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INTERVIEW: Lisbon Kid

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Very well thanks. We’ve both been very busy as usual especially in the studio and we’re currently doing some independent DJ sets over the next few weeks both together and apart at places like The House of St Barnabas in London and Village Underground in Lisbon and the fabulous Soho FarmHouse at an upcoming (members only) Mayday Festival. We’ll be playing more uptempo music that some people might not usually associate with Lisbon Kid before we go to back to Ibiza again at the end of May to do some more Sunset Sessions around the time of the International Music Summit. We’ve done quite a few of our Sunset Sessions there before at places like Café del Mar, Ibiza Rocks at Pikes Hotel, Café Mambo, Hostal la Torre etc. so people know what to expect…  which is the unexpected. The Sunset Sessions are quite laid back. And typically Balearic. No rules. Not defined. From laid back 70s prog to ambient electronica, from alternative folk to underground downtempo.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “At The End of the Day”?

It’s the first track on the album and will be the last single taken from it. It’s a really mellow opener to the LP. Kinda cinematic with lots of space and ambience and some very carefully put together melodic chord harmony along with a selection delicately placed ‘found sounds’ we recorded on location. It has 2 time signatures 3/4 and 4/4 with the verses in particular having no discernable tempo. It’s a little different to what’s happening out there right now but manages to sound warm and fuzzy and familiar at the same time. It was always the plan to release this as the last single. It opens the album and completes the album at the same time.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

Not a specific event as such but making a large part of the album the way we did it made it inevitable we were gonna respond to that in some way, and also that it would come out in the work that resulted. Being lucky enough to be in a place with uninterrupted and inspirational daily sunsets has definitely shaped the album and this track in particular. Throughout the making of the album, we were very much influenced by the environment around us. Most of the writing was done early evening after some time on the beach.  At The End Of The Day kinda just happened naturally during those sessions.  When we were mixing back in London we wrote ‘Last Weekend’ the track with the monologue about going out in Shoredtich. Again, it’s just the spaces and the environments we were in that were informing the tracks and the album as a whole.

How was the film experience?

Good. We really enjoy making films that accompany our music. That visual aesthetic is very important to us. These days, more than ever, you need to think about having the moving image to accompany and support your music and for it to ultimately become part of your art. We live in an age of rich media and we’re very conscious of that.  Whilst we’re not specialists in film, we’ve done lots of TV ads and film composition and so we’re always conscious of how the two should work together. That’s probably why what we do musically is so cinematic and why we’ve been told it conjures up so many images in listeners’ minds.

The single comes off your new self-titled album – why naming the record after the band?

To be honest, we never found a title that was descriptive enough about what we were doing as a project. The only other title would have been ‘At the End Of The Day’, but we thought it sounded too final, too much like closure… so we opted for the eponymous title after our friend and mentor Martin Kelly from Heavenly Records and now Heavenly Films came up with the name Lisbon Kid for the name of the band.  Then when we came up with our now infamous accompanying logo of two boxes not quite fitting together yet somehow making an interesting and new perspective shape, we knew we had everything we needed. That kinda reflected our nature as people and that our musical backgrounds were so different yet complimented each other so well. In fact, none of the singles have the name of the band on the artwork… only the title of the single. The album is the same. You could say it has the title of the album on it but not the name of the band. Go check out our singles and the album artwork, you’ll see its true. Only the titles of the particular works are used.

How was the recording and writing process?

It was quite natural and easy really. We’ve both been doing this for a while and been lucky enough to have had success individually in similar but different fields. Danny comes from the more alternative and indie world and Rui from the club world so we cover different bases, and we’re very different people. Rui more considered and analytical and Danny more spontaneous and intuitive but it works well. It’s that mix that makes things different and interesting even if they’re sometimes challenging!  We both have overlapping skills and that helps a lot. When we write we tend to have influencing playlists we compile, along with sets of still images that we refer to for both colour and texture. We’re also both avid collectors of interesting instruments and sounds so we have large and unusual pallets to work from.  We also both have nice studios we work in, so that pooling of resources helps the creative process too.

What role does Portugal play on this album?

As we’re both Portuguese and we wrote a lot of the album in Portugal, it’s had a huge role in the record really. Not so much on the sonics as such, but the general laidback feeling of the LP was definitely a reflection of where we were and how we did it. Also, as Portugal is a long coastal country and looks out to what appears to be and endless sea, that does tend to influence you and definitely makes you think of lots of positive possibilities. It helps with the imagination enormously. We’ll be doing more of that again in the not so distant future.

You brought some people in to both remix and collaborate on this record – how did you select the artists and what did they bring to the table?

Well as far as some of the vocalists were concerned, we really saw this as an opportunity to work with some interesting people that we admired but hadn’t had the opportunity to work with before. This seemed like the perfect opportunity. Whilst Danny sings and does most of the topline writing (as he also does for other people), it was good to get a different perspective on things and good to experiment to see what would result from the sessions. Hafdis Huld is an alternative folk artist from Iceland who we’ve always loved. She has a uniquely accented voice. It’s simply lovely, so we already knew what we wanted from her and she really delivered some special performances and she ended up being on 2 tracks on the album. Sarah Cracknell has one of indie pop’s most enduring voices. Although they’d not worked together before, she’s been friends with Danny for a while, so that made the process quite easy and natural. Lisa Billson from The Loose Salute was again a friend that we’d admired for her warm and laid-back Californian tones. As far as the remixers are concerned, again it was a question of working with people we really admired. Justin Robertson is a very eclectic and clever tastemaker with an incredibly broad knowledge and range of influences. He was an easy and inevitable choice to make and he’s a done the lead remix of ‘At The End Of The Day’. A trippy dubbed out affair. Howie B is simply a legend with really demanding tastes in the sonic department, so we were chuffed when we found out he wanted to do a remix of the ‘We Look At The Stars’ single that featured Sarah Cracknell.  Alex Phountzi is a pioneer of the West London broken beat scene who’s a good friend of ours and the same goes for the Manchester Mixmaster Chad Jackson who we’ve known for a long, long time and collaborated with other before on other things including his own records.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are working with someone else than when you are working on your own original material?

The approach is usually the same. We like to set out the objectives and the direction beforehand so that we all know where we’re going and what everyone’s expectations are. When you work with other people there is definitely more of an element of compromise but hopefully if you’ve spent time discussing the aims and ambitions and the influences of what you are doing, then those compromises tend to be smaller and easier to make. It’s important for us as producers to enable people to deliver their best when we work with them, and that means they need to be free to express themselves within those predefined boundaries… but always leaving time within any session for some real experimentation where you can remove any perceived limitations for a while and see what happens.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

You should always write from what you know. From your personal experiences. Mark Twain once said that if you always tell the truth then you never have to remember anything, and he was right. Write about you, about what you feel, write your story. That’s what we do.  As we ‘ve said before, inspiration can come from your immediate environment but it can also come from a movie or a book or a friend. It can come from someone you meet or hear talking on a bus, a plane, a train… but ultimately it comes from you. This album is very much coming from where we were when making it, so yes there are themes of the sun, the sea, the sand, wine, depression but there’s also the subtext to all of this which is to do with a sense of wonder and a kind of melancholic nostalgia that is so prevalent in the Portuguese spirit. It’s simply us.

Any plans to hit the road?

We’ve done quite a few live sets both in London and Lisbon. We have some DJ sets coming up and we’re looking to play some more live sets with some added musicians in a bigger format after we finish the next album. We’re developing a visual show to go with that now, collaborating with some visual artists so that we can give the audience a more interesting live experience. That means there is going to be a lot of technical imperatives that have to be overcome not lest the financial challenges that arise with screens and 3-D projections etc. for the images. We’re still figuring that out but it’s happening and time seems to be flying now in Lisbon Kid so it’s all probably gonna happen sooner that we originally thought.

What else is happening next in Lisbon Kid’s world?

We’re just curating an art exhibition at The Dissenters Gallery in Ladbroke Grove in London W10, where artists have been invited to respond to tracks from the album or the album as a whole. Works include paintings, photography, textile pieces, and video and multimedia installations. There will also be Electronic DJ sets and live performance art throughout the exhibition. There’s a press and preview night on 20th April 2017. At 6.30pm and an ‘Artist’s Happening’ where you can meet the artists with live music and DJ sets and conversation Saturday 23rd April 2017 from 3.00pm until 7.00pm. Artists include Justin Robertson and Sukey Parnell Johnson and Hilary Mance and Ana Pallares Art. It’s turning out to be a lot of work curating all this but it’s been very rewarding and we’ve now got a fabulous exhibition lined up that we’re very proud of. Again, this is to do with making the album a more complete experience as it soundtracks our lives in a more direct and visual way. It’s also lead to more art creative and greater dialogue between people, and that’s a very very good thing. It’s likely that we’ll do the same thing for every album we release from now on at the end of the album’s campaign. Somehow it just seems to complete the circle by creating more works to inspire us all.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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