After a decade building an active touring and recording career in Atlanta, Rafael (Rafa) Pereira has collaborated with independent record label Ropeadope to launch Tribo Records as a U.S. hub for Brazilian and Latin American artists. Pereira will hand-pick the label’s artist roster and produce and record new projects from his Atlanta studio. Tribo released its first album on April 21, a rich collection of Latin jazz from São Paulo native Joana D’Arc featuring Brazilian arrangers Gilson Peranzetta and Leandro Braga.
Pereira grew up in São Paulo to the sounds of Brazil’s street rhythms, parades and outdoor concerts. He studied under acclaimed Brazilian percussionists and developed a playing style fusing the traditions of Samba, Choro, Frevo, Maracatu, Baião and various styles of contemporary music. In 2004, an exchange program brought Pereira to the United States, where he graduated from Georgia State University. In the past decade, Pereira has became one of the most sought-after percussionists in the South, performing and touring with chart-toppers including Janelle Monáe, Prince, Bruno Mars, B.o.B and India Arie, and recording on more than 70 albums for a variety of national and local artists. He has produced and engineered albums for Brazilian/Latin Jazz guitarist Sasha Lisnichuk and Latin band Rua 6, among others.
What inspired you to start studying drums and percussion at the age of 12?
The inspiration came from my mother; she used to play her vinyls. Our family had a choice when I was young, around the age of five. We had only money either to buy a TV for the house or to buy a sound system for vinyl, and she [my mother] decided to buy the vinyl record player to wake us up with her records. To this day, I kept her collection and that’s what really inspired me. When I was 12, my older brother was 16 years old and he used to play seven-string guitar on samba rounds around São Paulo and I would just bug him to tag along. Then I grabbed one instrument and then another…when I realized I was really right in the middle of the mess of being a musician and buying drums and going to workshops and learning from whomever I could.
Why did you choose Georgia State University to continue your percussion education?
I was already in Atlanta, playing, recording and working around the city so I decided to stick around. Also because I played with the director of the department of jazz [at GSU], Dr. Gordon Vernick, and he decided to give me a scholarship there. I was like “yes, this is great, let’s do this!”
It seems like you’ve planted roots in Georgia. Why did you stay after college?
I think Atlanta is the best city to live in. I traveled all over the world with Janelle [Monae] and other artists, but I always love to come back here [to Atlanta]. And it’s not freezing in the winter over here, either.
Ropeadope is an eclectic Philly-based label with album releases from artists as diverse as jazz bassist Christian McBride to DJ Logic to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. How did you start working with them?
Another local studio owner friend, Marty Kearns, got in touch with Ropeadope and released one of our first albums from the MKG band through Ropeadope. (Kearns, a New Orleans-born keyboardist, has been a staple on Atlanta’s music scene since the 80s. The MKG Band features Kearns, Pereira, guitarist Davis Causey and bassist Khari Simmons). From there on, it was a process of meeting Louis [Marks, Ropeadope CEO]. I was doing a show in Philadelphia and I met him. He said he was looking for somebody to take care of Latin music for Ropeadope, so I decided to take on the challenge and see where it would go.
You named your imprint , Tribo (tree-bo), which means tribe in Portuguese as well as in Spanish. Why did you choose this word?
It’s important to develop a relationship with the artist, not just to sell records, but to find what artists need in general. If they need a booking agent and if they want to find out how to get in deeper on the business and make a living as a musician, with the experience I’ve had over the decade here, we could help each other become something bigger. That’s a tribe, when people help each other.
Why did you choose Atlanta as the home of Tribo Records?
I’m closer to Miami than anywhere else here and to the islands. A lot of the music that will be released here [with the label] is either from South America or those places. So the [existing] connections we have with the engineers and [within] the recording industry it’s closer to here [Atlanta], so we decided to stick around.
The label released Com o Som no Coração (With the Sound in the Heart) by Joana D’arc on April 21, where can fans buy it and and what’s next?
What are your ultimate goals for Tribo Records?
I hope the label accomplishes the connection between the Latin music and the music of the world. I hope we can connect to the music that we understand in the United States and try to develop a strong connection that people can relate to, not just here but in South America and Brazil as well so it’s a cultural exchange.