Rock, Alternative, Indie Rock
Cake, Franz Ferdinand, The Magnetic Fields, The Clash
When São Paulo, Brazil-based indie singer-songwriter Gabriel Serapicos took a family trip through the tiny rural city of Serapicos, he envisioned the song that solidified his life’s work. “The town was creepy. It had a small church but not much else. This song represented where all the songs were situated; everything started to make sense,” he says of his debut’s title track, “Serapicos Is A Town.” “The songs on the album don’t connect, but there is a unifying mysterious, Twin Peaks-y atmosphere to them.”
The recently released 15-song opus, Serapicos Is A Town, is a wry, witty, and imaginative indie rock debut from a promising young pop composer. Esteemed Brazilian music blog Societeperrier.com recently compared Gabriel Serapicos to filmmaker Wes Anderson and Magnetic Fields mainman Stephin Merrit. The São Paulo, Brazil songwriter has also been favorably compared to The Clash, Franz Ferdinand, Cake, and The Rolling Stones. His music has an indie/punk scruffy genius, imaginative arrangements and surprising stylistic references played with an unbridled charm. A positive review in reputable blog Musicapave.com, translated from Portuguese, praised Serapicos Is A Town pointing out that Serapicos: “created a work with a certain unpretentious and fun footprint felt in each of the 15 songs on the disc, all taking advantage of the pop sound of the English language.”
A whimsical absurdist feel inhabits Serapicos Is A Town—the album holds together like a collection of quaint scenes from a charmingly eccentric movie. “The songs have a strong visual aspect. When I watch a movie at home, I watch with English subtitles and I keep a notebook nearby. If I hear a word that I think is musical, I take notes,” he reveals. “I’m influenced by directors like Wes Anderson and the Coen Brothers because they’re unpretentious and they don’t take their art too seriously. It’s like looking in the mirror and laughing at your imperfections. I don’t see myself as a great singer, I but I can express the ideas I write.”
The song titles and lyrics on Serapicos Is A Town are playfully irreverent. The track “Blow Me” opens with the line: My hands were on your breasts/Your hands were on my penis/We were about to rest/Let`s take just one more minute. “That’s a very unique opening line for a love song,” Serapicos says with a laugh. “It is pornographic humor in a way, but there are no real dirty words. I don’t think the word ‘penis’ can be censored.”
Serapicos is a native Portuguese speaker but feels more creatively at home singing in English. “I feel connected to rock n’ roll culture when I sing in English, it feels natural,” he says. “It feels easier to make fun of the music in English, and it’s easier to create these exotic Hollywood movie characters I imagine in my songs.”
Despite the clever humor of the lyrics, Serapicos is a serious pop composer. “There Is No Satisfaction” has a funky, indie rock groove recalling vintage Weezer in its sophisticated accessibility. The tune inventively morphs in the bridge into a bluesy, sensual ballad, then builds up to a 1960s garage rave-up, before ingeniously circling back to the chorus. “Musically, I hear a jazz big band doing, this,” he slyly suggests. “I think it could be a cool James Bond song, it has that espionage feel to it.” Serapicos recently shot a sharply witty video for “There Is No Satisfaction” chronicling a baby with headphones growing into an old man.
The title track concludes the album with a sweetly whistled melody and a plaintive folk guitar that gracefully builds with strings and piano, it feels like closing credits to young director’s first masterwork. Gabriel Serapicos started his musical journey in earnest at 14 with 1990s American pop-punk before reaching deeper into the catalogs of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, Radiohead, System of a Down, Beethoven, and the Magnetic Fields. Many of the songs on Serapicos Is A Town date back to this time, only to be fleshed out years later when he got recording software and could clearly document his ideas. In 2010 Serapicos assembled studio musicians and officially began recording, taking the producer reins himself.
“Since November 2011 Serapicos has been gigging around San Paulo. Though this is mainly a solo project, Gabriel always calls upon his younger brother, Pedro Serapicos, to play keyboard and acoustic guitar on gigs. “We’re very close, personally and musically. Although I write all the songs on my own, he contributes a lot to the music played live and to promote the band,” Serapicos says.
Next up are two albums waiting to be recorded. “There is 15 Songs In Portuguese To Hear Before You Die, the title is a mockery of those ‘before we die to do lists’ and Stupid Love Songs, which is more sophisticated than Serapicos Is A Town. During the time I was recording this album, I started working on these new songs at home. And when I’m a year and half into mixing these records, I’ll probably have another 3 albums in my head,” he says with laugh.