“Three Canadians from Toronto in a Cabaret-inspired pop group take off for Berlin and immerse themselves in the city – it’s history, people, buildings and create a collection of songs with a true global feel.
Suzana Barbosa (Vocals), Mike Dell (Keyboards, Guitar) and Randall Savoie (Bass, Guitar) spent three months writing and recording their latest album in various apartments in Berlin and a studio built in an old brewery building from the 1900’s. The result was their new band, Lumanova, and aptly fitting title for their album “Berlin.”
Along with their new group came a new sound that was truly unique to their three influences and combined experiences. Randall’s edgy 80’s influenced guitar, Mike’s classically inspired piano and arrangements, and Suzana’s powerfully smooth vocals“
Art Saves Lives International chose Lumanova for our “Celebration of Women” edition as we felt that their song – Lady – was a perfect example of how one can use an artistic expression such as music and lyric writing to empower people and communicate about issues facing us all. No to mention we LOVE their sound and listen to their music on Sound Cloud whilst working in our office. So we spoke to Suzana Barbosa and got down to business straight away by asking:
Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from, your art background?
“I was born in Penticton, British Columbia but I consider myself Azorean as well. My heart lingers there.
I studied recording engineering at Fanshawe College and I’ve been writing melodies since I was 4. I met my band mates 15 years ago and we’ve been working together ever since.”
What motivated you to deal with the subject of being a woman in your art?
“I have been in the industry for 15 years and I have seen the push and pull of my career with this ever-present feeling of my gender always being talked about in a way that always reminds me what I am NOT.
It was only when I chose to be on stage as a singer and performer that I became very aware of my appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that most people are visual but we as a society decided what the norm of beauty is and in my opinion, it’s quite distorted.
Lumanova’s song “Lady” is about the imposed image we put on women from the perspective of both genders. It’s bizarre to be intimate with someone then feel that obsessive porn watching was their mode of learning on how to be intimate and more importantly how to please a woman.
It was also a way for me to express the expectation of beauty. My lyric “You want to cut my face to be a star” says a lot. I have an angular face, and apparently, that’s not beautiful, so there was a time in my life when guidance I sought suggested modifying my face would be more appealing. The phrase “You wanna know he’ll crush anything at all” also talks about women who tend to be competitive with each other. This is very sad because imagine the explosion of awesomeness if we banded together more often. We are starting to catch on to the power we have when we share our brilliance.
Here’s the link to the track – Lady“
Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?
“Music and singing has been my passion since I was a child. As corny as it sounds – I would like to say, that it chose me.”
What is your process when creating?
“I am a true believer in working at something everyday. I don’t think waiting for inspiration is the way to go. If we as artists want to be taken seriously, we need to treat our work with the respect it deserves and give it our undivided attention and time.”
Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?
“To be honest, I am influenced by every moment. I try my best to be present and WOW what a gift it is when I choose to do so. My bandmates; Mike Dell and Randall Savoie are a huge influence and I absolutely love what they bring to the table – they’ve evoked my favourite melodies.
I have to admit, I am in love with nature, adventure and exploring. I am a very curious person and so naturally, I am always asking questions. Even our single “Made of Light” all transpired out of this question I had about why some people seem like they shine more than others, to which led to photons. Turns out, we are made of light and that fascinated me. That phrase has so many dimensions to it and has the potential to provoke questions with ourselves or could just simply make us feel good.”
What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?
“Yes, I am a feminist and I have known this since I was 12. Feminism means equality. Some get confused by the term considering its uses FEM in the word so I always follow up with that and say I am a humanist – human to human. I also like to say “The Earth is my country and people are my tribe”
Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?
“As I mentioned before, when I initially started out, I was asked to modify my appearance. Hair colour, breast size and face structure. It was a HUGE blow to my self-esteem and took me many years to overcome this. There are times where I still retreat back to that time and wonder if I would’ve had more success if I did change my appearance. Wow, I feel quite vulnerable writing this but it’s a truth I believed. I always feel beautiful until someone makes a comment or makes me aware that I don’t fit the norm.”
Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?
“There’s so much more chatter about equality these days and that has been the gift of the Internet. But, its definitely not over. Everything is about perspective and when we surround ourselves with the right people, our world can feel equal and amongst my friends – I am blessed and feel equal. When it comes to business matters – there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.
I am the head of business for the student organization at my school and I notice remarks being made that would never be made if a man were sitting at the head of the table.”
As a new E-magazine and non-profit organisation we like to ask our artists what it is that made them submit their work to us:
“The title “Art Saves Lives” is what captivated me. This is what I am currently advocating for. How amazing is that a group of you guys decided to start a not for profit group just to talk about this!!! Its absolutely amazing and goes to show, we can do anything we want. I feel this conversation is very important because music brings colour into our world and life wouldn’t be much fun without it.”
What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?
“I wanted the honour of being associated with a Cause I believe in. I appreciate this opportunity. I am currently studying Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Denmark and the sole purpose of this study is to construct a business model that focused on building sustainable living for artist-musicians. So it felt like a perfect fit.”
What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?
“It’s interesting because I recently found out that I lost 30% of my hearing in my left ear due to an accident I had on my bike (my right one has about 25%), to say the least, this devastated me. I mean, I landed on my face, broke my nose and didn’t cry, yet when I found out that I lost my hearing, I balled. Singing has made me feel my best self. I am not sure I would want this human experience on Earth if I couldn’t sing. I mean, I would still live of course, but my light would be a bit more dim. Music stops me in time. It feels like the most incredible love affair that never dies.
I did this walk along the coast for 60 days going from LA to San Francisco and it was an incredible experience. I remember when I walked up to this woman that was staring out into the ocean while painting on her canvas and I asked her if I could interview her about music. Her eyes lit up like a child who had just discovered their first treasure. Right from the start she said “it saved my life, I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for music”. She grew up in poverty and was considered an abnormal child and her only solace was being at school and getting to play the violin. She became quite good and this helped her feel accepted.”
How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?
“My intention is to take people places they have never gone. Sometimes it’s awkward, vulnerable, silly, angry and really sad. I will share that I have had people tell me that after our show, they went home and admitted their love for someone. I’ve had people propose during one of our concerts. I had a woman who danced at my show and hadn’t danced since her hip surgery. The gratitude all these people expressed to me is but a fraction of what I get out of it.
I think what a person embodies as their values, they will transpire into their art. So, since I have a deep passion to make a difference, have fun (of course), explore and inspire – I believe it will be revealed in some way through the music.
I want to inspire people to live authentic, passionate, adventurous, loving, caring lives. I like to think about that when I write.”
What are your goals as with your art?
“We just released our album “Berlin” in September of 2014 and I hope to have a new album the Spring of 2016.
I intend to do a Festival tour and also incorporate my current project about sustainable living for artist-musicians.”
What is your next project or piece that you are working on?
“There’s a project I initiated called MESS HUB. MESS stands for Musician-Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Solutions. We see our company as an innovation ecosystem that aims to create sustainable income for musicians by strengthening their entrepreneurial efforts, creating partnerships and building a self-reliant, active community.
Simply put: we are looking at musicians as start-ups. All start-ups need time, care and guidance, in order to grow and become self-sustaining. MESS Hub (www.messhub.com) is a community designed specifically to create a growth environment for artist-musicians.
So, not only am I an artist-musician, I am also an Entrepreneur. I started a company called Musical Chocolate – a profit with purpose company that makes premium hand made chocolate with delicious dreamy blends. Portion of proceeds goes into the Mess Hub community.”