In the high rise landscapes of Lisbon’s isolated barrios, DJ Marfox has iconic status.
A figurehead of Portuguese imprint Príncipe and the Angolan-Portuguese Kuduro style, his productions can be felt pulsating through the capital and in the swelling collective of its artists – many of whom adopt ‘fox’ in their name as a sign of respect to the genre’s pioneer. With this percussive, pumping, syncopated heat now rattling dancefloors internationally, we caught up with Marfox to reflect on the symbiosis between his sound and his city.
1990s: Growing up in Quinta do Mocho, Lisbon
I come from a very creative environment, and I’ve never imagined myself doing any- thing other than DJing. In such a multicul- tural neighbourhood you grow up with the music of many different heritages – Lusophone, African, Indian, Brazilian, Portuguese – alongside the mainstream Anglo-pop and electronic of the 90s. Bringing together all of these influences into the Angolan style of Kuduro, I developed my own sound.
Early 2000s: First parties and the early DJ years
I started throwing my first parties at home with friends from school, on our Wednesday afternoons off. Those were my first performances facing a wider public – the first critics and reviews, the first laughter and cries. These moments at the beginning of the path still resonate strongly with me.
"It was just a matter of time before people paid attention to the sound of the Lisbon ghettos"
2006: DJs Do Guetto, Vol 1 Compilation
Before DJs Do Guetto Vol.1, the majority of young people in the barrios wanted three things: most wanted to become profes- sional footballers, others to make money in the easiest way possible, or, for a small few, to get a college degree. But this compila- tion 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.
2007: Meeting Pedro Gomes and Nelson Gomes of Príncipe
I remember how they first approached me: “we want to seriously support your music.” For the first few weeks I was quite wary – I’d never had any contact with a label before – but I couldn’t smother the dream of wanting to take this music forward. Príncipe understood better than anyone else what this music means for all the DJs and producers. They were able to focus this sound onto the centre of Lisboa. It was just a matter of time for everyone else to pay attention to the sound of the Lisbon ghettos.
2011: First release on Príncipe
The first record was really special. From then on I felt that everything was about to change. In 2011 to release a record called Eu Sei Quem Sou [translates as I Know who I Am] was seen as arrogant, but today – four years later – my message got across. I know who I am, I know where I come from, and I know the potential of this music.
2014: MoMA PS1 Performance, New York
All international performances bring so much positivity, but a particularly memorable show was at MoMA in New York. Halfway through the set I remember realising why the city is considered ‘the capital of the world’. There was such a diverse group of people from so many different worlds, all dancing like crazy and with such togetherness. This precise moment really struck a chord with me.