Fall in love with Lisbon’s soul
Passion and a love for the sounds of the capital city drive the Portuguese capital’s bubbling music scene.
The recent music boom and wealth of exciting new venues is putting Lisbon on the map as a rising European cultural hub, with both young and established musicians making their mark in what is described as the new “golden age” of Lisbon’s culture scene.
Hop on the culture bus
With an unusual architectural structure designed around shipping containers and double-decker buses, Village Underground (VU) is a true “transit hub” of creativity. Founded in London more than a decade ago and imported to Lisbon in 2014, this unique culture centre provides a stage where the local creative community can show off its skills to the world.
Portuguese entrepreneur Mariana Duarte Silva decided to import this project to support emerging young artists in her own city.
Village Underground is a true transit hub of creativity.
“We are proud to be contributing to the scene. We love to see so many young and established artists coming here,” says Silva, who describes VU as one of the many things that Lisbon needed to become a “global creative city.”
This co-working community space is not only a place to enjoy concerts by new local artists, but also a venue for conferences, socialising, and discussion within the creative community.
Feeling right at home
There’s no need for binoculars to see your favourite artist at this venue: the Lisbon Living Room Sessions project offers a truly unique setting for exclusive musical performances by local talent – every concert is hosted in a private home.
It all started in 2015 when the leaders of this initiative, Joanna Hecker from Michigan and Ricardo Lopes from Lisbon, organised the first concert at their own home.
The aim of the project is to offer an intimate taste of the genuine music scene in Lisbon while helping promising musicians to grow.
The Lisbon Living Room Sessions want to keep everyone connected, engaged, and enthusiastic.
“Some of our artists are quite famous but others are not. We aim to bring unknown excellence to the attention of people who really care,” says Hecker.
The concerts have rapidly gained popularity among locals. The Lisbon Living Room Sessions want to keep everyone connected, engaged, and enthusiastic about being part of something special.
Great music always tastes better when accompanied by a good drink. Professional bartender Constança Cordeiro, better known by the nickname Raposa Silvestre, has recently opened Toca da Raposa, a cocktail bar in the city centre with one strict rule: She only plays Portuguese hits that she personally loves.
“The evolution of Portuguese music has been incredible. There are a lot of really talented upcoming Portuguese artists and I want to show their art and support them as much as I can,” says Cordeiro, who, despite having worked abroad for many years, considers herself “100 per cent Lisboeta.”
“The evolution of Portuguese music has been incredible.”
Located in a former bakery and newsagent on the Rua da Condessa, her bar boasts a detailed menu of “100 per cent Portuguese” cocktail creations with suggestive names like O Golfinho (The Dolphin), O Lobo (The Wolf), O Corvo (The Crow), O Cavalo (The Horse), A Cegonha (The Stork), and O Porco (The Pig).
The bar also supports “young passionate artists” such as fashion designers, illustrators, graphic designers, and architects.
For a sample of Lisbon’s authentic ghetto sound, look no further than Marlon Silva (alias DJ Marfox), the pioneer of urban batida, an Afro-Portuguese genre of electronic music that has become huge since emerging in the Lisbon suburbs back in the early noughties.
DJ Marfox incorporates various dance music influences with house and techno, such as kuduro, kizomba, funaná, and tarraxinha.
“His style is a perfect mix, both musically and socially, because it fuses two different worlds and helps to bring down some of the racial barriers that still exist,” says João Morais, a Portuguese fan of DJ Marfox.
With his fusion music, Silva wants to show a new side to the city.
Morais regards artists like DJ Marfox as having a lasting impact on the music scene in Lisbon. “This type of music is quickly becoming a trend in Lisbon. And it’s easy to see why: It brings people together and makes them dance, regardless of race, social status, or language barriers,” comments Morais.
Lisbon’s new urban music style already has its own festival coming up in September. Nova Batida will feature Marlon Silva and various other Portuguese and international artists who are changing the music landscape and the rules of producing music not only in Portugal but around the world, too.
Text David Palacios
Photos Jussi Ratilainen