When Brasilintime premiered in Ireland and England in July a number of press pieces appeared. One journalist who interviewed director Brian Cross was Frank O' Connell. We publish an extended feature of his here:
Photographer and film maker Brian Cross admits that he knew very little about Brazil before
beginning his latest project, a musical documentary called Brasilintime.
“To be honest I was a pedestrian to all things Brazilian before the RBMA (Red Bull Music Academy) gave me the invite to go out there. I had only scraped the surface before I went there, but after the time I spent there making the film, I know that Brazilians are proud of their culture, but in a critical way which I like. There are also many similarities between the Irish and Brazilians in terms of their culture of emigration”
Brasilintime is the latest visual offering from the Limerick man (known as B+ in hip hop
circles) which documents how a crew of West Coast American Hip Hop DJs and legendary jazz drummers traveled to Brazil, and attempts to examine the relationship between present-day
performers and the beatmakers of the past.
In Sao Paulo the Americans were joined by local musical legends, and what emerges is a fascinating exploration of Hip Hop across generations and continents.
Currently living in L.A., Cross grew up in the Park area of Limerick City where he played
football and hurling for St Patricks GAA club, and represented Munster in rugby
at U18 level.
An interest in photography was developed by his secondary school Arts Teacher in St Clements, and
led to him taking a degree course in the National College of Art and Design. Cross
emigrated to California in 1991 and befriended a music producer called DJ
Shadow, a man who went on to remix U2 and whose tune “Stem” appeared in the
famous Guinness surfer ad campaign in 1997.
He took the photo which appeared on the front of Shadows debut album “Entroducing”, a shot
that featured vinyl buyers in a San Francisco Record Shop. This photo has since become as recognizable as the album itself as a portrayal of how dance music culture was about to leap into mainstream consciousness.
The exposure that came from the success of Shadows album has resulted in Cross working with
Eminem, Lauryn Hill, Black Eyed Peas and John Lee Hooker.
Inspired by his love of photography and record collecting, his first venture in documentary
making proper was with “Keepintime; Talking drums and whisperin vinyl”, which featured legendary jazz drummers attempting to link their original beats with the djs of today.
So what exactly is the difference between Brasilintime and Cross` first offering?
“Brasilintime is basically Keepintime on the road – except as opposed to doing some European, or
Japanese dates , we are in Brazil. Brazil is the repository of a whole set of African and European traditions in music that describe the Americas but from a completely different perspective.”
“B-time tries to explain these differences to try to open up understandings of what makes US
afro-traditions and Afro Brasilian traditions the same in many ways. So overall it’s about a journey, made by musicians and a metaphorical journey made by music itself.”
While making the film, he encountered many difficulties, something not as apparent as when he
worked on his first project.
“It was lot more complicated – Keepintime was really a document of one moment whereas B-time is
an attempt to contextualize a moment.”
“I have never done anything this ambitious, so there were many moments of self doubt and
confusion. But somehow the music and the spirit of the drummers and djs always sustained us.”
Another event which influenced him was the passing of a close friend during production, Detroit hip hop producer and rapper Jay Dee, or J Dilla Dilla made his name in the Nineties working with De La Soul and Busta Rhymes, also producing tracks for Janet Jackson and Macy Gray. Cross reveals that his death had a profound influence on his output:
“His death was a tragedy. He was the first hip-hop producer to sample Brasilian music and to
bring him diggin there was a very special experience. He was truly a huge talent.”
Cross still maintains an interest in his home city which he describes as being “very fertile with history” and believes his love of oral tradition which inspired the documentary stems from there.
“My interest in history and intergenerational stuff comes from there. When I was in my early 20s I did a big project on the Limerick Soviet for its 70th anniversary with local Labour
politician, Jim Kemmy and he is very often on my mind.”
“I’m from Park that means a lot to me. It has its own identity, its own traditions, customs and culture. And intense interest in local history is part of that, the oral traditions that I saw as a whipper snapper have stayed with me.”
However it’s the theme of intercontinental connection and learning from the past which Cross
believes can be of real value for the future.
“Saints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland, by Nancy Scheper-Hughes was a very popular book when I was at NCAD and to my surprise her follow up was Death without Weeping:
The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil – these are the kind of connections that need to be made.
What Glauber Rocha and Tom Ze have described as the aesthetics of hunger. We need to decentre our perspective of the planet; Brasil offers us the opportunity to do that. Its something I remember hearing a lot of talk of this process in the 80s at NCAD but the real work is only beginning.”
*New * Photos from Saturday night gig with Pressure Drop are here
Saturday 26th August, Pressure Drop Soundsystem in their last appearance before Electric Picnic. Anticipate a wide variety of styles from ska to rocksteady and funky reggae to roots and culture, dancehall and bashment. Expect guests and good fun. Visuals projected and designed by CROWDpour. Doors 9 pm eight euro admission. Limerick Boat Club
After the two great gigs from last week, this week we go local with two interesting selectors in Mickey Martins this weekend. First up on Thursday night from kiltimagh in Co. Mayo, DJ Cass whose current list goes a little something like this
1.Professor Longhair -
old rude boy & still love this track (I'll let Lily Allen off with the
2.Special Ed - I'm The Magnificent?
(great old skool
3. MC Solaar - Qui S譥 Le Vent
R飯lte Le Tempo [album version]
(I don't speak French but I use
French when I can)
4.Devo - (I Can't Get
wife is from Ohio so Devo gets turned up loud in our
5.Kiss - Christine Sixteen
"...that day, I knew it, I've got
to have you"
6.Bomb The Bass -
reminds me of my old acid
7.Richard Hall & The Voidoids - Blank Generation
( ____ !) 8. AC/DC - Hold Me Back (Try to
stop your feet tapping)
9.Roy Ayers- Touch of class (herbert mix)
Then on Saturday the 5th August, its Peter Curtin from Abbeyfeale, occasional contributor to this site who will be playing something along these lines
people under the stairs - jamboree pt.2
jaydee - ritmo suave bossa nova
nicole willis & the soul investigators - if this ain't love (don't know what is)