Os Tropies Bring 1960s Brazil to Toronto with Flair

Os Tropies is a Toronto 6-piece that fuses 1960s Brazilian Tropicália, 70s psychedelic rock and odd-ball ensembles to get crowds in the mood to swing, shimmy and dance.

Tropy gathering

When I say dance, I don’t mean dubstep, “white party” dance. I mean actually dance. Here, have a listen:

I had the chance to conduct a post-modern (e-mail) interview with front-lady, Amy Medvick, about Os Tropies and what drives their unique, fun sound.

Let’s start off big… What is Toronto to you?

Toronto is where I grew up, it’s home! I think it’s a great place to be playing music—especially for us, playing Brazilian music, there is a big audience for it here, from both in and outside of the Brazilian community.

In your experience, what is the best thing about Toronto concert goer?

They are ready to hear anything. Toronto, in particular, is a place where there is so much happening musically—different scenes and musical communities. Even when folks aren’t familiar with what you are playing (and that happens a lot with us), they are willing to give it a listen.

Whats the worst?

The above! They’ve heard everything! You can’t fake it!

How many songs would you say you have in your repertoire (original and covers)?

Man, I had to get out pen and paper to figure this out! We have played 53 tunes, 13 of them originals. Of course, a lot of those are songs that we played only once or twice for special occasions, or tunes we haven’t played since our early days. We always try to keep pushing forward, learning new songs. It helps keep the inspiration flowing for new originals, and I think it’s more fun for the audience to get to regularly hear new stuff.

Do you have a costume designer? /Where do you find your funky outfits?

Ha! We are the costumer designers! I head regularly down to Kensington and other vintage stores for my stage wear. I have taken to keeping a “tickle trunk” of psychedelic costumes and accessories, etc, so everyone has something to choose from at a show. For the photo above, some of us were trying to emulate certain artists from 1960’s Brazil. I borrowed my aunt’s wedding dress for the shot, as a nod to Brazilian singer Rita Lee who went on stage with Os Mutantes in a wedding gown and veil.

Are there particular artists you would say Os Tropies derives their biggest influences from?

We were conceived of as a cover/tribute band to the psychedelic era of Brazil, a movement known as tropicalia. We started out playing covers of Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Os Mutantes, and Os Novos Baianos. Gradually we have morphed into an original band, playing songs inspired by these artists as well as a few covers too. The spirit of it still very much a tribute to tropicalia.

If there was one bossa nova song to represent your soul, what would it be?

From the bossa nova style there is so much to choose from, but one song that I have loved for a long time is “Para Machucar Meu Coracao” from the Getz/Gilberto album. More in the tropicalia style that we pay tribute to (but still quite connected to the bossa sound), and again there are so many amazing tunes, but one that we played recently was “Clarice” by Caetano Veloso. We performed his entire first album live at our last show, including this song. The whole band fell in love with it.

How many of you have been to Brazil? / Do you plan to take your show to the mother-land of your sound?

3 out of 6 of us have been, including myself. It’s one of my favourite places in the world, so much music! I’ll definitely be back many times in my life. It would be an amazing experience to bring the band to Brazil—it’s definitely a dream of ours.

Any surprises for the NXNE crowd this year?

Well, you never know what we might have up our sleeves, what we will show up wearing… Musically we are planning one of our classic high-energy sets, featuring some music from the EP and some of our newer material.

Be sure not to miss Os Tropies play Creatures Creating on Saturday June 15th @ 10pm

About Seamus Gearin

Séamus once found a $100 bill and gave it to the first person who passed by. He's regretted it ever since.