Keeping Things Moving: Rita Maia

We didn’t know much about Rita Maia before getting in touch, but since, she’s a DJ we’re definately keeping an eye on. Host of a monthly West London clubnight and a primetime radio show, responsible for an esteemed Fact mix and hotly-tipped by don Gilles Peterson amongst others; Lisbon’s Rita Maia represents a refreshing attitude and cutting-edge taste in music.

We spoke to Rita and received an education on her native music scene and her opinion on our own. See for yourself below, and stream the Fact mix whilst you’re at it…

Can you give us an idea of what the music scene in Portugal is like?
In terms of electronic music it’s changed a lot in the last 10 years and is much more interesting now. There are a lot of people doing brilliant projects with more variety and identity only on a very small scale, (like most European countries when compared to London), which means there’s not much support for people in most underground types of music and that makes a lot of projects disappear. Only a couple of radio stations step away from the mainstream, but on the other hand there are more artists getting signed to labels with bigger exposure outside the country and there are loads more events that keep feeding things over there.
There’s a strong African influence from Kuduru to other genres in electronic music (most known by Buraka Som Sistema) and that’s always been present with many Hip-Hop artists. Also, people are embracing much more of a Latin influence now. Also, the Hip-hop scene has always been massive there and has always used the Portuguese and Creole language to what has now passed onto other electronic genres.

Which Portuguese artists should we be looking out for in the world of electronic music?
There’s a lot of House music but the stuff I find more interesting are more experimental projects that sound new and different to what’s been done in the past, there are quite a few new producers making music I find more exciting.
Nsekt, Photonz, Buraka and the guys at Enchufada label, Infestus, Klikk, Rastronaut, the Hip-Hop scene has a few great producers, DJ’s and singers Marciano, Ride, Sagas, Biru… quite a few more.

How does underground nightlife differ in Portugal? Do you think your club night ‘Talking At Me,’ would work there?
Apart from the fact that it’s smaller, it doesn’t differ much in the sense that the underground scene always has a space in every city. I guess people create that space, that’s what we’ve always done in Portugal with Badmood. Creating a new space to show new music projects we find interesting and we think are worth showing, regardless of how much hype there is around it and always do it our way and there has always been receptivity, one way or the other.
Since I’ve dedicated more time to DJing than producing music, that’s what I do in London with Talking At Me and the radio show at Resonance FM. It just naturally tends to focus more on the local scene which I’m in touch with. I’m sure it would work in Lisbon, one way or the other, but Talking At Me is a London event, so it would probably be an event more focused on the Lisbon scene if it was done there.

What can we hope to see from your label, Badmood Recordings, this year? A first vinyl release maybe?
Well, there’s 4 of us working on the releases on the label, based in Lisbon, London and Berlin. As producers/DJ’s are doing different things each one comes across different sounds, so our releases will be quite varied too in terms of its sound.
There will be quite a few different things coming out in the next few months, mainly by new artists, which is what we’re focusing on at the moment. A compilation, a remix of Nsekt “Pika Pika” EP and a few more EP’s by new artists from different cities in Europe.

I’ve noticed all your releases so far have been digital only. Is that something you hope to change or do you see vinyl as a dead technology?
We want to press vinyl but as an independent label that has just started this year, we’re going slowly with digital releases only to start with. We still all use vinyl for playing so hopefully we’ll be pressing some with the label soon.

A lot of good things are being said about your club night at Notting Hill Arts Club. Can you give us any clues on future guests?
Yes, we had some great nights at Talking At Me, and we’ve got loads of plans for the nights. I love doing it, but we decided to break for the next few months as I’m in and out of London from now until September for summer gigs, so we might return in august and then re-schedule things.

Badmood Recordings have recently put out a moombahton record, is the genre something you play out a lot, and what do you make of it as whole?
Well, the Badmood collective has always been a group of people doing different things from Art, Music and Sound, Djing, events, blog/forum and now the label. At the moment there are actually 6 producers and DJ’s spread between Lisbon, London and Berlin, all doing quite different projects so the label releases reflect that.
Nsekt, based in Lisbon, put out last month the Pika Pika EP exploring the Moombathon thing a bit more, which is definitely brewing over there at the moment, but we’re not stuck with a genre in any way, we just put out what we feel like at the moment. That’s the direction of the collective and label..
I guess there’s always been a strong Latin thing in Lisbon and Berlin but I don’t particularly play much of it in my sets / radio.

Do you have more freedom to play what you want in DJ sets in England than you did during the years of the Badmood Collective in Portugal, or is it perhaps the other way around?
I think it’s back to what we were talking about, you play what you play wherever you are and you create that freedom with your choices so it’s not different.
I assume when people invite you, they want to hear what you play.
There are still many events in Portugal that follow a defined genre of music so they might invite me to play DNB or Dubstep only, which I haven’t done for years. I’d rather not play in gigs where people expect a specific set from me, unless it’s a one off thing. Since I don’t play a “live” set with my music, I want to keep my DJ sets free to do what I feel like and to keep things moving and changing free of expectations.

For readers that haven’t come across your radio show on Resonance FM yet, ‘Sine Of The Times,’ could you please tell us a bit about the kind of stuff you play and the kind of radio show it is?
Resonance FM is really experimental so the show covers all sorts of electronic music from more chilled to more upbeat new dance-floor sounds, which is more what I play out. Although I produce the show, I try to think of it as if there were a few of us doing it so I don’t just cover my favourite pieces of music of the week, but what I think is worth playing.
I was fortunate to get the prime-time show of the station on a Saturday night so it generally starts more ambient and ends up more upbeat. I might do a mix or just play new releases. I have guests in for a DJ set, live session or a chat, so the shows are all quite different and hopefully keeps changing and developing. Also I tend to play a few Portuguese releases within the new electronic music.

What’s the idea behind the name ‘Sine Of The Times’? Not a reference to the classic Kode9 and Daddy G Prince cover??
When we started the show there were 2 of us behind it, so me and Tom at the time brainstormed for a name. We wanted something with a reference to time and evolution, the past, present and future and the sound and its elements etc. We came up with Sine Of The Times and about 5 seconds later remembered Kode 9’s Sine Of The Dub track but we decided to keep it as his track was really relevant for what the show was going to cover anyway.

Your abilities DJing have now been picked up by the likes of Fact and Gilles Peterson; did you initially find it hard making a name for yourself without any productions?
Yes of course, but they are also 2 different things. When you perform live that moment is what counts, you either touch those people who are listening to you or you don’t, independently of how many records you have out. I guess people who go out to hear music appreciate a DJ set for what it is.
Nowadays there are also many platforms that support DJ mixes/sets such as FACT, Fabric, Mixcloud, Resident Advisor and many blogs where you can show what you do, and I have my radio show which I guess also helped to show what I play.

Catch Rita’s radio show every Saturday on Resonance FM from 9pm, and from September watch out for the return of her Notting Hill club night every second Friday of the month.