Studio Tupi is our project that involves inviting different DJs to come to our headquarters and record a set of Brazilian and tropical grooves with us. With this second edition, we were honoured to have the guru, radio host, music researcher and DJ, Mr. Andy Williams.
It was a perfect night with typical Brazilian shrimp dishes for dinner, great friends, and handmade cachaça brought directly from Minas Gerais (by ASMA – thanks pal!). We shared good conversations, good vibes, good company and even better tunes. Andy did an amazing 2hr set with great classics (as the version of Filhos de Ghandi by Clara Nunes), as well as introducing groups that were brand new for us. It was incredible to see how in the middle of his set, he was mixing in real time two samba grooves that were playing together for around 1 minute, complimenting each other.
We did a short interview with Andy asking him how he started his career as a DJ, about his love for Brazilian music and his present and future plans.
Hope you enjoy it!
Tupi Collective: Can you tell us a bit of how you became a deejay, and about your passion for music?
Andy Wiiliams: In the late Sixties teenage culture in the UK was so hip we had our own teeny bopping clubs across the Midlands (i.e. Derby, Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester,….etc.). The name of the franchise was “Tiffany’s”, which was then followed by “The Pink Coconut”, which allowed parents to drop their kids off for a couple of hours while running their errands. In my case my parents sent us out to mingle with our friends,while they would do their shopping at the market, or visit friends. I was hanging out with kids who were 3-4 years older than I was from my region. We were all avid listeners of the sound from that period, which was quite normal considering we had programs on the television such as “Top of the Pops”, and later “Soul Train in 1971. My favorite bands back then were 10 cc, Sly & The Family Stone, Mongo Jerry, Isley Brothers, Slade, just to name a few.
We would wait for Saturday mornings to buy our 45’s of the latest hits at the downtown shops at Dalton’s, Dixon’s, and Foulds. A few of my classmates Steven Mellitt, Andrew Walker, and Stephen Gaskill were beyond playing marbles and collecting soccer cards, instead they were into transistor radios to hear what was also playing on the radio, listening to such folks as John Peel, Dick Clark, and Delia Derbyshire who did the soundtrack for DR.WHO.
The music culture was rich at the time, and my Uncle Bobsie was at the forefront of West Indian sounds. His nickname was YOUTH (a.k.a Noel Williams), which is still a household name in the black community, who got records from his two brothers in the United States (Uncle Dennis & Uncle Earl). Uncle Earl had a 3 storey club outside Washington, and I was the lucky nephew in the 70’s who got the 45’s out of his jukeboxes, which I still own. My father had an extensive collection of albums such as Nat King Cole, Prince Buster, Desmond Dekker, Miles Davis, Nancy Wilson, Fats Domino, along with African American Pop stars in Rhythm & Blues, and Soul genre of music at the time.
I was fortunate to be in the right spot at the right time, which molded my vinyl junkie ways of collecting black music, and later becoming my high school deejay in 1978 in Grade Eleven.
Tupi Collective: What about your passion for Brazilian music? How did it start?
Andy Williams: When I first heard Brazilian music, I was instantly attached to the melodies, and had images floating around in my head (Not imagining “The Girl From Ipanema” – Ha!) of secret gardens, carnivals, and the spirits of the African ancestors. I dug deeper to realize that there is a connection to Africa, and the music from BAIA was very rhythmical, warm, with complex rhythms that I liked.
My first encounter with Brazilian music were the sounds of Segio Mendes & Brazil 66, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Elis Regina & Jair. In the Eighties I got more inquisitive to the sound because James Brown said he loved that the Brazilian music was always on the “1”, so I paid close attention to certain arrangements of the work of bands such as TRIO MOCOTO, Jorge Ben, and Tim Maia. Then I discovered great books that spoke in great volumes about the music, and the revolution in Brazil, such as Caetano Velosa’s “Tropical Truth” (Fantastic Read!), along with Clarice Lispector, Joao Guimaraes Rosa, and Joao Cabral de Melo Neto.
Tupi Collective: What are your present, and future plans?
Andy Williams: My Short-term Goals are:
(1.) To teach extra courses at McGill, and having Academic Administrators realizing the value of applying music to their Cultural Studies programs. This year I have 3 courses in jazz (“The Diaspora Of Jazz”, “Jazz And The Civil Rights Movement”, and “Black Oral Traditions to Hip-hop”).
(2.) Continue the growth of a monthly dance-floor session in Montreal called “the goods”, which has been running for 13 years, and allowing more futuristic deejays, funksters, and other various genres present their skill set to an open dance-floor audience we have here in Montreal.
(3.) Finally releasing this summer or fall season 2 albums that have been stagnant for 5 years
(4.) Collaborating more with young deejays in the city, and making sure female deejays are more visible in our city.
Long Term Goals:
(1.) Finding a building to purchase that can cater more to the independent artists in the city. There are spaces here for music in the city that caters to the Indy scene, but not necessarily keeping other aspects in mind such as practice spaces for loud instruments, sculptors, metalworkers, and other scarce traits.
(2.) A proper mentorship program geared towards school-aged children using music as an educational tool.
(3.) Seeking out more Philanthropists in the city, because grants are getting more and more competitive, which is discouraging the young talents we have here in the city.
(4.) Coaching Basketball again at a high level, and relocating with my peers who I’ve neglected over the years.
(5.) Setting up proper task forces to alleviate “Racial Profiling” in areas where it’s needed.
Tupi Collective: Thank you so much to accept the invite to come to our Studio! It was an amazing night! Can you share the links where we could find more about your incredible and dedicated work?
Andy Williams: It was a great pleasure! Indeed it was an amazing night. You can find more about my projects at:
http://www.mcgill.ca/continuingstudies/programs-and-courses/arts-and-culture/jazzrights http://www.mcgill.ca/continuingstudies/programs-and-courses/arts-and-culture/hiphop http://www.mcgill.ca/continuingstudies/programs-and-courses/arts-and-culture/jazz