Cari's Closet Chats with Gabi Almeida

The next interview in our series 'Cari's Closet Chats With...' has arrived, and today we're chatting with the inspirational Gabi Almeida, a singer and artist from Brazil. We wanted to find out more about the inspiration behind her work.

What was it like growing up in São Paulo? Do you still take inspiration from the city for your work?

Thanks for the great question, guess what?  I am in Sao Paulo right now as answering this...

Growing up in Sao Paulo was great and challenging. It’s a mega-metropolis, very busy and unfortunately quite dangerous. Growing up here gave me the strength to live in other cities and to follow my dreams. When you grow up in a place surrounded by crime and danger, constantly worried about your own safety you learn to be brave fast. This has helped me a lot in my journey as an artist. whenever I doubted myself I always thought:

"Well... if people don't like my art, the worse that will happen is that they will ignore it. It’s not like they are going to shoot me” ..... This way of thinking is enough to get rid of any self-doubt.

Sao Paulo is also a concrete jungle, I think this is why street art is so popular here. It brings colour to a city that is grey and polluted. I very quickly fell in love with it and as a teenager started painting outside for fun too.

When you are stuck in traffic for hours having beautiful street art to look at, makes you journey more pleasant.

This has been a massive influence on my work and Mini Gabi loves to discover new street art.......

Tell us more about your music...

When I was young all I wanted to do was to draw and make music. My Dad gave me a guitar when I was 15 and I started my first band with some friends in Sao Paulo. It was a time that I was finishing high school and all my friends were talking about what universities they wanted to attend. All I wanted was to play the guitar so I started busking and playing covers when I came to England.

I then joined session connection and became a professional guitarist touring with amazing UK artists such as Tricky, Lighthouse Family, Five, Catchy Dennis Etc, and performing on shows such as Jools Holland and MTV. It was an amazing experience. All this inspiration made me want to go solo and produce my own music and videos to unite my love of music and visual arts.

I have always heard music in colours and saw rhythm in art. Each instrument has its own colour and each piece of art has its own rhythm.. it made sense to create both things as a whole.

My first single and video  "Paint My Colours" was also a mix of my UK and Sao Paulo influences. I love the rhythm and colours of Brasil and the elegance of the UK music and arts.

My following releases also had influences from Berlin, another city I have lived for some time. This had a deep house, techno style.

A couple of these tracks went to the top 20 UK club charts just as a white label release which was great. : )

What sparked your interest in creating art?

My mother was an artist and my grandparents' art dealers. I grew up surrounded by art. Every wall in my house had beautiful artwork and the shelves were filled with art books. My mother was very inspiring and passionate and I was influenced by her. She used to say: "If you don't have something to die for, you don't have a reason to live for," I think that was good advice.

Also, growing up in a grey city made me crave colour. I love creating, Its a way of speaking and connecting with people. I feel we live in a world where people don't listen very much and don't feel comfortable stating if something isn’t working. It seems that people just want to communicate when the "news is good".

Art gives me a voice to express positive feelings but also give me the power to state when something isn’t working, or if I am unhappy with something.

This is one of the great joys of being a cartoonist and creating a character such as Mini Gabi. When she says she is unhappy about something, it’s cute and endearing. But if I say it, well, some people label me as fussy, difficult or whatever.

What inspired you to create Mini Gabi?

Mini Gabi Graffiti Berlin small.jpg

I had been planning to create a fictional character to front my music but I hadn’t gotten around to it. I have always been inspired by the Gorillaz and what they managed to achieve as an artistic band and wanted to emulate that with my music.

I had an accident, which resulted in a severe head injury and a concussion for almost a year! In the first few months, I couldn't do anything as everything made me dizzy and I had blurry vision.

As I couldn't do any music or video work I started drawing slowly again and created a character to keep me company. I was alone in Berlin and Mini Gabi came to cheer me up on these long lonely days of recovering.

I tried to create a Boy character but it didn't feel right... I think I needed a character that was a little part of me so I could laugh at myself about my accident, and create a positive outlook.

What do you believe are the biggest issues facing women today?

Eradicating discrimination in all areas and sectors. Things have improved a lot but equality is still a global issue. We are lucky to come from countries that give women a voice, but with voice comes great responsibility. We need to speak out against discrimination and inequality and provide women who aren’t so lucky with a platform. It needs to start with opening dialogues, and implementing change.

How do you envisage Mini Gabi helping with these issues?

Mini Gabi is a young female character, who believes in equality, and who has an attitude. She says what she thinks. I think it can inspire girls and women to be brave and speak out more. The more we inspire each other the stronger, and louder our message becomes.

I am very grateful to great women such as my mother and other amazing artists, who were a great inspiration to me. We all need role models, and this isn’t always possible. Mini Gabi is this role model, and is informing and educating.

I  also like to collaborate with other brands and organisations that have the same values, such as TEDx and Amika George on the # free periods Campaign. This really helps Mini Gabi get her message out.

What clothes from Cari’s Closet can you see Mini Gabi wearing?

Carls Closet Look2 small.jpg

I love Carl's closet! It’s so stylish!! Mini Gabi’s look is quite relaxed, and she loves to be comfortable. I love the trousers, boots and jumpers. Mini Gabi would look super cute in these styles. Perfect for DJing and going on one of her graffiti tours...

In the picture above, she's wearing one of the Cari's Closet hats and jumpers!

Do you think Mini Gabi would like to visit Ireland one day if she hasn’t already?

Mini Gabi would love to visit Ireland! YES !!! She would love to see the beautiful landscape, the great architecture and the local street art!

What message would you and Mini Gabi give to women who are struggling with some of the issues that you’ve spoken about?

I would say to always trust your INTUITION, respect your feelings and don't be scared of speaking out. If something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t. Also, on the other hand, if you are passionate about something, and you can’t stop thinking about it, run with it. Just to try already means you have been successful. Surround yourself with positive and inspiring people and don't be scared of asking for help.

I would also say don't let others put you down. People are full of opinions about what we do as if their opinions were the law of the humble and learn from people you admire but be confident to ignore negativity that isn't helpful and even to tell them to mind their business...It’s important to filter what's useful in our journey.

Don’t be scared of making mistakes, they are our biggest lessons. Always try, as that is half the battle. Not everything will work out, but how will you know if you don’t try? Everything that happens is an opportunity.




Thank you so much to the inspiration Gabi for chatting to us! You can follow Mini Gabi on her journey through Facebook, and on her website.