Raquel Laíns

Illustration by: Joana Mendes

Interview by: João Miguel Fernandes (originally published in 2014)

Occupation: Music Communication’s Agent & Promoter

Click here to read the interview in Portuguese


1 – Which person has influenced the most in your life and why?

In the professional part was undoubtedly my father, he was completely workaholic, worked really hard and was very disciplined in his work. My parents worked together and I lived in the middle of it. I work at home, many hours a day, now I am trying to maintain some discipline to have some social life. I spent several months without a day off and spent two weeks at home working about eighteen hours a day.

My father was very fond of what he was doing, just as I am nowadays. I don’t feel the negative pressure of having to wake up early and go to work, for me it’s a motivation and joy, it’s my life. I find it easy to be a workaholic because I really like what I do. Music tells me a lot, I feel like I’m living a dream. I don’t have breaks, when I stop working is because I go to concerts, so there is never a separation from work. My father was very perfectionist and I think that I go that too. My mother was more “soft”, she influenced me in another way.

2 – Have you ever thought about following a musical career?

I was almost a keyboard teacher. I’m from Leiria, I studied a course there related with music, but it wasn’t what I really liked. during the last year I had an accident and I broke my arm, I was nine months using a plaster and I couldn’t get back to keyboards. I sang in choirs, all these things as a child, but playing in a serious way was with a keyboard. I love to play the piano, but I also love playing bass, I have one at home, with an amplifier and everything, but I don’t have time. I work too hard and I don’t have time for other things. I play a Kraftwerk song and one of “Dear Telephone”, one of the bands I work with. When I go to see a concert I always get mesmerized with the bass player. My bass was offered by my “A Jigsaw”, it’s something I hold with great affection.

Ever since I had the accident, I stopped playing keyboard for about seventeen years. My mother has an organ at home in Leiria, and she always tells me to take it to Lisbon, but to this day it has not yet happened. If it was a piano the charm was different, but I lost the urge to play the keys. Once I played tambourine with “You Can not Win, Charlie Brown”, Luis couldn’t go, so I went in his place, it was a lot of fun, everything is recorded on video.

3 – Tell me about a moment in your childhood that you remember clearly.

I remember the walks with my family, of riding my daddy’s back, of my mother’s pats on the head. Even as a teenager when I was going out at night my mother waited for me and asked me if I wanted these pats on my eyebrows. I have the memory of going to the beach with my nephew. We had a house in São Martinho and just before reaching the beach there was a very big curve, so my nephew and I always fought to see which of us saw the sea first in this curve. I remember being at my parents’ shop and on wednesdays we were going out to eat portuguese food at a tavern that was nearby. There was also a record store there, where I started to listen to music when I was very small. The lady of the store began to show me a lot of artists, and that in a way influenced me musically.

4 – How was for you to grow up in Leiria? What are the biggest differences between the Leiria of your youth and today’s Leiria?

I think it has changed a lot. These days, I see  my friends from back then improving the city in many ways and before that there was almost no cultural movement. I got along with people who now make a difference in Leiria. I go there a few times a year, but I know it has a much bigger dynamic, concerts, festivals, more shops and before there was nothing like that. In Leiria I was always doing stuff with older people than myself, which had a great influence on my musical taste. My parents didn’t listen to much music, as they worked hard and also didn’t have time for the cultural component.

“Several very good projects have appeared. We have an incredible national production, I hear practically only national music. Internet has created several paths and means of publicizing your music.”

5- What were the main differences you found when you moved to Lisbon? 

At first I was nervous. I did three years of my course in Leiria and two years in Lisbon. I was going to classes and then I was strolling around the city. I knew everything, explored every corner of the city, almost always on foot, I don’t like public transportation very much. When I go on vacation I also really like to walk. I think Lisbon is the most beautiful city in the world. The cultural level was really high. There was everything, everywhere. I went to many concerts, didn’t stop, had sleeping problems because the world was moving on and I didn’t want to stop (laughs). After the course I didn’t even think about going to Leiria, with the course of communication and culture it was impossible to get work there.

6 – You  worked with Sabotage and Universal. How were these experiences and at what point did you decide that you wanted to do something by yourself?

This happened during my time at Sabotage. I was there for two years and when I left I already knew that I wanted to do something by myself, but they recommended me to Universal, for a two week work only, and I thought it made sense to have that experience. I ended up staying there for two years. When I left Universal I went to the Lisbon’s town hall for a part-time and then took the opportunity to test my personal business model. After a year and such I decided to go for the musical area more seriously. The first work I did seriously as a freelancer was with “Mão Morta”, with the album “Nus”. This was even during the time I was at Universal, only when I left the town hall I  started dedicating myself to it 100%.

7 – Internet now allows new opportunities to create and disseminate music. How do you see this evolution taking into account that you are in the middle of it?

 

Internet has made the disc sales decreasing, that is objective. If the albums don’t sell the publishers lose money and stop investing on new bands. I think the bands now don’t give up, they try several times. Before, you tried a few times and if no publisher grabbed you it was almost impossible to do anything. These days reality is completely different. I can’t know if the bands before my time had more quality, the difference is that now without support the bands can try themselves to do something. Several very good projects have appeared. We have an incredible national production, I hear practically only national music. Internet has created several paths and means of publicizing your music. I always make it a point to advertise on the internet, it has never been more important than now, from blogs to websites, I always like to send the physical disk too. Before there was the radio, now is the website ‘x’ or youtube. Working with radio before was a nightmare, because everything had to start with radio. It’s still an important platform these days, but the videos on youtube are a fantastic thing and it makes a difference. Previously, only the greatest artists had videoclips.

 

8 – Do you think it makes sense these days to have a manager? Given that the internet is so easy for musicians to publicize their projects and make contacts to get more concerts.

 

I like the simple things. The manager has his role. A good manager can make a difference and then I think it makes sense, because he has contacts that the band does not have. The manager has his role, but for the most part it’s not worth much and it’s not because he does not do his job, it’s just because now it’s much more complicated to find ways to make money with a band, the brands are more restricted to betting on a band . A manager will sometimes get money from a band and that money would be missing from the band, it will not make up for what they are paying for, but this is my reality, that I work for niche bands, aimed at a certain audience. It has felt like a very big band to have a manager, but in my work reality, with the bands that I work, most of them do not need to have a manager. The bands can do a lot of alone, with a manager there is one more person to receive in a route that the manager can neither influence as much. It depends a lot on the bands and their goals.

9 – Have you ever thought of building a team to work with you?

 

Yes, I’ve thought of that. I had a person helping me for two months, during “Fusing Festival”, but this project is very personal and I’m very perfectionist. It’s very hard for me to have someone to work with me on my project and doing things in a way that I wouldn’t do, even if it’s better or worse. I’m not saying it’s not going to happen someday, but that needs money and being the right person. It’s my job, it’s my name that’s at stake, it’s complicated.

“Sometimes I forget to have lunch, I only remember at three or four in the afternoon. I’m very productive, very methodical, I have an agenda, in a word document, and I know everything I have to do in the next three or four months.”

10 – What are the biggest differences between promoting a band or a festival?

 

My experience with festivals is with “Fusing”. It’s a giant job because it’s not just music, it gets away from my area, there are better known bands with other audiences that are not the same as the bands I usually work with. Besides, it mixes a lot of partnerships, a band can have the support of a radio or so, a festival is not left alone, it’s much more demanding. I remember when I was at “Fusing” I had just worked until four in the morning, I was going to bed at seven because I was delivering the reports for that day, and I would wake up at nine o’clock in the morning. The reporters enjoyed it because they had been with me until a few hours ago and I was already sending them emails at six in the morning. It’s very demanding, you have to work the audience in another way, there are a lot more channels of communication.

With an album you start working two months before and there isn’t really a date to end the promotion, although two or three months later there is little more to do at a promotional level. A festival starts to be promoted at the beginning of the year, the strategy has to be more rigid and defined. Festivals have the added value of taking smaller bands to audiences who would never hear them any other way, that’s very interesting.

11 – How did your relationship with “Mão Morta” began?

 

I’ve been a fan of the band since I was a kid. When I was at “Sabotage” I got a specialization the “ETIC” of discographic production and marketing, where I had a class about management of bands brands, so I naturally chose “Mão Morta”. In my innocence I sent an email with questions, thinking that they wouldn’t reply. The next day they answered me with total availability, I was ecstatic and I took the opportunity to say that I was also promoting bands and that I wanted to work with them, that I was there for everything they needed. I could hardly guess that Adolfo would tell me that I was contacting them at the right time and that they wanted someone to promote their album “Nus”. Of course I accepted, so I did the promotion and it went very well. The record was about to come out for two weeks, but sold out during the first week. We did very well and they are very dear, direct and quiet. It’s funny because there are many journalists who still come and talk to me about a new album, even if I’m not promoting it. As a freelancer, Adolfo gave me enormous strength, because he believed in me and told me to bet on it. “Mão Morta” made me believe in myself, I know that I am what I am because of them.

12 – How is your daily routine?

 

It’s really great that I have a dog because I can’t work in my pajamas all day, unlike many people who work from home. My dog ​​forces me to go out to the street. I do everything as if I didn’t work at home, I wake up, I go and walk my dog ​​and I go to my place to work, where I spend all day, super concentrated. I remember that I’m at home when someone rings the doorbell and my dog ​​barks. Sometimes I forget to have lunch, I only remember at three or four in the afternoon. I’m very productive, very methodical, I have an agenda, in a word document, and I know everything I have to do in the next three or four months. I forced myself to watch some TV series at lunch to make a pause. Then I continue to work, have dinner, and work until two in the morning.

I used to have my office in the middle of the house and it didn’t let me concentrate on my work because I remembered, for example, the washing machine. I couldn’t share my homework with my work. For some time I decided to rent a space with some friends to at least leave the house during the working time. The truth is, I was there for a year and people have been up there about five times that year, so I was still alone, but out of my house and spending money. I went home and put my office in the corner of the house, in a very small space, and now I can forget that I’m at home. I love working during weekends, because it has an advantage: journalists work less at weekends and I can do a lot of work during those two days. Every day I take a five minute break to dance, I think my dog ​​doesn’t understand, but anyway, that’s my daily life.

13 – If you had to choose a band to play in a movie which band and movie would that be?

 

It’s difficult to choose, perhaps “The Summer of Kikujiro” from Takeshi Kitano, with music by Noiserv or “Eduard Scissorhands” by Mercury Rev.

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