After a lengthy absence from music, Fritz Kahn and The Miracles return with a stirring new song titled ‘Believe’, taken from the album ‘Jonah, The Whale’.
The album comes after a near 20 year hiatus from the Portugal-based artist Gonçalo Serras, but it’s one that puts him firmly back on the map. Following the release of his inaugural project back in 2003 – an album that never hit the heights of success he’d hoped for – the artist emphasises sound quality and production value this time round, aiming not to make mistakes of the past.
Taking two years to compose, the themes were carefully selected after years of style-shifting for Fritz Kahn and The Miracles – a time during which their music was verging on folk and rock. Today’s sound is the result of a journey of discovery back to the origins; ‘Jonah, The Whale’ and ‘Believe’ are melancholy, deeper and more soulful than Serras’s previous releases. In trying to make every note make sense, the sound is meaningful, but not boring.
‘Fritz Kahn’ is the pseudonym of the multi-talented musician and composer hailing from Portugal. Born in 1976, Serras began his musical studies at the regional conservatory of Tomar, but following an unsavoury relationship with his music professor, he chose to self-teach – he learned the guitar, harmonica and refined his rhythmic ability on jambés borrowed from the Castelo de Bode Campsite in Lisbon.
The singer-songwriter notes that his pseudonym represents “a fine irony”; the German Jewish doctor Fritz Kahn stood for science (quite the opposite of ‘The Miracles’, which stands for faith). Serras endeavours to find meaning and hope in everything he writes – “‘Believe’ is a hymn for the underdog and the broken, he says. “It’s a song of faith for those days when you find yourself helpless and in need of something beyond yourself.”
The Portuguese musician credits all of the gospel music he has ever heard as motivation for ‘Believe’. He cites the work of some gospel and soul heroes, touting the rousing energy he brings on this track as similar to that of “the great Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, John Coltrane and so on.
“The song means a lot to me,” he says, “because it’s probably where my voice stands out from any other composition I´ve made.”
‘Believe’ was recorded in Lisbon at Namouche Estudios as part of a project orchestrated by Tiago Machado, the producer (and pianist) on the track. Serras says Machado “transformed Fritz Kahn and The Miracles’ music into something truly special.” The Portuguese pair worked hard to underpin the album with sound production and creative direction, letting Serras’s stirring voice take centre stage.
Despite his obvious vocal ability, the singer remains modest about his creative process: “It’s hard work – (ninety percent), and inspiration – (ten percent). It’s a common thing to say, but it’s true.”