Photo: Catharina Gerritsen (Nuno dos Santos)
“If you’re doing it right it doesn’t matter what style or genre you play and you can really go interesting places”, Nuno Dos Santos claims about the idea behind his contribution to our Groove podcast. In a way, you could probably say the same about the Portguese-born Dutchman who went from being a graphic designer to releasing music together with TJ Kong, founding his own Something Happening, Somewhere to spinning regularly at the now-defunct Trouw and other clubs around the Netherlands as well as internationally. His mix for Groove, which is spiked with forthcoming SoHaSo tunes, does indeed go places.
Before making music your full-time job, you had your own graphic company. What exactly did you do there and how does it translate to what you are doing now as a DJ, producer and label owner?
Indeed, I was a graphic designer for years before switching to music full time. I was working on the things graphic designers work on, i.e. I was making magazines, posters, websites, logos, etc. I attended art school and afterwards was always doing a mixture of both design and music. When the music side kept growing I’ve decided to drop the design side to focus on music full time. I still love working on those things when I have the opportunity and time and one of the areas it still plays a major part in running the SoHaSo label. We put in a lot of effort to create something unique and special when it comes to the artwork of our releases. I ask different designers for every release and keep them pretty free in terms of what they come up with other than that it has to fit the music and can exist inside the SoHaSo universe, although that can be quite varied as seen in our releases so far. I’m always very involved in this process, so I’m very happy to combine these two sides in a new way with running the label.
Your label Something Happening, Somewhere focuses on the work of producers you are personally friends with. What however is the musical concept behind it?
It’s not only focused on producers I’m friends with, some artists from the label became friends over time and I generally like to have a personal connection with the people I work with. But it’s definitely not a requirement. There is not one musical concept behind it, although we do have a preference in sound that I think is recognizable to people. In general, we try to release timeless music; music that comes from an honest place and isn’t just the flavor of the moment or a one-trick-pony style. We try to create something special with every release and besides the music of course, the artwork plays an important role in creating this little universe people can get lost in. I don’t like blown up egos. The music can still be great, but for me it means I don’t want to release it. In that sense we’re not only about releasing but also in creating this warm family environment which further enforces the whole label and the energy that is involved.
Throughout your career, you have always sought collaborations like with Patrice Bäumel as 360 and TJ Kong. Both projects however were discontinued. Did these partnerships simply come to end of their lifescycle? Will they be revisited? And how does the creative process compare as a solo artist?
I really enjoyed these collaborations and learned a lot from the energy in the studio and making decisions together. It didn’t really come to an end but at one point I just decided it felt right to tell my own story. But there is always a chance that we’ll meet again and spend some time in the studio. Actually, I’m visiting TJ Kong for the first time in two years next week! I like the back and forth thing you get with collaborations, exchanging ideas and both adding something to the table. At the moment I’m spending quite a lot of time in the studio, it feels good to work on more music and there is some fresh solo material coming out soon as well as a collaboration with Cosmic Force and some other stuff.
After throwing regular Sohaso parties at Trouw, you have moved on to Tivoli in Utrecht and Paradigm in Groningen, a club which will have to move soon. What did the closure of Trouw mean for Amsterdam’s nightlife and how would you characterize the situation in the Netherlands in general: is it becoming harder to run a successful club there in the long run?
Actually, we have always done parties in our home town of Utrecht, that’s where we started with the label nights, and the same thing goes for Paradigm. A lot has been said about Trouw already so I don’t really feel like adding anything more to this subject, although it holds a very special place in my heart of course. I don’t really think it became much harder to run a successful club, at the moment we have a lot of clubs and festivals for a relatively small country but I feel they can co-exist and it’s a very healthy and vibrant scene. Of course there is already a lot being offered, so it becomes more important to distinguish yourself and to do something unique. We still organize label nights in Utrecht and we’re also doing some smaller parties in EKKO. Besides this we’re also doing more label showcases overseas, we have already done a label night in New York with the Fiction NYC guys and this weekend we are doing a SoHaSo night at Überhaus in Beirut.
Apart from running your own label, you have forged a strong relationship with the Compost collective. How did that come about and what does the label mean to you a music fan?
The first track I’ve ever made with TJ Kong was signed within 30 minutes by Michael Reinboth after sending him an email. We did some EPs with them and also an album. I have a good relationship with these guys and I’m still very thankful for the collaboration and I’m also still working with them for a bit. Thomas Herb, who runs Lossles together with Mathias Schober, also works at Compost and we’ve done a collaborative King Britt release with them last year. We’re doing a second chapter by King Britt in the collaboration between SoHaSo and Lossless which will see the light of day pretty soon. I also really like that Compost is continuing their amazing Future Sounds of Jazz compilation series. The new one is great! Also Glücklich by Rainer Truby is one of my favourite compilations of the label.
Your contribution to our Groove podcast opens with some gentle mbira sounds and although hitting a bit more dance floor markers as we progress, it’s a pretty eclectic affair in general. What was your idea behind it?
Like always, I really enjoy playing a full spectrum of music so not sticking to one style or genre. Starting a vibe and then slowly changing that to something different musically speaking but maintaining the vibe so it doesn’t feel disconnected. If you’re doing it right it doesn’t matter what style or genre you play and you can really go interesting places. So I wanted to start out this mix with some more tropical and African vibes and after a while change it up with the new killer track by NewWorldAquarium, which has that same loose vibe. I love his productions and he’s a very talented producer. Further down the road I’m changing direction with some all time favorites by Laurent Garnier and Damon Wild with Steve Stoll and diving into some broken electro vibes nearing the end of the mix. That radioactive man track is a beauty! The track before the last track on the mix is Aroy Dee and for me is also one of my all-time delights, the track still blows my mind and still sounds very fresh. Besides that I’ve also included a few unreleased SoHaSo tracks.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future and what are your plans as a producer and label owner?
This Thursday I’m playing at the beach in the Netherlands, playing an all day long set with Patrice Bäumel at Woodstock in Bloemendaal. And on Friday I will travel to Beirut with Love over Entropy for our first SoHaSo label night there at Überhaus. I’m really looking forward to both of these gigs and I’m also looking forward to the closing week at Paradigm!
Release wise I’ve just released an EP together with Falco Benz on My Favorite Robot. We’ve also just released a collaborative Presk EP with the Mary Go Wild which also includes a remix I did and there will be a new collaborative track on the upcoming SOMEWHERE III compilation out in June. Besides this I’m working a lot on new solo stuff as well. With SoHaSo we have just released a new album by Kiani & His Legion called Lima Oscar Victor Echo which I think is brilliant. Also in July there is the second part of our collaboration with Lossless and after the summer we’re releasing new music by Kurt Baggaley, Polynation and Love over Entropy.
Stream: Nuno Dos Santos – Groove Podcast 108
01. Hu Vribrational – Meta M’Bulu (Soul Jazz)
02. Tanzania Soundsystem – Ngono Kijiji (Highlife)
03. Dj Uffe – No Clue (Oye)
04. Skinnerbox – Gender (Auntie Flo’s Marimba Jam)
05. Newworldaquarium – Chubby Knuckles (Ape)
06. Aroma Pitch – DTDMB (Aroma Pitch)
07. Tracey – Phase 1 (SoHaSo)
08. Laurent Garnier – Moonbeam (Fnac)
09. Voyager 8 – We Left The Planet (Synewave)
10. Robert D – Un Ni Yo (Interstellar Funk remix) (9300)
11. Roger van Lunteren – On And Dna No (The Sun Riser) (XXX)
12. Carbon Academy – Between The Lines (Millennium)
13. Radioactive Man – Gugs (Wang Trax)
14. Andrea Parker – Melodious Thunk (Mo Wax)
15. Yello – Frautonium (Andrew Weatherall ‘Reactor’ Remix) (Blank Media)
16. Quince – Pelagic Zones (SoHaSo)
17. Aroy Dee – Godess (MOS)
18. Fort Romeau – Sattelite2 (FR)