Next up in our podcast series is the Portuguese artist Inês Borges Coutinho, also known as Violet. The DJ and producer is the founder of Naïve records, co-founder of Rádio Quântica, and co-founder and resident at the 'mina' events. Under the moniker Violet, Inês is known for blending techno with breakbeats and acid basslines. Besides performing unforgettable sets, she has also been applauded for moving and shaking things up, not only in her home city but also in the underground music scene beyond the Portuguese borders.
Q: Hi Inês, first of all, thank you for participating in our podcast series. It is an honor to have you. Before we dig deeper into 'Violet', I’m wondering how you have been and what you have been up to lately. How have you spent your time during this world pandemic?
A: Thanks for having me! Ah, I’m doing alright given the circumstances - some days better than others. I’ve been trying to come up with a healthy mix of relaxation (i needed it!) and work (which right now mostly involves community work, radio station and my labels naive and naivety). Other than that I’ve been doing wholesome things like shopping in the morning at the local farmers’ market (mornings didn’t use to be a thing for me haha), growing plants and herbs and roses in my backyard and cooking a lot of my fav dishes.
Q: As you know, Mykki Blanco from Dazed described you as the change she wants to see in the world – to have powerful women running the electronic music scene. Have you seen any changes in Portugal as well in the electronic music scene in general since then?
A:That was so nice of Mykki - I feel like thankfully things are changing, and maybes she would now refer to other incredible local artists like Herlander, PHOEBE, Ness, Stasya, BLEID or Odete - queer and POC folks who are really running things in terms of ethos and ideas. I’m excited to see a shift in our western-centric white patriarchal paradox and I’ll keep doing everything I can to move to a beautiful, inclusive cultural panorama.
Q: There is still some work to be done. What do you think the event industry should do to empower marginalized artists more?
A: I think the events industry needs to simply look at their local and international scenes and ponder ethically who they should give a voice to - keeping in mind that inclusiveness applies not only at artists but to cultural programmers, door policy, agents and all sorts of events staff. Be the change you want to see in the world, right? In that same spirit, I feel that bigger cultural players who have robust platforms and resources could take responsibility in changing this inequitable paradigm by giving a helping hand to young, up and coming non-white, queer, women promoters via skill sharing and sponsoring, for example - and this responsibility applies to press, too. Nurturing a fertile ground for a grassroots cultural movement to thrive is key.
Q: In June 2018, you invited the mina crew to 'invade' the stage during your Lisbon pride performance. Could you tell us a bit more about that?
A: It was actually a crew of trans and non-binary artists from Lisbon, some mina-related and some friends. That year, Lisbon’s huge Pride event had no trans or non-binary representation in their line-up, so we collectively took the responsibility to correct that and Odete, Yizhaq, Shade, Sta and Ketia performed with me, dancing, reciting readings and DJing with me on my headlining slot - and the fee was split between them. A simple, tactic approach!
Q: You’ve recently released a remix of Philou Louzolo’s track ‘Ahosi Army’. Could you tell us a bit more about this collaboration? How did it come to life?
A: Yes, I did! I loved doing that remix. Philou and I followed each other on Soundcloud for a while and had a mutual musical appreciation for one another. One fine day he messaged me asking if I’d be down to remix him for his label Wokoundou, which was a lovely surprise - I immediately said yes and here we are. I’m so honored to be part of that EP, which I find soooooo good.
Q: You just released a new track called ‘Search and find’. What inspired this track name?
A: That title is an allusion to the idea of not quitting, continuing your quest whatever it may be - not in a goals-centered way, more in a ‘stay true because that’s the only way life will be worth it’ way. Search (do you, even if that’s ever-changing) - and find (become better).
Q: What can we expect from Violet in the future? Are there any upcoming projects you would like to highlight?
A: I’ll be working hard on my labels naive and naivety, as I have a good few (incredible) releases to prepare and put out. I’m also in the process of releasing a new EP of mine on naive with a remix by my friend Eris Drew and I’m super excited about that. In the meantime, I’ve also been writing a lot of downtempo and ambient music, which I’ve been incorporating in live sets locally.