Podcast 629: Photonz
Acid-tinged electro from Portugal.
Podcast 629: Photonz
Acid-tinged electro from Portugal.
Photonz is the main musical alias of Marco Rodrigues, a Portuguese DJ-producer who has become an important figure in Lisbon’s flourishing electronic music scene. Rodrigues began releasing music in 2006, beginning with Ronin through London label Living Records, and has since put out music on Andy Blake’s Dissident, Príncipe, DJ Haus’ Unknown To The Unknown, and Violet’s Naive, among others. A decade-plus of production culminated in 2019’s Nuit, his first album on Dark Entries and the most pronounced realization of his bold, acid-tinged electro sound.
Rodrigues was championing his Portuguese cohorts long before the scene really blossomed. Before a short stint in London, he set up One Eyed Jacks, where he’s put out music from several of his friends, and alongside Violet, he also co-hosts Radio Quântica, an independent radio station founded in 2015 as a “communal haven” for the fearless experimental acts that surround him. After that came mina, a queer-friendly party harnessing the dissociative potential of intense raving to create a temporary safe space away from cultural expectations.
The growth of these platforms has corresponded with Rodrigues’ swelling reputation as a DJ, recognized for his knack of digging deep to create little pockets of euphoria without following formulas. He recorded his XLR8R podcast earlier this month and based it around two tracks he felt compelled to include: gayphextwin’s “Where Is My Prairie Son” and an Ex-Terrestrial remix of Jeigo’s “Fluerella.” Around these, he’s selected tracks that best represent where he’s at musically, many of them coming from friends, to compile a set of intense acid-fuelled electro and booming techno that’ll have you coming back for more.
What have you been up to recently?
I’ve been enjoying some holidays in the Azores after returning from my first trip to China. These last few months were some of the most exciting times for me in regards to gigs and visiting new places, etc. Magnetic Fields in India, for example, was incredibly special, Australia was also pretty unforgettable, Italy also, and many others.
How was 2019 for you?
2019 was a bit of a rebound year for me after a weird 2018. I managed to make better choices when it comes to the lifestyle that surrounds DJing and touring, etc. Also, Violet’s progressive recovery from her leg injury inevitably brought a growing sense of positivity to things back home.
Release-wise, I dropped music that I’m really proud of, specifically the Angel Heart EP on Naive and my debut album, Nuit, on Dark Entries, which were both hugely meaningful to do in partnership with Inês [Violet] and Josh [Cheon]. The album was also a big deal for the added reason that I’ve been releasing music since 2006 and had never found the right opportunity to put together a whole album before.
Unrelated to music, I’ve developed a rampant book obsession which, however enriching, potentially does take time and space away from the studio. Traveling to Asia, Africa, and Australia for the first time was also a huge highlight for me last year.
If you had to pick three releases that stood out for you in 2019, what would you say?
Coil’s The Gay Man’s Guide To Safer Sex + 2 release on Mental Groove; Anunaku’s Whities 024 on Whities; and Violet’s Bed of Roses album on Dark Entries really opened up some mental avenues for me while also remaining infectious as fuck.
There’s a lot spoken about the Lisbon music scene at the moment. What’s going on there at the moment?
The city sort of imploded over these last two years under the weight of crushing tourist hype. Artistically, we have been surfing this positive wave with cool developments in the underground, such as Príncipe, Rádio Quântica, the growth of a more radical queer rave scene, the noise and experimental scenes, loads of new labels, artists, and collectives. Now we’re at a crossroads where all this progress is jeopardized by a clueless Mayor who gives free rein to Airbnb, tech-bros, and silly tourism, pushing all the fun away to places like Almada and Barreiro. Every place in Lisbon is a “tapas bar” now, whatever that means in the Lisbon context.
Which artists or collectives are impressing you at the moment?
I’m continuously inspired by Portuguese collectives and parties like Suspension, Çirca, Kit Ket, Troublemaker Records, Instrumental Violence, as well as other crews abroad like Room 4 Resistance, Lecken, Mamba Negra, Maricxs. Absolutely loving the music of Bergsonist, Morah, Bill Converse, Odete, Shcuro, gayphextwin, LSDXOXO, Lake Haze, Ilana Bryne. There are too many to mention!
Where are your favorite places to dig for new music?
I love Bandcamp and I also pick a lot of stuff from Beatport and Juno Download, but my absolute favorite is buying CDs from charity shops and second-hand stores. I use Discogs a little bit as well. I like to buy CDs that came with old issues of music production magazines like Future Music because they always have a little demo section and sometimes it’s gold and no one knows those tunes! Other than that, I love going through my promo emails even though it’s a lot of work, but I do a lot of it while reading and drinking tea, so it’s cool.
When and where did you record this mix?
I’ve recorded it at home last week during one of the rare occasions when we have the Radio Quântica DJ setup at home. It was used at a mina party and this was right before setting it up at the station studio again.
How did you go about choosing the tracks that you included?
I had a few super special ones I really wanted to include, like that gayphextwin tune on Naive and the Ex-Terrestrial remix, so I gathered a bunch of those and then built a sort of playlist around them with some old favorites and new stuff I’m excited about playing. The playlist was way too long and didn’t really have a pre-imagined order by that point. Then I hit record and winged it all, improvising it a bit so it would keep a more spontaneous stank, a few nice mistakes, and a non-linear logic.
What’s the concept to the mix?
It wasn’t that conceptual to be honest. I wanted it to express abstract musical truths and spontaneous connections that usually happen when you’re just playing out and in the zone. I made sure all the tunes connect deeply with my sensibility, in a sort of Photonz way, and that they could make sense as a continuous yet varied transference of energy from the beginning until the end. There were a few different BPMs to the tracks so I kinda grouped them roughly according to that.
Where do you imagine it being listened to?
I really enjoy listening to mixes in my headphones while I go for a walk at night or, alternatively, in the nature during the day. I think it would work well for that purpose.
What are your goals for 2020?
Reading a shit-ton of books that I’ve been buying and am really curious about. I also, obviously, want to keep DJing, making music, and traveling, if possible, because it keeps me alive and sane. It would be cool to play more B2Bs with Violet as I feel something special happens when we do. I’m also looking forward to continue contributing to Radio Quântica and the mina parties, in Lisbon, as those things connect me to people I love and have been the reason behind some of of the most special moments and feelings of realization I’ve had in recent years.
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to download the podcast you will need to subscribe to our Select channel. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
01. Robert Dietz “Woke Up Like This” (Dissolute)
02. Cute Heels “Price of Joy” (Photonz Remix) (Dark Entries; unreleased)
03. Louis Marlo “Voice” (Merriware)
04. 2AM/FM “Maiden” (Spectral Sound)
05. Photonz “Final Earth” (Naive)
06. Photonz “Battle Mode” (New York Haunted / Oramics)
07. Claro Intelecto “Two Thousand” (AI Records)
08. 2AM/FM “Motherfuckers Don’t Know” (Spectral Sound)
09. Vytamin “Outer Rim” (TerraFirm)
10. Duran Duran Duran “The Truth Of The Matter” (Tripalium Corp)
11. Logic1000 “Baddie Part Two” (SUMAC)
12. Matt O’Brien “And Through The Other Side” (Off-Key Industries)
13. Jeigo “Fluerella” (Ex-Terrestrial Remix) (air miles)
14. Grienkho “Ritual Dance” (XCPT Music / Time Horizon)
15. Robert Dietz “Shower Party” (Dissolute)
16. gayphextwin “Where Is My Prairie Son” (Naive / Jacktone)
17. Morah “Aphrodite Wants Me To See Her Light Tonight” (brokntoys)
18. Terrence Fixmer “Ton Espoir” (Planete Rouge)
19. Generation Next “Gold Scorpion” (7 Days Entertainment)
20. Quirke “Vatied City” (Whities)
21. Alma Construct – Overlay Reverseint (Power Vacuum)
22. Consulate – In The Throne Room (Art-E-Fax)
23. Dark Comedy “Clavia’s North” (Art Of Dance)
14. Vromm “Stargazing” feat. Om Unit (Cosmic Bridge)