November 9, 2018

Diary of a DJ: Mouldy Soul plays Suti

In this guest post, Glitch Hop producer Mouldy Soul shares with us his experience of playing at the Suti Festival in Portugal during the summer...

By: Deadly Custard

Excellent glitch producer Mouldy Soul honours us with a write-up on his recent experience performing at Suti Festival in Portugal. Read all about it below and also be sure to follow him on any of his social pages to keep up-to-date with his movements!

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My good friend Deadly Custard asked me to do a little write up of my experience playing in a different country. I met Deadly through an online masterclass, and his general supportive demeanour and way his words came across online made me warm to him very fast, the enthusiasm and complimentary critique of work has helped me and other producers make much better music quicker than we could have done alone, so when he asked me “could you do a write up for this festival?”; I was more than happy to jump on it and return the favour!

But I was worried… the Suti Festival was my first time playing in Portugal, not my usual familiar territories; it’s hard not to get anxious about arriving on time and turning up in the right place for lifts! Usually what DJs or Producers don’t tell you is that the hardest part is often getting to places at the right times, the music is practised everyday but it’s harder to practise logistics everyday! Maybe to practise I should just get buses to random places and time myself, but that could be a potentially hazardous waste of a day!

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

Suti Festival triptych

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

Thursday 0500: Time to leave for Portual

Woke up, jumped in shower, drank as many cups of tea as I could realistically fit into my belly within the time scale before leaving, quick panic to see if all the gear and wires are actually packed, jumped in car and got to the airport. With international flights you usually have to be there around 2 hours before the departure time and I think I made it there with 55 mins to spare. Stupidly thought I had time to kill, so I very slowly bundled about, until flight boarding had been called and it was now only 20 mins before the takeoff! The rush begins… I realise I am nowhere near the gate, and have to run my ass off to get to gate 47, when I’m at something like 12! I have severely underestimated how long it was going to take to get to the gate! Although I managed to get there with the last few people boarding, now reeking and dripping of sweat, a good look when you’ve got the middle seat!

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

Late night atmosphere

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

Thursday 1600: To Porto

Our plane lands in Porto Francisco airport and I now have five or six hours to kill. It’s cost ineffective to send drivers to pick up one person at a time to the site which is 3 hours away, so the way the organisers had worked it out is wait for the last arrival to come and set off in a minibus with four/five people. Quanta (Aka Akasha, Tummy Talk) was to be the last arrival at 2100ish. I heard one of the other guys was already in the middle of town, so I decided not to stay at the airport for five hours but to explore a bit of the city and obviously sample the local delicacies such as “Super Bock”, which is pretty much Carlsberg! I headed into the city to meet Lukas, (Aka DJ Username, Loki Galactic), who surprisingly lives only around 30mins from where I live, it’s weird to travel thousands of miles from home and meet people that pretty much live on your doorstep! We had a few beers and, eventually, a pretty wicked Veggie burger. I was playing with the waiter saying I wouldn’t have guessed it was veggie, maybe that might have been true if he gave me some ketchup, I did ask, responded with “we have olive oil”. In what world is olive oil a replacement for ketchup goddammit!

The extra time we spent getting said burger has now pushed us over the time slot for when we needed to be at the airport, and we still needed to get to Lukas’ hostel to grab his bag. Porto is quite hilly and after three beers and belly full of burger it became quite a mission to get around. We were supposed to get to the airport for picking up at 9.00pm, it’s now 9.309.45 and we are just getting on the metro back to the airport, luckily the driver hadn’t left, and the other people arriving were happy to be here, at least I hope!

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

Mingling with the crowd

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

Thursday 2200: On our way

The three hour drive begins to the festival, now journeys are easy if you have good company and wicked conversation, the only person who feels like they are working is the driver, and luckily we had a great lot of people and a great driver who enjoyed bantering with us. The trip was like a conversational oscillator of silliness, seriousness, surrealness and sarcasm, waves of silliness juxtaposed with the occasional bits of realness!

Friday 0100: Arrival at Suti

The three hours traveling evaporate and we now arrive at the festival site at 1am-ish; four of us in the car but three of us didn’t have a tent… we had been told there were tents for us. We we’re looking at each other wondering whether this is the not the best time to be setting up a tent in pitch black darkness. Luckily the tents were the two min popup variety, even though it still took me a good five mins of wrestling with it to get it up!

It’s pitch black with no music playing just yet as it kicks off into Friday. I stay up for a bit, meet some Liverpool people and get a little distorted with them, maybe a tad flanged as well. It was hard when we first arrived to see the layout of the land as it was quite late at night, and all the lights hadn’t been put up yet. We could just see the river running through the centre of the land and a camp bar beyond, so we trekked across the formidable, wobbly and wonky footbridge over the river and made a perch by the bar. I called it a night shortly after, and that was Day minus 1.

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

Psychadelic festival tent

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

Friday 0900: Music!

Day 1 and the music begins. I loved this festival for a few different reasons, the people, the place, the organisation and the music. I probably would have rocked up even if the music wasn’t the best fucking techno you’re ever likely to hear. If it was just pure psy I could have put up with it, the people and the place make it that much of a nice environment, but the music was off the chain, Electrypnose, Neurodriver, Luis M, Hedflux, Zen Baboon were just some of the amazing acts I saw there. I missed MNGRM (monogram) I’m so ashamed of myself as I love that dude’s music so much. Even to the point it’s hard for me to admit it here, you’ll listen to the music and you’ll instantly loose respect for me having not seen him, I’m sorry I let everyone down!

The music goes on for 24 hours a day, 72 hours in total. It was all wow, 24 hours partying is often unheard of in UK festivals and certainly not possible without it being contained in a tent. Portugal is one of the best places to have a festival for this reason, the nights don’t get too cold - perfect weather for a hoody or jumper, you don’t need more than that. Electrypnose played at 0230 and was one of the most inspiring psy prog/techno sets I’ve ever seen, until Luis M came on just after, two of the most ridiculously well produced techno acts you’ll ever witness! Luis played his remix of one of Kase Kochen’s tracks (I think Mr. Robot?), and it sounded so good damn good on the rig! Worth mentioning as well, the rig was wicked, run by people who knew what they were doing, and when you have those kind of switched on people running the rig you feel in good hands. Neurodriver followed up after Luis’ set with a wicked welcome to the next day’s rays. By this stage 7.30am, it’s hard not to feel the weight of the night, but this is exactly when I was set to play, I kinda wish I hadn’t exerted all the energy dancing to the last five hours of quality music as I was hanging by the time I had to get up on stage.

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

Making the most of the daylight

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

Saturday 0730: First set

I start playing and think I manage to send people away with what I started playing or people were genuinely tired at that stage just after sunrise. I get the crowd back by moving back to 128bpm regions, maybe shouldn’t have started playing psychedelic electro swing at 118bpm, just started with techno! I’m always worried about playing more breaky stuff at these parties, and going back and forth between four to the floor stuff and breakbeat, I think sometimes it can ruin people’s trance. I like dancing and think switching up flavours allows for a wider range of expression on the dance floor; I dance with the syncopation and I’m not sure if other techno dancers actually know how to swing with it, as I always see body movement on the down beats! Anyways back to tunes, I ended up playing a load of tunes I was too scared to play, or sitting on the fence about playing, and managed to get a decent reaction out of people even in the more challenging samba-inspired trancey sounding weirdness. But there were smiles and you can’t argue with smiles! I was only supposed to play for an hour, but the next DJ started having some issues setting up his computer, so I got an extra 20mins to play and I just started going for it! When I’m playing my own tunes I usually let the dance floor breathe, but I ran out of my own tech tunes after ten minutes, and had to start DJ’ing others’ music, I think I played 5 tunes in ten minutes. Any chance where the beats dropped out I just started mixing in another tune, and worked pretty damn flawlessly. Unfortunately one of the promoters came up to me and was like “ahh I only heard the last few tracks but they sounded amazing”, “Damn” I think - that was when I started playing other people’s tunes! Always the best parts of my sets are when I play other people’s tunes!!

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

Suti Festival Triptych II

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

Saturday 1300: Set 2

The next set for me was doing the slow stuff. I thought this was at 1600, and having finished my earlier set at around 0900, I had a few hours to get a bit of rest. I was exhausted before I’d played, but after I finished I had a massive adrenaline rush that kept me awake for a good few hours, it got to 1pm and I’m like ok I need to lay down and nap for a sec, I start walking to my tent to get 40 winks, and Andrew one of the promoters came up to me and said “You ready now?“… “Ready for what?” I reply. “You’re playing now, or you should have started now, but we’re running 20mins late”. Ohh damn it, so now is the time for some Downtempo Mouldy action and I feel like a giant pile a expletive.

This set was a little different to the first. Feeling that tired; next to no sleep makes small details harder to track and I ended up getting on stage playing the first track, freaking out there was noise coming out at the same time, and thought my controller was glitching out! Not resetting the effects chain, I turned everything off in Ableton trying to track down this problem; at this stage I was thinking I might not be able to mix without these effects, but at least there’ll be none of this added noise on top. Turns out the previous person to use the channel I’d plugged into has not reset the fx, and left the reverb on the entire channel I was coming through on! At that stage in the morning when you’re that tired the most obvious thing is easy to escape your awareness! Luckily before the first track had finished I had it sorted and my heart rate could return to normal!

If I played a set I was told was two hours and in a different state I would have been up for it; they’d made a mistake and it was now only an hour and a half, they were running late, so I convinced them to let me have an hour and ten and let that normalise the running time, so they were back on schedule. The set went so well I got so many compliments from lovely people coming up to me telling how much they had enjoyed the music over the next few days, including Vince Electrypnose, which one of the greatest feelings when a producer you respect says they enjoyed your set and starts asking how you made some of those sounds. I was like sweet, this is what I do to other artists at festivals! I’m glad even when feeling low and exhausted I can play a set that people enjoy. If anything that’s the hardest part of performing; the unpredictability of time slots and staying awake or alert enough to give a decent performance when it’s needed!

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

In the midst of the dancefloor

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

Saturday 1500: Holiday mode

The rest of the time at SUTI was then holiday mode for me, and I could start to get my groove on; once I caught up with sleep! I did have another adrenaline rush that kept me awake until around 10/11pm, and from then on was the time I regret falling asleep, I missed the second Electrypnose set and MNGRM; I could hear from the tent, but just couldn’t hear the clarity of the top end or anything, just meaty driving bass-lines!

Sunday 0900: Time for a swim

So Sunday comes along, I’m feeling fresh and rested, had a shower, went and started chilling in the sunshine while it wasn’t too hot at around 9am or so. Through the centre of the site ran a river, and I kept on looking at the beautiful water thinking this is the day to take a dip. My friends woke up and started moving about and managed to convince Neurodriver, both his partners (his girlfriend Sophie and business partner from Devious machines Jim) and Hedflux to jump into the river. It was a perfect way to relax in the sunshine. I love the way Portuguese festivals are about the water, Boom is next to a wicked lake, and this place had the nicest river to chill in. I did hear the organisers of Suti lost their original site due to another festival ruining the place, leaving it in a state and not cleaning it up, and the original site was supposed to be much better than the one they ended up with. But I loved the site, and it was actually hard to imagine a better place while you’re there! When someone tells you there’s a better slice of paradise it’s genuinely hard to believe when you feel like you’re already in paradise! Floating around on a river that’s also right next to the stage, so you could still hear the music and be immersed in water at the same time, hard to think of what’s better than that!

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

DJs-eye view

Photo: Bernardo Coelho, Rita Dias Lopes

Sunday 1800: Massive win

The final day rolls in and I have to leave the site by midnight for a flight at 5am out of Porto. Hedflux one of the main headliners, starts playing at 6pm, and was meant to play a three hour set, I think he went on for a bit longer, and kept me fully rooted to the dance floor. Hedflux’s new music collaboration with Alex Delfont called “Kin” was so lovely to hear on that rig, just exquisitely well produced music with heart expanding melodies and such refined sound design, such a beautiful way to round up the festival.

All in all I had such a good experience of that festival, it’s got to be one of the best festivals I’ve been to in the last five years, to think this is the first year is something exciting, as it will only grow into something even more beautiful.

I’d like to sincerely thank everyone who performed there and all the crew working who made it such an enjoyable and special experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Suti = massive win.