The year was 2018 and Flávio, from Lisbon, made his living in France, paving the streets of Nice and Monaco with the unmistakable Portuguese pavements. The company founded eight years ago was doing well, paving the way for a solid future for immigrants who had left the quiet neighborhood of Santos for the bustling French Riviera.
But Flávio’s heart did not beat to the cadence of the hammer on the stones, but to the dynamic beat of the funanás and the kizomba.
“Everything was going well, a lot of work, good money, but even so I decided to go back to making music”, says the Lisbon native, the “return” a reference not only to the return to his original home of Lisbon, but also to the music scene, where before the serious businessman Flávio Mendes dos Santos took to the stage, better known as the lively Lavvy.
Lavvy from Dark Face, the rap group that rocked Lisbon high school parties for five years. And not only. “We got to play in all the African nightclubs in the city”, recalls Lavvy, the nick taken from the “l”, “a” and “v” of the name Flávio, “with a more artistic touch”, as the singer himself points out, from double the “v” and add a “y”.
Perfecting the stage name has always been a trademark of rappers. On Dark Face, Lavvy was joined by two friends from the Rego neighborhood, José António, and Domingos Duarte – that was until the music started playing when they became Kris-T and Xonas, with the origin of the nicknames apparently more difficult to pin down. explain.
So difficult to explain is also how such a band, which performed in all African clubs in Lisbon, suddenly leaves the stage.
The search for “real work”
The trio of friends from the Rego neighborhood who accomplished the feat of taking the Cape Verdean rhythms and the romantic lyrics made in the Rego neighborhood to Lisbon’s high schools and nightclubs, however, could not escape a reality that is still common for young people and teenagers from the housing estates where they were born: the reality of feeling pressured to find a “real job” when you finish your studies and start helping with the household budget.
It was the case of the two friends Kris-T and Xonas.
While they were school-aged teenagers, between the ages of 15 and 19, it wasn’t so much of a problem to have parental support for Dark Face concerts. But from then on, the harsh reality of the neighborhood knocked on the door of the now adults José and Domingos.
“The greatest difficulty for young people in the Rego neighborhood has always been and still is having support, structure, and influence. Family support to do what he likes, structure to be able to practice what he likes, and the influence of seeing other people in the neighborhood doing the same thing. Just like anyone thinking of being a football player in the neighborhood needs to go to another neighborhood behind a field, when I needed to rehearse, I had to go to a studio in Queluz”, exemplifies Lavvy, who, despite the difficulties, continued for a few more years at stage routine. “That’s because I’ve always focused on music”, he points out.
Yet, not long after, Lavvy also heard the reality of finding a “real job” knock on his door. It was time to leave for France.
From a studio in the Rego neighborhood to Cape Verde music festivals around the world
Lavyy connects the electric guitar to the amplifier in the professional studio installed in what used to be the living room of his apartment, on the second floor of a social building in the Rego neighborhood. Soon the chords of N’ta Amau can be heard loud and clear, one of the songs composed by the Lisbon native, like almost all of them, a love story.
The comings and goings to Queluz are behind us.
Now it only takes a few steps from the bedroom to the workplace. The doors of Fortissimo, the name of the studio and music publishing company that Lavvy founded, are also open to musicians and pop star candidates from the neighborhood, who now have a professional structure nearby.
An initiative that counts on the collaboration of the neighbors, because despite the solidity of the wall covered with stones by the builder version of Lavvy, the high volume shows signs of leaking the sound to other floors. Do the neighbors complain? “Sometimes, yes, they complain, but the regret is little,” softens the musician.
Lavvy also has little to complain about. Five years after he stopped building Portuguese pavements in Nice and the neighboring principalities, the musician paved a new professional path, not only as a singer, but as a composer, listening to his songs in the voice of other artists, such as Soraia Ramos, Gaby Fernandes, and the Gamas.
He often returns to France, but now to give concerts or as a music producer, another of his strengths. “I produce Cape Verdean music festivals in French and Luxembourg cities”, he says, taking out his cell phone to show the latest of them, the , in Esch-sur-Alzette, with a packed house.
Singer, songwriter, and producer. The routine between the stage, the scores, and the backstage is not easy, but Lavvy still finds space for another activity that in the last two decades has yielded results with the same strength as his musical production. “I have seven children”, he says, between laughs, the father of two girls and five boys.
“It must have something to do with me having twelve brothers”, ventures the musician, showing off his arms tattooed with the names of all of them. It could be, or maybe it’s proof that writing and singing about love so much is necessary to go far beyond theory.