Chromatic Club sit down for a quick chat with – Laura de Vasconcelos! This trending DJ has been behind some amazing sets for DT, HOR and other recently, lets find out more...
Can you tell us a little about your experience and your background in the music business?
My career is quite accidental, to be honest, I just went along with what's coming my way - I didn’t plan every step of it. For starters, I am based in Berlin, and I don’t play techno, systematically, can you believe it? My sound is a suite of classics and underground, but achieving dancefloor appeal. I also insist on playing vinyl, so I keep dragging my collection of rhythmically and genre-spanning records up and down.
But to be more specific, an important part of my story began some time ago, when I moved to Abu-Dhabi, in 2005. At the time, I was hanging out with Shadi Megallaa, DJ, producer and owner of The Flip Side, Dubai's Independent Record Shop, and his crew. There, I scored a short residency at the Emirates Palace club. It was much fun, but I experimented less at the time. Yet my preferences for rhythmic beats and music extravaganza were already clear, as I played mainly 80’s disco. I think I’ve always been primed for some strobe-lit intense energy.
Then I moved to Berlin, a couple of years later, in 2007. I began working crowds at bars and clubs to Cannes Film Festival in 2010. That was great because I had a lot of freedom to experiment more, tailoring my approach with a more meticulous ear, testing the dance floor
- and having fun.
Around this time, I was admitted to a music school here in Berlin at the Deutsche Pop Akademie, and let me tell you that learning physics and music software in German was “kein Ponyhof ”.
From there, I’ve been around clubs and parties I love and identify with. It has to have a queer vibe, a sense of freedom. I love them because they have that attitude that bears the flag of being yourself, you know? I think because I am an autistic artist in the scene, some authenticity makes me feel at home. And also being autistic makes me less responsive to empty trends, not answering to smothering pressures to conform. It is a bit punk, it is a bit subversive, but it is also quite unique. Autism can be challenging, mostly in this industry. But I feel there is much more space for neurodiverse artists. I guess art may have a neurodiverse component.
Where are you from? Do you feel that has a big impact on your sound?
I’m Brazilian and that says a lot about my music preferences. Growing up in Brazil shaped my ear and my body to some melody, and a bit more groove. I am often pointing at the Bossa and Samba influences, and people notice them in my sets. I love electronic music, but I didn’t really come into the club scene looking for techno, I am already quiteintroverted, and I need the social aspect of a more organic sound. Also, my background comes along with me, which means much more rhythm. So, this is what I play. I honestly just prefer that sound over other sounds.
What artists and genres do you enjoy most right now?
I’m obsessed with “Unknown Artists”, those who never sign their tracks because of copyrights haha I have so many white labels I get lost not knowing which is what.
What is the story behind your new release? How did it come together?
I just released a series of audio-visual works that I produced and developed from scratch (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQX7_37XZbIWuMDfecSrfHFR-d4KPX5Bs). I was revisiting a collaborative work with Annabel Guérédrat, a fabulous French contemporary dancer. It was back in 2013 and 2014, and I was sampling Kraftwerk for the sound installation we developed during her performances in Paris, Biarritz, Bourge and Martinique. That inspired me to dive into mixed-media work, so I rescued my camera and from that, things just came together. I invited some friends, who are dancers and performers and we brought to life a series of stunning city landscapes, sound, dance and movement. The music and the rhythm brings it all together to create a city-bounded soundscape. They are absolutely gorgeous artists. Those wacky ideas I have and they embark with me, I can’t believe it haha.
Has your sound changed a lot in recent years?
Yes and no. I guess I don’t have a simple answer to that. The core of the music has never changed. It's always been about that raw energy—it's what I've always been into. I mean, I do have a preference, music and sounds I like more than others, and a core that is free and queer, an attitude that sort of remains constant. But I also travel across different genres, artists so it is in constant change. As I became more mature, all that formed the basis of my sound and style. I feel that when I am playing, it always starts in one place and progresses into unexpected directions. But when people are there, on the dance floor, for 2 or 3 hours, they understand the whole story, the big picture. But generally I like to create some uplifting tension that rarely peaks, but also rarely resolves, deploying sophisticated voices and rhythms that wash off inertia and keep your ears away from numbing repetition. Because my sound reflects my state of mind, my experiences and also what’s happening in the world around me, I have to live up to the challenge of bridging such disparates to reflect these stories.
Do you feel you can have a more experimental sound in the modern scene?
I play the sounds that speak to me, what is fun for the dance floor, and when it all comes together they make sense. I bring multiple genres and influences into my work in a way it
gives a direction to what I play. My job as an artist is to innovate so I can play around more. It may compromise popularity, but some like it hot, they get into my groove and have a good time. I start off at one place, then I add more complex and unusual cuts to bring it sonically together. I have to work my way to bridge a wide-ranging House and disco, classics and rarities to create raw and energetic sets. I appreciate the artistic freedom to play the music I feel inspired by. If that makes my music unique or experimental, well, so be it. I just don’t know how to be someone else and many people also like it underground.
We all know that the digital revolution has affected sales, but has it affected creativity?
It did but in a different way. For example the white labels I am obsessed with are a consequence of it. People have so many resources to play with, to choose from. So much variety to listen to it definitely affected taste and repertoire. People listen to more stuff, a lot of people produce independently, and sometimes you find some gems among all that’s been produced. The problem is that a lot of stuff gets lost among the overproduction, it is easy to disappear. It is easy to get lost too, you have to be quite discerning. But for creative purposes, it can be quite fruitful.
Can you tell us what's next for you?
For now, I can only think about vacations haha I have planned forty days on Brazilian shores. But rest assured I will come back to fire up the dance floors. This winter will be a long one hehe. Apart from that, I will see what comes. I don’t always know ‘what’s next’, I prefer not to treat my life as a business plan. For now, I am obsessed with my AV experiments. Let’s see where it leads me. Maybe that is how I reminisce about a somewhat punk naivité, but it also keeps me on my toes, fresh, and helps me to resist the sometimes crippling pressure to conform to adult life