Vetiver’s Boss Bossa Nova-Infused Soundtrack

Singer-songwriter Andy Cabic, also known as Vetiver, brings the bossa sounds of Brazil to his dinner party. Vetiver's new album "Complete Strangers" drops this month.

Photo credit: Terri Loewenthal

Andy Cabic is the front man for the San Francsico-based band Vetiver. Their new album, “Complete Strangers,” is set for release on March 24th and Vetiver will kick off a brief tour with EDJ (former Fruit Bats member Eric D. Johnson) around the United States in May. He shared with us a dinner party soundtrack that features bossa nova grooves straight from his vast vinyl collection.


I’m Andy Cabic from the band Vetiver. Here begins my dinner party soundtrack.

Antonio Carlos Jobim – “The Red Blouse”

I am a person with a lot of records, collected vinyl all my life. It’s very hard for me to not divert my attention to the music. So, for a dinner party, I would have to choose something either not in English or instrumental. With that in mind, I would choose Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “The Red Blouse” as a great dinner song.

Antonio Carlos Jobim is a Brazilian legend, and it’s a magnificent bossa nova tune. It’s long and luscious, and has beautiful string arrangements, and seems like a good conduit to ideas and conversation. I think it’s Jobim’s biggest-selling record.

So, this was a record I would see all the time, but I wasn’t sure whether it was worth picking up. Then I found a really nice copy, and it just sounded unbelievable. So, now it’s a mainstay. I listen to it all the time. I think it’s — this is one of those albums I would describe as sounding expensive.

At this point in the party, everyone’s comfortable, happy to be there, nibbling on cheese, looking good, maybe complimenting attire. The song is called “The Red Blouse” so this would be perfect for that, and this could be simmering in the background along with whatever’s about to be eaten.

Gal Costa – “A Rã”

My next track, I would keep it Brazilian, and I would choose a song by Gal Costa called “A Rã,” a favorite song of mine. I would DJ this out all the time. I believe it’s co-written by Caetano Veloso and João Donato. So, that’s a ripe pairing and great songwriting team.

Nighttime is around us at this point, for the dinner, and this taps into that feeling. It’s playful, beautiful arrangements. It’s a song that if you pay attention to it, you will just be stunned at the chord changes and how it moves along.

There’s a funny moment in this song where it sounds as if she’s saying Vetiver. She says, “Ver de ver de ver” or something, this happens many times in the song, and every time I kind of self-delusionally [laughs] think she’s talking about my band, but that’s not really happening.

Penguin Cafe Orchestra – “The Ecstasy of Dancing Fleas”

Well, maybe at this point you’re realizing what a special night this is, what great friends you have, how you’re all lucky to be here sharing this night together. So, for my next song I would choose a very special song by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra called “The Ecstasy of Dancing Fleas.”

Penguin Cafe Orchestra is centered around a composer named Simon Jeffes. Their first release came out on Brian Eno’s label. So, they’re like a group that kind of eludes genre. There’s a little bit of classical music, little bit of jazz, experimental, pop. It’s got fretless bass, it’s got strings, it’s got finger-picked guitar. This is a celebratory song to commemorate a real magical moment.

Vetiver – “Time Flies By”

They’ve asked me to select a song of my own to have played at the dinner party, and that would be a little bit embarrassing. That would make me very self-conscious. But, rise above. It’s not that big of a deal. For that, I would choose a song from the new album. It’s called “Time Flies By.”

This song draws a little bit from the rhythms of Jobim. It’s a pop-bossa song. I didn’t — I wasn’t trying to make something that was mimicking bossa nova. It’s more like if the Beatles were playing a bossa nova song or something. Ringo’s not going to play that beat exactly like a Brazilian would.