I am a Lisbon-based Music Producer fascinated with the urban music developed in Lusophone Africa and its diaspora. As this interest inevitably carries with it great influences from other countries and continents (Brazil, Latin America, Antilles, Congo, South Africa) the music from Lusophone Africa should never bring along a limit, but rather serve as a platform for further understanding.
I believe most of the greatest artists of our times succeeded not only through hard work and talent but also with two essential ingredients almost always overseen (but present) in the West: proximity to the cultural canon and proper working conditions. Others, equally talented but dwelling in less favoured countries, didn’t make it. And so we all lost brilliant musicians along the centuries, all over the world, whose names are lost forever.
I spend my time not only connecting talented and hardworking artists to valuable opportunities to express them, but also presenting emerging Afro-Urban sounds through their innovative, daring, transgressive side, counter-cycle with the idealised, paternalist and exotic Africa that was so often involuntarily exported, no matter how well intentioned some of the involved were.
The record industry (mainstream or indie) has always depended on new inputs (rhythms, melodies, music scales) to feed the urgency of constant originality. Today more than ever, there is a need to present, in the West, these “unknown” sounds, that of course have been developed for centuries in their countries of origin. However, the success of a cultural fusion depends on a complete, full mediation on many levels; from deep knowledge of artists in their countries of origin and diaspora to expertise in the various musical genres, familiarity to local “ways of doing” and most importantly of all, an artistic vision that puts the spotlight on local tradition without trying to dominate it.
Together we can pronounce cultural differences as a force for closeness, admiration and respect, as opposed to a problem.
My Work Process
What is expected from a Music Producer varies between countries and cultures. My work is not purely technical but more towards artistic direction and strategy. I do this joining the knowledge of more than a decade of research and recordings of urban Lusophone African music with a deep understanding of the european record industry, its trends and limits.
My work is to negotiate, between labels and musicians, the best possible compromise between the artistic ambitions of the musicians, the competitive advantage of the record on the market and my vision for how the musical project should sound like.
My role as a Music Producer specialised in music from countries with a colonial past but working mainly for european record labels places me inevitably as a cultural mediator and poses more challenges than the ones tackled by most producers.
I can start a project by working directly with a band with the aim of, after rehearsals, present it to a potentially interested record label, or start a project by initiative of a record label that gives me total freedom to create, develop and manage the project. All the projects I have participated in had their specific objectives and matching budgets, so the methodology adopted can only be defined after we know the exact role of each one of the participants, the artistic freedom that is given to me, the general goals, deadlines, etc.
The collaborations i maintain, either with musicians, record labels or sound technicians, tend to be long term professional relations where confidence, professionalism and ambition develop until we reach a perfect equilibrium: a space of creation where creativity is encouraged and where we materialize, through music, a powerful vision of modern Africa.
My past as a DJ and Producer connects me to years of work as co-founder of Celeste/Mariposa (2009-2016). I participated in all stages of production of the album Kudihohola of Chalo Correia, and co-compiled the much celebrated Analog Africa´s Space Echo Compilation (link band camp space echo).
As we await the results of the exciting new projects (the first as an independent Producer) coming out in 2020, here is a glimpse of my previous work (here still involved in my previous project)
Francisco “Fininho” Sousa started his research on the music from Lusophone African Countries, its influences and evolution in 2009 as co-founder of Celeste/Mariposa where he was until 2016. During this period he promoted and recorded various musicians in Lisbon – as shown in Rita Maia and Vasco Viana´s documentary Lisbon Beat (2019) – and co-compiled Analog Africa´s celebrated compilation “Space Echo” while Celeste/Mariposa developed a solid international career as DJs, pioneers of an urban and cosmopolitan vision of what were, at the time, forgotten and despised sounds from Lusophone Africa.
After leaving Celeste/Mariposa in 2016, Francisco started an independent career as a DJ and Producer. In 2018, he started various collaborations with some of the most respected european labels for the recording of full albums as well as compilations. Earliest releases expected during 2020.
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