Podcast 542: DJ Marfox - XLR8R
Exhilarating grooves from the Príncipe Discos member.

DJ Marfox is the alias of Marlon Silva, the protagonist of Lisbon's bubbling Afro-Portuguese electronic music scene. He first connected with music in the early 2000s when he heard Kuduro artist DJ Nervoso playing at a party, and left feeling inspired to begin producing his own music. "If I hadn't witnessed that, perhaps I wouldn't be here today," he said in an earlier interview with Thump. He soon learned the basics of FruityLoops and teamed up with high school friends DJ Nervoso, DJ Nk, DJ Fofuxo, DJ Jesse, and DJ Pausas as DJs Do Ghetto, throwing parties around the city before issuing DJs do Ghetto Vol. I, a 37-track digital compilation shining a light on the local artists. This marked the beginnings of Lisbon's batida movement, the sounds of which incorporate African-influenced dance music such as kuduro, kizomba, funaná, and tarraxinha with traditional house and techno. Those involved invariably came from working-class backgrounds and used cheap, but accessible software.

Silva began working as Marfox around this period, the alias a combination of his first initial and Star Fox 64, his favorite Nintendo 64 sci-fi shoot-em-up game. He uploaded several tracks via YouTube and some music blogs before releasing 2011's Eu Sei Quem Sou, a debut EP via fledgling Príncipe Discos. Further releases soon came, as did booking requests from all over the world. DJ Marfox and his homegrown sound were on the rise—and this international acclaim has only continued to grow, evidenced by Warp's 2015 Cargaa series, aimed directly at highlighting the "cream-of-the-crop purveyors of Lisbon’s thrilling electronic dance scene."

Silva still resides in Lisbon but his name is known far beyond the city's borders. He's performed at some key festivals around the world, from Unsound and CTM, MoMA PS1 Warm Up Series, and Red Bull Festival in New York to Novas Frequências in Rio de Janeiro and Nyege Nyege in Uganda. Touring with reasonable frequency, he's a purveyor of an intense but rhythmic blend of percussive techno that bears great reference to his batida roots, and his podcast for XLR8R provides a snapshot of this sound with 60 minutes of exhilarating grooves.

What have you been up to recently? 

Besides traveling for shows, I’ve been going out a bit to listen to other national and international DJs, and also been focusing on listening to the new music coming from Cabo Verde.

When and where was the mix recorded?

This mix was recorded in my home studio, where everything starts but nothing gets finished!

What equipment did you record it on?

I used two Pioneer DJ XDJ-1000MK2 and a Pioneer DJM-750 MK2 Mixer.

How did you select the tracks that you included?

It was a balanced selection of tracks, including a harmonious sequence of my old and new tracks, and of other colleagues in the Príncipe label.

Was there a particular idea or mood you were looking to convey?

It’s always about wanting to make the mix as powerful as possible—something that people can still listen to it in 10 years and find it super fresh.

Can we expect some more material from you soon?

Yes, I’m working on a new EP, but I’m still trying to figure out the right journey to offer to listeners.

What else have you got coming up?

What I can advise but not disclose is that you keep your ears out for the new records to be released on Príncipe because there’s a lot of very good stuff coming out. 

Tracklisting TBC

DJ Marfox will be performing at this year's Nova Batida event in Lisbon. Nova Batida is a brand new city festival for Europe aiming to "blend the freshest music, art, culture, and lifestyle from all corners of the world in one of the most exciting creative hubs." A slew of quality names are confirmed for the two-day event, including Seun Kuti, who'll perform with his father's storied Afrobeat ensemble Egypt 80, and Stones Throw head Peanut Butter Wolf. Little Dragon, Camilla Fuchs, Izem, Octa Push, and Blaya have also joined, lining up alongside acts like Mount Kimbie, Gilles Peterson, and George FitzGerald. You can see the full lineup on the flyer below, with early-bird ticket available via XLR8R here