Moullinex: I like to make people happy

Moullinex: I like to make people happy

Founder of the Moullinex musical project talks about Lisbon night life and his own parties, story of the Moullinex record label, using engineering mentality in creating music and his passion for countries with cultural identity

Luis Clara Gomes is the man behind one of the most interesting dance music labels, Discotexas, and his own project, Moullinex, which combines a live band with DJing. Luis is also a studio producer with a bunch of great remixes of other people’s tracks and his own danceable and catchy music.

Having been really active in the music industry for the last decade, right from the start Luis found his recognizable sound which is a mixture of styles such as house, disco, funk and soul with a groovy and positive vibe. He could be seen DJing in different nightclubs all over the globe as well as performing with the band, always bringing a joyful atmosphere to the crowd and helping them to escape from everyday reality and feel happy while dancing to his happy tunes.

Besides being a musician in high demand, Luis is also known as being a successful club promoter for his Discotexas label nights which he throws in his hometown, Lisbon. He definitely knows how to mix right ingredients for a perfect party – a careful selection of artists that will bring the perfect vibe he’s looking for and a creative approach to the special theme designed for each night.

Luis Clara Gomes was lucky to have a chat with Luis about his new music, the Portuguese club scene, his plans for future events, favourite remixes and collaborations and using engineering in his musical production.

Interview: Dmitry Tolkunov

Hi Luis! How are you? What can we expect from Moullinex after the great album Hypesex that you had a couple of years ago? Do you have any plans for a new one?

I’m working on a lot of new tracks at the moment and trying not to limit myself. I’m don’t mind in which direction they go and will just let the tracks speak for themselves when they will be ready. My first new release will be coming out in March, it will be on my label Discotexas, a track that I did together with the Portuguese singer, Nástio Mosquito. Also in April, I am going to release some music with Exploited Records. It will be a collaboration with my longtime friend, a Colombian producer, Filipe Gordon, we really wanted to something together for a long time and finally found time for it.

I’m not thinking about an album at the moment, as usually an idea of it comes to me after some material is ready and it starts to shape into a concept. For example, when I made the tracks “Love, Love, Love” and “Open House” it helped me to understand what was going on in my heart and my mind and what I wanted to say artistically and the concept of “Hypersex” started to appear. When I try going for concepts before the music, the result was always not the one that I expected, so for now, I’m sticking to this kind of approach – to do the music first and then try to rationalize it and understand what it is saying.

“Open House” helped me to understand what I want to say artistically

Besides working in the studio you tour a lot doing DJ sets and live shows. What brings you more artistic satisfaction – working on new music or playing it to people?

I’m always divided between the three things – playing live music on stage with other people, DJing on my own, or working in a studio with somebody or alone. I think I need the balance of all of these things to be happy and don’t want to give up any of them.

I try to live in music because it’s a great thing that can always keep you learning something and improving your skills and on the other hand keeps a childish and curious approach to the world. You can see how it works by the example of some older, respected musicians that are more than 80 years old but still play like kids and act childishly when they are on stage doing live tours or in the studio digging around for new sounds. Lee Scratch Perry could be a very good example.

You can be seen acting childishly on stage in two bands – Moullinex and Discotexas. All these projects are part of Discotexas label. What is the difference between them? Do they represent different forms of your artistic expression?

Moullinex is my project, I have collaborated with a lot of people on it, but in the end it is always my music and my production. The Discotexas Band is our label in-house band, that is called the same and is run by me and my long-time partner Xinobi, but it plays the label’s catalogue. We started it a little bit before I organized Moullinex as a live band around 8 years ago. The reason for doing it was that we really wanted to play our music live and decided to form one band that could play mine and Xinobi’s music, instead of creating two separate bands.

Discotexas is our label in-house band

What musical projects were you into before you started your own label?

Before starting Discotexas I was living in Munich for a few years and was working there with Gomma, which is a very good label with great artists like Who Made Who and Munk. I had a really good working relationship with Gomma for a while, but then at some point I decided to make my own label and to develop artists that would be on it and moved back to Portugal. We started Discotexas as a club night – we were hosting parties in Lisbon and then developed it into a record label.

Do you still do your label club nights?

Not so regularly. We used to have a monthly residency with Xinobi at a great club in Lisbon – Lux. It was a lot of fun but it really took too much energy, with all the organizing and being sure that we were bringing the right artists, who were our musical heroes, to the party. It was hard to focus on other things like making music. We stopped the parties for a while but still DJ regularly together, but maybe soon we will restart them and will do around 5 parties a year.

And who were your musical heroes that you brought to Discotexas nights?

Well if I had tried to invite all my heroes that would have been a long list of people that would have filled the club instead of having an audience. However, certainly among them would be some people that we will never be able to book because they are not already with us or they are too famous like Stevie Wonder, Tom Moulton and Prince. But we had many big names such as Fred Falke and Zombie Nation – who was my studio neighbor in Munich, and Black Van’s first ever show – which was the project of Kris Menace. We also paid close attention to the visual and creative part of the parties and created a special theme for each event. When Black Van played there we brought a real Black Van into the club and made a DJ booth in it.

You also use a lot of creativity in the visual aspect of your music videos. Who is behind the ideas and directs them?

I usually have some basic ideas for them and then I go and collaborate with some directors who are developing them and make it happen. I really believe in a communicative approach when you are creating art. The result is always better when you are not alone and have influences from other people.

The video for the song “Love, Love, Love” from your last album “Hypersex” has a really great and unusual concept. Who made it?

I had this idea together with Bruno Ferreira and Sebastião Faro. We had dinner together and were playing with ideas about the video and I asked Bruno how he feels on the dancefloor usually and if he thought that the way people express themselves in dance collectively or individually is connected to their gender, sexual preferences and spirituality. And this is how the concept of the video began. We wanted to explore this connection in the video and Bruno came up with this idea – to arrange a casting in New York and ask different people about their gender, sexual and spiritual identity and then to dance to this song. This is how it was made and I feel that in an artistically way this was one of the best Moullinex videos. I am very pleased with it.

This one of the best Moullinex videos. I am very pleased with it.

Your videos, like the music, usually have a bright and happy mood. Do you think it has a lot to do with your everyday environment and with living in the sunny city of Lisbon by the sea, that influences it in this way?

I can say yes in some ways. But on the other hand, 80% percent of my first album was made in Munich, which is a positive environment too, but it’s not a sunny city by the sea like Lisbon. So, I think this positive vibe is a part of my personality. I really see music like an escape from reality and in the end, I like to make people happy and to help them to have a good time. That’s the main task and this is why it sounds like that.

I like to make people happy

And how is the music and club scene at the moment in Portugal?

I think it’s really good and healthy at the moment. We have good connections with the afro-house community so a lot of people from African countries come to play in Lisbon regularly and people are not afraid to mix genres. There are some clubs in Lisbon with good nights and musical programmes like Music Box and Lux. Also, there is a couple of web-radio stations like Quantica and East Side Radio that invite great DJs to play sets everyday and it really pushes the scene forward.

Was music always your main occupation?

No, I didn’t have a musical education. I had a few months of piano lessons during my childhood but to be honest, they were really stressful for me and I think the reason was that I didn’t have the right teacher. I was more into technology and studied software engineering and for a while, I was working on creating the first AI systems and software in the fields of astronomy and neurology. But music was always there. When I was doing some projects during my time at university I was looking for something to incorporate music into. And I was also learning music theory and playing instruments. But because of the influence of my family and my own practical side I was made to think that first I must get a safe job and then think about music as a possible job.

But since I never gave up with trying to make some music, I started to put some of my remixes around 10 years ago on MySpace. And suddenly they took off, I started to receive requests from managers of great artists like Cut Copy, Royksopp, Two Door Cinema Club and Sebastien Tellier for remixes and also promoters started to book me as a DJ. And I thought that maybe I should take music more seriously? So I gave up with engineering and moved to music and I have never regretted it. For me it’s a great thing when you wake up in the morning and your task is to make music, and for me, it is not like a job, it’s my passion and pleasure, the thing that I really love.

But do you think that this engineering background you have is certainly a good and helpful thing for making electronic music?

Yes, I use for sure my engineering mentality in my musical production. I always separate things into parts. If I hear some song that I love, I’m always curious – how were the drums recorded, how do they fit with the bassline, which chords were played on the keyboard… And I always love learning. I can say that learning is my favourite activity.

During your musical career, you collaborated with many different singers. Are there some favourite ones for you?

One of the favourite ones was a collaboration I did with Peaches. For me, she is a hero and one of the best performers in the world. I felt really honored when I had the possibility to work with her on a cover version of a famous disco song, Maniac, and think this one of my highlights. I also really enjoyed working with Iwona Skwarek from the Polish band, Rebeka. Her voice fits perfectly into my music and she sang on some of my favourite tracks – Déja Vu and Darkest Night.

One of the favourite ones was a collaboration I did with Peaches

You travel a lot around the world with Moullinex’s live shows and as a DJ. Do you have some favourite places to perform?

Actually no. The good thing and honest thing about playing dance music is that wherever you play people come and dance or they don’t if you aren’t playing the right music. But during my travels, I’m always interested in countries that are authentic in culture in some ways and are not touched by globalization so much when all the cafes and hotels look pretty much the same. In this case, you can get a real feeling of adventure.

Where did you last have this feeling of adventure?

In Colombia, playing in Mexico at a festival in the middle of the jungle was a great experience too. I can say that South Africa and some Asian countries are interesting in terms of cultural experience.

Have you ever been to Andorra and would you like to perform there if there was ever the possibility to?

I have passed through Andorra in a car on the way from Portugal to France a lot of times. I know that a lot of people go there to ski in winter and I know that it is a shopping paradise because of the tax policy – some of my friends bought some electronic equipment there for really reasonable prices. I have never played there, but I would love to, especially in winter, in the snowy mountains.

Then we hope to see you someday in Andorra and thank you for this great interview!


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