Welcome to SPACE IS THE PLACE, a brand new editorial series that looks at physical spaces we come across on our travels. A thread between distinct compass points, a roadmap for the balearic voyageur; this series is an exposé of a growing network of music lovers and bootstrappers that value celestial sounds, visual art and cool evenings on the terrace. The first portion of the series focuses in on Lisbon District, Portugal.
Lots of folks in Lisbon had started the new decade at the helm of exciting cultural initiatives that aimed to use music, visual art, food, wine, records, radio, crafts and more to build connections and empower communities. This was all the more necessary at the beginning of a decade that already called for unity in the face of fragmentation.
While the 2020 pandemic has dominated information streams and left the cultural sector largely in the sidelines, these initiatives have been thrust into an uncertain present.
This series aims to shed light on the people and places forging a path through this new landscape. First up: Lusophonica Radio, Cascais.
Sound on sea: Cascais
Hidden in a white-washed municipality building that used to house the cargo of the docks at Cascais, Lusophonica is one of a handful of new cultural initiatives that have sprung up in the Greater Lisbon area. Roughly speaking it forms part of the Farol Museu de Santa Marta (Santa Marta Lighthouse Museum), but, to be more specific, Lusophonica is a studio and hangout that a pool of DJs, broadcasters and music lovers in the Cascais municipality have been in dire need of in recent years.
Hop on a train out of Lisbon for about 40 minutes west and you get sunny Cascais. It’s a port town that hugs the last stretch of coastline of the Portuguese Riviera proper – a bit further on is where the Sintra-Cascais National Park juts out into the Westernmost point of continental Europe. Cascais found popularity as a haunt for the aristocracy and well-to-do of Portugal in the late 19th century, with King Luis I famously designating the town as his retiro de verão in the 1870s.
If the stately summer houses and plush hotels that line the shoreline of Cascais today give a clue to its patrician past, then maybe an old lighthouse building signals the way forward, A focus on Cascais’ heritage as an attraction for domestic and international tourism on the part of the municipality has been at the expense of funding for contemporary culture, where younger, more discerning Cascaites might often have to make the trip into Lisbon to get their musical fix. Lusophonica hopes to change that.
An Ear to the Portuguese Heart
Pedro and Nuno are local-born music lovers who have spent much of the past decade in New York and Berlin respectively, with Pedro acting as stage manager at Drom NYC as well as at huge events like Electric Zoo, BEMF, Dark Disco and others, while occasionally assisting with production at The Lot Radio. Swapping skylines and subterranea for balmy sea views, the pair now run the café-studio at Lusophonica, broadcasting five days a week and serving up killer dishes on the esplanade of the Farol Museu.
Palm trees dance over the Atlantic shore to sounds from the Portuguese speaking world. Coffee roasted in Brazil, Argentina and Columbia, from farm to Cascais in three days. An outlet for the sonic territory of Portugal and the artists who cultivate it. This is a vision of a Portugal looking forward, nurturing talent at a local level while paying close attention to the Lusophone world and the circumstances that have led to the here and now.
‘With your ear to the Portuguese heart and a DNA of sounds, wave and beach’ is the mantra. Arriving at the studio, bounded by shoreline and greenery, it starts to make sense: amateur broadcasters are hosting a discussion panel live on air as the midday sun glints from the sea; yacht cruisers idle by on the calm open waters, and casual visitors peruse the various lighthouse infographics that adorn the walls of the ground. It’s a pretty sublime spot for a radio.
Lusophonica is streaming five days a week from Farol Museu de Santa Marta. Stop by whenever for food, drinks, local sounds and good vibes. Cascais keeps it breezy…
As above, so below – click above to watch 45turns in session at Lusophonica on a misty Thursday morning in July. 90 minutes of ambient, global folk, oft-kilter sounds and sun incantations that made sure the sky was singing by midday (audio only stream at the top of this page).
Finally, a huge thanks to Chris Floris for joining the session and Pedro and Nunes for their hospitality. Uplifting, not sad!