Marco Antão AKA SwitchSt(d)ance is a Portuguese DJ and producer that has been getting the right attention of late. He was born in the late 80s and is one of the current resident DJs at the Lux Club in Lisbon, which is a position he has held now for over 4 years since winning a Heineken DJ competition where he fought off 1000 other contestants.
Since becomming resident at the Lux Club and touring, Marco has shared the stage with DJs such as James Holden, Four Tet, Nicolas Jaar, Ivan Smagghe, Actress, Caribou, Nathan Fake, Margot, Fairmont, Nosaj Thing, Pachanga Boys, and Floating Points. His music has been featured on labels such as Suruba X, and Fairmont’s Beachcoma, and his music is gaining support from all the right names. He also recently recorded a live mix for Boileroom which has been getting some very positive reactions.
His music could be classified as any of the following; electronic, hypnotic, gothic, psychedelic, melodic, organic, minimalistic, futuristic, introspective. Whatever you choose to categorise his style as he is a very talented DJ and producer and we feel honoured to have him compile an exclusive mix for us and answer a few questions about his production techniques, his influences and what he has planned for the next few months.
Hi Marco. It is an absolute please to speak with you. What have you been up to today?
Hey Ian, thanks! It’s a big pleasure for me too. Nothing special until now, I just woke up, went swimming, grocery shopping. When I arrived home, I listened to some new music and checked my emails. Now during the afternoon I’m going to work in the studio, and tonight I have an all night set at Lux club.
You were born and raised in Portugal. Can you tell us a little about your background and when you first became interested in electronic music?
I was a relatively normal kid i guess, listening to death and black metal music haha! I started skateboarding when I was 12 and competed professionally until I was 24. At school I studied sports and later I changed to event management and production. As I was into skateboarding, my musical horizons were expanded considerably and I started listening mainly to eighties and synth pop music (Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, Billy Idol, Duran Duran). When i turned 17, I went to a couple of goth parties and that’s when I first danced to electronic music at a club. I remember listening tracks from Legowelt, Alden Tyrell, DMX Krew,Drexciya; what was known at the time as “electro” or “electroclash” and that’s when electronic music pretty much came into my life.
Do you come from a strong musical family or are you the first member of your family to venture into the music world?
No one from my family has any musical background. My father just influenced me with some of his old records. My first musical memory, probably when I was 4 or 5, is picking some of my father’s records and listening to classical music like Mozart or Beethoven and also some pop music, like Abba, Boney M and The Beatles. When I was 6 years old, my mum signed me up for piano classes, but after a few months I threw a fit and told my mother I would rather play the drums than Johan Strauss’s Blue Danube. If I knew what I know now, I would never have given up the piano.
Who have been some of your biggest musical influences over the years, and why?
Kraftwerk, Jean Michel Jarre, Conrad Schnizler, Pink Floyd, Depeche Mode, Tangerine Dream, James Holden, Radiohead. Some of these names are pioneers and others are visionaries.
Let’s talk about your musical style and productions. What made you first venture into music production?
Five years ago I met the producer Pedro Martins, through mutual friends. We first set down at his studio and after a few hours just looking at what he was doing, I realized I’ve found my mentor in music production. After a few days we started producing music together (we made an unofficial remix of Caribou’s “Sun”). At this time in my life, being a DJ and only playing other people’s music started to feel kind of empty. I wanted to communicate my own ideas and feelings. I still have a lot to learn, music is constantly evolving and one of the reasons music is so interesting to me is that you can create your own rules and concepts, completely side stepping any and all so called rules.
When you first begin the production of a track do you have an idea in mind or do you have more of a fluid process?
Both really. Sometimes I have a specific idea, like bass lines or melodies that appear in my mind, that I try to reproduce and I start working to develop that idea. But mainly I just jam away, improvising with my synths and the music comes naturally. “Acean”, from the Graveyard Shift EP, was produced in a couple of hours just from exploring a friend’s Eowave-Domino synth.
Your first release was “The Graveyard Shift EP” on Fairmont’s impressive Beachcoma label. How did the release fall into the hands of Fairmont?
Actually, my first release was “Iced Like You EP”, I also released a couple of remixes on Portuguese labels, between 2010 and 2012, but clearly with not as much impact as “The Graveyard Shift EP”. I first met Fairmont in person at Lux club, when I played alongside him. We kept in contact and frequently discussed skateboarding and synths (e.g.: I asked his opinion about some gear I was interested in). I also sent him one or two tracks of mine, just to have his opinion, long before I knew about Beachcoma. In 2013, Fairmont asked for a list of my tracks and told me about his project. Since he invited me to join the label, I’ve felt an incredible incentive which has lead me to focus on music production.
You mention that Fairmont has been one of your main influences over the years. How did it feel to be releasing music on his label?
Sure it’s a great honor for me, I feel like a lucky bastard! Fairmont has been a good friend and has been helping me a lot, without forgetting Metope and Sid le Rock’s input. Less than 2 or 3 years ago, I was waiting anxiously for the release of their records and suddenly I’m invited to work by their side. It’s a great feeling and I think Beachcoma has a great future, because it’s in the hands of 3 great professionals.
When producing, what do you prefer to turn to; hardware or software, and why?
Definitely, hardware. 95% of my music is produced with analog synths. In terms of software I use Logic and Ableton, for sequencing and editing. There are many good producers that use software and produce music everyday, but I find it boring being in front of a computer with a midi controller. When producing, I like to be able to touch and control the instruments with my hands and sometimes it’s funny when suddenly things slip out of control and the synths start to go out of tune and to play out of time, just because. I think hardware makes the music making process more fun and gives a more human feel to the sound. Sometimes I find myself absorbed for hours connected to the machines and then I have to focus and convince myself to start writing a track. Synthesizers are a passion and an addiction that I’ve acquired over the years.
What do you have planned in terms of releases over the next few months?
I’ve got two EPs planned, one for Beachcoma, two tracks on compilations and a couple of remixes. In January i think there might be something new to listen to.
I have listened to your productions and DJ mixes and find it very difficult to categorize your style. How would you describe your sound to our readers?
Honestly, that’s one question I find really hard to answer. I listen to lots of different styles within electronic music. It’s a little bit like cooking, when you’re constantly adding ingredients and spices here and there. When I’m DJ’ing or producing, all of my influences come together. But if I had to simplify, it’s electronic, synth, indie, new wave, techno? Whatever… Pick a genre…
The industry is currently flooded with DJs and producers which can often make it difficult for newcomers to break through. What are your current opinions on the industry and how did you differentiate yourself from the plethora or DJs/producers out there?
I agree, but I find that everyone that creates their own style, will eventually be recognized for their merit. When I discovered and defined my musical identity as a DJ, I had a very hard time finding gigs in Lisbon. I was criticized for the style I like to play. People would often tell me that you couldn’t dance to it, that it wasn’t even club music. I was losing motivation with Portugal’s DJ’ing reality, at that time I just recorded sets for myself and to post on MySpace, and I rarely played gigs.
Then in 2010, Lux announced they were looking for a new resident DJ and held a competition, which I ended up winning. I was asked to join their roster of DJ’s and have remained, until today. My first night at Lux was with James Holden and later Fairmont and so many other great artists. Eventually, I started playing abroad and on the Portuguese summer festival circuit. Lux was definitely my turning point, it got me the visibility that I wouldn’t have found anywhere else. My motivation and commitment grew. I realized that the fact that I was always loyal to the music I like made all the difference. Probably if I had changed my style to play some hype music, with the sole purpose of getting more gigs, I wouldn’t be here talking with you right now.
What is your current setup when you DJ?
I used to be a vinyl purist, but I had to adapt several times. As a DJ, I started receiving lots of promos and I had to start burning CDs in order to play them. At this time, my setup was 2 Turntables, 2 CDJs, 1 Kaos Pad and 1 Loop machine. Later I got a sponsorship from Native Instruments and started playing with Traktor. Today, my mixing style makes it very hard or almost impossible to work with vinyl or CDJs, because I often do loop edits, Dj tools and deconstruct tracks in real-time with extra effects. If you know the tracks on my podcast, you can probably get a good idea of how i work. Ideally, I need 3 Decks, preferably Turntables, because sometimes there are some vinyls that deserve to be dropped.
Tell us about your vision for the exclusive mix you sent us?
Another hard question (ahah). All the tracks on this podcast are favorites of mine, if not I wouldn’t have added them to the list. I love doing podcasts, in the past I used to one every month, but I’ve stopped for now because my time is more invested in production. Whenever there’s an opportunity like this, I do it willingly. This particular podcast was recorded with Traktor, 3 decks and some Traktor effects. There are a lot of emotions in this mix, mainly my vision of what dancing really is, and what makes me dance more naturally, dark, psychedelic, hypnotic, harmonious music. When I was recording this 2h podcast I found myself levitating in my studio.
What tracks are currently doing it for you right now?
Of course the Beachcoma releases but my most played are “Her” by Norwell and “Bleak House” by Fairmont. Anything by Barnt, that I’ve been playing since 2010. “Ménière”, from a very talented Portuguese friend called Manycure released on Two Dots Recordings. Acid Arab Tracks. Etienne Jaumet and Recondite’s new albums. “Auto – go” from Onemenwork, another Portuguese fellow, “Osiris Resurrected” by Photonz. Some stuff on Correspondant and Kill The DJ. Atomnation label boss Applescal is really cool too. Dollkraut’s new record and many, many others.
Finally is there anything else you want to tell us about that you have planned for the remainder of 2014, and into 2015?
Since my Beachcoma release, I’m even more motivated to produce. I spent 2014 isolated from the world and the consequences of my self imposed exile will be materializing in 2015! I’ve also been working on my live act and I hope to be ready to start performing it sometime next spring. Maybe i’ll even start learning to sing and produce an album (ahah).
01. Thom Yorke – Pink Setion [Thom Yorke Self-Released]
02. Andy Stott – On Oath [Modern Love]
03. 33-10-3402 – Cool Down [ESP Institute] / Vermont – Lithium [Kompakt]
04. Sigward – Black Mambo [Somthing Happening, Somewhere] / CN – Thoth [Wémè Records]
05. Some Truths – Section 12(2) [Mordant Music]
06. Steve Moore – Panther Moderns [L.I.E.S.]
07. Solvent – Kink Vincent (Martial Canterel Remix) [Suction Records]
08. SwitchSt(d)ance – Riding My Flute [Beachcoma]
09. DMX Krew – Ring of Brodgar [Mystic & Quantum Records]
10. Etienne Jaumet – Metallik Cages (Gilb´R Club Mix) [Versatile Records]
11. Listening Center – Landscapes Departed [This Is Care]
12. Raudive – Floor [Macro]
13. Barnt – Whats Is A Number, That A Man May Know It? [Magazine]
14. 2562 – New Life [When in Doubt]
15. Pye Corner Audio – We Have Visitors [Pye Corner Audio Transcription Services]
16. Black Deer – Meditation [Emotional Response]
17. C.A.R. – Idle Eyes (Roman Flugel Remix) [Kill The Dj]
18. Demian – Luca Libre [Correspondant]
19. David Douglas – Higher (Matheis Remix) [Atomnation]
19. Undo – 3,9 Grados En La Escala Ritcher [Correspondant]
20. Fairmont – Bleak House [Beachcoma] / SwitchSt(d)ance – Sujeito Insuportável (Loop Edit) [Beachcoma]
21. Doolkraut – Rollercoaster [The Gym]
22. KNTRL – Night Shifts [Beachcoma]
23. Clinic – Misty II [Domino]