I fly back to New York and then I do a tour, I'll be in Toronto as you know, playing, and then I come back to Europe. So, the basic thing is to sleep a little bit. That's the obsession actually, just sleep.
Why do you live where you do?
I've been living in Los Angeles for a long time, I mean; I go to Brazil at least twice a year. I have family and friends down there, but Los Angeles has been my base. I like the weather. Life is very easy, very relaxed. And I've been there for so many years, recording, I have friends and I have three kids that were born there. So that's why I'm there - above everything the weather is very good. It's not too hot, not too cold. We don't have big winters or big summers.
Can you name something you consider a mind-altering work of art?
The Mona Lisa. For obvious reasons, but for the timelessness of it. The beauty and the harmony of the painting.
Whats been your most memorable or inspirational gig either one you played or attended and why?
I think, from the top of my head, touring with Frank Sinatra twice was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, musical experience. Touring with him, watching him sing every night and playing with him, it was just a wonderful experience. We became very good friends.
What have been your career highs and lows?
I've been fortunate to have had a lot of great moments in my life; A long career and so many great experiences. It's hard to say the highs and the lows. I mean, we played in Rio, in my hometown, about two years ago during New Years Eve. We had over a million people at the Ipanema beach. And so many other experiences, working with Frank, working with people like Fred Astaire, recording with Cannonball Adderley, so many great experiences!
Whats the meanest thing anyone has ever said to you, before, during or after a show?
I don't remember. I really don't.
What do you think that everyone should shut up about?
It's not up to me to decide that. If there's something said that irritates me, I don't know what right now; I can't come up with anything. But people should be able to have free speech and speak their mind, as long as it's not offensive.
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
I like sharing. I like sharing a lot of things: music, travel, to share the love of my family, with my children and my wife. Sharing is a good thing for me. What I don't like - maybe sometimes I get impatient. I should learn to be more patient.
Whats your idea of a perfect Sunday?
A perfect Sunday? Wow. I guess being in Brazil with my family and friends, hanging around the beautiful islands, diving in the ocean and just a beautiful day on the water, out there, swimming and sharing a beautiful day and a wonderful life with friends and family.
What advice should you have taken but didnt?
Be more patient.
What would make you kick someone out of your band or out of your bed, and have you?
I think if somebody is impolite and says something very mean. Somebody mean. Use of drugs. Those are the things that won't make it into my band because everybody in my band should be very cool and enjoy the experience.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
Friendly people and good Chinese food in Vancouver.
What is your vital daily ritual?
Brush my teeth and floss.
What are your feelings on piracy, internet or otherwise? It makes me feel sadness. It's people taking advantage of people and I don't like that.
What was the first LP, 8-track or CD you ever bought with your own money?
Wow. I think, I think it was a Frank Sinatra record. I don't know which one, but I think it was a Frank Sinatra. How about that, later I was playing with him!
Whats been your most memorable day job?
I never had one. I went from classical music, to jazz, to playing clubs and so forth.
How do you spoil yourself?
Sleep. Sleep long hours and that's something I can only do with myself. But I like to share a good bottle of wine with a good friend.
If I wasn't playing music I would be...
I have no idea. Well there's a lot I like to do, I love travelling, I like meeting other people, other cultures. I love going out, I love great restaurants, great food, great wine, great company. Maybe I should be an ambassador but that would be too much of a political thing to do. I'd rather be free and enjoy myself.
What do you fear the most?
What do I fear the most? That's very serious. I don't know. At this moment, I don't know. Hard to say. Probably a few things but nothing I don't really want to say to someone I just met over the phone.
Whats been your strangest celebrity encounter?
I've worked with and met so many different people in my life. I mean, strange sounds kinda negative. Ok, I guess playing at the White House twice, once for Nixon and once for Reagan. So that was a very different experience but very good experience actually. I had dinner with them, as guests, me and my wife and we played and we were introduced by both presidents. I mean, a strange experience to play at the White House and also a wonderful experience. In a situation like that, you're in total awe of being there and you do a sound check and you have dinner and you're still nervous - but Nixon was very nice, and a nice host and made a very nice introduction for my band - and same with Ronald Reagan, it was a wonderful experience.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Wow. Hmm. That's an interesting one. Nelson Mandela, and share with him some Brazilian food and just let him talk and tell you about his life, which I think is a very inspiring one.