Rádio Quântica's Inês Coutinho and Marco Rodrigues highlight some of the essential artists from the Portuguese capital.
"Creatively, there's a boom right now," Rodrigues says. "There are all of these new artists and labels, and small, charming venues where you can do interesting things."
Radio Quântica is their response to the global network of grassroots broadcasters like Berlin Community Radio, London's Radar Radio and NTS, or The Lot Radio in New York. They launched the station in 2013 while living in South London, then in 2016 moved the operation back home. They've since found themselves at the center of an electronic music scene that's not only bigger but more diverse than ever before. "There's the Príncipe sound," Rodrigues says, referring to the Afro-Portuguese club music that encompasses styles like kuduro, batida and tarraxo. "But there's also lots of experimental acts, plus all kinds of weird electro and acid. There are more women, LGBT parties and non-white people who are involved in the scene too, so it's really just richer and more interesting in every sense."
With a budget of basically zero and a studio run out of a spare room at their friends' theater company, one of them has to be on hand at all times to train and supervise broadcasters. "So we just started meeting all of these people," Coutinho tells me. "That's basically why we moved back. And it really is a grassroots network, because the hosts will often bring other amazing people with them into the studio." They don't just invite record collectors and club DJs to the station—the programming also includes political talk shows, live jam sessions and "pure banter," Rodrigues says. Meanwhile, they supplement the radio with club nights at Lux Frágil , the world-class nightclub that occupied a spot in RA's In Residence series, and the more intimate Lounge, where they have a residency.
Many of us have seen the headlines referring to Lisbon as "the next Berlin," or "Europe's hot new art capital" (or some other lazy generalization intended to seduce ex-pats). But we don't often hear about the local artists who have helped build this lively and dynamic scene. We asked Coutinho and Rodrigues to tell us some of the Lisbon DJs and producers who stand out in their mind. Their picks run a wide gamut, from Roundhouse Kick, two synth obsessives who make live acid house ("they make those synthesizers sing," Coutinho says) to Odete, a brand new DJ on the scene, known for mixing "YouTube recordings of plane crashes" with R&B and noise. What's immediately striking about their selection is the robust back-and-forth that exists between the city's club scene and its more experimental noise and improv circles.
This young producer is a prolific explorer of African-inspired genres like kizomba, tarracho, kuduro and Afrobeat, bringing his own sparse percussion and enticing melodies to the format. As a DJ he's just as exciting, moving between all of these styles with an intensity that makes him impossible to resist.
Soft synth maestra BLEID is involved in a few different projects. She organizes Lisbon's queer techno party mina, she's a regular at Príncipe club nights, and she performs an insanely creative live act. She's all about beautiful textures, off-kilter drum patterns and mind-blowing moments of sonic pressure.
Afonso Simões is another key player in the scene. He plays drums and synthesizers with the psychedelic group Gala Drop. He also DJs and produces under the monikers Crazyman and Stasera. His latest release on Tiago's Interzona13, which is included here, exemplifies his relaxed, melodic approach to house music.
Odete is a young performer, writer, visual artist and DJ who uses her own life—particularly her experience as a trans woman—as inspiration for her creative outlet. Her jaw-dropping DJ sets draw out the ties between different points in queer music history using vogue claps, punk screams and diva vocals.
Hardly a new name in Lisbon's scene of Afro-Portuguese club music, but one who stands out for his versatility and risk-taking. Stylistically, he spans from technoid batida bangers to radioactive tarraxinhas and freeform, experimental ambient tracks. Each new release commands you to pay attention.
Tiago Sousa is a composer and pianist from the Lisbon suburbs who has released some of the most vital records in minimalist music and does inebriating live solo piano performances. He's not quite dance music, but we made him our wildcard pick just because of his extreme talent.
As one of the youngest composers and DJs on the vanguard of Lisbon's dance music scene, Caroline represents a voice that urgently needs to be heard. Among her spiral of sonic references, melody and textural depth are the focal points that guide you through a freewheeling (but skillfully driven) musical journey.
Igor Inácio and Adriana Lourinho are cult figures in Portuguese house and techno. These two hardware obsessives, and masters of the live act, have created some of our scene's classics over the course of the last decade.
A real sonic sculptress with a penchant for hardware synths and FX units, Jejuno creates striking pieces and performs a beautifully rich live set with her machines. She performed at this year's OUT.FEST in Barreiro, which is south of Lisbon and is probably our best experimental music festival.
From punishing acid to deranged experimental music, André Faustino and Rubina Góis are deeply respected in the Lisbon underground for their risk-taking, no-frills attitude and total commitment to improvisation.
João Ervedosa, who runs the Paraíso label and radio show, is an archivist who's helped piece together the history of Lisbon's first wave of dance music. He's more than just a vital DJ and producer—he's a connective force between our original boom in the '90s and what's happening in the scene now.
Sónia Câmara is a celebrated DJ and founder of the label Labareda, an archive of vital experimental and dance music. She's also an important advocate in the fight for balanced gender representation in lineups, and an instigator of discussion about women's voices in club culture.
Founder of the Warface crew, Nuno Costa has in the last few years become one of the most ubiquitous names in Portugal's techno circuit, opening up for a number of the genre's biggest names in almost all of the country's best clubs. He was recently picked up by US techno legend Damon Wild for his Synewave imprint.
Renowned for their live set, plus releases on W.T. Records, Clone and Argot, Sabre is the dance music arm of two of Lisbon's most inventive experimental artists—Bruno Silva, AKA Ondness, and Carlos Nascimento, AKA Robert Foster.
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