Wonderland.

ESNS21

Introducing Miramar, Marinho and Lina_Raül Refree: the boundary-pushing artists awakening Portugal’s booming music scene.

As we all sit at our desks right now, longing for even just five minutes of uncensored pre-pandemic antics or day-dreaming about all the faraway destinations we’re going to visit once we’re bestowed with a smidge of normality – it’s apparent that one thing hasn’t changed. Music is still the most transportive thing we have going for us right now.

And unbeknownst to many, simmering away in the underbelly of Portugal, is a rich and verdant music scene, where a fusion of traditional and modern sounds are ready to be delivered to us on a platter in new and inventive ways.

One platform that, time and time again, champions the best in show, is ESNS (Eurosonic Noorderslag), the biggest showcase festival in Europe, running from 13th to 16th January. For the first time ever, it has gone fully digital, and the sets will be streamed for free via the ESNS website, esns.nl, to continue its mission: promoting and circulating new European music.

On their roster? Lina_Raül Refree – comprised of buzzy producer Raül Refree (Rosalía, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo) and Portuguese singer Lina – making waves with their boundary-pushing interpretations of the country’s famed genre “fado” (translating to “fate”) aka the Lisbon version of the blues, all analog synths and hushed sonics. Also making a name for herself is Lisbon-born artist Marinho who has gathered a fanbase with her acclaimed debut album back in 2019, showcasing her personal and confessional songwriting. And also Frankie Chavez + Peixe of Miramar, spearheading the Portuguese music scene with only the most soulful arrangements and heart-stirring songs, infused with Folk, Blues and classic Rock.

We caught up with them below…

All ESNS performances will be streamed completely free via ESNS.nl. Registrations for the conference with panels, keynotes and interviews cost €50, are available via esns.nl/tickets

Lina_Raül Refree

Portuguese duo Lina_Raul Refree
Portuguese duo Lina_Raul Refree

Hi Lina and Raül – how have you been during this uncertain time? How has it impacted your music and creativity?
Sure, everything that happens around impacts on my music, for me it’s impossible to separate. As you know, on the last months it’s been more difficult to play live and many concerts were canceled, but we did many nice concerts for reduced audiences and I’ve been producing a lot in the studio which is nice.

How did you guys meet? And what did you set out to accomplish with Lina_Raül Refree?
Why is your sound synergic together?

We were introduced to each other at Club de Fado and the day after we met we went to the studio to try some things out. And it went great from the first moment, we had a great feeling playing together. I have to say Lina always felt comfortable with my concept of music and it was super easy to improvise and find new musical territories.

How would you describe your genre? What twist are you putting on Portuguese Fado?
I am not very good at describing what I do and I see it different every time. What I can say is that I am not an expert in fado and what I tried to do is to give my personal point of view of this genre trying to extract all the emotion possible in every song. I don’t think it’s a record about a genre is more an album about emotions.

Why do you think the Portuguese music scene is really exciting right now?
I think it’s the tradition which is receiving more and more attention because there’s something there that’s it’s impossible to find anywhere else in music, something true that touches our deepest feelings.

Are you excited to be playing at ESNS festival?
Sure!

How did you feel when you found out you were nominated at the MUSIC MOVES EUROPE TALENT AWARDS?
It felt good, it’s always nice to know people enjoy what you do. It’s a lonely road and this kind of recognition make you feel less lonely.

What do you want fans to take from your music?
Whatever they feel, I don’t want to decide for them, everyone should listen and feel by his own way.

What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
There will be some albums this 2021 produced by me, I am very proud of being part of them and I can’t wait for them to be released.

Marinho

Portuguese singer Marinho 1 (ph Marta Olive)
Portuguese singer Marinho 1 (ph Marta Olive)

Hi Marinho – how have you been during this uncertain time? How has it impacted your music and creativity?
My answer to this changes as quickly as the weather. I guess that’s what the pandemic has done to us all. It can vary from having a highly productive week and then not being able to write anything for days. Unlike popular notion, being on lockdown isn’t necessarily the right environment for songwriting — at least not for me. That being said, I’m still very excited about my creative output and about the person that this crazy zeitgeist is forcing me to grow into.

How did growing up in Lisbon influence you sonically? Who were your musical heroes?
Due to my parents’ taste, growing up I was around a lot more English and American music than Portuguese. My first memory of a live concert was Bob Dylan, at age 8. And from the vast record collection we had at home, I was always attracted to greats like Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, Melanie Safka, Carole King, Nick Drake, Crosby Stills Nash & Young… you get the picture. I was obviously impacted by some national artists like Vitorino, Resistência, Ornatos Violeta, but it was only later in my 20s that I came to duly appreciate traditional Portuguese music like fado and politically active folk writers like José Mário Branco.

How would you describe your genre?
Alternative folk rock that makes you nostalgically look back on your life’s story.

Congratulations on your single “Ghost Notes” – what is it inspired by?
Thanks! It was at a BadBadNotGood show back in 2016 that I was watching the drummer — drooling over his playing really — and it came to me that the ghost notes (those subtle beats that go in between the main beat) are a perfect metaphor for the little signs that tell you that your romantic partner isn’t gonna stay long. That song was my way of overcoming a broken heart.

And you’ve cited your musical connection to feminism and the women in your life – would you mind explaining this a bit more?
Any person that is authentically strong and kind, I’m attracted to. Even more so when I stumble upon a woman that writes from a place of truth without catering to anyone else. Those are my models and constant inspiration.

Why do you think the Portuguese music scene is really exciting right now?
Never has there been so many new bands emerging. We’re only scratching the surface of what the internet has done to talented creators in this country and it’s time the rest of the world hears about them too.

Are you excited to be playing at ESNS festival?
Very excited and proud!

What do you want fans to take from your music?
I want them to feel like they’re not alone. We’re all sharing our wounds one way or another. This is my way of doing that.

What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
I just want to make music and contribute to the happiness of people around me.

Miramar

Portuguese band Miramar
Portuguese band Miramar

Hi Frankie Chavez and Peixe – how have you been during this uncertain time? How has it impacted your music and creativity?
Well, It’s been a strange year. As most of our gigs were cancelled we had plenty of time to work on new stuff, so we went to the studio, and recorded our second album.

How did you guys meet? What do you both bring to Miramar?
We met in the “Guitarras ao Alto” festival in Alentejo. The organisation invited us to prepare a guitar duo concert for the 2017 edition. We enjoyed playing together so much that we decided to make a record and continue playing. We both bring all our musical experience to Miramar. The two of us started in Rock, but developed different styles as players, although we share the same passion for the guitar.

Why the name Miramar?
Miramar is a seaside village near Porto in the north of Portugal. It was where we got together to rehearse for the first time. It was the place where everything began.

How would you describe your genre?
We are somewhere between folk, blues, country, fado and a bunch of other things; but in the end we are nothing of that, we’re just Miramar.

Your homonymous album was considered by the press one of the best Portuguese albums of the year and nominated for Best European Independent Album by The IMPALA Awards – what’s been your biggest pinch-me moment so far?
In 2020 we won the SPA prize for the best popular music song, which was a great honour for us. Besides that, we had really exciting times in the studio, working on the new album. It will be released this year and we are very happy with it.

Why do you think the Portuguese music scene is really exciting right now?
There’s a growing number of dedicated and talented people doing great stuff, specially in the younger generation. It’s probably a result of how open the country has been in the last decades.

Are you excited to be playing at ESNS festival?
Yes. We are looking forward to it.

What do you want fans to take from your music?
We want to guide listeners trough a journey where they forget everything and just let themselves go with the flow of the sound. We believe Instrumental music it’s perfect for this.

What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
As we said before, we can’t wait to release our new album Miramar II and go on the road with it. I hope the pandemic doesn’t ruin this for us all.

ESNS21

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