Artist Kelvin Bueno is finding momentum in the in-between
Channelling the outsider feelings he experienced when moving from São Paulo to London as a child, Kelvin Bueno’s musical artistry revels in nonconformity and difference.
Through the lyrics, vocals and bass guitar he supplies the four-piece band, Outer Stella Overdrive, Bueno fuses together the musical influences of his Brazilian roots with an indignant, politically-driven narrative about the alienating experience of living in London.
Bueno harnessed the meditative potential of lockdown’s paralysis, nursing multiple projects through which he hopes to unite those who experience them. Just one of these endeavours is his contribution to a poem written for GANT’s FW21 campaign, “The Future of American Sportswear”. Having been selected as part of a cast which best represents the progressive, nonconformist ethos of the 72-year-old fashion and lifestyle brand, we caught up with Bueno about honing in on your own creative skills and challenging the status quo.
Firstly, tell us who you are and what you do.
I’m Kelvin and I make art. And I spread messages.
Tell us about the foundations of your band, Outer Stella Overdrive
It comes from a mutual love of guitar music and speaking out for what we experienced growing up in London and how that impacted on each other and anyone who can relate to us.
You were born in Brazil. How has that side of your heritage impacted you creatively?
Massively I think. There’s so much amazing art that comes out of Brazil especially the music, and especially the guitar music. I think what I was listening to growing up is firmly in my DNA. The Brazilian mood lives through what I make musically. Being from Brazil is definitely a part of my creative identity.
And what about London? Are there local influences that can be heard in OSO?
100%. A lot of the music I like to make reflects on what I experience and what people around me experience. London is obviously the experience I’ve been mainly subjected to so I can’t help but be influenced by that.
Are there sounds you can remember hearing growing up which have stayed with you?
My mum used to always sing this Brazilian artist Djavan and another called Marisa Monte – she used to be obsessed with these artists and sing them to me as a baby. My dad used to sing Luther van Dross, like 80s soul stuff – my parents both just loved singing in the house even though they’re not musical people. That definitely kick-started the love for music and early love for Brazilian music. As I got older I reconnected with all my root sounds and it’s almost gone full circle.
As well as vocals, you write lyrics for Outer Stella Overdrive. Are there any writers or lyricists who have inspired you personally or creatively?
Kurt Cobain is a big inspiration lyrically. Rodriguez is another massive influence.
You had a productive lockdown writing and recording for the new OSO project. Was it helpful being able to unload and express yourself while locked down?
It kept me sane! And it was a blessing to be able to hone in on what I love which is that creative process. Not even just creating necessarily – having the opportunity to be still and reflect. Your mind ends up being inspired if you listen out hard enough. Sometimes when life is hectic we can start to neglect that.
What are the benefits of being in a band when navigating through things like a global pandemic? How do your bandmates offer you support?
It’s good because it’s always a shared struggle. As long as everyone is on the same page and striving for the same thing then we can keep each other motivated. I’ve played in bands all my life and just love being able to bounce off other musicians.
Non-conformity in terms of genre and presentation feels like a big focus for you. What is the importance of openness and access within music and the arts?
I think it’s really important for everyone to be exposed. Over the last year we have realised a lot of us rely on films and music to switch off. Our little moments of entertainment, as humans we need to access to art. Not being to able do shows we have realised how vital it is. Everyone should be exposed to be able to go on and express themselves. Everyone is unique and has different story.
Your work has spanned a lot of different fields – music, visuals, fashion – do you feel your generation of creatives are less rigid with who they are and what they do?
Yeah I think it’s different now. In the digital age, everything is much more available. People feel like they can pursue things they love. It’s a great time to learn and explore, people are open to expressing themselves in many forms. With so much information out there that is accessible, things seem less unattainable.
I am also a big believer in mastering your craft, and to do that you do have to hone in on your skills. I think the way everything is setup, skills today can be complimentary of each other. Thriving in one field can mean you thrive in others.
What are your aspirations for tomorrow in terms of creative goals and personal ambitions?
I want to be able to spread my light throughout the world. If I can do that through making amazing songs that unite people then I have won (I think!). I’ve got lots of projects in the works coming up and I want to be able to share what I have with people. In a nutshell, I’m very excited to get this stuff out and being able to unite people through that. I want to be able to share my art with the whole world and connect with people until I’m old and grey and even then I probably don’t see myself stopping.