Mirror People

Rui Maia is a mainstay in the Lisbon music scene, where he’s based, taking his highly versatile releases to labels such as Permanent Vacation, Discotexas and Toy Tonics. We caught up with him as he now assumes his Mirror People alias on his own Belong Records to discuss his powerful new EP.

Mirror People 2
Mirror People

Mirror People - Interview

Hey Rui, welcome to Minimal Mag! What’s been the highlight of your year so far?

Well, I’ve been playing a bit live and DJing also, but of course the highlight of these 6 months is the release of this new ‘unknown movement ep’ on vinyl (always special) & digitally. I’m really proud of this one.

What’s the music scene like where you are based in Lisbon?

I found the music scene here in Portugal very diverse, which is great and very fragmented, I mean there’s several circles of musicians/DJs/producers that are doing their own thing. I feel there’s a lack of unity to be sincere. At the end of the day, there’s amazing music & talents coming out of Portugal. I’m happy to be surrounded by very creative people.

You certainly have a versatile sonic register, as shown on your upcoming EP ‘Unknown Movement’ on your own Belong Records. Who has influenced your sound most throughout your production career?

Yep. I like different genres of music. I grew up in the new wave & pop music. The electronics came later when I was a teenager. But people like Brian Eno, Kraftwerk, Metro Area, DJ Harvey or The Knife are some of my heroes. But my list of influences is huge, it goes on and on! 

From Jazz, Punk, Disco, Funk & Dub etc.

One thing that makes this release stand out is the contrast in the two sides: with one side aimed at the dancefloor and the other for home listening. What was your inspiration behind this?

I like when a record tells a story and is not ‘just a couple tunes together’. The A side features ‘Human’ (w/ Michelle Bee) and Sea of Possibilities, 2 tunes more dance floor oriented, but I believe they’re also very unique sounding, with loads of details that are present on the B-Side ‘Comboios Amarelos’ (it means Yellow Trains). So there’s this connection between the 3 tunes. I find this ep very sonically balanced and kinda risky & arty. At least it was my initial intention for this project. 

The B-side features a 22-minute long piece of conceptual ambient electronic music. What journey do you intend to take listeners on?

‘Comboios Amarelos’ represents an imaginary train trip. So there’s several sonic elements related to that. There’s loads of field recording involved and details that kinda reminds a train ride. Different landscapes included! 

On the record you work with London-based vocalist Michelle Bee. What is your relationship and how did you work together?

I know Michelle’s work since 2010, more or less. Back then I did a remix for the Under The Shade label and she was the guest singer. I kinda got hooked on her voice. After that experience I invited her to sing in one of the Mirror People tunes. It us some years to finally work together! Life got in the way…

Can you talk us through your production process for the EP? Do you have a favourite synth?

‘Human’ was the hardest one to complete. I believe that Michelle recorded the vocals in 2017. I did 4 different versions but none of them seems to be really working for me. I decided to have another try early this year and finally I found myself really happy with the final result. 

‘Sea of Possibilities’ was recorded during the ‘Heartbeats etc.’ (the latest Mirror People album) and ‘Comboios Amarelos’ was done in 4 days in Aveiro (a city in north Portugal), most of the field recording was done there.

Gear wise, I don’t really have a favorite synth anymore. I have and use several Roland classics, Juno 106, SH-101, TR-808 etc but nowadays I tend to go with what I feel that sounds more original. There’s amazing companies out there, doing really great instruments. 

For these tracks I remember using my Fender Rhodes, Roland’s Juno 6, TR-707, D-50. Also the Mellotron, Elektron’s Digitone & Analog Rythm, some Vermona equipment and effects by Eventide amongst many other things! 

Outside of music production, what are some of your interests and passions?

This is my full time job. Besides doing the Mirror People, I DJ, I produce other artists and I’m also session musician. I do some radio and some classes too. I like to read (I just finished Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart), watching movies and buying records (the latest: Sundown by Eddie Chacon). Going out is essential too. Having a good time! I’m a totally ordinary person.

It’s been a pleasure having you with us today, Rui! Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Thank you very much for the opportunity. You can find the ‘Unknown Movement EP’ vinyl copies at mirrorpeoplemusic.bandcamp.com. They’re limited of course 🙂 

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