Happy New Year everyone! As this is the first post of 2015, I thought I’d use this opportunity to kick off a feature on my blog I’ve been meaning to get going for some time, ‘Meet The Locals‘. The idea behind this is that the longer I live in this city, the more regularly I am walking past some of the city’s ‘characters’ and wondering what their story is.
When I revamped this blog last year I did so with the intention of having more of a São Paulo focus. So building on this, I’ve decided to meet up with some of these guys to give you all a bit of background on what they’re about. This way when you’re visiting São Paulo, you’re going to have a bit more of an insight into the people you could potentially be seeing during your stay here.
So I’m gonna start things off with Bruno Kioshi, otherwise known as THAT bucket player on Paulista Avenue.
I first noticed Bruno playing his buckets last summer when my sister and brother-in-law were visiting São Paulo. Unsurprisingly, a large crowd of people had gathered around Bruno to watch and each person looked to be just as mesmorized by his prowess on the buckets as we were. Since then I’ve regularly seen him playing on Paulista avenue either alone or with other musicians, and more recently I’ve been intrigued by his Facebook page saying that he’s performed on Brazilian TV shows.
We met in a coffee shop in Shopping Centre 3 (close to where he usually plays on weekends) and I started the interview by asking him what I thought was the most obvious question to ask a bucket player:
“Why the buckets?”
“Actually, it wasn’t until saw a youtube video of Larry Wright playing the buckets on the streets of New York that I starting thinking about doing the same thing here in São Paulo. I mean, if you want to hear a musician or band in the city you’re probably going to have to pay for a concert ticket; and this isn’t likely to be all that cheap. But I really feel that music shouldn’t just be for the rich who can afford these tickets, it should be accessible to everybody. So by playing the buckets I’m able to bring my art to the streets for a wide range of people.
With buckets they’re not just unusual, but they’re cheap too. Another reason why I wanted to start playing them was to show people that they don’t need a lot of money to buy instruments. I don’t play well because of the quality of the instrument, but because the music comes from within me. And if I can do it with my plastic buckets, anybody who has a desire to play can do the same.
“But what motivates you to play the buckets, week after week?”
“It is something I love to do, plus I really want to do something for the city. I love São Paulo and I hope that in some small way I can change the negative perceptions people have of it by doing this. I want foreigners to come over here and see that when it comes to artists performing on the street, we can be just as good as other cities around the world. We can be just as good as places like New York. And for Brazilian people who love the city as much as I do, I want to give something to them too.
I also love animals and when I play alone I donate all of the money I make to an animal charity I am very passionate about. This year I would like to start donating money to sick children too”. Bruno then shrugged his shoulders, “I like to do my part.”
How long have you been playing the buckets?
For about a year now. I’ve been playing the drums since I was 14 years old and before playing the buckets, I used to drum at concerts and record in studios. But playing the buckets is very different, I almost had to relearn how to drum using these!
“Tell me about some memorable moments you’ve had since you started playing the buckets”
Out on the streets there is no distance between you and your audience, which makes each day exciting. Often I’ll look up and see a large group of people stood watching, dancing or even taking selfies with me in the background!
I really like it when kids come over to interact with me too, and often I’ll give them a drum stick and encourage them to play along. I always think that this could be the first time they’ve played any sort of musical instrument and I enjoy seeing the excitement on their faces when they play.
Then there was the time I was playing and another street performer with a saxophone walked towards me. We’d never met before but we jammed for more than 20 minutes. It was only after he stopped playing that he shook my hand and introduced himself. Since then, we’ve played a lot together and have even formed a band called Kick Bucket. Actually, we’ve started to take Kick Bucket outside of the city centre and into coastal towns like Guaruja. The money we make from playing together on the street helps us to tour.
“How long do you usually play for?”
“Well if I start at around 8pm I can play for a long time, sometimes I will only stop around 2am!”
“Two am? You must have arms of steel! Do you go to a gym?”
“No! I think playing the drums keeps me in shape without needing to lift weights. Actually, I’ve never stepped foot inside a gym! In the beginning playing the buckets was more physically tiring, but now I’m used to it.”
“How about this- if it is your friend’s birthday and they invite you to a meal at a time you’d usually be performing, would you go?”
“Oh yes, of course. But I’ll drive there and have my buckets in the back of the car ready to go to Paulista Avenue as soon as we’ve all finished eating!”
“I know that you’ve been on TV playing your buckets, tell me about this!”
“So I’ve done a few TV shows since I started performing on the streets last year, I’ve had offers to go on other shows too. I have had to turn some of these down because I just haven’t had the time (Bruno works in industrial automation by day and at night he studies electrical engineering at university). Maybe the biggest show I’ve done so far has been the Globo show Domingão Faustãu. This show is really popular over here and I was incredibly nervous before going on. With shows like this, it isn’t just playing the buckets that can be scary but also being interviewed by the presenters”.
“And what has been the reaction of people to you playing the buckets?”
“At first people were quite skeptical when I told them I wanted to play the buckets on the streets and my reasons why, but nowadays it is a different story! Maybe the most rewarding thing someone has said to me was that I inspired them to think about São Paulo in a different way”.
So if someone who reads my blog sees you playing in the street, would you mind if they came over to talk to you?
I would love it. Often tourists will wait for me to stop playing and then come over to say “bravo” or to give me a thumbs up because, of course, they don’t know I can speak English. So if this blog post helps me to interact with more people out on the street, I would be very grateful for this opportunity!
Bruno can usually be found outside SAFRA on the corner of Rua Augusta and Avenida Consolacao on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. For more information on him, check out his Facebook page.