All images courtesy of Marcos Felix
Introducing Ladra Karasu, a funked-up Post Punk music project by Marcos KB Félix.
The name, “Ladra Karasu,” is the aggregation of the words “Ladra” and “Karasu” from the Portuguese, and Japanese languages respectively. “Ladra,” meaning bark; “Karasu” meaning crow. Simply put, the name is meant to elicit imagery of the upper classes exploiting the lower classes’ people’s thinking, and acting.
From here, one can know for sure that social critique through music is fervent.
In conversation with Marcos, he told us he, “Sees himself as a common guy, who saw in himself some musical skills. A non-gibberish person, whose purpose is to get along with everybody.” In high school, Marcos had been nicknamed “Mercenário” (The Mercenary) — he even shared with us a story in which once he was hanging out with a group of friends, who started talking ill about the nerds, and he intervened in defense of the latter.
Marcos had never been one keen on peer pressure and found his way into Rock music when he first listened to ACϟDC, by chance, in a DIY video. On this, Marcos remarked, “It was the Angus Young vibes,” which kept ringing within his ear.
Marcos then visited a friend who played the same song on his recorder, and he rapidly recognized that tune, “That’s the same song I heard on that video, man!” The surprise kept on going as quickly as a snowball rolling downhill, and he went on listening to others, such as Green Day, Blink-182; never
turning away from his primary influences of Hip-Hop and Rap music, which include The Black Eyed Peas, Buraka Som Sistema, and Da Weasel.
It was then that Marcos began to visualize his own genre, based on those influences, mixed with others that came about, such as the Portuguese rappers Allen Halloween, and Dillaz. Going back to the roots of his musical influences, and listening to Da Weasel, Marcos thought about creating his own project and soon got together with Bruno and Kinder, Ladra Karasu’s original formation, and soon, the trio began working on the project Marcos had envisioned.
Never a fan of mental masturbation — which Marcos does not seem to relate his style with, nor does he appreciate this approach. Instead, Marcos seeks to get his message across clearly via simple language, in a similar fashion as Allen Halloween, who describes society via clear Portuguese, and how that same society made him be what he is today.
Living in Agualva-Cacém, Sintra (Lisbon, Portugal), Marcos has had lifelong access to a multicultural view of the world through various musical genres, which are present throughout his music — Kuduru and Funan — genres traditionally born in the African countries Angola and Cape Verde, respectively.
In Marcos’ music, there is always a bit of intervention, as one can find in the song “À Pika an Linha de Sintra1,” in which, at the end of the song, we find out that the people, having no money to pay the trains ticket fee, find an easy solution, which is riding with no ticket. In the song “2735,” Marcos concludes with a sentence that when translated into English read as, “In here there is everything except money to die for. In the end, they won’t have money to pay for their funeral.” The track “1 Andar à Pica,” is a Portuguese expression that means “riding with no ticket,” and “Pica” is the term used to describe the train’s guard, also known as the one who reads people’s valid tickets.
Digging deeper, Marcos also penned a song concerning issues with authorities, and their brutality in dealing with criminals, and how racially biased police forces can be. Although, he leaves it open to interpretation, for not all police officers use abusive force on others. It is also a critique of their being stolen of their free speech, which can be seen as a direct criticism towards the elites.
Lately, concerns about mental health have arisen in sports, and even celebrities around the globe have taken sharing their own feelings, and their own problems publicly, which encourages others to do the same. Marcos uses the same approach, and often mentions his mental problems in his lyrics, sharing with us what keeps him sane. For Marcos, his elixir is music, which helps keep the surrounding toxicity from stealing his cultural rap, through which he tries to break through fascism, and the functioning colonial system. Hardships are always an obstacle in the life of a musician, and Marcos tells us his main concern on this subject.
Since Marcos’ early days in music, he has experienced hate via the patronizing advice people often give, such as, “You should see music as a hobby,” or those who arrogantly say, “Music is not a real job.” To Marcos and the like, every artistic role is a “real job.” In Marcos’ perspective, music has more emotions than football [soccer], which has only one. Even the fans’ chants are based on famous songs. Marcos gave us the example of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” If it wasn’t for music, would there even be chanting during matches? And yet, footballers earn a lot of money, which made him indignant, recalling a story in which Cristiano Ronaldo has been caught in financial fraud, “They have lots of money, why do they avoid paying taxes?”
Still, Marcos hopes music brings him the stability he seeks, for he does not want to work in a call center for the rest of his life — as a lot of musicians do — having a “real job” to keep on pursuing their dream of becoming professional musicians. One of Marcos’ fears is that people do not give him much importance, “Perhaps, that’s my artist’s ego. There’s always this impostor syndrome feeling; when someone compliments me and praises my music, I feel like it’s not enough.” Like the old song by The Rolling Stones says, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”
Even though Marcos has achieved so much since the beginning of his project — for instance, his interview at Neodistorção, an Indie music radio station, and his song being played via the Antena 3 radio station — he still ponders an episode which he shares with us where he was to have his single recorded in the studio, and one of the producers laughed at him, spitting prices without even listening to the song. It was then that Marcos was saved by another producer, who asked him to play the song, and praised him for his great job, and unique style. This showed Marcos that only if you have an influential voice by your side can you achieve something in the music industry. Marcos remarks, “People are easily influenced. They are like sheep, and they always need to have a shepherd nearby.” Still, Marcos confesses that he, too, wants to be the shepherd, one day.
Among the remarks that make him mad, one which sticks out is, “That song is so old, so out of vogue.” In Marcos’ opinion, there’s no place for fashion in music. Music is not like clothing. And fashion does not create anything anymore, it only recycles — a cycle which Marcos feels, “Is damaging our planet. People who say things of that sort have no personality.”
When asked if he believes in inspiration, Marcos answered us positively, sharing with us that some of his songs are, “Kind of stolen or renovated. That’s music. Everything’s already invented. One can but create something similar, influenced by what has been already recorded, and released.” In Marcos’ opinion, “What makes one’s own style is the mix of influences.” He shares one of his songs’ creative process, in which he had heard the sample of a The Prodigy song in his head while listening to his, and decided that he had to add that to his own.
When writing lyrics for his songs, Marcos seeks long sentences, that do not make him cringe, and that aren’t, “Right in your face.” To our question, if image adds value to the song, Marcos answered in the affirmative, he says, “It helps a lot. For instance, a video clip works the same way as a movie. Giving the right images, at the right moment, impacts the consumer.” The Covid pandemic ruined some of his plans, though, Marcos had to postpone or cancel some of his plans for the new video clips he has been working on, which you can view here.
When showing someone a demo version, people tend to say that mixing is missing. In Marcos’ mind, this line of thinking is nonsensical, as the listener would have to picture as he pictures it — the entire concept behind the lyrics. To this, Marcos adds, “It’s not about the sound quality at first, but about the idea.” Sadly, because of his day job, Marcos has no spare time to work actively on his music, which is a problem; but Marcos also says, “That much spare time is also a problem because you tend to procrastinate, and postpone your projects indefinitely.”
Ultimately, Marcos Félix’s goal is for music to be his main source of income. In a perfect world, people would be listening to his music and buying his merchandise. Marcos would like to get to Wet Bed Gang’s — a Portuguese Rap music group — and Dillaz’s level.
In the future, Marcos wants to be able to afford a house, and to simply achieve the minimum level of comfort, “I would like to leave this call center job, and live only by making music. Of course, I would lose some of my freedom — I wish I could lose none — but if I don´t lose my freedom altogether, I’m fine with it. I’m fine with producers and labels telling me what I should, and shouldn’t play. I could live with that. At least, I would be doing something I love, which is playing music.”
Marcos also added, “I would like to tour with different musicians through my project, as to give people in the same situation the opportunity I would like those in the business to give me.”
Interested in learning more about Marcos Félix & Ladra Karasu? Check out the links below:
Dig this article? Check out the full archives of New Clew, by Fábio Moniz, here: https://vwmusicrocks.com/new-clew-archives/