Joao Selva

Brazilian music producer, singer and songwriter from Rio de Janeiro based in Lyon, draws on strong traditions to come out with a very personal style.

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Son of a pastor from Ipanema, João Selva grew up in Rio de Janeiro in a community of former prisoners and converted artists. In his childhood, he played his first notes on a guitar under the watchful eye of Wanda Sá – one of Bossa Nova’s iconic figures. The influence of his father, a music lover and collector of records of all sorts, led him to further his knowledge of Brazilian music, specializing in the practice of Capoeira Angola, Samba de Roda, Maracatu or Coco de Roda. At the age of 18, he began a career as a travelling artist playing music hall shows for children in Africa, South America and the Carribbean – before settling down in the city of Lyon, many years later.

As a notorious ambassador of Brazilian music in France, he made his debuts with the Forró de Rebeca trio, touring many prestigious venues in France. Simultaneously, he joined forces with American producer Maga Bo, Diplo's collaborator and precursor of the "Tropical Bass", to create the Sociedade Recreativa project, an explosive mix of electronic music and traditional Brazilian rhythms. This will result in several international tours, two albums that were critically acclaimed in the media (Songlines, Télérama, Les Inrocks, ...) as well as a wide broadcast by DJs and radio stations (BBC, Nova, FIP, RFI, ...).

After collaborating with many artists - from Massilia Sound System’s Papet J to his fellow countrywoman Flavia Coelho, as well as Sir Jean and DJ TUDO, his decisive meeting with the prolific producer Bruno Patchworks led him to launch his solo career. They met by chance at a jam session in les Pentes de la Croix Rousse in the spring of 2016. The two began a fruitful collaboration which first started with the single "Vida Maravilha" - synchronized as part of an ad campaign for Citroën, and then continued with the release of the album "Natureza" in 2017 by Favorite Recordings: a dive into the Tropicalist Pop of the 70s that mixes samba, soul and vintage funk.


As a lover of exuberant and vintage tropical pop music, João Selva stood out with a first album that elegantly brought together the frenzy of Brazilian rhythms with other expressions of Great Black Music such as jazz, disco and funk. His second album, the aptly named "Navegar", is a roadmap to the sun that follows the mysterious paths of the Black Atlantic. Starting from his birthplace, Rio de Janeiro, then reaching his beloved Brazilian Nordeste, this boy from Ipanema takes the listener on a musical journey that travels through the Caribbean, Cape Verde and Angola. A unique itinerary sounding like a true tribute to the cultural ties uniting these former Portuguese colonies, following the irresistible rhythms of forró, kompa, funaná or semba.

Unsurprisingly, this transatlantic journey had to drop anchor in Lyon, a city of confluences where traveling music seem to easily take root. A great number of projects are references, each in its own way, to this music from the Black Atlantic: from Vaudou Game to The Bongo Hop, including Dowdelin or Bab l Bluz... the list goes on. It is from his studio on the Pentes de la Croix Rousse that producer Bruno Patchworks has shaped this new opus: a neo-tropicalist work without any redundant nostalgia. He is, among other things, responsible for the latest album by Martinique’s native David Walters or Voilaaa.

Given the disastrous current socio-political context in Brazil, João Selva is betting on a message full of resilience and tolerance. Songs such as "Tudo vai dar pé" or "Camará" are odes to the belief in better days while denouncing the tyranny of the current president. Love is very often sung, sometimes in its carnal form: “Devagar”, “Meu Mundo”, other times in a more universal way: “Meu mano” featuring Flavia Coelho. The overall tone of the texts is naïve and poetic like in “Se você” and anchored in the fantastic realism so emblematic of the great authors of Latin America.

This album is the result of a trip that João Selva and Bruno Patchworks made together to Brazil at the end of 2019. They found a way to infuse this record with the right amount of “saudade” while serving a highly invigorating tropical cocktail. Their music is akin to a praise to creoleness that sets you off on a journey. This is what one can discover on a surprising album which roams freely on this Black Atlantic that so deeply impacted Humanity.


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