In February of last year, the São Paulo band Liniker & Os Caramelows announced their separation after five years of career, two albums, a collection of shows inside and outside Brazil, a Grammy nomination and a multitude of fans.
At the time, the group made a point of emphasizing that this was neither a hiatus nor an end — or at least not necessarily. It was the beginning of a cycle, in which there would be a break that would make possible new works in partnership in the future, the musicians said.
Also during the announcement, the band promised a farewell tour for the months of June and July of that year. But what they didn’t expect, of course, was the arrival of a pandemic.
Faced with the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, vocalist Liniker and the Caramelows —Rafael Barone (bass), Péricles Zuanon (drums), Renata Éssis (backing vocal), William Zaharanski (guitar), Éder Araújo (saxophone), Fernando TRZ (keyboards) ) and Marja Lenski (percussion)—revealed in August that the tour idea was thus out of the question.
“I needed an active rest to understand everything that was going on. When I launched I was just 19 years old and suddenly a lot happened”, says Liniker, who has just released “Indigo Butterfly Anil”, his first solo album. “This period at home made me reconnect with myself after such intense years traveling the world with the Caramelows.”
The album, which arrives on digital platforms this Thursday (9) and marks a new stage in the artist’s career, should ease the anxiety of those who, since the band split, frequently question Liniker about new songs. The paulista jokes that during this period the pressure for releases “was only not greater than that felt by Rihanna”, an American pop singer who has been without a new album for five years and has become a meme among fans.
“It’s a self-love record, where I needed to get inside myself and reconnect with everything in a very intimate way. I had to take care of my inner child and I’m still taking care of it”, says the singer. “Affection is a very difficult space for black people. Since I was a child, visceral passions are always for the other and I started to question myself when I would be visceral with myself. And that’s not being selfish. It’s just about loving yourself, taking care of yourself and listening to yourself.”
“Indigo Butterfly Anil” is, in her words, a big party in a backyard full of blackness. “It’s a groove that has always been in my body. The feeling is that I’m singing in my backyard.”
With 11 tracks, the work goes beyond soul and R&B for which the paulista is already known and also adheres to pagode, samba rock, samba-enredo, salsa, zouk, charm, MPB and a lot of jazz. The lyrics start from old letters never sent, reflections, tributes and memories.
For the artist, “Indigo Butterfly Anil” is a source of celebration of black lives and of reuniting with herself, which is evident in the nostalgic tone of the lyrics and arrangements of the songs. In “Lalange”, for example, we hear details of a dream in which she visits the nursery where she studied, in Araraquara, sees childhood friends and searches for the little girl Liniker, who does not appear.
“I think I’ve already felt very distant from my inner child, but I’m in a healing process to reconnect with her. The dream of ‘Lalange’ really happened. It’s a sad track and somehow a connection with Mirtes [Renata Santana de Souza], Miguel’s mother [Otávio]. We are tired of crying over the deaths of black children,” says Liniker, citing the case of the five-year-old boy who died after falling from a luxury building when he should have been in the care of his mother’s employer.
This tone of dialogue between past and present is also contained in the styles that she has been diving for years, explains the singer. Since childhood, she attends samba circles, black music parties, peripheral dances and theatrics.
“I do what I do because I’ve always been introduced to art”, she says. “I had a very painful childhood, my mother always worked a lot, raised my brother and I alone, but at the same time I never missed this partying joy at home.”
Amidst the growing conservative wave that settles in Brazil, Liniker’s first solo album also serves, according to her, to make listeners dance under “a sunny groove in cloudy times”.
Produced since 2019, when the singer still had a partnership with the Caramelows, “Indigo Butterfly Anil” also features appearances by names such as Milton Nascimento, DJ Nyack, Tulipa Ruiz, Tássia Reis, Symphonic Jazz Orchestra, Letieres Leite and Orkestra Rumpilezz.
It is not new, however, that Liniker produces under vast references to musical texture. Whether in genres, partnerships or lyrical stylistics, his works gained prominence for a powerful cadence, added to his low and —simultaneously—smooth vocals. Despite this, the singer claims that she is constantly reduced to the fact that she is a transgender woman, which makes her tired.
“Music is what gives me work, it’s what I engage in and what supports me. But sometimes they put me in a place as if I only talked about being LGBTQIA+. They don’t care about the quality of my production,” he says the songwriter. “I’m also tired of people saying that my way of writing is difficult. I’m writing what I feel like. It’s the others who need to learn to listen.”
In addition to being placed in a muffled LGBTQIA+ box, the paulista complains about the lack of black appreciation in the music industry. “We have always produced diamonds and we continue to produce things that are not noticed by patterns and places that disqualify what we do. That’s why I feel the need to show all this rhythmic abundance. We deserve it.”
Now, with the release of her first solo album and months after starring in Amazon Prime Video’s “Manhãs de Setembro” series, the artist says she is interested in new journeys as an actress and is looking forward to taking the stage again —and this time singing “Indigo Butterfly Anil”.