Tropa Macaca answer the Questions of Doom
Tropa Macaca offer something a bit more intriguing than the usual context of 'ambient' music, it feels as if their use of music is more surreal, guided by a slow burn of the unconscious, almost as if they are intent on untracking, and then retracking, their ghostly lives and put it forth in music. With a new 12" coming out on Software, we had no choice but to get them in for this week's Questions of Doom.
How did Tropa Macaca start and do you feel, looking back, you are at the exact place you need to be with the project?
We started playing together in 2005 and we feel good about the place we we are at, as what we value most is the process, working at it at the best of your possibilities, and not the outcome.
You've amassed a superb body of work - what do you think the overriding narrative of Tropa Macaca has been?
We think that many times we develop musical ideas or sound production experiences based on or inspired by basic images, and sometimes it’´s the opposite, we come up with a piece of music that induces a certain image or imagery. Each image is filled or is associated with a series of ideas that we can play or argue to a wider or lesser extent in order to keep our aesthetics challenging and progressing. But let us make it clear that by ‘image’, you shouldn´’t take it as illustrative but more as an abstract concept.
You've switched record labels nearly with every release, is this intentional?
Rather contingencial, really.
Do you feel that Portugal has influenced your work?
We guess as much as one place influences one who lives there.
Sometimes when I listen to Tropa Macaca, I feel as if you are trying to create your own reality. Is there an element of surrealism with the music?
We all create our own reality, whether you are aware of that or not; and we choose to interfere creatively on ours, and in the ones who listen to us. About surrealism, well, if we consider our work methodology, how we combine distant ideas into our music, which ends evoking odd ambiences, apart from regular narratives, Yes, we can say it has an element of surrealism. Also, when playing music, we believe to be exploring our latent psychodynamic dimension.
Is there any musical manifesto to what you do?
No manifesto, but you can check the online document attached to our site for a better insight about our work.
Is there more freedom in participating in recorded music, or playing selections of music live?
Those are different things and we try to make the best out of each.
The combination of electronics are integral with your sound. Do you think of your band as 'dance' or ''improv'? Or did you try and avoid the ghetto of media tags?
We think we know each other extremely well, have respect for each other'’s work, always talking about what we’'re doing and sharing new discoveries and ideas. So the method we came up in this band seemed at first rooted in improv, but really it’s not that simple or complex, according to how you look at it. We guess we just built our own creative, harmonious, cross fading relationship that has been working for us.
What I find unique about your work is the intense personal connections you bring to the material. Do you view previous events and memories and translate them into sound?
That's a good question, since during all the time we were working on this new record 'Ectoplasma' we seemed drawn to certain aspects of what you seemed to infer. On the B side 'Ectoplasma' we tried to compose a dialogue between repetition and trace. Focusing on one end on the repetition movement inherent to the production of molasses - a always different although always the same movement, and on the other end on the moment when things are no longer, or not yet complete, when they are just an evidence or an indication, a suggestion. we ended up with what we consider to be a ghostly mantra.
The A side 'Balada dos que já nascem mortos' is also about suggestion but a shared suggestion, a memory of a weird event that you start doubting but you can rely on your partner to keep it vivid until you both start doubting it really happened.
What do you feel is the greatest musical misconception of your art?
We don't keep track of that.
What records/musicians should we be checking out?
Local young kids crew Casa da Mãe Produções soundcloud page