Interview with Blumarelo
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
All four members of Blumarelo (singer/rhythm guitarist Vincent Teetsov, bassist Mauricio Gamboa, drummer Julious Nshaba, and lead guitarist Renan Deodato) got into music from an early age.
For the most part, we’d say it was the communities of friends and family around us that got us into music. Vincent’s brother is a guitarist/singer and started learning drums first, to play alongside him. Mauricio was creative in a number of ways (including a time as a child oil painting prodigy) and music was encouraged as well. Nshaba learned the drums in church. Renan has been in bands with his friends, playing guitar and trumpet (in a ska band).
It seems we all admired the magic of being a musician—an artist writing, performing, and recording music. So we started emulating that in our lives.
If it wasn’t for music, Vincent would probably be writing more books/stories and Mauricio would focus more on design/visual art. Nshaba and Renan, though, it feels impossible to imagine them not working with music, or at least sound. They are both so dedicated to that craft in their lives. You might say it’s their destiny.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
When not playing music, those art forms mentioned above are how we spend a lot of time. In a way, any writing or visual art are like “cross training” for being a musician. It exercises a different part of your brain and physical abilities and makes one more excited about making music.
We like movies. We like good food—Nshaba has been working as a chef for a while and Renan has studied wine, and our hangouts usually involve something nice to eat and drink. Vincent is also quite fond of hiking and walking. There’s something about being outdoors that restores peace and clarity in your mind and soul, and that makes creativity fun again when you’re feeling tired out.
How long has your band been around?
Blumarelo started playing together in May 2022. Our first proper show was in April 2023, and Nshaba joined us in July 2023.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We’re based in Toronto, Canada. I think one of the more profound influences Toronto has had on our music is that we feel pretty comfortable and open to express something of our roots (Latin roots for Mauricio, Renan, and Vincent, Ugandan roots for Nshaba) with audiences. The fact we perform a fusion of Latin rhythms and rock and funk music, and do so with English lyrics at that, can be perplexing to some people. But overall, the response is very positive. Toronto is a place where people desire to connect with our peers and friends’ cultures and backgrounds.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
The name “Blumarelo” is completely made up and connects to two ideas. Firstly, it’s a combination of the words “blue”, “mar” (“sea” in Spanish), and “amarelo” (“yellow” in Portuguese). These are all colours associated with our roots, places that are warm and verdant.
But then, of course, the combination of blue and yellow makes green. This is the distinct band colour for Blumarelo. That’s why you’ll see us mentioning the hex colour code #00B798 here and there online.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
We’ve played six shows so far, and two in particular have been the most memorable. One of them is our first show ever, at The Dakota Tavern in Toronto in April 2023. It was a Friday night, the first warm evening of the year, and you could feel the excitement in the air. The city had started to defrost, people were all dressed up, ready to have fun. The place was totally packed, and it was such a rush to finally share all the songs we had worked on with so many people. They were even throwing flowers and other objects onto the stage. We’ll always remember that.
The second is the Sofar Sounds show we played at The Bunker in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood. It’s quite literally an underground venue, with shimmering lights in the background and the audience all close to the stage. It was a secret show, with people we’d never met watching. At one point, I (Vincent) could see everyone’s eyes going wide. They were making a bunch of noise. As I turned around to see what they were reacting to, Nshaba was drumming standing up, and Renan and Mauricio were locked in, harmonizing with their instruments. These guys, my friends, are total entertainers and showmen. It’s always a memorable night with Blumarelo.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Of all the venues we’ve played at, The Dakota Tavern is a precious spot. But there are many more we would like to play, including ones in *your town*, dear reader! In Toronto, we’d love to play El Mocambo, Danforth Music Hall, and the Horseshoe Tavern. Throughout the whole world, it would be a dream to play venues like Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro, or the Royal Albert Hall in London.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Thinking about bands we really enjoy and have a similar vibe to us, a perfect lineup would be Jack Johnson, us, and Phoenix. There would be a nice variety of instrumentation, but a similar upbeat vibe. Maybe somewhere in Hawaii or California, where audiences get a free caipirinha with their ticket.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
First, you should determine which instrument you can be most flexible and expressive with. Then find musicians who match your energy as people and you want to be friends with. Then let the music all come together organically, where everyone is contributing something of their own. Share what you make with as many people as you can, in whatever way you can.
Knowing how to get that music to people who will like it is a challenge. But still, we would advise our younger selves to be creative in how you share what you make with people. Enjoy playing music as much as you can and be creative in the sharing itself, just as you are with the songs themselves!
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Take risks. Be alive. Be bold. Trust your instincts. Take care. And as Warren Zevon once said, “Enjoy every sandwich.”
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
“From Outside” is a song that Vincent has been kicking around since he wrote it in 2014. These days, it has a new life with Blumarelo. What makes it mean so much is the story it tells. In one sense, it’s the story of his grandparents coming to the United States as refugees from Estonia. It tells the story of many Estonians who fled their home during the Second World War. Yet, it’s also the story of countless people around the world who have had to leave their homes behind and start fresh somewhere new. Some people might even claim they have lost touch with their roots as a result—a painful accusation, despite everything refugees and immigrants often have to endure.
It’s a song packed with many emotions, real stories, and real situations. But then it’s presented in an energetic, rather upbeat way, which results in a powerful moment of catharsis and release.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
“Abandoned Tapes” and “Middle Road” are two really popular tunes of ours, based on audience comments. Between these two, Blumarelo channels it’s most vigorous rock and roll energy and danceable grooves, respectively. “Bats” has to be the most fun to play live though, a swaggering, funky tune about history, legacy, and material possessions. All of these will be recorded and released sooner or later. In the meantime, come out to our shows to hear us play them!
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Vincent brings in a framework of lyrics, vocal melodies, and chords. So far, this has come from previously recorded songs of his. Then Renan, Mauricio, Nshaba, and Vincent jam with the song over a couple of rehearsal sessions. Ideas ensue. It becomes an obsession. Before long, Renan, Mauricio, and Nshaba have re-arranged the song in a brilliant, fresh way and the song is mostly ready for performance and recording.
It’s all inspired by our personal styles and tastes. We want to make something that feels like all of us.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
As a band, we mainly want people to have a good time, to feel uplifted and free. As a songwriter, Vincent is pretty open about the message, being mostly interested in creating a kind of “world” with words, no matter how granular or unusual the topic of a song is. In any case, a good song conveys different messages and ideas to each listener.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
We don’t have many disagreements as a band. Sometimes we disagree about how much we should continue to perfect a song or visual creation versus letting things be. As with any human relationship (friendship, band, romantic), a bit of compromise is needed depending on who is most adamant about their opinion in a disagreement.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Our plan is to release an EP in 2024, so make sure to follow us on Spotify so you can see when that comes out.
While you’re there, take a listen to, save, and share with your friends our latest single, “Maybe You’ll Win This Time”.
And if you’re in Toronto on Saturday March 2nd, come see us play at The Bunker.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?