DJ Lycox is Spearheading Afro-Portuguese Sounds Worldwide
Affiliated with the influential Lisbon label Príncipe, DJ Lycox has become one of the key ambassadors of the scene, drawing on a potent blend of kuduru, tarraxo and Afro house to create his distinct sound. We catch up with the producer ahead of his set at Trippin’s fabric takeover.
Currently based in Paris, DJ Lycox grew up in Miratejo, in the south of Lisbon, across the river Tagus. Raised on batida – an umbrella term for emergent forms of dance music associated with the Afrodiasporic DJs of the Portuguese capital – he began making beats as a teenager, forming his Tia Maria Produções crew alongside Puto Márcio, Bboy and Danifox in 2014.
Deep, melodic and with an irresistible polyrhythmic groove, his breakthrough album Sonhos & Pesadelos, released via Príncipe in 2017, conveyed a sense of longing – with the vocals on sunset anthem Solteiro (which translates to ‘single’) yearning, perhaps, for what’s to come. Subsequent EPs Kizas do Ly – a slow-paced tribute to love – and last year’s Lycoxera EP, a fierce, gqom-inspired drum workout, showcase his shapeshifting, ever-evolving style.
It’s a sound that’s taken him all over the world – with gigs at Unsound Festival in Kraków, NOS Primavera Sound in Porto or 2019's Cannes Festival Semaine de la Critique’s opening party – but, ultimately, he remains dedicated to his community. Earlier this year, Lycox reunited with DJ Marfox, who initially brought him onto Príncipe, and Nídia, for the label’s 10 year anniversary celebration tour. At their London tour date in March, surrounded by familiar faces who came all the way from Lisbon for the occasion, he says it felt just like home.
This Friday (2 December), Lycox touches down in London to join the Trippin crew for a wide-ranging club workout in fabric’s legendary Room 2. In the spirit of connecting the dots between worldwide sounds and local music communities, London DJs Fiyahdred, Ikonika and Tommy Gold round out Trippin’s FABRICLIVE takeover. Expect an expansive journey through kuduro, batida, amapiano, dancehall, dubstep, gqom, grime, R&B, UK funky, UK drill and much more.
Ahead of the night, we caught up with Lycox to hear about his musical origins in Lisbon, finding new inspiration in Paris and using music as a vessel for social change.
What are your early musical memories?
When I was a little kid my mum and my auntie always had a bag full of CDs; every Saturday and Sunday was a blast at home. At that time I was listening to a lot of music on TV, and when I discovered a CD called Kuduro my life changed completely.
How did growing up in such a multicultural neighbourhood influence your sound?
Growing up in my neighbourhood and every corner you go, people always playing batida, it influenced me but the rest of the influence in my sound came when I moved to Paris.
DJ Marfox once said: “Before Dj’S Do Guetto Vol.1, the majority of young people in the barrios wanted three things: most wanted to become professional footballers, others to make money in the easiest way possible, or, for a small few, to get a college degree. But this compilation changed things. It introduced the fourth option – to become a DJ or producer of this new sound springing out of the peripheral barrios of Lisbon.” What was your reaction to the release?
I totally agree. Before wanting to become a DJ or producer, I wanted to become a graphic designer. I was speechless when this release came out.
How did you connect with Príncipe and how did your debut album Sonhos & Pesadelos come together?
It was in 2014 or 2015, I don’t remember correctly. I was approached on Facebook by Pedro (he used to work with Príncipe) and he seemed like a nice guy but, me being me, at first I wasn’t really paying attention because of school and I wasn’t really interested on the music thing. When Márcio Matos wanted to talk with my mum to tell her that they (Príncipe) wanted to work with me, I was like OK... and the day after DJ Marfox called me on Facebook saying that I should work with them. I was like, in my head, yooo Marfox? Calling me? Is this really happening? And from there the rest is history. My album… at that time I was going through a rough time in my life so I put all my emotion and feelings in every single track.
How did you meet and form the Tia Maria Produções crew?
Me and B.boy, we grew up in the same neighbourhood. The other members I met through Facebook and MSN back in the day. Márcio was the one who created the group.
Do you guys mostly make music by swapping files online, or do you also make time to meet up in the studio together?
We make most of our music by swapping files online but when we all are in Lisbon we do make a lot of music together as well in the studio.
You’ve been on tour this year, celebrating 10 years of Príncipe with a series of sets across Europe (tour stops in Berlin, Glasgow, London). Any highlights from the tour?
The thing now that I didn’t realise before is how the people feel our music (batida). I was so amazed by how our music connected with the people, and you can feel the energy through the dance floor.
What role do you think music plays in uniting cultures and communities?
Music can help in the healing process, dismantling walls and boundaries, reconciliation and education. Around the world, music is being used as a vehicle for social change and bringing communities together.
When did you move to Paris, and what prompted the move?
12 January 2012. Family reasons.
How has being based in France influenced your creative output?
Here in France the culture is just different. I wasn’t used to listening to Coupe Decale, Tecno, EDM, Middle East music all day and when I got here, I was so amazed by it that I was like, I need to put some of these references on my sound.
What are your favourite places to hang out in Paris?
Chatelet and La Defense.
What’s your favourite food?
My favourite dish is Bacalhau com Natas. Nobody does it better than my mum.
You’ve toured all around the world. Is there any place that left a particularly strong impression on you?
Yes, in Berlin at the famous Berghain.
Lastly, how has travelling influenced your relationship with music?
I love travelling, it influences my relationship with music in a good way because now I can’t go anywhere without music.
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