[INTERVIEW] Meta_ on Mónada and the world

Playing a first European tour and on always being truth to yourself as a musician.

Meta is the musical project of Mariana Bragada and a new portuguese act the entire world should get to know in detail. Equipped with a loop station and an electric guitar, she explores melodies and rhythms created with the body. She improvises, she lets herself go. She incites the listener to feel free and part of everything she plays. Meta is music in its purest form, and a true manifestation of one's beliefs. In the rept of her first european tour we got to know her better, and we really feel we are doing the world a favour:

[Where the Music Meets] Who is Meta_?
[Meta] Meta is a creator and knitter of sound through her voice, samples, electronic and organic instruments. An hybrid between nature and technology with the aim of uniting the contemporary world with its ancestral traditions. A gentle reminder of being in the now and remembering our power.

Professionally, what do you do besides being a musician? How do you feel that contributes to what you do as a musician?
I have always been immersed in various different forms of arts. I practiced classical Ballet for 11 years and contemporary dance and hip hop for 3 years. I also did theatre plays and studied Visual Arts in my highschool years. I have always been in love with performative arts and with visual arts. Most recently, I studied Communication Design in FBAUP for 3 years.
Right now, I am focused on learning and growing as a musician and expanding my knowledge of self. The dancing background has helped me to feel and be connected to music in different levels of its expression. Also having studied Communication Design has helped me to improve my visual identity as well as having the tools to create my own design/artwork for the CD, for the online platforms and for music video ideas.

Have you had any musical project prior to Meta_?
Meta is my first consistent musical project. I have participated in bands prior to it but due to the fact of living in different locations or different schedules it ended up not working, but I do very often collaborate with other musicians on their own projects. 

Have you consciously been inspired in any bands or sonority to build Meta_ sonority? 
My range of influences is quite varied so I only perceive that inspiration coming through when someone else asks me if I know a specific artist or when they tell me that my voice/sound reminds me of another artist. I mostly listen to electronic, world music, soul and jazz but I never intentionally create my sound based on other’s people sound. I love to hear new music and be immersed in it but I always try to keep my sound as original and as true to myself as possible.
Some of my biggest inspirations are: Hiatus Kayote, Perotá Chingó, Tash Sultana, Joss Stone, Natalia LaFoucarde, Rising Appalachia, Bonobo, UMI and the list goes on.. 

In Meta_, is there a creative process that takes everything to the same “scenery”? Or it varies from song to song?
In terms of inspiration for the songs, my process varies a lot. It can come up in a conversation with friends, in a picture, in a moment, in a travel experience or right before i fall asleep. I usually always have a notebook with me so I can write down my ideas.
In terms of creating the song, I go to my safe place – either the studio or my own living room – and start jamming and playing around with the idea that I choose and try to figure out the best harmonies/instruments to join with it. I always let my process be natural and fluid because I feel that’s when I get most out of it and there’s more space for even better ideas to appear. So I let it flow until I feel like I’ve found something meaningful and then work my way around it. 

You released your first song entitled Saudade about one year ago… Was that the song that was meant to start the whole thing?
Yes, I released my debut single Saudade on the 22nd of September 2019 with a videoclip and it was the one I choose to be the start of this journey. I chose it because this was the song that came to me first in the process of creating the Mónada EP and since it was such an important catalyst for the evolution of the rest of the songs I decided to honour this beginning by being the first song to share as well. 

A bit after Saudade came out as a single you released the gorgeous EP Mónada. Can you describe what is the message (or messages) behind this EP?
My main message with the Mónada EP is the one of remembering our roots and valuing our own individual potential and power for collective change. It’s a creation to be immersed in, fully present and to take the listeners to their own hearts and memories. For me it is truly my first “hello” to this music world and to my listeners and it is also an expression of gratitude to my ancestors and to nature for carving the path for us to continue now. 

Can you describe how, as a Portuguese artist, you managed to step up the game and do an European tour for promoting Mónada? How did that come about?
The Mónada European Tour came first as a beautiful idea to share the Mónada EP with a larger audience and take portuguese music beyond borders! That was the main purpose for it so with a lot of passion and lots of hard work we were able to accomplish it!
I collaborated with Chau, the agency that represents me on an international level, to make this vision true and organize the Tour. We also had the support from Fundação GDA which was fundamental for it to happen and we are so grateful for it and for all the love and support along the way! 

In this tour you played multiple european cities, is it part of the plan to play outside Europe? Do you see that happening in the upcoming months? What would it take to make it happen?
Yes! It’s part of my goal to travel the world sharing my truth and uniting with other people and cultures through the power of music.
I have already sang in Brazil and Uruguay last year in May in the theatre play “Cartas” with UmColetivo in which I was the sound designer and sang live. I am so grateful for that opportunity, It got me really excited to keep on sharing my music with a broader audience and in places that I don’t even know yet! And I also realized that people are much more open to listen and to feel than what you would expect!
In the upcoming months I will be sharing my music in Europe, so for now it is just a dream waiting to be planned in the right moment and with the right support and funding system! 

Poster of Meta’s Mónada European tour

Which places you played you enjoyed the most and why?
For me it was beautiful to see the different dynamics of the audience in each concert and truly each one was very special in its own way. I appreciated that they were so open to hear portuguese music and still feel it without understanding a word.
But for me one of the most special was the concert in Berlin, in Madame Claude. I had portuguese friends there also supporting me and an energetic audience! The team working there was also amazing and made me feel very welcome. I sang more songs than initially planned and the feedback of the people talking to me after the concert was wonderful and it filled up my heart. 

As a new artist, what do you feel where the main challenges on doing this European tour?
To be honest I feel like the biggest challenges were in the planning and in finding the right support and funding to do it. So the initial steps of organizing and making it work the best and smoothest way are really the hardest! There are a lot of places in Europe open to receive foreign artists and audience to hear it, so it’s a matter of finding those places and sharing the music.

As a new Portuguese artist, do you feel there are enough support for others like you to do the same (go out there and show their music)?
As a new artist getting to know better the music scene here in Portugal I am still discovering new ways and opportunities to do it, so I don’t know yet all the possible ways of getting this support. Fundação GDA really helps in that aspect, not only musicians but also dancers and actors to do so and I know there are some more open funding contests to do a Tour. I feel like the support and funding for independent and new musicians should be of easier access than it is right now. 

You’ve been doing this (officially) for about a year now… are there any main takeaways from the last year? What advice would you give to new artists who want to be heard?
Well, it’s been actually 2 years since the project Meta officially started, in January of 2018. My main takeaway of these years is to express music that is true to yourself always and to not be confined by what society and social media expectations want to make out of you. It’s important we never try to mold ourselves to fit anything else and we continuously keep creating and being creative with our music. Just keep practicing, learning, creating, believing in yourself and putting your work out there so people can actually hear it! 

Photo by Ana Marta

Ok, Meta can be described as a one-girl-band, do you see it as a project where you will eventually invite others into the creative process and to sing? Or do you envision it more as just your own?
Meta will grow naturally through its course and we never know what might happen next! This was the project I created to express my vision and ideas out of my own need but if in the future l feel that my music would grow and sound better with more elements to it I am open as well. In terms of having other musicians joining me in the concert and in my next album that is something that I am already putting into practice!

In the next two years, where do you see yourself? And with who you would like to play? 
In the next two years, the plan for Meta is to create (at least) one album and to Tour around Europe and outside Europe collaborating with many different musicians. I am also open to new collaborations or projects along the way!
I want to keep creating more and to also create more visual and dance components to my performances and videos. To keep growing, learning and sharing really.
I would love to play with Sensible Soccers, Benjamim, Sopa de Pedra, Sara Tavares and also collaborations like Nai Palm, Perotá Chingó, Joss Stone, Baiuca and Nicola Cruz would fill my heart. 

Thank you so much for this beautiful in-depth interview ! 

We thank Meta for the perfect honesty and for taking us travel around europe while standing firm on our own beliefs and dreams.

You can and should follow Meta at all the links below: