Here’s a transcript of a great interview by DJ Marfox during the Optimus Alive Festival he played at in Portugal on stage sponsored by RBMA and Ginga Beat Radio.
It provides a fascinating insight into Marfox’s life as a producer having begun 10 years ago when he was only 15 years of age. It also provides a brief insight into the Kuduro and Tarraxinha scene in Portugal and how it developed there and what happened to some of the earlier producers.
DJ Marfox: from the neighbourhood to the Optimus Alive Festival.
For DJ Marfox, Marlon Silva, 25, kuduro “is life.” It is “joy”, is dance. And it has a social power, as told on the phone at P3. Marfox, one of the newest names of Enchufada, where he edited the EP “Subliminal” in February, began producing at 13, 14 years. “I was obliged ” he says. In 2006, got some exposure with the collective “DJs Ghetto”, kuduro, pure and simple, which Princípe Discos reissued this year in digital format. With the EP “I Know Who I Am”, Marfox inaugurated the collection of the publisher, who has managed to change the lives of many people – the ones that make music and those that hear the now mythical nights in Princípe Discos residency at downtown Club MusicBox in Lisbon. Accompanied by MC Osvaldo, Marfox passes by Bandstand Optimus Alive on 13 July at 2:30 a.m.. Promise to “25 minutes of gym seriously,” the “Kuduro´s machine “.
How did you start making music?
My father always put music at home. Was an immigrant from Sao Tome and Principe, but we heard all kinds of music. He was a radio fan. The songs passed and he’d buy the albums. Hence began the passion for music. Then I met a cousin who moved in closer that was DJ. Whenever there were baptisms, marriages, he was the DJ of the party and, as the best equipment in the neighborhood [in Portela] was from my father, he took it. I was always beside him trying to figure out how it was done. However with 13, 14 years I had to be a producer.
Were you forced?
I attended at many African music clubs and felt a little lonely. I saw there was Angolan DJ´s that had reputation here in Portugal. I thought, ” when you have 18, 19 years will you be in that DJ booth?” They make instrumental kuduro, they make made beats. So, there was a huge advantage among those who produced and reproduced. I started doing research, installed Fruity Loops, my first track took a day. And i did nothing. 24 hours without sleep! However, I was friends with one of those DJ who played in African discos [DJ Nervoso]. Our neighborhoods were close. I was 14 or 15 years, was very stubborn. Went every day to his house, stood beside him at parties. He started letting me play. I opened the party and so that was making me DJ. As a DJ, enjoyed the tips and it worked at home. Then I started to create my own base itself also to not be in his shadow. Later, there came the collective DJs Ghetto, with DJ Nervoso, DJ Nk, which was more producer, the two big names of the scene. The DJ Pausas and DJ Fofuxo. We got everybody. Were six to make music. This was in 2006. [The Prince Discos reissued in February the first compilation]. Had a big boom in the underground.
Do you miss the days of DJs Ghetto?
There are people who see me in the street and say, “You are now just electronic music”. No, I just took a song that was confined to a space in the neighborhoods where maybe no one pay to see me. Now, I have an experience in Lisbon, where people pay to hear my music. The people have not realized the “power” that music has. She was confined to a space and now is dilated. It is small mentality, neighborhood mentality. When things go a step forward, people are scared of change. People who have traveled, now accept more. The message is being well spent. Like : “The Marfox left the neighborhood for Alive Festival .” Maybe this is the way that many DJ should follow.
What role does the Principe Discos had in this transformation?
The Princcípe Discos is doing this work. There are kids 20, 22, who want to work, are no longer in the age of illusion, they want to have children and family. They make a hell of a music and how they see that no one will pay for that began to put creativity aside and thus loses a awesome artist. The Principe Discos has accompanied these artists, have been the second father and second mother. What I want to do is what Principe Discos did to me. Show it to the people. Every day I receive requests on Soundcloud for musicians who want to go to a Principe Discos night. They abolished with myths: that the people of suburbs are this or that.
Feeling an ambassador?
I do not say 100% ambassador, but I feel good to show this sounds to people. I have not had that opportunity. For me it was very difficult to make this passage, was slow. The Principe Discos was still born. I do not say that I feel as ambassador, but I feel like the guy who balances things. I tell young Djs : one day you will travel, will walk alone. And that’s what makes me happy. Taking people from the neighborhood who maybe were doomed. I do not know if I feel like a savior, but want to show their music to the world. There is one thing that is amazing. The Principe Discos works with artists from all districts of the Sintra line, the south bank of the most problematic at least. We are working with neighborhoods that were enemies. The music is connecting people, people who were barely speaking.
Have you called the leader of a new generation following a path opened by Buraka Som Sistema. Identify yourself with that?
I started making music same time as Buraka: DJs Ghetto is 2006. I threw myself in the underground, they threw themselves into the mainstream. I, at the time, had no contacts. Maybe today the Principe Discos night at downtown club residency would not exist if Buraka didn’t educate the people. No longer see kuduro music as black, ghetto sound. The kuduro has a frantic mother and Buraka said they were the father. I have to give this value. I do kuduro beats, I have my style, they have their style. I’m not a king, I am an artist who makes kuduro long ago in a regular frequency . Marfox has existed for many years, not now. The kuduro I do is more European, not use voices. Use more congas, blunt. It has more to do with dance. Marfox comes from that, to create something that no one has created, so that you can dance freely. My kuduro not respect a standard dance. What I did was create a kuduro who could be danced like everyone want.
I suppose the worst thing that can happen is you people are stopped at a concert …
I think this … is impossible (laughs). It happened to me that people are shy. Once, at Lx Factory, started playing and people were standing. Five minutes ok. Ten minutes ok. Fifteen go. Twenty is no longer acceptable. I did not realize what was going on and my set was two hours. Suddenly, the crowd just loosen up and went like that to the end of the night. Then when I came home, my cousin told me that the public took a shock. People were still assimilating it, were absorbing.
You’ll act with MC Osvaldo at Optimus Alive. How will be the performance?
I hope people like it. The MC Osvaldo has a group, the Pupilos do Kuduro. Were on the anniversary of the Principe Discos , since we were out together for festivals. It will make animation and dance. People go down with it. Will spend 25 minutes of gym seriously, seeing the Kuduro´s machine working. The important thing is to show my work and make the family grow. It’s the first time I go to Alive. I get out of a neighborhood and go to Alive Festival. Has this social role. They tell me: “Fire, going to the Optimus Alive!” I answer: “Tomorrow is my first time, but the goal is next time you will go with me or just be there with me .”
Text by Amanda Ribeiro (http://p3.publico.pt/ )
Translation by Filipe Ribeiro
To cap it all off, Marfox has given us an exclusive free Kuduro track with an Indian inflection to share with you!! It’s amazing. I know Znobia has experimented both with Indian and Arabic music in his Kuduro and Tarraxinha productions but I can’t remember hearing anybody else do it until now.