Dance producer DJEFF joined us to chat about his upcoming release, collaborating with Major Lazer and his love for MJ. Check out our interview to find out where best places to party are in his hometown of Lisbon and get a mini masterclass in his pioneering Afro-House sound.
How did you first discover music?
I’ve been in love with music for as long as I can remember. My mum always says I was that classic kid who put on shows for the family – I was the presenter, the dancer and the singer. I was doing it all at the same time. Michael Jackson was my hero.
How has growing up in Portugal impacted the music you produce now?
Growing up in Lisbon gave me the chance to grow up right in the middle of multicultural influences, and this has definitely had a huge impact on my musical output. Initially I was more into European music and only in later years, got more into African music. And I think you can definitely hear that influence in the music I produce. Because of this, you’re always going to hear that African groove but with a European and tech vibe in their too.
What are the best places to catch good music and party in Lisbon?
The music scene in Lisbon has always been a great place to hear and discover new artists, but I would say the best club right now would be Lux as the programming is always really great. If you want to wander around in the open air, then a cool area would be Bairro Alto.
You’re somewhat of a pioneer of the Afro-House sound, can you tell us about how you first discovered the genre and how you feel it’s developed as it’s become more popular to mainstream audiences?
I discovered Afro-House listening to Little Louie Vega & Osunlade. My favourite record is the classic "Work" by the Masters at Work, and I discovered Erick Morillo because he was dropping this acapella up on classic house beats.
Actually, I’ve always had that on my mind when I started making music: I wanted to mix vocals from my roots (Cape Verde & Angola) with house beats. When I moved to Angola, about 10 years ago, this was one of the first reasons because I knew it was going to be easier to find Semba, Kizomba, and other African Genre musicians to work with. Louie Vega was doing a lot of this with Latin musicians so I just started making my own beats. Since I was young I was always very picky about music, my taste was always different from the rest of my friends. I think I was the only one out of all of them who was listening to ‘alternative’ or world music.
The first edit I did was "One Love" by Sara Tavares, after this came Ayo "Life is Real" one of my biggest tracks of all time. After this, I just started to find other artists that were making the same sounds as me and I found Black Coffee, Boddhi Satva, Manoo...
You were a featured artist on Major Lazers Afrobeats mixtape, can you tell us about how that came about?
It was a huge surprise to hear that Diplo had dropped my track “Kissange” at Sonar. I started getting a lot of tags from people and I just started sharing the video and said thanks. The video went viral. After a few days, my manager got an email from their management asking if I have more tracks to send because they were about to drop a new mixtape. I sent a few and they selected Labyrinth & Awakening. After this, they invited me to play on their African Tour in Kenya & Uganda.
You recently released your new track, ‘Wela’, can you tell us a bit about it, and what inspired it? Wela is kind of a reflection of where I’m at and how I feel right now. I’m listening to a lot of deep house nowadays with techy elements but I come from a soulful scene, so I changed my style as I've been playing for bigger and more diversified audiences. So I’ve tried to make something techy but with that lovely vibe and cool vocal.
What are your plans heading into the autumn/winter?
Right now I’m doing a lot of studio work, working on a lot of tracks coming out soon. I’m still on tour playing every week around the world. Right now I’m in Europe and in December I’m heading to Angola to begin a Tour because it’s summer in the southern hemisphere.
Do you have any plans for Halloween?
Yes, this Halloween I’m playing at a party at club Lick in Algarve with my brother Hyenah from Berlin.
Where can people catch you live next? Have you got any upcoming shows?
I'm going to be around Europe for now, Toffler in Rotterdam, Lenox in Luxembourg, Lick in Portugal, Angola, Cape Verde, Israel. But we’re constantly adding date, so definitely go and check out my social media for the next stop.
Listen to DJEFF's new track, Wela