Podcast 614: Violet
Twisted sonics from Lisbon.
Inês Borges Countinho began making electronic music in her home city of Lisbon around 2006. She took inspiration from Skull Disco, Tempa, and Hyperdub, after witnessing dance music’s moment of peak popularity in the Portuguese capital through the ’90s. Becoming Violet, her alias still today, she first released in 2012, putting out records on One Eyed Jacks and Love On The Rocks, among others, before setting up her own label, Naive, where she debuted with Togetherness. The 2017 release resonated widely, using the sound of familiar breaks and twisting them into new contexts with dub-inspired bass, brass flourishes, and dreamy chords. More importantly, it set her up for her debut album, Bed of Roses, out now on legendary San Francisco label Dark Entries. Naive, now eight releases in, has since put out material from Eris Drew & Octo Octa, Photonz (her partner, Marco Rodrigues), and Almaty.
Borges Countinho incorporates similar sounds into her DJing, melding breaks, extraterrestrial jacking rhythms, imaginative techno, acid house and more in a way that feels natural and challenging. She learned the ropes in London, moving there for a period in 2013 in reaction to Portugal’s crumbling economy. While there, she began spinning records, initially at pubs, hotels, and shops, which required that she learn to mix style and tempo, and not limit herself to one particular genre. “I fine-tuned my mixing to a point where I was mixing all these different styles, and being able to do that was such a school to me,” she explained. “I value it so much.” When clubs came calling, her style became a sort of no style. Outside of this, she worked in copywriting and on Rádio Quântica, an online radio station which, in part, inspired her to return to Lisbon after she was offered a free studio in a government-funded arts space.
At just over an hour in length, Borges Countinho’s XLR8R podcast is a compressed version of what you’ll hear her playing in clubs. She recorded it earlier this month at her home studio, focusing on newer material as a “deliberate exercise to get out of my current obsession with slightly older music.” Many of these selections are from close to home: Dark Entries features, as do Photonz, her local label Príncipe, and much of her own work. It serves, she says, as a testament to her sonic DNA: “alien-sounding twisted sonics; dub-indebted heavy basses, and effects like delay; emotionally-charged melodies, cut-up vocals, and driving drum patterns of all sorts.”
What have you been up to recently?
I just arrived from a four-date tour where I had a meaningful time playing and reconnecting with kindred spirits. In parallel, I’ve been working with naive artists and collaborators to put together the next few releases, also been working on a couple remixes myself, been updating my live set too—but also trying to stop and smell the roses from time to time by spending time with friends and family.
When and where was this mix recorded?
I just recorded it today, October 1, in my house in Lisbon.
How did you select the records that you included?
I had a feeling in mind and went through newer (ish) stuff than my digging sessions lately, as a deliberate exercise to get out of my current obsession with slightly older music. I pulled out tracks I received from friends or labels I love that sonically fit what I had loosely planned, as well as a couple older things that I stumbled upon while looking through my music archives.
Is there a wider concept to it?
I’ve just released my first album, which gives me a feeling comparable to having just finished writing a chapter in my artistic practice—and that inevitably makes me look back and sort of realise what the music that speaks to my soul is all about after all. I can find a few common threads in the sounds I naturally look for in the past decade or more: alien-sounding twisted sonics; dub-indebted heavy basses, and effects like delay; emotionally-charged melodies, cut-up vocals, and intriguing but (mostly) driving drum patterns of all sorts. I like a lot of other things, but these seem to have always been present throughout the years, so I built this mix as a sort of a testament to my sonic DNA.
How does it compare to what you would play in a club?
I never know what I’m going to play in a club until it’s happening—I truly let every night be a co-creation with the space and people I’m with—but I’ve played several sets that are in many ways similar to this one. Some of my warm-ups for naive nights at Lux Frágil have sounded largely like this. But if you catch me at 4 am at Tresor like what happened at Atonal or closing Wildeburg or closing Lux Frágil b2b with Photonz as recent examples, you’ll probably catch me playing something that’s more energetic, perhaps even faster, or just more focused. There are always surprises though, as I get bored easily.
Where do you envisage it being listened to?
Hmmm, it’s not a bad soundtrack for long drives or wholesome afters. Or for just sitting outside looking at a beautiful view, perhaps smoking a little weed.
What are your wider goals with music?
Not sure I have goals per se—I quite like to let myself go and let life do its thing. But although I don’t have a masterplan, I do feel deeply connected with music as a medium and can’t see myself not making it my main thing, in whatever form—from producing (my favourite thing) to teaching to helping build DIY communities and parties, to doing radio, running my labels, DJing and remixing. It truly is my sanctuary.
What’s next on the horizon, as you look forward?
I have a really mad month ahead, so for now, I’m solely focusing on that —baby steps or I’ll lose my center. So, in October: a joint Australia tour with Photonz, where I’ll also do a Boiler Room set. A b2b with my dear friend rRoxymore at the excellent No Bounds festival. Two live sets, one during Unsound and one during ADE, where I’ll also take part in two talks. A couple of other special European dates. Putting the finishing touches on the first joint-label EP with naive—alongside Jacktone, one of my most beloved music families.
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. Bill Converse “Relentless Imitation” (Dark Entries)
02. Bill Converse “Living Chord” (Dark Entries)
03. Photonz “Lusting” (Dark Entries)
04. Desert Sound Colony “Birds Fly Dry” (Holding Hands)
05. Horsepower Productions “Stranger” (Sneaker Social Club)
06. Burial “Loner” (Hyperdub)
07. F.U.S.E. “The Day After” (MV’s Mix) (Plus 8)
08. Claude Young “Second Experience” (Frictional)
09. Nightwave “The Journey” (Violet Remix) (Musar)
10. Midland “The Alchemy of Circumstance” (Graded)
11. Morwell “It’s Going Down Tonight” (unreleased)
12. Altered Natives “Trial by Drums” (EYE4EYE)
13. TapeFear “Car’s Booked” (Holding Hands)
14. Reptant “The Raid” (Craigie Knowes)
15. Alex Falk “OOF” (Allergy Season)
16. DJ Firmeza “Intenso” (Príncipe)
17. Sister Nancy “Bam Bam” (Julia Joolz Baile Club Edit) (Classical Trax)
18. Evergreen & Landlord ft. Danman “Jah Rain” (RSD Remix) (Ranking)
19. Violet “Tears In 1993” (Dark Entries)