May 4, 2007
Meet David McLoughlin, from Ireland, who has lived in Brazil for around fifteen years. Read the following interview where he tells us about some of his most memorable experiences from Brazil and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?

I’m from a military camp in Ireland – the Curragh, famous for soldiers, sheep and shite. I was on the backside of the tail-end of that final generation that couldn’t get a job in the country. Got a degree in Communications and ended up selling music in Tower Records in Piccadilly Circus, London. I used to buy jazz, blues, country and world music for the store, including Brazilian music which was taking off at the time – Tom Z, Sepultura, lambada. In Brazil I’ve worked for the local independent record companies (speak English? OK, you’ll be the international manager); nowadays I work for a digital aggregator The Orchard, supplying iTunes etc. with Brazilian music; I also work with the BM&A, a trade organization that helps promote Brazilian music abroad; and I’ve a company, RN-14, that provides various services within the music industry. I’ve a wife who has an incredible talent for spending money – so I need to keep myself busy.

2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?

I married a Brazilian girl, a dentist, in London. She couldn’t work legally in the country and, with the IRA bomb campaigns going on, it wasn’t a particularly nice place to be Irish. And I was sick of working in a record store. We arrived here about 15 years ago. I divorced her a few years later – we invited all our friends who weren’t at the original wedding to celebrate the divorce party – but she’s still my dentist and my favourite ex. Before we left London all the money we had saved up was robbed; our friends at Tower Records did a fantastic whip-around for us so we wouldn’t arrive in Brazil penniless.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

I remember arriving here on a warm summer night and being impressed by the size of São Paulo and the beauty of the lights and the colours over the Rio Tiete. I imagined it being lined with restaurants and cafs. The heat was a slap in the face.

When we arrived at her parents house there was a party. All her friends were there. I spent the night drinking, woke up in the early hours and vomited in the wardrobe and then all over the window. I was awoken a few hours later by her mother shouting and her father laughing, ah, irlandes filho da puta!” That phrase was one of the first I learned in Portuguese.

After 15 years I still can’t used to the early sunsets.

4. What do you miss most about home?

Second-hand book stores and the religious experience of sinking a pint of Guinness. The long summer days. And occasionally, the soldiers, the sheep and the shite on the Curragh Plains.

5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?

Bureaucracy and taxes. They limit every business activity you may care to undertake. The poverty and lack of education are horrific; trying to encourage kids to study while their parents need them to start work at 14 or 15 years of age.

My ex-wife was a hari krishna and we had her guru living in the house for about a year; that was quite frustrating. He soon left after drinking poteen I had stored in a Perrier bottle. He thought it was water. Almost killed the man. Almost.

6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident) ?

Working within the music industry involves dealing with people on a business and emotional level, and both overlap. It’s all been memorable. Negotiating contracts with rap bands in Carandiru prison. Death threats from unhappy artists and composers – “irlandes filho da puta!” Meeting musical heroes like Itamar Assumpão and Tom Z, Public Enemy and White Stripes. Arranging drugs for unhappy international rock artists. Sitting naked on a nudist beach at Trancoso drinking caipirinhas, and people laughing at my sun-burnt arse the following day. Meeting Irish missionaries and discovering their world. Being kissed for the first time by the most beautiful woman in the planet (my wife of course!). Everyday is an experience!

7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?

I love everything. The idea of being in the country of the 21st century. The chaos and the energy, the opportunities that exist. The beautiful women. The quality and wealth of music and cinema being produced. The sensation of living in a country that’s struggling to drag itself into the future. Also, remembering the Irish exodus of the past few hundred years, I get a kick from meeting Brazilians abroad, in Canada, Europe, the USA who are bringing their culture with them and creating new ways of expressing themselves, intermixed with the local cultures. My mother gets a bit upset at times, tells me I’m losing my Irish roots, but the Brazilians always remind me – “ah, irlandes filho da puta!”

8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?

I’ve a country house outside São Paulo. Best place in the world to cultivate my beer belly, teach the local kids some English and hassle them to keep studying.

9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?

I just recently came back from a schooner trip with an uncle from Ireland who was visiting Rio with a bunch of elderly farmer friends. On the trip we crossed another schooner filled with lots of bikini-clad dancing Brazilian girls who decided to reveal themselves. There are lots of Irish farmers with happy memories recorded on their camcorders.

10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?

The sheer size and the cultural diversity. I remember in one month working on a CD recorded in Santa Catarina (folk songs from Germany), and at the same time working with a tribe from Parantins in Manaus.

My stepson and his friends recently drank my last bottle of Jameson, mixing it with orange juice – an Irish teenager would never have mixed it with orange juice.

11. How is your Portuguese coming along? What words do you find most difficult to pronounce/remember or are there any words that you regularly confuse?

I’ve been here for 15 years now and still cursed with the sotaque. If I’m arguing with my kids I tend to mix up words and evoke laughter rather than respect. I’ve learnt to become more succinct in my way of expressing myself.

12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?

Get involved in Brazilian society and culture. Don’t be an eternal tourist. If you’re a man, marry a local girl (avoid Gmeos). For women I’ve no advice, except that of Johnny Cash – Understand Your Man.

13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?

Check out the shows at the Sescs, visit Itau Cultural, check out the work of local NGOs, ramble about.

Are you a foreigner who has lived in, or is living or travelling in Brazil? Are you a Brazilian who has a lot of contact with foreigners and/or lived outside of Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer for our interview series, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send a blank email to gringoes@www.gringoes.com with “Interview” in the subject. We will send you the interview questions by return email.

To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

Pat Moraes – USA
Richard Dougherty – USA
James Weeds – USA
Tom Sluberski – USA
Peter Kefalas – USA
Sylvie Campbell – UK
Kathleen Haynes – USA
Matt Bowlby – USA
Alan Longbottom – UK
Eric Karukin – USA
Eddie Soto – USA
Kieran Gartlan – Ireland
Bryan Thomas Scmidt – USA
Emile Myburgh – South Africa
Bob Chapman – USA
David Barnes – USA
John Milan – USA
Chris Coates – UK
Matthew Ward – UK
Allison Glick – USA
Drake Smith – USA
Jim Jones – USA
Philip Wigan – UK
Atlanta Foresyth – USA
Lee Gordon – USA
Carmen Naidoo – South Africa
Lee Safian – USA
Laurie Carneiro – USA
Dana De Lise – USA
Richard Gant – USA
Robin Hoffman – USA
Wayne Wright – UK
Walt Kirspel – USA
Priya Guyadeen – Guyana
Caitlin McQuilling – USA
Nicole Rombach – Holland
Steven Engler – Canada
Richard Conti – USA
Zak Burkons – USA
Ann White – USA
Monde Ngqumeya – South Africa
Johnny Sweeney – USA
David Harty – Canada
Bill McCrossen – USA
Peter Berner – Switzerland/Brazil
Ethan Munson – USA
Solveig Skadhauge – Denmark
Sean McGown – USA
Condrad Downes – UK
Jennifer Silva – Australian
Justin Mounts – USA
Elliott Zussman – USA
Jonathan Abernathy – USA
Steve Koenig – USA
Kyron Gibbs – USA
Stephanie Early – USA
Martin Raw – UK
Sean Coady – UK
Hugo Delgado – Mexico
Sean Terrillon – Canada
Jessie Simon – USA
Michael Meehan – USA
Thales Panagides – Cyprus
Tammy Montagna – USA
Samantha Tennant – England
Ron Finely – United States
Bob Duprez – United States
Peter Baines – England
Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
Van Wallach – USA
Lesley Cushing – England
Alexander von Brincken – Germany
Hank Avellar – USA
Ed Catchpole – England
Penny Freeland – England
Yasemin de Pinto – Turkey
Amy Williams Lima – USA
John Naumann – England
Marsye Schouella – Eygpt
Rita Shannon Koeser – USA
John Fitzpatrick – Scotland
Liam Gallagher – Northern Ireland
Lorelei Jones – England
Adam Glensy – England
Tommie C.B. DeAssis – Japan
Aaron Day – Canada
Graham Debney – New Zealand
Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany
Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
Frank de Meijer – Holland
Carl Emberson – Australia
Kim Buarque – Wales
Damiano Pak – South Korea
Jonas Helding – Denmark
Pari Seeber – Iran
John Milton – England
Ken Marshall – Australia

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