You may know Sabina Sciubba as the lead singer of Brazilian Girls, or you may also know her as the woman from this interview if you started reading from the bottom of this page. She’s a talented singer/songwriter who took time to discuss naked ladies, the apocalypse, and Home Alone 2.
Ted Wilson: When attempting to research your band Brazilian Girls online, all I could find were images that got me kicked out of the library. Your band is still together I believe, but you have recently put out a solo album, Toujours. How does your songwriting approach differ when writing collectively versus solo?
Sabina Sciubba: Although I suspect it was those other sites you have been surfing, that actually got you kicked out of the library, you ran into the actual reason why we called ourselves ‘Brazilian Girls’. We hoped to gather fans who were really looking for naked ladies on the net and were brought back onto the right path by discovering our band coincidentally. We’re really conservatist Puritans, advocating the use of marijuana. When I write alone, I mostly use the piano or the guitar, whereas when we write with Brazilian Girls, most of the melodies and lyrics come to me inspired by a groove or a loop or something Didi [Gutman] sends me. I suppose my solo stuff has a tendency to be more mellow and introspective.
Ted: One of the videos for your new album is animated using thousands of hand-drawn illustrations. Have you considered having them printed into a giant, thousands-page long flipbook? That way your video could still be played by people without electricity, which would come in very handy for the Amish or after the apocalypse.
Sabina: If you find anyone interested in printing that book, you’ll get 20% of pre-apocalypse proceeds, free salad, tomatoes, and firewood post-apocalypse.
Ted: You speak six languages—French, English, German, Italian, and some other ones I don’t recognize. It sounds impressive at first, until one considers the 6,000 languages you don’t speak. Why not learn even more to reach a wider audience? If you put out an album in Dzongkha you could really corner the Bhutanese market.
Sabina: You are precisely voicing my feelings about my language skills. I’m a show-off and an impostor. I don’t even speak Russian or Mandarin. I’d love to speak Bhutanese, but unfortunately when I speak Bhutanese, it sounds like Bavarian.
Ted: Regardless of what language you sing in, your voice makes me feel magical and sleepy, weak-willed and malleable. If you hadn’t become a singer, what other profession might you have fallen into? Hypnotist?
Sabina: You realize that saying that my voice makes you feel sleepy, isn’t exactly a compliment. In truth if I hadn’t become a singer I’d probably be a stripper. Or a philanthropic millionaire’s wife, spending millions on shore and BOTOX® and quite likely very depressed.
Ted: Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean that your voice bores me but that it makes me feel warm and safe like a giant puppy hugging me after Thanksgiving dinner. You’ve spoken before about living in Paris and not having tons of money despite being a very successful artist. What advice do you have for less talented and less successful artists who don’t want to struggle financially, like the failed quilter I met at the bus stop?
Sabina: At this point in time I really wouldn’t recommend becoming a recording musician to anyone who’s not an immutable optimist. If you don’t want to struggle financially, I’d go for a secure position, like cleaning woman or taxi driver. That’s what I’m envisioning anyway.
Ted: That’s a bold statement. In addition to your career you have a family including two children. If your children want to become musicians would you try to steer them into lives as taxi drivers?
Sabina: Look, Ted, I want them to be happy, whatever they will choose, will be fine with me; I try not to project anything for their future, other than, of course, them becoming successful lawyers and dentists.
Ted: You’ve been able to take your children on tour sometimes. Do you ever worry about leaving one of them behind like in that movie Home Alone 2?
Sabina: I haven’t seen that movie and I don’t like it.
Ted: I haven’t seen it either! Would you like to come over and watch it sometime? Or we could watch a different movie or no movie at all and play Scrabble or Bananagrams.
Sabina: Could you send me a picture of yourself and one of your bank account statements?
Ted: In your song “Non Mi Aspettare” you sing, “the worm is my moisture, but a mohel needs to see.” Is this song about a bris gone wrong?
Sabina: I suggest you have your hearing aid checked. The lyrics really say, “The dirt is my Boy Scout, but a poster needs a seal.”
Ted: I haven’t seen my hearing aid in weeks. I hope I haven’t been getting the lyrics to a lot of your songs wrong. Have you ever forgotten the lyrics to a song while performing live, or do you lip sync like Britney Spears and Paul Simon?
Sabina: I basically make the lyrics up all the time, when I don’t remember, I just sing something in French, ridiculing the audience members standing in the first line or the musicians playing behind me.
Ted: Is your birth name really Sabina or did you change it from Sabrina to avoid confusion with Sabrina the Teenage Witch? My birth name was Roosevelt but I changed it because of the President. Now people confuse me with Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace.
Sabina: My name is Sabina and my favorite word is yes.