Rising star of the selector scene, the incredible crate digger Mafalda doesn’t have both hands in her pockets. She fell into music at a very young age, and after a long hip-hop this Porto bred jazz-lover moved to London where she met Floating Points and started to co-run the Melodies International re-issues label. We had the opportunity to talk to her right before the 6th release of the label and her gigs at Gille’s Peterson Worldwide festival and the Dimension festival
You run the Label Melodies International, could you present the project/ idea behind it to us? What motivated you to make a zine for every release?
Melodies was born out of the You’re a Melody dances that took place in Plastic People from 2013 until 2015. Sam (Floating Points) and Richie (Dj Love on The Run) started it and I joined at an early stage – the idea was to wind up beautiful music that never got the pressing and attention it deserved, put a spotlight on it, make it available again. We do a Melozine to come with (most of) the releases because we feel the need to contextualize the music we’re releasing, there are lots of untold stories and we like to learn about them and share them. It’s also a way of spreading love, we include articles and inspiring stories not only about the musicians we release but also from like-minded people around the world.
A crazy anecdote about a re-issue? something a bit wild you had to do to get the clearance rights for example ?
We might go to America and knock on doors to find someone and then exchange letters with them – licensing can be tricky and unfair sometimes but it can also be very romantic.
You co-run the label with floating points? How did you guys meet? How did the project happen?
Yes, Sam (Floating Points) created the You’re a Melody dances and imagined this label to release the stuff that was being played at the parties, Richie (Dj Love on the Run) in New York is also one of the founding members and I was a huge fan of them and the party.
Sam and Richie were about to release the single Rock Don’t Stop and I wanted to help out so I got in touch and Sam asked me to do the first zine. That’s how it started for me. Then, they’re both busy, so I started helping out with everything else.
What are the perks and the low points of running a label? Why a re-issue label? Would you ever consider releasing other things apart from re-issues?
The perks are so many, I’m grateful for having this job, I get to talk with amazing musicians and show them their music is still relevant today, that’s quite special.
I meet like-minded people from all over the world, people from other labels, people from record shops, journalists, collectors, idols and fans. I listen to music all day, I work with a small, talented group of people, I get to think about what these records will look like and follow the whole process from scratch, I have some free records sometimes it’s really rewarding, but it’s not all roses, there are some stressful days as in every work place, days when you think the whole coffee in the world won’t help you getting the job done and sometimes it really doesn’t and it can be frustrating, but most days are good days.
Why re-issues we would have to ask Sam, but personally, I think everyone should be able to have these records if they want them. It’s fairness, really, records for the many, not the few!
We’re doing our first series of edits next month (July), for now we’ve only done re-issues and have these previously unreleased edits lined up but we’re open, anything can happen!
You’re known for being a «selector dj», what drew you to this type of music? Did you always listen to Soul and Brazilian music for instance?
I’ve always listened to Brazilian music, yes, Soul music showed up in my life later but I’ve always listened to music with Soul, it had to have feeling, I don’t know why, it’s just one of those things, Soul music hits me.
How did you start working in music? Was it something that you planned?
I’ve dreamt about it but never really planned it, moving to London changed my perspective, before I didn’t know it was possible.
After some months here I started doing Melodies and after that I got a job at Cosmos Records London and I’m still doing both.
You’re playing at Dimensions festival, with a big house and techno line-up, what’s your relationship with electronic music?
I grew up listening to electronic music, I enjoy a lot of old and new electronic music and I buy electronic music records sometimes, it’s not something I’ll play often because right now I’m having lots of fun playing the music I play, but even though I play mostly non-club music I play it in clubs the most, what I do is rooted in club culture. So I’m getting used to playing with house and techno line-ups, it still scares me, but I’m getting used to it. And the next day I might be playing at a Jazz club, you know, music is love and love has no time or place.
We know your a jazz-head, what about Disco?
I play Disco a lot, I love it. Some Disco is just so good and dancing to Disco is such a freeing experience, it makes me really happy.
Do you think the rise of interest and popularity in electronic music is enlarging and bringing back people to music like Disco, Soul and Jazz?
I’m not sure the interest can be related like that, I think those kinds of music are just too beautiful and people will listen to them because the music is good, independently of liking electronic or not.
Now, some electronic music uses Disco, Soul and Jazz and the truth is everything is connected, I’m not sure how the interest relates though, I think it’s just beautiful music and people like beautiful music.
How do you fit in the whole scene as a selector-only dj?
It’s been quite naturally most of the times, I play music I love, like any other dj. I’m more nervous about it than the promoters, they make me feel like I fit and the people who come to the parties too, so it’s been a fun, smooth process.
Radio or Club?
Depends, I love both. I can explore different things when I’m doing radio and I really enjoy that but I love parties, I’ve danced all my life, I love clubs, I couldn’t choose between the two, they’re both really different and really fun to do.
What’s the best memory you have about your job? And the worst?
Meeting and being surrounded by so many talented people is a highlight for sure, it’s really inspiring. Specific moments, I don’t know, I do love when the records arrive, after working on them for months, to finally see them out there, being well received, is very rewarding.
I don’t have bad memories about my job, it keeps me busy but busy is good.
Sadar Bahar, Hunee, Antal: You work in a field (and the selectors scene most particularly) that is very masculine, how do you feel about that? Are you tired of getting the question and want to focus on the fact that you are not just a woman but an artist as well?
There will be more men doing it but I don’t think it’s a masculine field. I’m feminine and I belong to it so I don’t think it’s masculine. The djs you mentioned are wonderful people who treat women equally. All the people you should look up to are like that, misogyny is the fruit of ignorance – What are those people afraid of, really?
When people say that women don’t belong in the dj scene it tells you a lot more about them than it tells you about women. Or when men think they can tell you anything that crosses their minds because you’re a woman in a “men’s world” or to try to diminish women, who are normally strong, resilient people (and even if they’re not!), just because they’re women, how sad…
I’m not tired of the question because sadly it is still an issue. Everyone needs to call out misogyny when they see it so that it will stop one day, same with racism, islamophobia, homophobia, I mean, it’s 2017 and we still have so much to do… so yea, I think it’s important to keep the debate alive.
We are called Hard Life, what makes your life sweeter?
Music and many other things, my friends and family, the sun and the sea when I have them, plants, colours, kindness, ice cream… so many things!
To finish off, in reference to your label Melodies, could you tell me the 3 songs that have the most beautiful melody for you?
This is the hardest question! Ha… I love the whole thing about a song, the melody, the emotion put into the instruments, the rhythm, the lyrics… even choosing 3 songs would be super hard but 3 melodies is even harder! I love spiritual melodies like John Coltrane’s Naima or Michael White’s The Blessing Song, so heart-felt.
or Soul melodies like Aged in Harmony’s. Some strings are just so beautiful! And I love a thousand Brazilian melodies… I don’t know, there’re too many amazing melodies in the world, it’s really hard to choose 3.