At the end of 2022, we asked for your help in deciding which sounds will leave a lasting impression on 2023 and you didn’t disappoint. With genres as varied as UKG, Hyperpop and Rap, global music is in a wonderful place.

In the fourth part of our ongoing spotlight of the genres that mean the most to you, we’re in Brazil for a history lesson on Bossa Nova. First heard in the late 1950s in Southern Rio de Janeiro, the sound mixed traditional Samba with Jazz, becoming known for its smooth musical flavors.  Every drum, guitar and percussion is played with calm and cool, hugging the angelic vocals of male and female singers with ease. 

For many young Brazilians at the time, this was the first they heard their music merging with music from the Western world; many of the first Bossa Nova musicians were taking influence from the Jazz age. Thanks to this fusion, the genre was able to gain worldwide attention thanks to João Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Carlos Lyra and Nara Leão among others taking the sound beyond Brazil. Nowadays, it is alive and well thanks to artists like Rogê and Cris Delano, and has become a favorite of DJs and creators discovering it for the first time.

For more on this new-age appreciation of Bossa Nova, we reached out to a DJ duo on the ground in Brazil. Discos Baratos, led by Gui Scott and Pino Henrique Pedra, have been throwing parties and playing on radio around the world since 2020, with previous sets on The Lot Radio and Brazilian station Na Manteiga. The guys have an intimate relationship with the music of their native country, and they give us a breakdown of their view of Bossa Nova.

Discos Baratos spinning at a party. Photo credit: Cognição Electrônica

What is Bossa Nova most known for?

Pino: Bossa Nova is one of the most important movements in world music and represents a great revolution in Brazilian music. It reaffirmed Brazilian musical tradition by having Samba as a great reference. On the other hand, it blended with Jazz in the forms of interpretation and slowed down rhythm. In addition to Jazz and Samba influences, Bossa Nova also has elements of Choro, Blues and Brazilian Country. The instruments that accompany the rhythm are the classical guitar and the piano, yet the presence of percussion is important in the rhythmic composition. As for the songs, they are performed in a low and smooth tone. Lyrics are poeticized and deal with everyday themes. 

Describe the energy of Bossa Nova in three words.

Gui: Nostalgia, calmness and peace.

Who are some of Bossa Nova’s biggest musicians right now?

Pino: Bossa Nova’s biggest and most popular names right now are the same names from when the genre was created. People like João Gilberto, Vinícius de Moraes, Tom Jobim (Antônio Carlos Jobim), Nara Leão, João Donato, Claudette Soares, Alaíde Costa, Carlos Lyra, Ronaldo Bôscoli, Toquinho, Edu Lobo, Paulo Sergio Valle and Wilson Simonal. You also have names from the new generation from the 1970’s onwards like Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, Marcos Valle, Leila Pinheiro, Ciça, Joyce, Bebel Gilberto, Cris Delano, Donatinho and Marcelinho Dalua.

Outside of the music, who would you say is keeping the Bossa Nova scene alive? 

Gui: We don't see Bossa Nova as a scene but a very relevant musical genre revered by artists from different styles and eras. There is a whole group of artists, researchers, onlookers and fans around the world who look for and buy both the classics and the little-known gems of what has already been produced. Among these enthusiasts, we can mention the Brazilian DJ collective Rotação Brasil, DJ Paulão, owner of the incredible Patuá Records, Carlinhos from the Discos 7 store in São Paulo, the great record collector and Brazilian musician Ed Motta, Discos Baratos ourselves. There’s Fábio, the owner of the Supernut MaraRecords store in Rio de Janeiro, another Rio de Janeiro based DJ, Rodrigo Facchinetti, as well as foreign names like Dutch DJ Palo Santo, and Kakemura in Japan, owner of the Jazz Bar in Osaka.

"Bossa Nova is one of the most important movements in world music and represents a great revolution in Brazilian music."

What is the story of Discos Baratos?

Pino: Discos Baratos started in 2020, during the pandemic, as an online radio show that aired monthly on The Lot Radio. Eventually, we came up with the idea of a shared radio show between The Lot and the São Paulo platform Na Manteiga, which was embraced by both stations. With the end of the pandemic, along with the gradual return of the party schedule, we slowly moved away from radio and started doing live DJ sets. We have done many events in the areas between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, with parties at Gop Tun in São Paulo and DOMply in Rio de Janeiro. 

‘Baratos’ in Portuguese is a feeling of enjoyment, an adjective that describes our musical research. The project aims to bring a few of our records and CDs from digging on our trips around Brazil and the world. Products with a banal existence, many of them for some reason forgotten in time and with incredible potential when removed from the dust and brought to the delight of the most curious ears and bodies.

Tell us about the music scene in both So Paulo and Rio de Janeiro; how are they different from each other?

Pino: I live in Rio and Gui lives in São Paulo. Rio lets you play organic Brazilian genres like Samba, Afoxé and Samba Rock that fits with the balearic, close to sea way of living of the crowd over there. The urban and industrial atmosphere of São Paulo asks for something more digital and electronic like Rap, Techno, Mid Back, Electro etc. It’s allowed for experimentation in the way we play our sets.

It might surprise people to know that Bossa Nova has such a huge following among young DJs and creators in Brazil, the United States, Europe and beyond. What is so special about Bossa Nova that keeps it relevant?

Gui: It’s a lot of things. The sophisticated harmonies, the pleasant balance, the delicious bass lines made by the classic guitars typical of the genre, in addition to the beautiful and melodic pianos played by some of the greatest musicians and conductors that ever lived. These are huge sources of inspiration for instrumental music lovers, including young composers and music producers passionate not only about contemporary electronic beats, but also the melodic jazz and organic drumming present in original Bossa Nova productions.

Photo credit: Cognição Electrônica

Are there any misconceptions about Bossa Nova that you’ve seen while being DJs?

Gui: The main misconception about Bossa Nova is that it is dated or music that only older people like to listen to. As the composer Toquinho, an important representative of the style, would say: “Bossa Nova has no time or age because it brings together the beauty of the melody, the dynamics of the rhythm and the youth of poetry. In Bossa Nova, the new is lifelong, and even perfection is often tangible. She will always be present in the most diverse musical trends that will emerge and consolidate in Brazilian popular music.”

What is one trend that Bossa Nova music needs to embrace/reject?

Pino: Bossa Nova must reject the autotune trend.

What do you think lies in Bossa Nova’s future?

Pino: Bossa Nova will continue to be heard, remembered and be a source of inspiration for many music lovers. From the older generation who experienced its beginnings and see it as a powerful tool to revive memories of a happy past, the children of this and future generations who become lovers from the influence of their parents, future music producers and music lovers around the world. It is a movement that will continue to enthuse because it was a successful model of expression for young people who wanted to have a voice and considered conquering that space through culture and art. By creating and giving a future to Brazilian music in the 1950s, Bossa Nova integrated the past with the present, breaking standards without condemning the supremacy of the creators. An excellent example to be followed.

Head over to Mixcloud to discover more Bossa Nova shows and all of our genres.

Check out more musical deep dives on Campus.