1883 Magazine

Puzzle is a master of disguise, and electronic music; a self-proclaimed existentialist whose music explores the vast topic of “the human condition.”

For all the darkness that such contemplation conjures, Puzzle casts a bright beam of light on modernity, with his influences from 80s synth pop to his love of 3D technology and video games, he is creating mystery, and unveiling human truths. Read on to unveil some of those layers.

Your new single ‘Comedown’ uses 3D technology, it’s really immersive, can you tell us a bit more about it? What’s the intention behind it?

It’s very conceptual, most of my stuff tends to compliment the music. It’s a tale about fractured love, being into someone and seeing that disappear, how you deal with being in that void of not knowing how to move on and I tried to translate that visually into that character which is Puzzle in a fantastical world.

You but not you…

Yeah it’s me

More than you..

Yeah, Puzzle is kinda when the music is absorbed by myself and that becomes Puzzle. I am Puzzle. But in that particular video it’s how the character’s emotion changes the environment and how it makes itself chaotic. That’s what the track is about.

Your soundcloud biography states: “Everyone has access to everything, but why do what everyone else is doing?” What’s one reason based on that information that everyone should listen to your music?

Because there are so many layers to it and they are being revealed very slowly, and there’s a lot more to come in that sense and I think when I talk about everything being too available, there’s a mystery that’s been lost and people lose interest very quickly. It’s not necessarily holding back for the sake of holding back, it’s just unveiling a world and letting people in to this fantastical place.

Puzzle is a simple yet distinctive name, and it’s actually pretty hard to google unless you accompany it with one of your song names, is this a conscious decision to remain an enigma?

I came up with Puzzle because I started asking myself why i make music, why do I want to talk about things. The answer was because I was trying to work out the human condition, my own condition and through the line of thought I realised we are made up of desires, fears secrets, all of these things make us human and that sounded to me like a puzzle. That’s where the name came from, we are puzzles, that’s the human condition and everyone’s trying to work out what that means.

What is the most puzzling thing about the human condition for you?

Well existence really. It’s very strange that we, I mean we don’t know what’s out there, we’re not alone but in this world of ours, we are the only creature that’s rational and just being here, thrown into society. It’s amazing and complicated, just trying to do something for yourself, that’s puzzling in itself.

It’s kinda stressful actually! Being around people is confusing and everyone’s going about their day, you see people but you have no idea what’s going on in their head, everyone’s got a different story.

It’s like the universe has been colliding the whole time, if you think about your family, you’ve grown up around them and you think you know them but you actually don’t, a lot of the time. You don’t know the real them, it’s a lot of energy bouncing around.

You’re originally Brazilian and you moved to London when you were 18, what made you want to move?

I always felt like I needed to find my place in the world, as much as I loved Brazil, a great place, I just felt like I needed to go somewhere, the music I wanted to make wasn’t necessarily Brazilian in itself so I wanted to go somewhere were it would have more of an international context to what I wanted to do.

Do you think if you’d stayed in Brazil, it would have changed your music?

I certainly wouldn’t be Puzzle for starters. I think London has shaped who I am as a person and musician. The things I’ve been exposed to here have led me to the sound I’ve been doing. I would still be making music for sure but it wouldn’t have been this journey for sure. It would have been very different.

What’s your favourite song to dance to?

I really like Eurythmics, ‘Sweet Dream’s, that’s a good one.

I think mine’s ‘September’ by Earth Wind & Fire

‘Bambolayo’ by the Gypsy Kings! If I hear that I’m off!

In the movie of your life, what song would you want to soundtrack your introduction?

It has to be something that’s mysterious, I don’t see the opening scene as a big bang, I like stuff that is more sultry that pulls you in slowly but at the same time I think it would be something quite pretty, maybe Beach Boys ‘God Only Know’s perhaps?

I can imagine it being a closing song but I like the thought of you switching that round and making it an opener

It’s bittersweet really, it’s not happy or sad, it’s just pretty

You’re very vocal about your love for British 80s synth pop, what is it that resonates with you so much?

I thin there was an excitement about the discovery of new sounds and what the future looked like. A lot of synth pop has that technology and is about trying different stuff, aesthetically it was very interesting as well especially when it came to people such as Depeche Mode, there was an underlying tone of darkness, there was something that was slightly unhinged and not quite right that was really interesting. It just felt edgy at the time.

I think that’s one of the things I was going to say about ‘Comedown’, it’s about fractured love but it doesn’t feel like that when you listen to it, it feels happy and it’s got such a great beat. Was that a conscious decision?

The conscious decision was to never have a high point in the song because when you’re on a comedown you go up and down, but the high is gone. With the sound, it’s not as dark as you expect but there’s a pop sensibility that I wanted it to have, and when I’m writing songs, I hear the chord and whatever’s going underneath, it’s very intuitive so the melody goes wherever it wants to go. I try to be intuitive, it’s just the way it came out. The whole thing is so depressing that if you put something depressing on top of that it’s just unbearable I think the main idea was just contrast, the story was dark and sad so you just do something that’s a bit uplifting I suppose.

What was the last thing you thought about when you went to sleep last night?

Will I be able to get 8 hours sleep?

So you’ve got these white lines painted on your face, is there a meaning behind that? Is it just an aesthetic choice Do you do it every day?

I don’t do it every day, the lines or makeup reflect my mood, it’s just a way to translate how I’m feeling artistically but I also think it adds a bit of drama and I think music in general should be more theatrical.

Do the shapes or the colours change?

Everything changes, I think when it comes to Puzzle nothing is static, it’s never gonna be the same.

So what do today’s lines mean?

Today is kind of, it’s more free style.

If you were a shape what shape would you be?

A circle. It’s easy to move but it’s also… I dunno I like stuff that’s round I suppose. But then again I really like triangles cos you can create other shapes with them, so I’d probably go for a triangle actually.

What’s the most recent musician you’ve seen live?

I saw Billy Joel in New York on Tuesday so that’s quite exciting. He’s been doing this residency there for the past 32 months so every month he’s plays, until he dies. He said he’s gonna play as long as people want to buy tickets.

I bet it’s unreal.

When people jump you feel the whole stage moving. The venue has been around for a long time though, that’s the kind of thing it’s designed for.

If you had to create your own name for a genre that Puzzle fits into, what would you call it?

I think what I’ve been saying is that I’ve been making ethereal electropop so it’s synth pop but there is a sense of longing and chill.

Do you play any other instruments?

I play keyboard and I play guitar.

I taught myself guitar, I can’t read music at all, I’m the failure of the family.

I’ve started learning how to read music and I have to say it’s the most counter-intuitive thing I’ve ever heard in my life, it’s weird because everything I learnt was by ear.

I feel like that’s more useful than being able to read music.

It’s more useful if you’re improvising, I think it’s easier to come up with stuff that’s different but reading music is all about precision so when you’re translating dots to chords it’s very complicated.

A lot of people who are good at maths are also good at reading music.

What’s frustrating is that when you’re musical and you’ve taught yourself and you understand music in your own way, to be able to be fluent when it comes to reading, joining those dots takes quite a while and it feels like going back to being a child.

Sometimes it’s frustrating because it feels like you can’t quite articulate what’s going on in your head and there’s a bit missing.

For me it’s the fact that I want to incorporate strings into my music so that’s what I’m learning for, to communicate with them.

This is something that you’re planning on doing, that you haven’t yet?

I’ve started to but my next EP will have more strings and stuff that’s a bit richer when it comes to chords.

I think that adds to the layers you were talking about earlier, it’s about you communicating with a whole other set of instruments and a whole set of people. That is entirely different to you just playing your music, it’s more layers, more puzzles.

Everything in life is about transformation, energy, changing shape and moving to something else. As a musician, that’s most exciting thing, always thinking what’s next.

When will the EP be released?

End of October

Does it have a name yet?

I’m working on a name, it does have a theme though!

What is it?

It’s an observation on modern human interaction so it’s a commentary.

Is it gonna be more of an immersive experience again with videos?

I think it’s moving in that direction, everything’s gonna become a little bit darker, a little bit edgier, more visually striking.

Talk me through the 3D video, obviously I watched it but I couldn’t work out how it was made.

We did it with a studio called Territory and I wanted to do something where I didn’t want to show my face straight away, it would be all about the music so I wanted to do a 3D model of my face so you could see the outline but you didn’t know who I was, unless you knew me. So we actually used an Xbox 360 camera, hacked it, and turned it into a 3D scanner so we spent the whole day scanning me in different positions and translated that into the computer and did special effects over the top of it.

That’s so cool! It’s not like you just used an ordinary camera, you actually hacked it.

I love video games as well so it was cool to become my own character.


Puzzle’s track ’Comedown’ is out now via iTunes.
For more info head to www.unlockpuzzle.com or follow him on @unlockpuzzle

Interview by Bella Roach

Photography Yakub Merchant

Grooming Chantelle Phillips

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