Jwana Godinho, head of artist booking for Lisbon's Vodafone Mexefest and Super Bock Super Rock, knows Portugal's capital city better than anyone. She told us what makes Lisbon so special, and where to get the best seafood in town.
Lisbon is becoming more and more a very vibrant city, somewhere you have music happening in a lot of different corners. It’s a very young city, and I think the amazing thing with Lisbon is the amount of time you have, the amount of sun that you have – the amount of options that you have to do things outdoors. There are loads of terraces nowadays in Lisbon with stunning views, and you can go there and all of a sudden see there is a great DJ playing.
In terms of actual music venues? There’s obviously the Coliseum, which is really beautiful; there’s the MusicBox – a 400 capacity venue with a big programme every weekend; and of course the really big venues, such as the MEO Arena, which is the arena in Lisbon, and is where SBSR happens. That’s not only a stunning piece of architecture – because it was done at the time of the EXPO ’98 and is in one of the most interesting architectural areas in Lisbon – but it's simply a beautiful venue both outdoors and indoors.
"It’s all about having good DJs, having interesting people taking over a bar or a cafe and playing amazing playlists"
These venues I’ve just mentioned are the classical venues where you have straight-up music, but then you can go to places like Park, which is a one-man bar but also does a lot of music programming.
There’s also, obviously, Lux, which is interesting cos it’s one of those clubs that’s been around for years and years and years, and it’s its still incredibly relevant. Then there's places like the Village Underground, where they sometimes programme music during weekends.
There’s this thing in the city about linking music to non-traditional music venues. It’s not a concept, but it’s all about having good DJs, having interesting people taking over a bar or a cafe and playing amazing playlists.
You have a lot of Portuguese people doing very interesting music right now, and the new generation of artists are very active. What we’ve seen in, probably I would say the last 10 years – and it's something that did not exist before – is a lot of collaboration between musicians. It's now very common to see bands that are made up of elements from others: a kind of mix and sharing of experiences.
It probably started with the electronic and urban artists, because the rock artists were not very keen on doing that, but now we’ve seen a development in terms of urban artists – urban in the large sense, including hip-hop artists. You rarely see collaborations or what you would call "supergroups", where you had a career and were well-renowned and then you collaborate with someone else. Now, right in the beginning of your career, you’ll be working in three different projects at the same time.
"We don’t want our festival to be just another show of the same artists you’ve seen 20 times before"
With our festivals, we try and reflect that as much as possible. Vodafone Mexefest, for example, is made up of up-and-coming bands, so you’ll see a lot of acts playing at the festival in many different formats because they belong to different projects. We think it’s very healthy to encourage this because as music fans, we love seeing that talent is not limited to one area, to one room.
We’ve always been very pioneering in encouragement of collaborations and of local music in general. SBSR is a festival where bands play for the first time and we still have stages dedicated to local music. In the build-up to the festival we approach the acts we say: "Ok guys, think of what you’re gonna do that is different, that you can experiment with at the festival. You’ll have that extra encouragement from us in terms of promotion but also in terms of budget." We don’t want our festival to be just another show of the same artists you’ve seen 20 times before.
Away from music, Lisbon is just a beautiful city. The first advice I would give anyone coming to Lisbon is to bring comfortable shoes, and that's because the best way to discover the city is by walking, and you’ll be constantly walking up and down hills. The food is also absolutely amazing here. If you’re a fan of fish and seafood, I would definitely recommend Ramiro, which is the best seafood in town. You also can't leave without trying the incredible custard tarts and the coffee too!
What about the beer? Super Bock would be – for all the reasons, not only the obvious ones! [Super Bock lager are the sponsors of Super Bock Super Rock] – the beer that I would choose. It's the best beer in town.
Jwana Godinho was speaking to Festicket Magazine's Joel Robertson.