Minas Bengal is perhaps the first cross cultural project between West Bengal of India and Minas Gerais of Brazil. It’s the brainchild of Mainak “Bumpy” Nag Chowdhury of Kolkata, India and Bill Lucas of Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Here is a conversation with the artists about their debut single launch.
Q) who coined the name Minas Bengal and why is it so called?
Bill Lucas : Minas Gerais is the name of our state in Brazil. The city of Belo Horizonte is the capital, and it is where we (Agô band) live and grew up. Bengal is the state where Bumpy lives, and where he grew up. That´s the reason of the name “Minas Bengal”, which was my idea.
Mainak “Bumpy” Nag Chowdhury : Minas Bengal , the name was coined by Bill. It’ s perfect! He is from Minas Gerais and I’m from West Bengal. Our music , collectively reflects who we are and where we are from ! it’s perfect.
Q) Have you worked with other musicians from the other’s country before you met each other ?If so,how was your experience different’
Bill Lucas : I have never worked with indian musicians before. Me and my partner Guda Coelho played with Bumpy and some other terrific Indian musicians, during the Sufi Sutra festival where we got to meet each other.
Bumpy : I have only worked with Valtinho Anastacio in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, before I met Bill Lucas. It was amazing working with a giant like him. Bill Lucas has the same spirit of true music . It’s always inspiring to work with beautiful people because they give you that extra boost of positivity . With Ago, we were addressing a “Bengali Song”! That is new and super exciting to me.
Q) What in your opinion is the most significant thing between you, your band and Bumpy that makes this music, your friendship Special?
Bill Lucas : The most significant thing that makes our music and friendship special, is with no doubt, the immediate empathy that happened between us, when we met each other and got to play together. Our friend Amitava, the organizer of “Sufi Sutra World Music Festival for Peace” arranged this meeting, where we met the musicians of his enterprise “Banglanatak” , and Bumpy. The atmosphere was magical, very conducive to a cultural, musical and affective encounter. We played and jammed all day long, and at the end, it seemed like we had known each other for a long time. Also, when my other band mates heard Bumpy´s music for the first time, it was evident in their faces, their joy of participating in this project.
Bumpy : we are all , very simple people who love a good laughter, love to have a good time, play music to our hearts content , and eat and talk about football! I think we are not very different, We are all carnivalous people! That is what the music click!
Q) How did you work on the cultural collaboration- you playing on a Bengali song and Bumpy playing Samba? How did you cope with recording ,making of the album artwork?
Bill Lucas : It was all so much fun! I love Indian music. I was blown away when I heard “Shakti” for the first time. Since than, I´ve been listening to Indian classical and modern music. Some of Bumpy´s songs have a very unusual time signature for us, but I have been studying Konnakol for a while, which helped me a lot. It was a challenge, but a very fun and instigating challenge that we faced with all our heart. Merging Brazilian instruments with Bumpy’s music has been a terrific experience.
Bumpy : I recorded the song with Bodhisattwa Ghosh on guitars , Ratul Shankar Ghosh on Cajun and Guarb Chatterjee on backing vocals and drums, here in Kolkata, at my Home studio.
Then I played the guitar and bass parts and sang the song, John Paul helped me program percussion on a cycle of 6 and a half.
Then I sent the waves to Brazil and what came back was sheer magic! The love the honesty was right there!
I mixed and mastered it Myself. I even did the artwork.
In a way it’s a completely self-sustained Minas Bengal production!
Q)Why do you think Minas Bengal stands out?
Bill Lucas : It´s stands out for its creativity; for the countless possibilities of interaction between our musical roots and our diverse musical influences; for the opportunity of creating something new inside this “world music” universe; for the musical excellence of the musicians involved; and above all, for the way it all started, an encounter of love, friendship, music and partnership
Bumpy : I am crazy. And I meet equally lovable unparallely musically inclined crazies from Brazil. That’s what makes it work.
Q) Are you aware of the fact that Minas Bengal may be the first collaborative music project between Brazil and West Bengal? How do you feel about that?
Bill Lucas : Yes I am aware of it. I feel very honored, grateful and happy
Bumpy : I had no idea! But if that is so then I’m really humbled.
Q) What can we expect in the future ?
Bill Lucas : We can expect a constant musical maturation, and the joy of holding concerts together
Bumpy : Lots and Lots of brand new original music!