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get to know the instrumental music that became a phenomenon in playlists to study, work and even get laid



As you read this, at least 20,000 people around the world are connected to the same live YouTube stream, “Lofi hip hop radio – Beats to relax / study to”. There are already 65,000 simultaneous listeners on the radio created by the mysterious Dimitri (he does not reveal his last name), holder of the record for the longest broadcast on YouTube: more than 13,000 hours in a row. On the program, as the name suggests in English, there are soft instrumental songs, with a rhythmic speed of between 70 and 90 beats per minute (something close to the human heart at rest), background music whose goal is to relax the listener or concentrate on their tasks. On the cover, an illustration inspired by the universe of Hayao Miyazaki, signed by the Colombian Juan Pablo Machado, of a girl, the “Lofi girl”, doing exactly what one expects from someone on the other side of the screen.

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The simple and curious premise turned into a matter of curating contemporary artists and then into a true digital music phenomenon, creating a new genre of instrumental music, lo-fi, which is reported as one of the trends. of 2022 by Google. The movement, in fact, has appropriated an old expression linked to the “do it yourself” spirit of any musical genre, low fidelity, but it remains consistent: practically all the producers and composers behind the music of lo-fi , which go beyond online radios and invade the playlists of streaming platforms, record them and finish them at home, with whatever equipment is there, keeping noise or imperfections out. Many of them do everything on their cell phones, and some even know how to play an instrument, like Pedro Henrique Ferreira da Silva from São Paulo, who is codenamed Chiccote’s Beats and has 683,000 listeners per month on Spotify. .

– Guys do it on the run, record stuff on their cellphones, edit and put on a good show – boasts carioca Fábio Bittencourt, behind the Tangerina Music collective, who released their first 100% Brazilian lo-fi album, the compilation “Chill Brazilian Storm”, bringing together 18 producers from seven states. – The Brazilian public has grown a lot and now people understand that they are the artists behind it all. It’s a very organic scene that has hit the mainstream.

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like a wave

Unlike Meridian Autonomous Sensory Response (in the well-known acronym ASMR) or ambient music, lo-fi is an artistic composition, which can even use elements such as the sound of rain, the song of birds or the sound of birds. sound of the sea, but it brings a structural musical touch, with melody, harmony and rhythms repeated in a loop, and forming part of a feeling of the composers, seeking to transmit it to the listener. The most popular are lo-fi to focus on tasks like studying or working and also those for falling asleep, but there are also playlists created for playing, waking up and even having sex.

– It’s a fever that fits very well with the new generation, as with classical music in the past. Are repetitive sounds, lighter, simple rhythms, creating sound waves that help activate a part of our brain, which can trigger bodily actions – explains music therapist Julia Ferreira. “It’s a style that helps reorganize our internal affairs. Because these are fluid rhythms that don’t require attention, they give our brains more freedom to focus on one thing.

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Brazil has a “lo-fi” to call yours

Daniel Sander, from Rio de Janeiro, is generally the thermometer of his work, whether as an expert curator of playlists – he’s the ‘Lofi sleep, lofi rain’, with nearly 200,000 followers on Spotify – or as that artist who goes by the code name is colored in the dark and has more than 850,000 monthly listeners on the platform. Faced with growing insomnia due to pandemic anxiety, he created the track “Insomnia dream”, which helped him fall asleep and that of millions of others. From now on, she will invest in this segment with the label Sleep Tales, focused on music for sleep, and which was born on the 4th of this month as the biggest lo-fi in Latin America and the fourth in the world in terms of ‘listeners on the platforms. .

– I use my playlist to sleep at least once a week. The hard part is finding songs that don’t wake people up in their sleep, so I’m trying to figure out what wakes me up. It could be a snare that is stronger in the mix, a treble that shouldn’t be there… – quotes the musician, who has just released his first EP, “Ócio”, and is with the composition “Domingo de sol” , a partnership with producer IzaBeats, in the second volume of the “Chill Brazilian Storm” collection. – Lo-fi is not a genre that is closed in on itself, it has different types for different feelings, which gives artists an opening to push and not compete.

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bossa nova and hip-hop

After a dominance of foreign, mainly European, labels, national lo-fi began to gain more and more attention in the international market, with a strong presence in the world’s major playlists and radio stations. Producer Linearwave (codename Yuri Bastos), for example, is the Brazilian with the most listeners on Spotify, at 1.7 million. When we look at the five cities where it is listened to the most, we find Singapore, São Paulo, Sydney, Los Angeles and Jakarta.

– The Brazilian producer tends to bring music from abroad, take our own, mix all these styles and create a third thing. The way the Brazilian artist absorbs these elements is one of the most beautiful things in the world, and the same goes for lo-fi – says Bastos, who tends to combine bossa nova with hip-hop and la electronic music in his creations. – Until 2019, we exchanged a lot of ideas with the gringos, but we were starting to see more and more Brazilians. It was when Fábio and I from Tangerina Music created a WhatsApp group with only Brazilians. Now we have a scene anyway.

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A scene that even has a documentary, including “Lo-fi hip-hop: Beats and sentiment”, directed by Gustavo de Castro and Murilo Cunha and available on YouTube. Now, with the shows returning, lo-fi artists are gearing up for the next step: taking what is already virtual reality into the real world. In November, for example, Linearwave (Bastos) and colors in the dark (Sander) join other producers on the Vivo Rio stage for a show at the Polifonia Festival.

– The next step for lo-fi is to have a chance to appear live. Before the pandemic there were few places with concerts or festivals, the only big festival was in Jakarta (Indonesia), but now we can live it. And also, like any style, I think it will evolve, find new languages, crosses with other genres, and it will still grow a lot in Brazil – bets Bastos.

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