Statistically speaking, he is the first Portuguese artist to win Eurovision – in 2017, since then he has also been his new, transplanted heart. Beyond statistics and beyond reason, a physical encounter with him – on stage or in conversation – can be called ecstasy, a purifying experience, simply joy. It’s powerful and impactful – so much so that your voice breaks. To be amazed. To laugh. To shed tears. And to laugh again. From the frenzy with which he touches you.
The unbelievable also comes from the brutal comparisons with our phenomenon – Marius Kurkinski, that come into the head of the Bulgarian interlocutor. Brutal artistry, even more brutal charisma and an immeasurably brutal frankness about which you cannot have even the slightest doubt. And that makes you love him even more. As he talks to you about love and music in the first person, while you cringe at the words he sings, burps, screams or delivers like a life-saving ambulance from his… heart. While a Portuguese song spills into „Ya, kaj mi, oblaje le bialo.“ And even when he tells you that he would never include such a song on his album.
Salvador Sobral managed to see several thousand people at the Jazz Fest in Bansko up close, and even more closely – several students during a jazz academy. For sure, it was an experience that will be remembered for a long time. An event that warms the heart with every memory of him. Like time, like timelessness, like a perfect model of the divine nature of man, cast in the form of a Portuguese… Who believes more in men than in God…
Salvador Sobral – about experiments in music, about tears on stage, about the beloved Jenna and about the love between Je and Salvs, about the return to Iceland, about Portugal in a song, about pessimism as a source of energy and about closed eyes… Why he believes more in men than in God. Why art should not be above things. What is the most beautiful Portuguese word… And no word on purpose – for „Eurovision“ or the „new“ heart.
There is a song of yours with Agir called Vertigem. When I first heard it, I played it 50 more times in a row. Literally. Until I feel dizzy. I don’t understand a word of Portuguese, but then I found out from Google Translate that the name of the song means vertigo, as well as what it is sung about. What is the story of this beautiful song? . . .
– I wanted to make a hip-hop trap song. I want to try every possible genre in this world because I am curious about all kinds of music. Agir is one of the most famous producers in Portugal. We saw each other at a fado place and decided to do something together. Then we met in his studio. There we started improvising and suddenly he said: „We’re recording!“. I was very surprised because I am not used to working in this way. But in hip-hop, they do it like that – in the moment. They feel things and write them down.
First we did the instrumentals and arrangement of the song, without the melody line. Then I went home and wrote the text. It is about a terribly jealous man, about the painful pathological jealousy – when one of the partners is so jealous and constantly imagines how his partner is cheating. And it’s all so pathological and strong, and it’s at the heart of the text.
Have you experienced this in life?
– Yes, when I was 18 years old – from my girlfriend to me. She kept accusing me of cheating. I have many friends of mine who are now having the same problem.
Have you ever cried during a concert?
– Many times. One is very sensitive when one is on stage. I didn’t cry during the song, but afterwards, feeling the love of all the people who were there. Because then all emotions are on edge. You feel everything much more strongly…
Is the heart the most accurate barometer of value in art, or should we also look with reason?
– I think so. When art touches you and moves you, it is a physical sensation. Humanity in what you do, sincerity is very important. But, yes, the heart is the measure and the way you feel an art is the measure of its value.
During our conversation, I will take the liberty of quoting Portuguese artists I have met over the years.Cuca Rosetta , for example, says she wants to be an instrument of God’s love. I remembered these words and immediately related them to you. Do you feel this love – from God?
– No. I believe in people much more than I believe in God. I believe in people’s feelings and that my inspiration comes from them and what my singing evokes in them.
Two years ago, I asked Maria Cordozo if it wasn’t sad that more and more art resembled reality. Then she told me: „Art is a hug for the one we love.“ What is art for you and how does it relate to reality, does art stand higher than reality, and in general, is this necessary?
– Art is when you see reality for yourself. Art should not be above things. On the contrary, it should be a reflection of reality. I don’t see it as something divine. I love when art explores and embodies the whole spectrum of human emotions and humanity. To me, the humanity of art is what makes art beautiful.
Where do you like to come back to?
– In Iceland. This is a place I really like to go to. I had a fantastic concert there. If we’re talking about returning to a place where I’ve been, it’s to my beloved Jenna. I am willing to go back to her anytime…
You often close your eyes on stage. Do you see the same thing or is it different on each song?
– I am very sorry, why I would very much like to answer this question poetically… But most often I close my eyes and think about the tones and notes in the song, and what is happening with the music, I concentrate on the sound of the piano, the guitar. Actually, I’m quite analytical about the way I sing while I’m singing. There is nothing mystical… When I sing, I am there. I am focused on the communication with the other musicians, on the connection with the audience, on being able to feel it. Sometimes I think about what I’m going to have for dinner…
I have been to Portugal once and I think it is a country with a unique spirit. Last year, the Rumos ensemble visited us with a whole concert called Tocando Portugal („To play Portugal“). But is it possible to capture the spirit of Portugal in a song?
– Yes. If you listen to fado, you will feel the spirit of Portugal. Such is the spirit of Portugal – very melancholic, sometimes pessimistic. But we are a very proud nation.
When you said pessimistic, I remembered the words of another Portuguese. When he was in Sofia in 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, Ricardo Ribeira said that we should use pessimism as a source of energy. What is your energy source?
– Everything, including pessimism. I believe that all stimuli are useful for a person’s creativity – pessimism, optimism, weather, food, music – of course, cinema. I like all emotions. Pessimism is a very good thing when you want to write a pessimistic ballad…
What is the most beautiful word in the Portuguese language?
– I don’t want to say a typical word that everyone knows or what you might expect (Laughs).
According to Ricardo Ribeira, it is saudade (longing).
– Nah, it’s so banal. But it is true that it is a very beautiful word. We can’t escape from it… Really, that’s the most beautiful word! Sorry if it sounds like a cliché. I wanted to say something different, but it’s the truth.
Do you have a song for saudade?
– (Thinking) I am thinking of several songs that are dedicated to my Jenna. She’s an actress, I’m a musician. Each of us has to travel, and therefore we feel saudade for each other. In fact, it is the fuel for our relationship.
I have a song – Paris, Tokyo – that’s about exactly that and it’s very fast paced. I really like that – the sadness being recreated in an uptempo way, rather than a ballad as expected.
Is love with Jenna the love you’ve been dreaming of?
– Yes. And that’s true love. We have our ups and downs. Sometimes we are not in harmony… I feel blessed that I spoke to her some time ago, and now I have the opportunity to live and communicate with her.
How is this love maintained?
– We have a deep respect for each other. There is one more thing that is crucial in a relationship – admiration. Mutual admiration is key to a healthy relationship. I admire Jenna. She is a very good actress, she is smart, intelligent. She is now completing a master’s degree in literature. She is about to become a doctor of sciences, dealing with post-colonial studies. It’s interesting because her father is from Africa and her mother is from Belgium…
How do you address each other?
– (Laughs) I call her Je and she calls me Salvs. It’s complicated as hell. I always ask her why you call me with a name that has three consonants in it…
Does your sister Luisa still write songs for you?
– In my latest album for now – BPM, there is one of her songs. But I’m sure there will be more of her on the next album as we really enjoy working together.
We did several concerts together and wrote a song especially for these concerts.
Finally, was it strange to you that I didn’t ask anything about Eurovision and the new heart?
– Wow! No! It was great. Thanks. It was a beautiful, abstract conversation about feelings and human emotions. It was different…
>>> Translated by Salvador Sobral – Fans Page <<<