I spoke to Petrit Pula, the festival's founder and curator, who is also an executive of Nublu Records, about why he became involved with Brazilian music and his plans for the festival.
Where are you from originally?
I'm from a tiny country of Europe called Kosovo, a place where very few people are familiar with. But I'm really a New Yorker; I was born here and spent my whole life here with the exception of 8 years which I spent away. I arrived here (for the second time) with my family in 1991 at a time when there was a lot of turmoil in ex-Yugoslavia and I have been in New York ever since.
How did you get involved with Nublu Records? Can you tell me about the label?
The owner of Nublu [an NYC nightclub] started the label in 2005 and I've been at the forefront of it since early on. The label started as need to record a lot of the bands that were naturally forming at the club which back then included the Brazilian Girls, Forro in the Dark, Kudu, Wax Poetic, etc. The label signed and released a lot of the bands that were coming out of the club and later branched out to signing artists outside of our clubhouse including bands from other parts of the world like Brazil. The record label doesn't focus on a genre, but more on sound or spirit that feels like Nublu.
How did you come up with the idea for Brasil Summerfest? Any big plans for next year's edition?
Because I had been working and promoting Brazilian music for the past 8 years, I felt there was a gap for an event or festival such as Brasil Summerfest. The idea was to create a platform where so many talented Brazilian artists can perform here to a wide public. I think Brazil's greatest cultural export is music and it made sense to offer something at this scale. There are big plans for next year and we've already started working on it. I can't give into any of the details because it's still too soon, but the festival has been growing each year and we expect an even bigger event for next year. My vision is to continue growing the festival beyond music. Brazil has a big film industry and a thriving art scene, not to mention its gastronomy. I hope that the festival can incorporate these elements in the future. This year was the first year we presented a film series and we hope to do more in 2014, but music will still remain the main focus and attraction of the festival.
I developed an appreciation of Brazilian music once I started discovering it when I was in college. And once I started working with Nublu, there's a lot of Brazilian influences there which we all absorbed over the years. Getting to work with a lot of artists, making a lot of friends, multiple trips to Brazil are all part of how I was nurtured in getting to know and appreciate Brazilian music and culture. I am still an outsider and still have a lot to learn about Brazil, but this is great because we learn as we do.
What are the advantages of working with Brazilian musicians? The challenges?
In my experience, Brazilian musicians are easygoing and it's always great hanging out with them. The challenges sometimes are on the organizational end. How people see time in New York is very different to how it's treated in Brazil. I have to say that we've always had some visa scares but this year very surprisingly everything went very smoothly. Maybe they're getting better. Maybe the clock is starting to turn faster in Brazil.Images by Eliseu Cavalcante.