Vasco Valente Lopes is a native of Régua, the heart of the oldest wine region in the world. Winemaker by family tradition, DJ by vocation and by chance, has been resident in Industria Club since 2013, in addition to hoster of international DJs who visit the venue and event manager of the club. Politically aware, he is also a fan of cinema, literature and football, his “guilty pleasure”. A staunch defender of underground culture, he pursues mostly genres such as disco, house and techno, although he believes that music and creativity always speak louder, remembering, as a “dancefloor dude”, how much he vibrated when Moodymann played a hip-hop track… in Neopop. He has already shared the booth with reputed names such as Dubfire, KiNK, ANNA, Carl Craig, Nic Fanciulli, Alan Fitzpatrick, FJAAK, Blond:ish, Solomun, among many others that could be mentioned. In the first article of the heading “Explorer“, Wide Future navigates through the life and the work of Vasco Valente, a sure value of the new wave of DJs of the Portuguese underground movement.
He does not know if he had 12 or 13 years old, but he is sure that his first contact with electronic music came when, on Christmas of 1995, he received from his aunt a ripped CD of St. Germain’s EP Mezzotinto. Since then, he began his ‘career’ as a listener and raver of electronic music of all genres, highlighting parties with friends in which dance music was already the queen, the attendances in Dance in Douro – at the time the only electronic music festival in Portugal – and the assiduous reading of Dance Club magazine.
In 2004, through his friend Vítor Pimenta (DJ Da Silva), who went to spend the summer vacation to Régua and took records and mixing material, he learned to mix. In the summer of 2005, he bought a mixing table and a CDJ, when he was the manager of the bar À Deriva. At the weekends, the bar had invited DJs, but during the working days it was Vasco who was in charge of choosing the right music. At the end of the summer, he was invited to be a resident DJ at the Douro In bar every Fridays. The following year, he was invited to be resident on Saturdays at the Puro Malte bar in Lamego. Although financial gains were negligible, Vasco admits that the countless hours in the booth (sometimes playing 4 to 5 hours a night) gave him the experience of beat matching, mixing, musical selection and opening to new sound experiences fundamental to his evolution.
In 2008, he left the two residences to embark on an experience in Australia, because of his work as an oenologist. When he returned, he decided that it was time to leave the residences and start organizing his own events in Régua. At these parties, he invited DJs, mainly from Porto, establishing there the first contacts with some of his future partners of cabin and of agency.
It is in 2009 that things start to progress very quickly. In that year he held 3 events at the Bar Varosa Lounge, in Lamego, where he invited Serginho, Gusta-vo and Diana Oliveira. It is when he invites the latter that he met Ruben Domingues, manager of Diana and founder of the agency and promoter RDZ (organizer of the Elétrico Festival). After listening to Vasco and being very impressed, in September, Ruben invited him to play for the first time in Porto at the Zoo Lounge on We Love Sundays, on Sunday afternoons. The entry in 2010 could not have been better for Vasco, with the accomplishment of a goal that seemed to him a still so distant dream: to play in Gare Porto. He did it in the réveillon of 2009-2010. The next day Ruben invited Vasco to join the RDZ. From then until today, he is an assiduous and impressive presence in the underground scene of Porto. Two months later, he shared the booth for the first time with an international DJ: Sebo K, in Gare, along with Duo Method and João Teixeira.
In 2012, Ruben Domingues was invited to do the Friday programming in Industria, at the time a club that was not even dedicated exclusively to electronic music, as we know it today. This change of his agent triggered the more often performances of Vasco in there, although maintaining a remarkable regularity also in Gare. In the following year, Ruben started to accumulate the previous functions with his position as manager of Industria, inviting Vasco to join the team – it is at this moment that the DJ definitely moves from Régua to Porto – as he would be responsible for rehabilitating Industria as the house of national recognition that is today in terms of underground music.
Vasco Valente assumes himself, above all, as a collector of music, not looking at any genre label. He acquires music from downtempo to hard techno. Although he prefers sets with a low pitch, he refuses to label him in any style, because, in his words, “there is good music across the spectrum”. One of his maxims when he prepares a set and acquires music is that, if the music makes him dance and vibrate, even if not in the short term, someday it will make sense on the dancefloor. Following this line, Vasco prides himself on his eclecticism, but he knows that the balance between identity and eclecticism is the most difficult and challenging of a DJ’s work: he is convinced that making mistakes is inevitable and a positive consequence of the will to risk, something that only values the artist, because, in fact, “if it is to listen to a DJ who does not risk, I stay at home”. When questioned about his identity as a DJ, he sums it up with a simple principle: “if I were on the dancefloor right now, what would I’d like to hear?”.
Listening to Vasco‘s sets is to be transported to the personality of his musical ‘persona’: open minded, relaxed, outgoing, sarcastic and playful, so is the mood his music conveys. As confirmed in his hoster experience, the music a DJ plays effectively reflects a part of his personality. Then it’s the public feedback that dictates the rules of the game, and it’s the best inspiration a DJ can ask for.
Regarding his influences, Vasco chooses a mixture between gratitude to those who helped him to get where he is and those who risk and value the art of mixing. Among the national artists, he points out Rui Vargas, “because besides working as a DJ, he has an Homeric radio work”; André Cascais, “with whom I learned a lot in djing and music in general”; Serginho, “technically one of the best DJs I know, experienced, always faithful to underground music and able to combine current and old tracks, due to a very smart and cohesive collection”; Da Silva, “because he was the one who taught me” and King Fu, “a musical encyclopedia”. Among the international DJs, while recognizing that it is virtually impossible to make a choice without excluding some important name, emphasizes Ricardo Villalobos (“a true artist”), Moodymann (“a completely unexpected guy”) and the legendary Frenchman Laurent Garnier. About the most outstanding album, he does not hesitate to point out The Idiots Are Winning by James Holden, while the place where he likes to play the most is undoubtedly the Boat Parties of RDZ, due to the floating and moving dancefloor and the mutation of the landscapes during the journey, making the ravers free much more than in a nightclub.
In the enclave of the theme of his future plans, Vasco took the opportunity to address the current state of underground music in Portugal: he believes that, despite the small market, globalization benefited Portuguese DJs, diluting nationalities and supporting the talent of names such as Trikk and Lewis Fautzi, who have already achieved international recognition, and Nørbak, who, according to Vasco, will also “get there”.
The next step for the DJ from Douro is, of course, the production, also aiming to found an imprint. Although he already has 3 original tracks released more than 10 years ago (which he considers today “a little basic”) and continues to produce, he only desires to edit material that satisfies and values his career, adding something new to what he has already achieved. For this reason, for now, production remains a hobby.
However, his greatest dream and life goal is to create a project that combines enology and music, because he does not admit the hypothesis of giving up on one of them. It is a plan that Vasco believes will sooner or later come to realization, given that it is an idea that has already matured for some time. Doing it traveling around the world would be the cherry on top of the cake.