A Look at the Portuguese World

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The musical outsider

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The name Surma means to leave its mark on the world, it is associated with originality, daring, competitive spirit, independence and willpower, all synonyms that perfectly fit the alter ego of Debora Umbelino, the creative mind behind this unique and strange musical project as she defines herself.

Tell me a little bit about your creative process to create a melody? Do you use samples of various types and can you give me a review of how this works?
Surma: It's a bit been on the top of the moment, one day I record a sound on my cell phone and sometimes I work from it to a melody. Other, I grab the synthetizer when I'm at home. I also wake up at night when I have ideas in my head, I get up at four in the morning, work them through the night and then go back to bed in the morning. It is what I remember at the time and I just starting to work on that sound.

After these sound sections, the ideas do you have over the course of days and then put together all that you record for a theme?
S: I do not have a very defined structure, like for example in pop music, where there is a chorus, verse and melody. I try to connect the rhythms with each other, I work with the synthesizer on top, I add the voice to complement, it's like a layered construction. Since I work a lot with loops the music happens on that basis and then I build it from there.

You have been on tour and in this period have you written themes for your next EP?
S: Yes, I have recorded some songs with an Omnicord record band as well and we are almost finished with the album's pre-production. I still have a few melodies, I have worked during the day to complement some songs from the album, I also develop some lyrics, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

And when you release this album what's the general idea? In terms of soul what will it be?
S: The general idea is that it's going to be very genuine, because it's all done right on the moment. Then I go to the studio and work a lot on music. I have a theme where we hit some castanets in each other and worked on that sound, or the sonority emitted by a pen closing. It is a bit turned to science, I cannot explain this concept very well, it is based on details and noise.

You are very different even in terms of image, unique in terms of music too, how do you fit into the Portuguese national scene?
S: I do not know, it's a question that it is been ask to me several times, they even question me about the genre with which I identify myself and I do not know how to answer, because I do not even know where I fit into the national music scene. I'm experimental and strange at the musical level, I feel like an outsider to be honest.

And your audience, now that you're touring, did you notice who they are?
S: I think it's 8 to 80 years old, because I see a lot of kids in the audience and then I see people over 50. It's a very comprehensive audience, but by the way I notice it's a lot more from 25 years old up.

Let's talk about the tour itself in Europe, how was the acceptance of your music in terms of the foreign audience?
S: It was one of the best experiences I've had so far, I was a little afraid of people and whether they liked it or not, but overall it was brutal. They always reacted well in the concerts, we always had compose rooms and the ones that were there even entered the atmosphere of each concert, I think it went very well indeed. Then we grew more like artists at the music level, like people too, and we got a lot out of it.

And the concerts at the national level? How are they running?
S: The concerts outside are different from inside, because they are different public. I do not know. But, I can ot complain, even in Portugal the reaction has been very good. It will do the same, I have had a lot of support from the people and the audience that attends the concerts.

Have you ever wondered when you are going to release this EP?
S: Yes, the album is due in September.

And you have a title planned?
S: I have more than one, but none of them are planned for the album. I do not have a fixed one.

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