SAULO OLIVEIRA S. AN INTERVIEW WITH THE PRINCE OF ROCK
Born in Birmingham, England, July 14th, 1993, and raised in Curitiba, Brazil, the singer-songwriter Saulo Oliveira S., also known as Prince of Rock, has achieved relevant projection in his journey in music. So, the artist spoke with Now HipHop News in an extroverted and informative interview. Oliveira spent his childhood and youth always learning and evolving. He studied at Jesuit Medianeira College and graduated in Law in 2019 at the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná.
As for his artistic background, he used to sing Beatles’s songs from a young age; a notorious influence. In 2013, Saulo composed the soundtrack for the documentary he also directed, “Ethics, Politics and Citizenship”. In 2019 he released acclaimed singles and in 2020 he released his concept album “Wild Horizon”. In 2021, he released the single “Lockdown”. His first EP, “Prince of Rock” was dropped on Friday, March 4th, 2022. And, more recently, he became a member of OFTA (Online Films & Television Association).
You often cite the Beatles as an influence on your trajectory and you clearly have a background in classic rock. What are your other influences?
Saulo Oliveira S. That’s interesting. I don’t believe in labels. What has been now called “Classic Rock” is what I’ve always known only as Rock & Roll. But the bands that most influence me are Pink Floyd, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Oasis, Black Sabbath among others.
Let’s talk about Wild Horizon, your previous work, how it was conceived? And why a concept album?
Saulo Oliveira S. I think Wild Horizon is based on the only narrative structure for an album that I believe in. I like the idea of the songs all being linked together and being stitched together at the end, with a resolution. Wild Horizon was conceived at a time in life when I was suspecting that nothing makes sense, that existence is without purpose, in short, that despite everything being in tune, despite the sun illuminating, all things are eclipsed by the moon.
Saulo Oliveira S. That was in 2019. Now I’m sure.
Let me figure, you’re under the darkness of an eclipse then?
Saulo Oliveira S. Its a metaphor. This is within albums that I admire most in the history of music like “Abbey Road”, “The Wall”, “The Dark Side of The Moon”, for an example. In concept albums you must tell a story and have a conclusion. The conclusion can be “(…) the sun is eclipsed by the moon” or “(…) in the beginning was the end”.
Speaking of beginning, some may say it’s a bit premature for you to be called the Prince of Rock considering you have so much to conquer yet. How do you respond to such critics?
Saulo Oliveira S. You have to consider time in this equation. I do agree with whoever said that but, it was premature, it was. Now it’s about time. I must fulfill my journey being a prince or a tramp.
Prince of Rock sounds strong and it suits you better, your Royal Highness.
Saulo Oliveira S. It all started as a joke with the British monarchy and my connection with England, the real birthplace of Rock. It is also uncompromising, daring and funny. Let’s not take it too serious. Let’s have fun about it.
Still about Wild Horizon, the album has a clear reference to the work of Pink Floyd, concluding even in the same way as Dark Side of The Moon. Is there a fine line between reference, inspiration and copying?
Saulo Oliveira S. There are several references in most of my songs. I don’t believe in inspiration. The only possible inspiration is to draw air into the lung. Everything is original whenever someone creates something even with a tribute to a previous work.
Your music has a lot of originality, symbolism and conveys an idea. Played backwards also reveals messages. How do you face the theories saying you have hidden messages in your songs? How you look at it?
Saulo Oliveira S. I face to face. And sometimes I even take a chance and face backwards, can you believe it?
The aesthetics of the song covers is a particular work of art very worthy of reverence. How is the concept thought?
Saulo Oliveira S. The best way possible.
Do you believe in semiotics?
Saulo Oliveira S. Semiotics is important. In that sense, I have to trust the subtext an image can evoke. The covers of the songs are part of the expression of doing music. I don’t think everything has to have a meaning all the time, but, most of the time the image is saying something too.
If you are an iconoclast and a cult begins to form in your name or surrounding your person, isn’t that a disturbing paradox?
Saulo Oliveira S. It is a paradox, not disturbing because it is only at the extent that you’re assuming I’m an iconoclast. We live in a world where symbols are everywhere, we’re all trapped in this logic and I myself have made use of some symbols. I’m more against the idolatry of things than specifically an iconoclast. I don’t think a cult would be formed in my name. There’s just no time for it. As far as I’m concerned, people ought to be busy taking care of their own lives.
Your last work has arrived, the E.P. titled “Prince of Rock”. The 6-minute single is called “Renewing Rock N Roll”. Does Rock need to be renewed?
Saulo Oliveira S. Maybe. Maybe not.
Your new work has an influence on Hip-Hop and has also rap vibes. What leads you to this place of mixing Rock with other styles?
Saulo Oliveira S. This ain’t no new business, right? It’s not uncharted terrain. Someone listened to “Monolith” and commented it sounded like uncharted terrain. I mean, really? How vast is the musical repertoire of such a person? I’m not renewing anything literally. I think I don’t have time to believe in revolution because all the revolutions that mattered have already happened in history. In terms of music, no one is likely to be able to revolutionize anything the way they have in the past. There is no innovation or renewal. Recycling maybe. I am recycling what has already been done; I am an ecological friend of Rock. If I were more honest I would have named the song “Recycling Rock N Roll”, but, you know, I love hyperbole, so, renewing is what it is. What brought me to this EP was this sense of keep moving on, keep trying to experiment.
And your instinct never fails you, for sure. Also, “Renewing” is way commercial than “Recycling”, isn’t it? It’s catchy.
Saulo Oliveira S. It’s obvious that it must not be taken seriously. Think of it, Rock and Rap with Hip-Hop, a lot of people did it before and it happened to be the right toll for me to take a chance on. Rock and Rap have some proximity and I hope I’ve explored that in a good way in this recent project, in a way that has honored both genres within the established proposal. The thing with me, every now and then, is about taking risks, I’m frequently getting experimental, that’s the direction I gravitate myself towards to the most.
You play all the instruments, write the lyrics and compose the melody on everything. What part of the creative process excites you the most?
Saulo Oliveira S. The part where it’s all over, it’s time to turn off the light and go to bed.
There are pictures of you on the internet in great style and tattoos, how many tattoos do you have?
Saulo Oliveira S: None.
Saulo Oliveira S. I don’t wanna sit on the make-up chair for a long time. I didn’t grow up with something like “getting a tattoo is taboo”, you know what I mean? It wasn’t like “Woo, risky”. So it had really no appeal to me. The tattoos in many pictures are just for the photo shoot, artistic purpose only.
But you lay in lots of style even without the tattoos, you’re really handsome and elegant, what’s your connection with fashion?
Saulo Oliveira S. I just wear what I like to wear, you know, often something that makes me feel comfortable. I don’t understand that much about elegancy, although people frequently pay me compliments about the way I’m looking. But I do believe we wear to express so my standard is head-to-toe-black, leather, some silver accessories, my Rolling Stones Ring specially, and I sometimes like to wear navy-blue, in general black and blue are my favorites because those colors match my skin tone perfectly, so, that’s what it is. The fact that I’m most of the time in black, well, it’s all about the practicality of it.
And the glasses… The sun never sets in the land of the cool, right?
Saulo Oliveira S. Oh… totally, that’s right. But also all my glasses have prescribed lenses, so, I wouldn’t go far in this land without it.
Being so attractive, you do modeling, right?
Saulo Oliveira S: Some promotional photo shoots, occasionally. But I’m not agreeing with you that I’m attractive. I’m just me, I’m always trying to be myself, trying to look good, look fine.
You’re not trying, you’re succeeding.
Saulo Oliveira S: That’s subjective.
Have you ever realized that you have this unavoidable Hollywood celebrity tipo, I mean, that is enigmatic, sexy, and so aesthetically interesting that your image can distract from the message of your songs? Many teenage girls follow you, are they interested in the philosophy of your work or in you?
Saulo Oliveira S. That was never on my mind. By thinking like that I would have to assume that the girls who follow me don’t understand what they want and that would be me underestimating the intelligence of the audience. I will never do that. I don’t see myself as this sexy figure that some see. As I said, that’s subjective.
What is it that you like the most in Rock & Roll?
Saulo Oliveira S. I should say the drums or piano or the sound of electric guitar or violins in a good song or this or that, but I’m just gonna say: Alcohol. I love alcohol and I can’t live without it.
There’s a reputation that precedes you for drinking a lot. Are you drunk right now?
Saulo Oliveira S: Who isn’t? Life is a bar, some are the janitor, some are the waiter, and some are the dancer.
Which one are you?
Saulo Oliveira S. I’m the music playing on the background, I mean, you’re actually not caring about because you’re inebriate in many happenings, but I’m inevitably present and I’m unapologetically setting the mood of the scene.
That’s a great answer. It means you’re the soul of the ambient. But what’s your relationship with alcohol?
Saulo Oliveira S. I asked alcohol to marry me and we are engaged. We’re getting married in a few months and you’re invited. That’s my relationship with alcohol.
What’s your relationship with the concept or acknowledgment of aliens?
Saulo Oliveira S. I think the government is never sincere about the matter. They are between us since who knows when and we still don’t have much information. My song “Monolith” encapsulates a bit of this sense.
What’s your relationship with girls? Are you with someone?
Saulo Oliveira S. “Me and my girl, we got his relationship. I love her so bad but she treats me like…” Do you know this song? It’s brilliant.
But are you in a relationship at the moment or not?
Saulo Oliveira S. You never can tell.
Saulo Oliveira S. Let’s put this way: I have girls who are friends. Each one of them is a girl-friend of mine.
In the chorus of “Renewing Rock N Roll” you claim to be greater than God. What is your relationship with God?
Saulo Oliveira S. A lot of people talk about him, but I’ve never seen this guy.
So you’re a declared atheist?
Saulo Oliveira S. That’s right.
How does this work for you?
Saulo Oliveira S. I read the Bible, I read God — Delusion, and the last one won. As a matter of fact I was never that much into fantastic mythology and, at the end of the day, that’s what faith is, you are agreeing with fantastic mythology, something someone that came before you said about someone you don’t even know. It’s dangerous to base your life on Bible just as much as to base it on Mein Kampf.
Is there something you must believe in to keep moving forward?
Saulo Oliveira S. No, particularly not.
But you’re also a vegetarian, doesn’t that implies in the believe of a better relation with fauna and flora? The believe of something good in humanity?
Saulo Oliveira S. I couldn’t disagree more. I couldn’t care less about humanity, that’s the last thing in the world I would have faith in. Plus, I just don’t eat meat because the smell and taste are utterly disgusting to me. There’s no such thing as a pattern, an irrepressible path or an example to be followed. If I assume that the vegetarianism or atheism are better than anything else I’m assuming a new religion, that would be me enthroning a new idol above me and, you know, I don’t believe in idols.
You’ve always been very much attached to movies and TV series. You directed and composed the score of “Ethics, Politics and Citizenship”. Is there something else you would like to do in terms of cinema or television?
Saulo Oliveira S. This documentary was a mistake. I mean, looking back at the day, it was not mature and precise. The attorney in that interview turns to be a right-wing supporter and the atmosphere is far from my political view. But when it comes to movies or television, well, I’m analyzing some possibilities. Let’s see what happens next.
You’re an avid reader. What kind of literature has influenced you most?
Saulo Oliveira S. I like The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald is brilliant. I like The Catcher in the Rye, poor Holden Caulfield, the personification of a misunderstood teenage. I like The Metamorphosis from Kafka. I like the Old Man and the Sea from Hemingway. I like Heart of Darkness from Conrad. I like the writings of Edgar Alan Poe, Rudyard Kipling, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and so on and on and on. I think that there’s a tendency to admit people in general, especially the young generations, are no longer committed to the art of reading the way they did in the past. But that’s not true. Reading is an important tool to form a critical conscience and privileged repertoire in a world of chaste, distorted and biased discourses. Reading will always provide imaginative linearity, stimulate the discovery of a peculiar world and generate intimacy with themes that deserve to be contemplated by the written word. Think about it, J. K. Rowling revived the breath of an entire generation with fantastic literature. George Martin too. For these people those characters and stories are part of their lives. For me it was cathartic when I read The Exorcist, from William P. Blatty. I felt so much for Regan McNeil, something about her still gets me. That’s the power of literature.
What’s more important to you, read or writing? Because your songs are like stories, some even have characters with name and stuff.
Saulo Oliveira S. It’s more important to read.
Have you ever got frustrated with any book you read?
Saulo Oliveira S. It doesn’t happen frequently, but I did in few occasions. When I was wrongly curating what I would contemplate based on lists. The best sellers of New York Times or what else. I don’t want to diminish anybody’s work, I couldn’t even if tried, I mean, I’m a real nowhere man leaving in my nowhere land but, if you’re asking, that book that has sold millions, The Shack. It is an example of frustrating narrative. Lists can be a good way to analyze what works are the talk of the town, in a way of speaking, but, those lists are not always a good way to measure what you are looking for. I do agree with all the lists of Rolling Stone Magazine for an example, because all the songs they list are really the ones who most influenced me. Sometimes you will find a Stephen King’s book as a best seller being praised too and that’s fine. In this case it’s a good suggestion of some list. But, if something appears there and got a great hype but just don’t match your taste don’t even waste your time. That’s what I think. So, today, in order to begin a book and finish it, I only read subjects that deserve my attention fully.
In 2020 you sided Leonardo DiCaprio in a movement to defund the Brazilian president. How much are you involved with the global ecological agenda?
Saulo Oliveira S. I’m regularly involved. Not the Greta Thunberg kind of devotion but I’m well aware of what’s going on and about our responsibility as a society to make changes. We’ve been experiencing the heat waves and also the opposite extreme, egregious low temperature, on the globe. That’s directly related to increase in fires and deforestation, emphatically in the Amazon rainforest. People in power who are connected with such indefensible exploitation must be held accountable. Sometimes I get involved with some sort of activism. There’s always something that flips my lid.
Talking about being involved, tell us, what’s the nature of your involvement with Freemasons?
Saulo Oliveira S. Nature. You know when you’re walking in a tall grass pasture and you see one of those little plants, like a cotton flower, then you pull up and there are lots of cotton sticks and you blow it and it dissipates in the air? That’s like a magic moment. That was always my favorite contact with nature. You should try one of these days. Nothing like nature and its magic, isn’t it?
I know it’s not related but, you’re also attached to the philosophy of the Church of Satan. Do you have an intimate connection with them or is it all just to attract the attention of an audience that cries out for an increasingly scarce irreverence in Rock?
Saulo Oliveira S. I just liked a few posts I saw on Twitter. There are some similarities between the way I think and the way Mr. Crowley did. That’s what it is. “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of law”. That’s a great sentence. My will is who I’m so, I can agree with that. They don’t believe in idols, so do I.
People are always trying to find a meaning in your work. Your fresh EP, what is it about?
Saulo Oliveira S. I think that it is about the key. It could mean that is important to find the key for this, the key for that, every key that could open the proper doors in one’s life.
And you… have you found each key for each different door in life?
Saulo Oliveira S. Not my cup of tea. It doesn’t suit me. I want one master key that opens all things in existence and leads me to the very core of it.
You are now also a member of OFTA, you post your reviews soberly on Letterboxd, so I’d like to ask: what’s the last movie you’ve watched?
Saulo Oliveira S. It was Elvis.
Did you like it?
Saulo Oliveira S. Tons.
The last series you’ve watched?
Saulo Oliveira S. Stranger Things.
Last book you’ve read?
“Putting the Rabbit in the Hat”, by Brian Cox.
And the last song you listened to was…?
Saulo Oliveira S. A song called American Pie by Don McLean. It’s turning 50 this year so I’d like to remember how that music used to make me smile.
Your seclusion lifestyle is as notorious as your talent, so it was an honor that you broke your constant silence to speak with us; a privilege of the few.
Saulo Oliveira S. Thank you for having me.
Check out Prince Of Rock by Saulo Oliveira S. on Spotify