Lo-fi is an attempt to let people dive back into themselves

By Beverley Knight

Lo-fi music embraces imperfection. It’s hard to pin down all its nuanced elements, but its sound is without ego. Downtempo hip-hop collides with jazz and soul to form raw, warm beats that soothe. Blyme, a new music project by Brazilian Wellington Alves, lets natural flaws like background noise and vinyl crackle pepper his music, ripe for times when one is reading, reflecting or feeling chill. His simple and repetitive melodies create a condition of emotional comfort. “Indeed, the essence of the genre inspires all sorts of emotions. Its role for the community of listeners is a soundtrack for relaxation, permitting them to journey inside oneself.”

When Wellington grew up in Brazil, lo-fi music wasn’t around – it probably didn’t exist in the same form it is now. The movement started to blow up just before the pandemic hit in 2020. It’s having its moment, gaining popularity worldwide. Today, the lo-fi scene where Bylme fits is growing strong and becoming a staple of Brazil’s musical tastes. “The chilled beats, nostalgic vibes, and subtle imperfections clearly relate to Brazilian and Latin attitudes, which appeal locally and internationally. Artists like Oatmello and Nohidea have been doing an amazing job so far!”

Bylme rates Tomppabeats and Nujabes as giants, and Fnonose and Beamer are heavy influences. However, Wellington’s also partial to listening to lesser-known artists. He rates his work as unpretentious. “I was trying to sample some Sublime songs into one of mine. Then the idea came up.” The music he’s exploring leans to the hip-hop side of things and is vocal free. “I blend instruments such as brass, piano and guitar and produce all my music in my low-budget home studio. I guess the DIY intermingles with the lo-fi, right?”

Having been in the melodic hardcore band Switch Stance, Blyme seems a world away from Wellington’s usual projects. “The styles are indeed different, but the low-budget, melodic-oriented vein of punk rock has everything to do with the essence of lo-fi music.” Transitioning from one genre to another wasn’t that challenging. He still manages to produce and compose for Switch Stance alongside Blyme.

It happens frequently. After years in the band and spending heaps of time in each other’s pockets, creatives feel the urge to go it alone. Initially, Wellington thought listening to lo-fi would make him dive into work and study, but the vibrations sucked him into a new world of music-making. It became clear the logical move for him was to create what he was listening to the most. “I have always said that ambient music suits relaxing, reading and working. But it turns out that when the music is good, I find it hard to focus on work instead of what’s playing!”

Time is precious in our busy everyday lives; it’s one of the most valued things. “People often worry about the time they spend listening to music or working. They can take for granted something I reckon is even more important than time: well-being.” It upsets him when kids flick through songs on playlists, listening to less than one second. “Lo-fi comes with a different approach: an attempt to let people dive back into themselves in a mindful way. That’s the big deal with lo-fi.”

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