In the average school setting, Javian Pereira is a junior business major with a concentration in marketing. He takes classes at Montclair State University and earns credits just like any other student on campus; but a closer look will give someone reason to see something different in Pereira. Specifically, they would see two of his passions: making music and honoring his Brazilian heritage.
Pereira has been playing guitar for seven years, first taking lessons at the age of 13 with the support of his mother. His interest in music furthered during his years at Kearny High School, participating in the school’s music program and chorus. However, he did not consider seriously pursuing music until he got into college and realized he didn’t need any fancy, expensive equipment to get started.
“You don’t have to have all this equipment, all this money to make music,” Pereira said. “You can make it from your room. You can sit in your room, write your music, record it yourself. You could do it all yourself. And that’s really when I thought, ‘Let me try this out.’”
When it comes to his music and influences, Pereira is vocal about his intentions to pay tribute to his Brazilian ethnicity. He is influenced by the Brazilian genres of samba and bossa nova, along with iconic Brazilian musicians such as Gilberto Gil and “The Girl from Ipanema” composer Tom Jobim.
Pereira had plenty to say about the impact Jobim has had on him and his music.
“His music really inspires me,” Pereira said. “His melody and his softness and how he approaches music is just really what drives a lot of my music.”
Jobim passed away in 1994, but Pereira expressed how he would have liked to work with the bossa nova pioneer, citing him as his dream collaboration.
“He’s the reason why this kind of music really exists,” Pereira said. “He’s one of the pioneers. It’s the music I aspire to make and it drives what I do. So honestly, he’s the person I would definitely want to work with.”
Pereira’s pride in his culture doesn’t stop at his musical heroes. He spoke of his interest in learning to play the cavaquinho, a traditional Brazilian instrument.
He was also in the process of beginning a Brazilian cultural club at Montclair State last year. Unfortunately, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic brought those plans to a halt, but he hopes to resume them sometime soon.
Yasmin Maciel, a junior political science major with a minor in business at Montclair State, is a close friend of Pereira. As a fellow Brazilian, Maciel feels a close connection to his music and has a better understanding of the cultural influences.
“I love how Javian was able to incorporate his Brazilian culture in his song ‘Brown Skin,’” Maciel said. “I cherish our friendship so much because whenever we’re together I get a taste of how home would feel since I’m also Brazilian. I remember seeing Javian in high school performing in our school’s annual talent show, and now I see him releasing his own music. I am so extremely proud of him, and I’m so excited to see what he has planned for the future.”
Pereira currently has his song “Brown Skin” available on streaming services, released under the mononym Javian. He released the song in May of last year, with the one-year anniversary of the track having just passed.
“I see a lot of space for people to talk more about inclusivity and I feel like ‘Brown Skin’ really points that out,” Pereira said. “I feel like there’s space for that now. People need to not be afraid to talk about differences in people. It’s a love song, but it really points that out: inclusivity.”
Pereira spoke about his creative process when writing a song. While many artists might think of lyrics first when they create music, he first figures out how the melody of the song will sound before he writes down any words.
“The lyrics are really driven by how I feel with the chord progression and how I feel with the flow of the song,” Pereira said. “And then that’s when I build up what I want to talk about, what I want to express.”
Naomi Miranda, a junior biology major with a minor in French at Seton Hall University and friend of Pereira, loves the mellow vibe of “Brown Skin” and thinks it is an ideal song for the upcoming summer season.
“When I first listened to ‘Brown Skin,’ I immediately thought this was a summer song,” Miranda said. “It’s the song that you lower your windows down and you blast when you’re driving on the way to the beach with your friends. It’s just a good vibe overall, and I’m really happy that this was his first song that came out because I think it’s really representative of who he is. It radiates happiness. It radiates sunshine, and I think that’s Javian’s personality.”
Besides his obvious passion for music, Pereira also possesses interest and experience in a variety of art forms. He actually began his first semester at Montclair State as a film major before switching to business, but he still maintains his fascination with filmmaking in addition to photography and fashion. He would even like to incorporate those elements into his music as well, possibly by making music videos for his songs in the future.
In regards to upcoming music, Pereira is planning to release a four-song EP sometime this summer. He is currently working on the project with Y.O.G.I., a producer he attended Kearny High School with and who also produced “Brown Skin.”
Pereira says he will continue to hone in on his bossa nova influences on the EP, while also incorporating some pop and R&B influences, specifically in its percussion. But he emphasized that he will continue the smooth feeling of lightness he established on his previous track, while still developing and experimenting with his own sound.
“I just want people to feel all these feelings that come with the smoothness and the effortlessness of bossa nova music,” Pereira said. “I definitely want people to feel that, too, but there’s definitely other influences going on in there.”
Pereira also revealed the title of the first track on the EP: “Floating.”
“It’s definitely one of the songs that really helps you understand what I’m about and what I want to make,” Pereira said. “Of course, I want to develop and keep putting out new things and elaborate and create more with my sound, but right now that’s what I’m feeling. It’s a great [indicator] of where I want to go.”
What Pereira wants people to get from his music is an appreciation of softer genres that were enjoyed by previous generations.
“Most people nowadays, they don’t appreciate jazz and bossa nova and this softer genre that maybe our parents used to listen to,” Pereira said. “I feel like that music is what connects with me and what I want people to feel.”
At the same time, Pereira wants people to take away their own meaning from his music, even if it strays from his own intention.
“I want them to feel something of their own, but I want to share what I enjoy and why I want to share what my truth is,” Pereira said. “I want people to feel something from it. It could be their own message. It can be completely different from what I intended, but I want people to get a feel for who I am and share a feeling that I have towards music.”
A notably nuanced response from a young, up-and-coming musician far wiser and more mature than many in his age range might be, the future is already looking up for Pereira. The sky is truly the limit, and perhaps one day we will be etching his name into the same history books as the legendary bossa nova figures he himself regards so highly today.