An Ode to Life and Strengthening Bonds


Iris C F Gomes

Mary Jo de Mello enthrals us with her rendition of the Portuguese single ‘A Vida’, which has been written and composed by her and Allan Fernandes of Al Productions, with the music being rearranged by Frazer Fernandes. Although the song is part of her 2009 album New Journey, it was rereleased as a music video in collaboration with Monteiro Mancio Films (OPC) Pvt Ltd. The music video will be launched in the international music arena when it is aired on the Portuguese channel RTPi (RTP Internacional) by September 2017. 


Mary Jo has been passionate about music since she was only 6 years old. Undoubtedly due to growing up in a family where music was loved and being exposed to a range of  musical genres such as pop, rock, and old country ballads, she was inspired to begin writing and composing when she was 15. At 17, Mary Jo had her own production house, MJ Productions, through which she released her maiden album New Journey, partnering with Al Productions. New Journey, which did well in the past, is still drawing much attention and has the potential to gain international acclaim with its broadcast on RTPi. She says of the melodious song, ‘‘A Vida’ is very close to my heart as it speaks about nature and gods and the beauty of nature, which we need to respect and preserve.’


Taught in the informal school of her father’s Sunday afternoon guitar strumming, Mary Jo has quite the ear for music and a depth of emotion that allows music to move her from within. She reveals, ‘…even when I started composing I used to compose more on the lines of life and feel-good harmonies and melodies that would actually touch people’s minds and souls. As I composed and sang my compositions before recording them, I would sing it to myself and observe whether it would touch me.’

   

The choice of Portuguese as a medium of expressions stems from the close connection she feels with Portugal due to her European heritage. Greatly saddened by the gradual disappearance of the Portuguese-speaking community, and consequently the language, in Goa, she has made it her mission to restore the link with Portugal, as well as building her career. With high regard for the indelible mark that the Portuguese reign left on Goan culture, she says, ‘I am doing my bit to preserve it through music. I believe ‘A Vida’ will open doors to a lot of other budding Portuguese musicians in Goa.’   

The music video that has captured the essence of the song and the charm of Mary Jo’s rich, mellifluous vocals, has been directed by Lloyd Paul, who is the production head of Monteiro Mancio Films. There is a quality to the music video for ‘A Vida’ that will ensure that it has a justified standing with other international music videos, thanks to the work of Lloyd Paul and cinematographer Lester Fernandez.


A musician, songwriter, and composer in his own right, Lloyd began his career at age 10 as a keyboardist and is a flautist as well. He has to his credit a single ‘Heaven 4 Hell’ (2009) and a Hinglish album Maie (2011).


The self-taught cinematographer Lester Fernandez must be commended for his camerawork, which has captured delightful scenes of nature, abounding in vivid colours. Lester has two short films Pradakshina and Tiffin Box, Konkani feature film Mogan Tujea, and two of Amuse Entertainment’s Hindi music videos as part of his body of work.


Lloyd had wanted to collaborate with Mary Jo right from 2009, when they were launched as Indie artists, but the lack of knowledge of the workings of the music industry and their own status as self-managed musicians, held them back. Although they stayed connected through the years, sharing ideas and such, they had to follow their career paths separately. Lloyd believes it is their versatility as artists that has bonded them. They finally came together once they gained the know-how of the music industry to create the video for ‘A Vida’.


Having entered into the more narrow Portuguese music genre as a comeback vehicle, Mary Jo and Lloyd’s determination was propelled by the love of the language and the song ‘A Vida’. Lloyd says, ‘We wanted to create a new look for the video, keeping the artist’s genre in mind and the look of the entire video in mind. We sat down and constructed the storyboard without any reference. We used to listen to the track and create block shots in our heads and work on frames. Ultimately we had an original music video as a package.’    

This is Lloyd’s first attempt at conceptualising and directing a music video. He says, ‘I love the way it has come out! I am looking forward to shooting more videos with different concepts, which will be entertaining to an audience across the globe. Monteiro Mancio Films welcomes newcomers because it believes in nurturing original art forms and showcasing them in a professional manner.


The pre and post production was carefully planned to the hilt, from costumes and locations to the shoot timings. Nevertheless, where marketing was concerned, Lloyd proposed the strategy of no strategy. The video was posted on YouTube, and the organic reach was monitored and found to be 2.4K+ in two weeks. ‘We absolutely know that we have reached the audience who actually watched the video. Besides this, Nalini and Lino, correspondents of the international music channel in Portugal, have interviewed Mary Jo and the team involved in making the video and have plans to air it on the channel by September,’ says Lloyd.      


The process of shooting the video with a crew of five, facing the scorching heat of Goan beaches and having the rain interrupt them, was difficult. The artists’ residences were utilised for makeup and changes because there were no vanity vans. Lloyd says, ‘This too had to be planned because we had to select locations as per our changes and whichever residence was close to us.


The power of the music is remarkable and can be outlined in what Charles Bukowski, German-American writer, said about the arts: ‘An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.’ It is the simplicity of the language of music that bodes a strengthened camaraderie between Portugal and Goa. While Mary Jo is keen on having her song played on RTPi to create stronger ties between Goa and Portugal, Lloyd says, ‘We believe that if we take our art and display it in Portugal, we will be making a way not only for our artists to get into the genre and create a platform for themselves, we will be also opening doors to the artists of another country into ours, making our art even stronger and vice versa.’