Somewhere near Boipeba Island, Bahia, Brazil.
We had just sat down at a beachfront restaurant. It was actually more of a simply built wooden ‘A’ frame structure. The area behind it was a campground and in the front there was a covered kitchen and a few tables with benches looking out towards the ocean. The vibe was very traveler summer backpacker styles. Very remote, no cell phone signals, no internet anywhere close.
She walked right by me and went up to the counter to order. “Jerusa!”
She didn’t even notice. She was focused on her mission to place an order with the very relaxed and nonchalant restaurant/campground owner. I came up close and put my hand on her arm. “Jé! Tudo bom?” The Jerusa smile and wide eyes, a huge hug. “I can’t believe you are here!
We had talked fleetingly a few times over email. She had said she would be traveling in Bahia, south of Salvador. This encounter was chance.
For those of you who don’t know, Jerusa Leão, also known as Jerus Nazdaq, is a musician and DJ that gained a certain underground notoriety in Toronto. She is an electronic DJ and track selector, with varying styles ranging from dubstep, techno, reggae, and complete mash-ups often tinged with a certain tropical flavour. She often produces her own tracks taking elements from just about anywhere. She has played diverse parties such as Om Re:union, Promise, Cherry Bomb, the Brazil Film Fest opening and of course Uma Nota. As a singer and instrumentalist she was the Maria in Maria Bonita & The Band, a rootsy forró band that created some waves for those in the know. She was an active agitator in the Fedora Upside Down Collective alongside the likes of the Lemon Bucket Orkestra and Freeman Dre & the Kitchen Party. She also regularly moonlighted singing and playing with Maracatu Mar Aberto. All of this and as a solo guitar and voice act, she fluttered lotsa hearts around town.
Well, a few months ago she kinda disappeared from the scene. Feeling the call of her native Bahia, she left Toronto to travel a bit.
And here she was, right in front of me, a few hours after our random meeting, guitar in hand, playing and singing samba and forró songs.
Even here, in a remote fishing community spread out over a few kilometers of beach, occupied by several hundred travellers, many of them musicians, she had gained a certain notoriety.
She also has plans to come back to Canada in the not too distant future but for now she is focusing at this very moment in making things happen in her Brazil.