Tom Zé is the singer, composer and thinker from the original Tropicália movement. He never had the same breakthrough nor recognition as legends like Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso.
Tom Zé is also the restless and experimental modernist who went into a direction of his own. He has juggled with recognisable genres like samba, pagode, bossa nova, pop and rock'n'roll – but he has literally done so with a grinder in his hand!
In the late 60s, the Tropicália movement put Brazil on the cultural world map with all kinds of literature, theatre and music – only to be persecuted and broken down by a military dictatorship that did not appreciate broad-mindedness and cultural revolutions.
So, Tom Zé went forgotten and remained so until the mid-80s when Talking Heads front man – and music archaeologist – David Byrne came across the album Estudando o Samba in a record shop in Rio and introduced Tom Zé to a new generation of music lovers through his record company Luaka Bop.
Through six decades, Tom Zé has helped define what music can do. Some have compared his unorthodox experiments to Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, and his influence extends far out of Brazil and is traceable with artists such as Beck, Tortoise, Cake and David Byrne himself.
We have been on the trail of Tom Zé for many years. In 2002 and 2015, we got as far as having him on the festival poster, but he was forced to cancel at the last minute. We are extremely pleased to have persuaded him to take the trip across the Atlantic for a skewed and provocative lecture in music history at Roskilde Festival in 2020.