Tag Archives: The Ransom Note

Swedish legend Axel Boman makes his Edinburgh debut, headlining the first Storytime at the Bongo, Fri 8th Nov

18 October 2019 -

We’re more than a little bit chuffed to be hosting this one at the Bongo.  Hard to believe Axel Boman hasn’t played Edinburgh before.  Even more exciting that he will be making his debut here at the Bongo.

He’ll be well known to any seasoned clubber and music fans, due to his work as Talaboman (with John Talabot) and his record label (the wonderful Studio Barnhus, which he runs alongside Kornél Kovács and Petter Nordkvist) but for the uninitiated, this 2015 interview with The Ransom Note’s William Wasteman is a very good place to start…

If you’ve ever been out partying with me, you’ll notice that similar patterns emerge in the way I like to enjoy my after party. Firstly, I’ll buy more tinnys than is humanly manageable to drink, because beer is your friend, forever and ever, amen. Secondly, I’ll change into a pair of tracksuit bottoms, because I need to be comfy when I’m dying from beer overdose. Thirdly; and this is the only relevant bit, I always play ‘Hello’, by Axel Boman. It’s one of the most beautifully soothing tracks I’ve ever heard, with its haunting, catchy vocal sample and bassline deeper than talking to Carl Sagan on acid. It’s basically the musical equivalent of a nice, warm bath, which is good because it’s the closest thing I get to washing (if you notice from after party points one to three, hygiene isn’t on the list).

So from that track I became a fan and have been listening to his unique brand of ephemerally melodic house ever since. Then when I heard of his new project ‘Talaboman’; with top producer John Talabot, I was intrigued to see how the tracks would sound. On hearing their first single ‘Sideral’, I wasn’t disappointed. So, ahead of their headline sets at Corsica Studios on the 27th and 28th of this month I sat down with the Swedish born producer to talk about the creative process, his label Studio Barnhus and his favourite purple drank:

Hey man, how’s it going?

Axel Boman: Hey! I’m good man! Really good.

What you up to at the moment?

AB: Just working on a remix at the moment, for a band Hunter & Game a bit like Darkside so like really synth heavy, kinda darkish pop stuff.

Fair play. I saw the last remix you did was Maribou State one, do you push to do them yourself or do people commission you? How do you choose what remixes to do most of the time?

AB: Most of the time, its people just asking me, and offering money! But I do also feel like the tune has to be something I relate to as an artist, I can’t just take any ‘trap’ song off the radio and do it, it has to be something I can work with.

Do you feel more responsible over a remix than your own stuff?

AB: Yeah I feel like sometimes I can’t just strip back a track to just the basskick and hand it back to them and say “Here is what I thought was good of your tune”.  Like there was that amazing story of Aphex Twin doing a remix for Bjork in 20 minutes, where he had obviously just done nothing with the original track but just sent over something he had already done, but I don’t think I could do something like that. I think DJ Koze is a remix genius and makes everything better, like “What the fuck was the original? This is shit compared to the Koze remix”, but I do feel more responsible over someone else’s tunes than I would do my own because you have a responsibility toward the original song. I feel that I owe it to the original track to use parts of it in the remix that you can hear, to pay my respect that way.

What your fave remix that you’ve ever done you think?

AB: It was the one I did a while ago for Agaric, called ‘No way I Know I Feel’. I felt I got the melodies really well placed with the original song and it just worked. I added a sample from a completely different track that worked surprisingly well with the original I think. That’s my favourite remix for sure.

I’ll definitely look that one up. So apparently during the second half of June it barely ever gets dark in Stockholm during some weeks due to the midnight sun. What kind of parties do you guys have when it’s always light?

AB: Yeah we have parties in the woods like, every weekend. You just get a text from a friend saying “there’s a party in the woods”, then you get there and just follow the sound of the kick drum, but people can’t last too long cos they drink so much. Like obviously everyone is on drugs but we just drink so much we usually don’t last past the next day.

Is it not like Berlin?

AB: No, not at all. Berlin doesn’t have the same drinking culture, they are sipping on water and stuff, whereas we just get really hammered. We have a natural drinking affinity with the English, for example last night I was drinking 6 or 7 pints of beer, which is quite a lot of beer when you think about it.

And if it was Italians they would be like *puts on Italian accent* “What is this giant beer?”


That’s true! But even though you guys drink the same as us you know that Swedes have the longest life expectancy in Europe whereas in the UK we have one of the lowest?

AB: Oh really I didn’t know that. Well it’s got to be the diet. I’ve seen the full English breakfasts and stuff like that you eat whereas we have rye bread and a lot of fish…

I think we’re just becoming really Americanised with all the fast food that’s coming in…

AB: Yeah but then everywhere is these days, like in Stockholm it’s just getting Starbucks after Starbucks.

Yeah it’s shit. So your album Family Vacation was well received for how diverse it is, how did that kind of sound come about?

AB: Well I actually think it all sounds quite similar, which is like this playful house that has pop melodies throughout. I tried to keep a theme running all the way through the album which I think I managed to achieve. Now there is some distance from when I first released it so it’s easier to look back and think about it more objectively.

But when you are making music do you sample a lot, or is it more live music you use? Some of your music has a live feel to it, like you’ve been jamming as a band when you made it. So do you play as a band or solo and build it organically or does it always have a certain structure?

AB: Well I always have a synth melody in my head for days, and I’ll try and build it around that. I’ll also have about five or six samples that I want to fit in, so it’s a mixture of both.

Yeah like I feel that some of your tracks, like ‘Hello’ can drift in and out of melodies, is that something you are conscious of or do on purpose?

AB: Well I’m not a classically trained artist so I don’t always look for a melody and a harmony. I think it works to my advantage because whereas some people are always looking for the hook that fits a track I can just experiment with different samples and ideas until something clicks.

So are you a perfectionist do you think?

AB: Well I think that some people can be comfortable to put a bassline together and a sample and just think “that’s fine” but for me it’s almost never fine. Whenever I first put something together I never accept the first edit, because I know that if I add different things to it, it can make it into something much more than it originally was. So I keep going at it with different samples or different angles until it becomes something more that I like. Like I love Moodymann and the way he’ll have samples that just don’t quite fit together, y’know? You can hear that they don’t fit but it still works. I love that whole Detroit sound.

Is he a big influence on you?

AB: Oh absolutely, although I’m not just a house-head, I’m just as much of a fan of ABBA as any of the Detroit house guys too.

Are you a fan of Three Chairs?

AB: Three chairs not so much but individually much more. I feel like the expectation of those three together can never live up to anything they produce by themselves.

Yeah I know what you mean, like it’s expected that all three of them together will combine to make a better sound somehow.

AB: Exactly.

So carrying on with your creative process, what about creative blocks, how do you deal with them?

AB: Inspiration is for amateurs!


No well I do a lot of smoking weed and drinking wine. I also go for runs. Also we like to laugh and joke around in the Studio so it can come naturally, but it’s just as likely to pop into my head on a run than when I’ve been smoking or drinking. I just think it’s a matter of persistence. Like, I will just keep going at a track until something comes to me most of the time. But then some of the time I can be really lazy and if something doesn’t instantly come at me I’ll just forget about it but then other times you just have to keep going at it over and over until it works. I know there are some people who are just perfect like Roman Flugel, who just make one perfect track every day, but that’s not me; I have to work at it. It SEEMS that Roman does this.

I’m sure he puts in just as much effort as you behind the scenes though?

AB: No Roman Flugel is just one of those perfect people that does Ashtanga yoga, eats well, looks healthy and im sure he’s a fantastic lover. Every tune he makes is perfect, no matter what. He is just one of those sexy, perfect people.

Sounds like maybe you should try and get with Roman Flugel?

AB: No I am not perfect enough for him. He’s probably think I was too fat or something like that, plus I think he is into girls.


So why was the album called Family Vacation? Is about a family vacation you went on?

AB: No it’s not really about anything that happened in real life or any family vacation I’ve been on, I just like the way it sounds, like some kind of tragic sounding event,

Like a family vacation that went wrong?

AB: Yeah, like some eerie tragic story.

So you aren’t actually the son of a plumber either?

AB: No it’s the name of a Per Gessle album, the master mind behind swedish pop sensation Roxette


AB: Well they are really famous in Sweden, I just stole it off one of their album titles so I wasn’t actually a son of a plumber or anything like that.

Ah OK fair enough. So obviously ahead of your shows I wanted to talk a bit about Talaboman. How did the partnership with John Talabot come about?

AB: Well he is a friend with (Barnhus label mate) Petters, and I always really liked his stuff and when we met we got on really well. I think the Spanish and Swedish have like, this natural affinity so we instantly connected.

Will you be releasing more stuff than the Sideral tune you did?

AB: Yeah we are actually working on an album right now. We have about eight tracks, not really sure if I should be talking about it as an album because it isn’t really that yet, it’s just a collection of tracks, but most of them are finished but like in a raw state.

When will it be coming out?

AB: Early next year, I think John has an album he is working on to release later on in 2016 so we want to get something early next year because I don’t want to get in the way of his album launch and stuff like that.

Will it be more stuff like Sideral?

AB: It will be a lot bigger, it will still have the emotional element that Sidereal has but we have been working a lot with synths so we have been trying to make bigger…

More, epic tracks?

AB: Yeah! Like stuff that is more expansive than some of the stuff I have done before.

So is it going to be like, big lights flashing, eyes closed, hands in the air kind of music at the raves?

AB: I hope so!

Are you going to be playing a lot of the tracks at the shows at Corsica Studios?

AB: Yeah of course! It is the perfect place to do it, I love Corsica and I love the system there and it’s very intimate too which I like so I can’t wait for the shows.

Do you prefer to play in the more intimate venues or bigger mega venues?

AB: Well I am not really used to play in these bigger gigs like John is so he has been giving me advice on it. But I have also been getting advice from DJ Koze, he gives me these classic one liners about handling it; like the best one he gave me was “play songs with less information”. Which I think is so perfect because it’s totally true in those situations where you have thousands of people to play to.

Like maybe the subtleties of some of your music can get lost when playing to bigger crowds?

AB: Yeah, exactly.

So I know you graduated from the Valand School of Fine Arts in 2010, what did you study?

AB: Well I was one of the last people to do the five year degree at the Uni, where they just gave us a studio for five years and let us get on with it, and check in every six months to see if we were OK. Now they only allow three year courses so I was one of the last people to do it.

What kind of stuff did you do?

AB: Well it was everything from painting, to sound, to film. By the end it was purely conceptual, like if I had an idea I would just build around this idea whether it was sound or film.

Do you have any of the stuff to show us?

AB: Hold on a sec…*checks computer for a while* No I don’t think I have any stuff. I think it may be somewhere on my dad’s computer. If I have any bit of advice it’s keep a hold of everything you used to do, keep every scrap book, every file on your computer.

I read an interview with you where you said lost a laptop with all your stuff but you felt it was quite cathartic?

AB: Yeah I had to start completely again. It was kind of like losing your phone though, with all the numbers of everyone you love.

So how did Studio Barnhus come about? And is it better releasing under your own label or just easier letting someone else handle it?

AB: Well we have been living together and working in a studio space, so we just naturally became friends and started making music together. So we moved into this studio which is on Orphanage Street (Barnhusgaten) in Stockholm, and the Swedish for orphanage is actually Barnhus.

In English the closest translation to it means like a shed or outhouse where farmers keep their tools and livestock…

AB: Really? I never knew that. In Swedish it’s less negative than orphanage though, like it’s a fun thing to do with youth, because I know orphanage is more a negative thing in English but in Swedish when a place is fun it can be described as a Barnhus.  I’m actually releasing a lot of stuff under my own sub label Barn-Barn which means grandson in Swedish which is funny because that’s kind of how it is to me and the label.

I’ll definitely be looking out for that. So your breakout tune Purple Drank was a banger, so I had to ask, what is your favourite kind of purple drink?

AB: At the moment I really like ‘Sanalepsi’, which is like Swiss anti-histamin drops. But there’s also another American drink I like, it’s kind of like this powder shit…

*asks his mates in Swedish*

Kool Aid! Yeah we got a lot of Kool Aid going on at the moment.


So finally; as your name is Axel, who is your favourite Axel: the Streets of Rage character, Axel Rose from Guns & Roses or Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop?

AB: What is Streets of Rage?

Like the old Mega-Drive game!

AB: Let me Google it…Oh yeah this game kicks ass!!! I used to love this game. That guy is called Axel?


AB: Well I’d have to say even though he is a woman beating psycho crazy motherfucker Axel Rose is still my favourite. But if I have to choose they are all number one!

So Axel Rose is first, then Axel from Streets of Rage?

AB: Axel Rose first, then Axel Foley from Beverly hills cop then Axel from Streets of Rage because I don’t know him as well.

Thanks Axel, can’t wait for the shows!

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Durban’s DJ Lag headlines our Summer Closing Party for Headset, Sat 13th July

12 July 2019 -

Durban’s DJ Lag stops in Edinburgh for Headset this Saturday, as part of his current tour off the back of his Radio 1 Essential Mix and huge international success.

Check out Crudo Volta Radio‘s documentary video (‘Woza Taxi – Gqom Secret Stash Out Of The Locations‘) below and Sean Harper’s interview for the Ransom Note blog (also copied below) for a much better idea of where this music – called ‘gqom’ – comes from and how it’s grown.


Ransom Note interview by Sean Harper:

To an outsider, South Africa’s music sphere appears volatile and unpredictable. The cultural hangover that the apartheid left in its wake rendered individual scenes divisive at best, and insular at worst. As such, it’s fascinating to hear DJ Lag imply that gqom, the hybrid strain of South African house that he played a singular role in proliferating, had to break out internationally before receiving even a modicum of attention in South Africa outside his home city of Durban, where he and a band of peers laid its foundations.

“For me, it really helped because when the international crowd started taking note of the sound, gqom became a big thing in South Africa as well. People who didn’t know about gqom in South Africa got word of it because of the international exposure, and they started searching for it, trying to get the music, and it became a big thing in the past two years”, he explains.

It’s been a couple of years since gqom first made the headlines. In 2015 its international hype compounded tenfold, as tastemaker and Hyperdub mastermind Kode 9 had begun to incorporate the sound into his sets after an introduction by South African-born Hyperdub signee OKZharp. This push thrust gqom into what relative limelight these pockets of electronic music can offer, and the genre caught the attention of Moleskin, who operates Goon Club Allstars; the London label responsible for Lag’s first release proper. He has previously spoken humbly of his disbelief that a label from outside Durban would even hear his work, let alone release it.

And yet, occupying a void between raw and refined and provoking a more bodily response with each new track, Lag’s brand of gqom has  since catapulted him to notoriety on the international circuit. It’s been around two years since gqom broke out, and I’m intrigued as to how it’s international communities of avid fans have influenced its communicative effects back home. He simply states:

“When people from South Africa found out that a South African genre was being played a lot internationally, that’s when they woke up and started taking notice of it.”

This statement speaks to a wider, deeper paradox that seems to plague contemporary musical styles with their roots in South Africa. In a recent conversation I had with DJ Okapi, he spoke of the strange reticence South African music fans have towards music that originates from their home. Perhaps an amalgamation of nuanced sociopolitical reasons is to blame, and yet the same story is told of each widely adored South African export: they must prove their worth internationally before finding their footing in their country of origin.

However, thanks to the tireless graft of DJ Lag and his contemporaries Rudeboyz, Emo Kid, Dominowe and countless others, gqom’s reputation the world over has resulted in its eventual embrace by their home country. Now, “for sure, gqom is getting bigger and bigger. The sound is taking over South Africa. Every club and every radio station – they play gqom” Lag discloses proudly.

The vocal strain of the genre has proven particularly popular, with records by Distruction Boyz and Babes Wodumo enjoying enormous success. The former’s 2017 debut album Gqom Is The Future was even awarded gold certification by the Recording Industry of South Africa as recognition for it having sold over 20,000 copies.

Lag says “there were vocalist growing up alongside Gqom producers, and as we grew, so do they, but I honestly feel like Babes Wodumo brought gqom to the mainstream with ‘Wololo’”. Taking in the trademark gut-wrenching gqom grooves that Lag employs and icing them with impossibly catchy hooks, ‘Wololo’ is a deserving breakout. And yet, once again, this is a success story marred by controversy. I am noticing a macabre pattern emerging. As she released follow-up single ‘Mercedes’, Wodumo instantly found herself the subject of a tabloid with-hunt “The lyrics on the tracks were open to interpretation, and a lot of people thought they had bad meanings, like referencing drugs” Lag explains, which led to the track being banned from the airwaves by the SABC.

In spite of these setbacks, Lag is perfectly optimistic about gqom’s future, and charmingly humble. He’s also refreshingly grounded in comarison to the lavish imagery of the gold-certified producer-vocalists Distruction Boyz. “I can say for myself that I will continue touring the world, pushing the sound abroad. I want to make it recognizable to everyone in the world. I’m dropping my next EP in April under London based label Goon Club Allstars. And of course, continuing my worldwide tour, visiting new countries and revisiting others.”

It’s not all he’s got on the horizon. As he continues his world tour, he has the following to look forward to: “The international crowd is completely different to Durban crowd and how they react to GQOM music is a bit different. In Durban when GQOM is playing, we’ve got a unique way of dancing which is called ‘bang’, whereas all over the world they just go crazy with no specific style.”

The frenzy of the international dancer is hardly surprising. To have led the way on a vital genre borne of a DIY movement at the age of 21 is enough to incite envy and awe in equal measure.

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Hotly-tipped international artists Lena Willikens and Violet make their Bongo debuts together at Lionoil, Fri 30th March (5am licence!)

28 March 2018 -

Back in the day, techno was such a boy’s club.  You could count the ladies on the international stage on one hand.  At one point, way back in the Nineties, there was just Eindhoven’s Miss Djaxx (owner of the mighty Djaxx-Up-Beats label).  Then Grenoble’s Miss Kittin and Zywiec/Detroit’s Magda appeared in the late Nineties (plus doubtless one or two others, now forgotten).  With pioneering auteurs such as Wendy Carlos (A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Tron etc), Delia Derbyshire (BBC Radiophonic Workshop) and Cosey Fanni Tutti (Throbbing Gristle/Chris & Cosey) having done so much for electronic music in its early years, why should it just be the preserve of the men? 

Attitudes have changed a fair bit of late and it’s more than a little bit refreshing to see so many women forging an international following as techno artists in 2018.  Lena Willikens and Violet (aka Ines Countinho) are two such women and we’re proud to be hosting them, thanks to ace party-starters Lionoil.  Each comes with no shortage of props and with good reason…


Willikens is a resident at Düsseldorf institution Salon des Amateurs, nearby her hometown, Cologne. She’s released on Cómeme, and as a firm member of the tribe she presents a monthly radio show ‘Sentimental Flashback’, which is class and very highly regarded. A packed diary with appearances at Panorama Bar, Berghain, Corsica, Concrete and Dekmantel alongside her long running residency tells you all you need to know about her prowess as a selector.

Violet is a relative newcomer to the international circuit, but with an equally expansive portfolio. Founder of Rádio Quântica in her hometown, Lisbon, she started the naive label last year and made a very strong impression at Berlin Atonal festival last year (recording below, so so dope). There is a strong political dimension to Ines’ work; organising a series of all-female techno releases for International Womens Day, which began with her 2014 cover of Detroit classic ‘Transition’ by Underground Resistance, which attracted much praise from the dance music community and UR themselves. 

This interview Willikens gave to Alasdair King for The Ransom Note is fairly revealing:

The sky is an unpleasant shade of ominous grey as I walk amidst the hustle and bustle of Kingsland Road. It’s a moody Friday afternoon in East London and there is a stark chill in the air, summer seems far away. That evening Lena Willikens would play all night long alongside her old friend Valdimir Ivkovic at a warehouse space on the shadowy outskirts of town, the flickering lights of the city but a distant glimmer against the deep black of night. 

I meet the pair at Gillet Square around rush hour and am greeted with polite smiles and handshakes, both Lena and Vladimir have been on the road for quite some time, there’s no exit route in sight. As disc jockeys and artists affiliated with electronic music they seem far removed from the stereotypical intricacies many whom spend their nights beneath the glow of lights often portray. There is a humble honesty to the way in which they speak and present themselves, this was not “the dream” but a reality based upon an array of spectacular circumstances and events which helped shape a career. 

It is hard not to reference Düsseldorf at this point. 

Salon des Amateurs remains a sparkling example of an institution which has helped define a narrative within a particular niche of music. It is more than simply a club but a state of mind and the perfect representation of in which music meets environment. There isn’t a stereotypical sound but a sense of understanding as to the history which exists behind each of the founders and to whom the environment is curated for. Both Lena and Vladimir have held long residencies at the club in recent years, honing their craft and expanding their breadth of knowledge along the way. 

Lena talks about the early days of the club. 

“In the beginning Salon was not supposed to be a club at all, it was just a place to meet, hang and listen to music. During the first few years it attracted a lot of people who couldn’t really name what it was, they didn’t understand what was happening there. There were huge queues on a Saturday night and we would run a really strict door. People played free jazz records at ‘peak time’ and there wasn’t even supposed to be a ‘peak time’. All of a sudden so many people started coming and were interested in dancing to weird shit and this led to the first regular party every weekend. I wasn’t djing back then but Vladimir was, for me it was just really welcoming and about sharing new music that we discovered. It wasn’t about DJ egos.”

The club acted as a gateway and helped form the basis of an ideology which many of those associated with Salon des Amateurs have since adopted. Just as the parties were free natured and unconfined so must be the belief system behind the people playing the records. In fact, even the notion of a “DJ” in a formal context remains up for debate when referencing the musical trajectory and style of Lena Willikens. 

“For me it (the club) was super important. Without it I might never have started dj’ing and running my own nights. There wouldn’t be this belief in sharing music. It’s never been about ‘dj skills’, that was never the focus, just the music. Logically becoming a ‘dj’ was never something I intended and I still have a hard time identifying myself with the profession. However, sometimes it really amuses me. I enjoy reading the faces after telling people ‘i’m a ‘dj” and guessing the stereotypical images in their heads…”

Whilst the club acted as an entry point for Lena there have been several chance encounters which have helped her navigate through the collision course that is modern day electronic music. Cómeme, the imprint run by Matias Aguayo aided in the output of her first EP back in 2015 whilst her long standing radio show “Sentimental Flashback” was also hosted on the label’s illustrious radio station for a number of years. However, these opportunities were not sought but granted, an ethos which Lena has applied to the way in which she lives her life day by day. She smiles with genuine honesty as she reflects on her aspirations, or not, as they may be. 

“All my life I’ve refused to think about ‘becoming something’. Having a profession has always felt weird and wrong. I try to stay an amateur and don’t let too much routine into the game. I try to avoid repeating myself too much, in order not to bore myself. I’m not someone who looks back much and I’ve never enjoyed picturing the future.” 

There is very much a priority placed upon the present, throughout our conversation this becomes clear and apparent in regard to a variety of circumstances and life choices, not just musically but across the board… When asked about the nature of stereotypes and her somewhat abstract take on the world of dance music she laughs and relays the manifesto. It’s admirable to say the least. 

“It’s neither a choice nor an accident. It´s a consequence of what I’ve done in my life so far, and which people I’ve met. I was lucky to meet a bunch of wonderful open minded people at Salon des Amateurs and in the Cómeme crew, all are dedicated to music and willing to share. Stereotypes are boring and for me it’s more of an instinct to avoid them in order to keep me going. Not only in music but in life in general.” 

Little is certain and self reflection has the potential to bore and tire. Why look back? This brings us to the conclusion of our conversation, a refreshing insight into the nature of the mindful experience behind the booth which is often forgotten. Having reconciled the nature of musical discovery and the importance of a humble presentation Lena places emphasis on how best to proceed in an era in which analysis and saturated opinions far too often have the last word. If you weren’t there then what do you know? 

“I really enjoy creating special moments together with people who are willing to go on a journey with me. It’s over when the lights turn on and these moments become something else in your memory – but cannot be reproduced. It’s not creative detachment, I think it’s actually the opposite. In order to create something in the moment, which I can identify with, I have to be emotionally connected with the music and the crowd. Listening back to a live recording is frustrating because too much information is missing and sometimes I just can´t recreate the feeling of the night in my head. It tries to capture something which cannot be captured. From the temperature of the room to the smell, the mood of the crowd, the atmosphere behind the bar, and so on… It’s not just the DJ and their music that’s involved in creating something that’s special, or something that’s not.” 

And this interview with Violet (courtesy of laccroix.com) is equally enlightening:

Almost ten years ago, when Myspace was the best option to listen and discover new talent that was only at a distance of a mouse click, A.M.O.R., two female rappers from Lisbon (Violet and Honey), catch my attention with intelligent lyrics, really peculiar flow and beats that blended Hip Hop, Grime, Dubstep and blinking the eye to other musical hybrids. I never stop following them since then and what a better moment to ask Violet (Inês Coutinho) for an interview if not right now, following her recent collaboration with Versace for SS16 Haute Couture show?

Lacroixx: I will begin by saying that I still proudly keep your first mixtape, the CD-R “Cor-de-Rosa” from A.M.O.R., a captivating work since the beginning which let us with powerful tracks like “Game Over” or “Abecedário”. How did the group start to take form with your “partner in crime” Honey?

Violet: Aw, thank you – means a lot to know you got it at the time. It all began almost 10 years ago in Lisbon. It literally started on a specific day – 5th October 2006. It was a holiday and we had nothing to do – Maria (Honey) is my cousin and we would hang out a lot. We both loved hip hop, especially Portuguese hip hop, and we both had a vein for creating so we thought we’d write a lyric over a Sam The Kid beat off of his “Beats Vol.1 – Amor” album. We recorded it on my laptop, uploaded it to MySpace and from then on we just kept them coming.

A.M.O.R released in 2013 the excellent début album “∞” where Rap merges with instrumentals that go beyond Hip Hop. Can we expect the same irreverence in future works from A.M.O.R.?

Yes, I think that will always be inevitable for us. We relate to a vibe, not a genre – and it’s definitely a futuristic yet super emotional thing that we aim for. I feel like in the end, it is hip hop to be fair – just not a revival type of hip hop. We’ll definitely keep that edge in any music we put out in the future – we really can’t help it!

You were initially working with talented producers and beatmakers inside your group of friends like DJ Núcleo till you start producing your own music. How did Violet moniker and solo work start to take form?

Our first beat was by DJ Núcleo (Abecedário) and then we got some stuff from Photonz for “Game Over” and we fucking loved it. For the album we worked with PhotonzShcuroNiagaraand Chainless, some of our favourite Lisbon producers. I did produce ‘Reality Check’ for A.M.O.R. around 2007 but didn’t pursue production very seriously until 2010 when I started playing around with Ableton more often. By 2011 I had some interesting material but no finished tracks yet, and it wasn’t until early the next year that I wrapped my head around finishing tracks (it’s a right mission for me) – the first track I finished was ‘Palmas’. I put it up on Soundcloud and it got signed straight away by Nazar from Wicked Bass, and that was a real push for me to finish more tracks as I had to come up with an EP for the label – and so I did. By July my 1st solo release ‘Collective Data’ was out.

I bought that EP, “Collective Data”. “Palmas” never left my Dj sets, was such a blow of fresh air when I first heard it. These steps in music production lead you to being selected for RBMA Barcelona. Did you feel that experience was influential in your career after 2008?

My time at the RBMA was amazing and certainly helped me shape the way I look at my ‘career’ (really don’t like this word ahah). The lectures with idols like Gary Bartz, Front 242 or Goldie inspired me to do my best and work on my dreams, while my co-participants were amazing humans that inspired me to really dig deep in my soul to reach for that creative, original drive… My artistry really. They were all so talented, phew. I came back really energised (no pun intended) and bursting with ideas and plans.

One of the things I truly admire in your work is the chameleonic way how you express with the same intensity the creation of explicit music for the dancefloor, other times more chill or even song writing where you also sing or rap. Do you have a preference when creating or it can result in a surprise at any time.

I guess like all humans I experience quite a wide palette of emotions daily. I tend to listen quite closely to them but I’m not great at ritualising my emotions: I’m not the kind of romantic who will buy flowers and chocolates or call my friends just because, but I’m the go-to person to talk about anything for hours on end when my loved ones need me. I love big hugs and real human contact, and I often find myself having a very meaningful conversation with someone at a café, over the phone or even at a big rave. I feel like this kind of non-conventional emotional intensity really bleeds into my music, too. If I were to be honest about my experiences when expressing myself through sound, I would 100% have to reflect this, and that’s what I do. I also think that the intensity you mention comes from the fact that I love so many types of music with so much passion. I’m a sucker for a Chicago acid banger as much as atmospheric, melodic stuff or a great pop song, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable limiting myself artistically so I think anything could come out.

Your cover of Underground Resistance’s “Transition” inspired all the team of Donatella Versace and the fashion designer herself which created an “empowering” collection for women that helped introduce a new concept, the “Athletic Couture” Spring/Summer 2016. What was your idea when you first started to develop your version of Undergrond Resistance which has magnificent voices from different female collaborators.

For “Transition”, the idea was to celebrate International Women’s Day by re-working a classic I absolutely love. I felt like it would be great to get together with a group of girls and write that amazing piece of history again, from a female perspective. It’s a track that influenced us all so it really made sense. I did my version of the beat and Nancy Wang88NightwaveMamacita and Coco Solid added their beautiful vocals. It wasn’t until 6 months later that Simon, the music consultant for Versace, got in touch to use the acapella for the Prêt-à-Porter SS16 show. It was a mind-blowing experience to watch the actual show streaming live – my boyfriend and I, eating toast in our kitchen in London, jaws dropped.

From the initial solicitation to use your cover of Underground Resistance till the invitation to create the entire 15 min of Donatella’s parade, it was a very small step that resulted in the soundtrack “Body/Soul 2.0”. How did all the process happen and how has been the feedback?

After the Prêt-à-Porter SS16, Versace got in touch to ask for an original piece for their SS16 Haute Couture show. That happened early this year. I locked myself in my bedroom-studio and came up with a set that merges some of my favourite tracks I’ve produced alongside an ace remix Ursa’s Reef (a.k.a. Photonz, my boyfriend) did for my track Miami. I wrote additional percussion and tweaked the tracks for hours on end, wrote lyrics with the Athletic couture in mind – Ms. Donatella Versace sent me a few pointers on the vibe of the collection and what emotions she wanted to convey. Such an amazing woman to work with. Simon, Versace’s music consultant and Photonz were both instrumental in the process, helping me through my nervous breakdowns and  pointing me towards the best decisions be it length-wise or arrangement-wise (the show timings are very precise). My boyfriend mastered the track and we both got on the Eurostar to see the show live in Paris – it was an unforgettable experience. The people at Versace were super gracious and down-to-earth while very inspiring and professional, and they really adored the piece which was a great feeling. I got very nice feedback from lots of places, from instagram to facebook, media and real life. It was very humbling to get so much love from it.

Together with Photonz (Marco Rodrigues), your boyfriend, both have been collaborating in different fields of music such the creation of D55 label or the most recent Rádio Quântica, which delivers radio programming with focus on Portuguese artists. It seems to me it works also to stir people’s minds, not only the radio heads but the listeners themselves. Do you think there is a lot to do to provide a voice to Portuguese talent?

Marco (Photonz) and I work very well together. We really thrive on bouncing ideas and making things happen – trying to illustrate our common dreams in this reality is something we have a penchant for. We both felt, when we started Quântica last year, that Portugal’s most exciting talent had little to no representation in the radio medium. We felt the same about the political and philosophical ideas we believe in: they seemed to have no place in radio (or any conventional media). With the radio station we aim to make that music, that art, those ideas more accessible to everyone: kind of a cultural fast-forward, as Marco brilliantly puts it. There is still a lot that can be done to make the local artistic playground a fairer one, and we’ll be sure to keep contributing towards that goal.

You live for some years now in London, was the search for new musical challenges that made you leave Portugal?

We moved to London because we see living abroad as a very enriching experience on so many levels. The artistic level is one of them, and it’s a city that can really push you to be more assertive and productive with your passions. On the other hand, it’s a place where the possibility of being a freelance DJ is very real, as there are so many venues and opportunities, and flying to other European countries is so accessible from there.

Picking up the two main subjects of this interview, the women and the Portuguese music scene, can you leave us five names of Portuguese female artists to discover?

EDND, she is half on Roundhouse Kick, one of One Eyed Jacks’ (the label Photonz founded and my primary music home) mainstays. Her music is both beautiful and honest – I don’t think I can recall anyone who can convey their emotion so clearly in their music.

EMAUZ, she crafts a really interesting and vibey blend of acid and techno, but there’s also a very soft and soothing vibration to it.

mariavapordagua, is half of A.M.O.R. but she also makes her own beats. The first one will be released on the new Labareda compilation and features really fresh and original drum patterns and a super tight bass.

Caroline Lethô, a young producer who is really inventive and passionate. Her productions can be quite nocturnal yet energetic, great stuff.

Sonja is a DJ who plays regularly in Lisbon and blends a deep and vibey combination of genres in a variety of atmospheres with real style. She’s also putting out an all-girl compilation on her label Labareda, where you can finds lots more Portuguese girls who are making music.





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