Portugal’s festival scene is booming.
With BPM Festival, Lisboa Electronica and Waking Life all taking place across the country, there is a brand new edition that finally brings an underground festival to one of Portugal’s key locations – Porto.
RPMM is a brand new festival that will offer a surrealist underground experience, in magical inner city Porto, on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 July.
Porto is one of the oldest European centres, and its historical core has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. For RPMM, it will become an adult playground, with many venues around the city hosting day and night parties. There will also be the opportunity to party on the Douro River which snakes through the city.
The brainchild of an experienced team of promoters and a world-class creative director, the festival will bring together international names from the worlds of house and techno, while shining a light on the thriving Porto scene. The long-term aim is to give a platform not only to international artists, but also local talent. They will be nurtured throughout the year with a series of pre and post-festival events and eventually play on the road, around Europe, with the RPMM brand. The main venue for RPMM is the stunningly beautiful and historic listed building Alfandega – a multi-functional space that is located in the historic city centre, next to the Douro River.
Ahead of the festival’s debut, Trommel sat down with Violet to talk about her experience within the Portuguese dance music scene and to look ahead to RPMM.
How did you first get into dance music in Portugal, and where? What labels, DJs and parties made you fall in love?
I followed – from my bedroom – the first wave of house and techno in Portugal, in the early 90s, when DJs and acts like Underground Sound Of Lisbon, Luís Leite, OLN, Kult of Krameria and labels like Kaos were huge here. There were a ton of raves around the country in spectacular settings (castles, monasteries, old train stations, you name it), and there were iconic clubs in Lisbon like Kremlin and Alcantara-Mar – this last one released the self-titled compilations that probably shaped me the most, tapping into a moody yet naive, raw and tribal sound that I love to this day.
Tell us about Mina – how important is it that there are queer feminist sex-positive parties like this in the scene?
In my opinion, it’s vital that more and more projects like this happen – because what we’re doing is we’re creating a space of expression and safety for communities that have been historically oppressed albeit being the most active ones in creating culture (namely dance culture), and that is not only profoundly unfair but ethically plain wrong. What happens in spaces like these is really beautiful and communal and feels like a breath of fresh air that will help everyone pull through hard days of facing homophobia, transphobia, racism, ageism and sexism – while hopefully thinking and talking about a new equality paradigm.
There is a surprisingly large chunk of young people in Portugal that, even if they’re embedded in the cultural scene, are quite apolitical (we’ve been less than 50 years out of a dictatorship, which might help explain it) and running events and platforms with a queer feminist sex-positive philosophy helps transpire an emancipatory agenda that is urgent to start really implementing for good in the country’s mental landscape.
What are the crowds like in Portugal? Do they differ from the rest of Europe, do they have certain likes and dislikes?
It really depends on the venue and event, I’ve encountered quite generous, curious, ecstatic crowds and well as more blasé or shy ones. I do wish people danced more! There is a bit of reluctance/timidness in going hard on the dance floor compared to say Berlin or even Paris and London, for example.
Do you think being from Portugal lends your own music a certain style or sound? Do Portuguese artists tend towards something specific like Berlin has minimal, Detroit has techno etc?
I’m not entirely sure. Like I said I’ve certainly been influenced by the Portuguese dance sound of the 90s, but they; in turn, were influenced by Chicago, NYC, Detroit and London. In the past decade, new generation names like Roundhouse Kick, Photonz, Pal +, Nigga Fox or Lake Haze deeply influenced my sound too; but they would also cite The Hague or Luanda or Berlin as influences so – I guess if anything, this says that Lisbon is a bit of a sponge absorbing input from all over the world.
You play RPMM Festival soon – how important is this new addition to the Porto scene?
I’m not sure if there was already a dance music festival in the city of Porto – I could be wrong but I can’t think of one before. I love the city, it’s charming and has a strong character that I’m kinda fascinated by. I think a really well organised, world-class festival like RPMM promises; is a brilliant thing that could really change the city for the better.
Portugal’s festival scene is growing. What are your views on Portugal’s festival scene?
There are a good few major music festivals with brand sponsorships and huge names, while the more electronic/experimental ones are smaller hence in my opinion more interesting and agreeable to attend. I do feel like Portuguese people in general love to party outside and around many people (our ‘Santos Populares’ street parties are a great example) – we’re known for our lovely spring/summer weather so I would say it’s easy to make festivals work here.
What will it be like to play at home vs on the road – do you feel you can take more risks and try different things?
I don’t really feel the difference in my tendency for risk-taking from country to country, more from party to party/venue to venue. I’m been lucky enough to very often be booked in places that resonate with me not only musically but humanly and philosophically – I feel super at home and therefore compelled to take risks, which is my natural state. Of course, sometimes I get the odd more polished/normal booking, where it’s harder to challenge myself and the crowd – but I still try it!
What should other three things people heading to Portugal try – food, drink and culture wise?
Hmmmm… Foodwise may I recommend ‘Sopa Alentejana’, a lovely brothy soup with lots of garlic and coriander, bread and an egg. It’s as simple as it gets but it’s delicious, which I think it the Portuguese food motto. To Drink… I’d recommend Moscatel – it’s a really sweet and fragrant wine from Península de Setúbal.
Culture-wise, there is so much I could recommend but why not keep it personal and recommend exhibitions, library and performances at Ruasasgaivotas6, a cultural hub run by Teatro Praga where the radio station I help from, Rádio Quântica, broadcasts from.
Violet joins Barac, Ame, Damian Lazarus and much more at the first edition of RPMM Festival in July. Tickets are available from the website.