“I wanted to present the music first so people were exposed to the sound without pre-conceptions. I also love visual arts so it made sense to me to represent the songs with a bit of mystique and fantasy. I am consciously unveiling more and more with each release” – Puzzle, on the air of mystery that surrounds him.
Do you think a certain level of over exposure could have a negative affect on your music?
Not necessarily. I’m interested in creating a world with layers to peel. I’m very involved in my visuals – they are part of PUZZLE – revealing everything straight away just doesn’t appeal so much.
You’ve spoken about being part of gospel choirs and singing in church, what impact do you think that has had on your sound?
It definitely shaped the way I sing and my love for harmonies. There’s something powerful about having a multitude of voices on a track, it’s kind of spiritual. I’m very grateful to my parents for exposing me to that environment.
You left Brazil behind to move to London, but do you think Brazil still has a big impact on your sound?
The funny thing is that although I grew up in Brazil I never had typical Brazilian music being played at home, it was all more religious and classical. I don’t think it has had a direct impact on the music I’ve made so far however I have come to love Bossa Nova and MPB (Brazilian Popular Music) in the last few years, so I would like to incorporate some elements of those genres into my sound in the future.
I’ve seen you perform with markings on your face, what is the significance of that to you?
It signifies escapism, the idea of seeing something you don’t get to see everyday. The patterns are always changing and I tend to do it in a way that reflects how I’m feeling on that particular day.
Your music tends to juxtapose darker themes with brighter melodies, is this deliberate? And what affect do you think it has?
To a certain extent yes. The way I construct melodies has a strong pop sensibility, I also happen to have quite a poppy voice, however I’m attracted to the darker themes of human existence which are better conveyed through minor chords. It’s not as intentional as it sounds; it’s more of an instinctive thing.
The latest track, Comedown, see’s you use chemical dependency as a metaphor for relationships. What is it that you think makes the two comparable?
The blissfulness of the ‘high’ and the helplessness of it’s absence. I can’t think of many things that exemplify the intense nature of human relationships as well as a drug addiction. To crave something on a molecular level is a powerful thing.
You’ve chosen to release Comedown on vinyl, what is it about this format that works with your music?
From all of the songs I’ve released so far Comedown is the most 80’s in sound. It made sense to transport it into a format that reflects that time. I also had Matthew Herbert remixing the song, his take on it was very trippy, ambient and experimental so it felt like it could be something people might want to collect.
You’ve worked with some interesting artists in the past, such as Michelle Williams. What do you try and extract from collaborating with different artists?
I try to absorb as much information as possible, especially when collaborators come from a different musical background to mine. I truly believe that bouncing off ideas through collaborative experiences makes you grow immensely as an artist and as a person, I wouldn’t be able to create this world without the talented people surrounding me.
As a relatively new solo artist, what is your message? What it is that you’re trying to say?
I talk about things that I’m intrigued by or trying to figure out, basically all of the complex stuff inside of us. I guess the message is don’t be afraid of the complexity of your feelings or hide away from your demons. Embrace your flaws and dare to delve into the unknown; escape is only a thought away.
Your music sounds like it is heavy inspired by eighties romantic synth pop, what is it about this sound that really inspires you?
I like the ethereal and sometimes subversive nature of it. There’s an experimental aesthetic that has been lost since then which really appeals to me. I also feel that being at the forefront of new technology made those artists push the boundaries and that’s very inspiring.
So far you’ve had great success with singles, are you moving toward a bigger body music such as an album or ep?
I’ve started working on an EP now, it feels like the right time to create something more conceptual that will illustrate more of what PUZZLE is about. It will be a commentary on physical and emotional relationships in the modern age.
Photography by Ben Colson