Ricardo Martins

Illustration by: Zé Pedro Fernandes

Interview by: João Miguel Fernandes

Ricardo Martins Matéria Negra Illustrated Interview

Occupation: Drummer & Designer

Click here to read the interview in Portuguese

1 – You’re a drummer for several projects with many different genres, how do you organize your creative process and all the rehearsals? Do you follow a strict agenda?

For me music is language, hence the various styles. I think I never stop being what I am, even though I’m playing in other projects, I think it’s just a slightly different version of what I am. As for the agenda, not at all. I end up not having a super strict schedule, I am very careful not to cross rehearsals, but basically I have the days always filled in with something. There are fixed days depending on the bands and the rest is trying to organize the week, basically. Sunday is the day to look at the agenda and plan the week. I play every days, either I go to the garage just to play or to teach and I use this as an excuse to play a little and study some things, but most of the time I go in the garage to play for at least an hour, if not then I produce music at home.

2 – In addition to musician you are designer and co-founder of Desisto. Has it been easy to reconcile music and design / typography?

Desisto works as a design studio, in addition to doing self-publishing, workshops, etc, but it’s a studio where we work everything the best we can, in a kind of 9 to 5. It’s not easy to conciliate, and it’s quite intense, but it’s nothing that can’t be managed and it’s something that we like to do and then it’s something that, frankly, I don’t think much. Sometimes we can work from 10 in the morning to midnight. Margarida and I teach classes as well, so you get into this addictive cycle and it’s not so much of a mess to work so hard anymore. It’s not always easy to manage this, for example in the phases where I’m doing more music for theater, which is a very demanding area in terms of rehearsals and more difficult to cohabit with other realities. Apart from this it has been a challenge, but nothing extremely complicated. It’s also necessary to know how to take vacations and take advantage of them, mainly because of mental health, something that in our generation is sometimes forgotten, it’s very easy to be working without pauses for a month or two.

Exactly, it’s a constant challenge, but in which it’s important to know how to balance rest and work. In your case it’s a challenge because your job is who you are, something that you really like doing.

Yeah, right, I chose to be my boss and I love it. I work mostly in music and design and with this comes a lot of good stuff, it was the right thing to do, what I needed.

“Inside the underground scene you feel that you are creating small families, so people helps each other a lot, although I don’t think that things outside of the underground scene are that disconnected, it’s just another kind of relationship, the proximity is a bit different. “

3 – Do you think that studying at António Arroio was fundamental for you as an artist? As both a musician and a designer?

Definitely. But curiously it has helped me a lot as a musician. In was where I met the people with whom I make music. For example, Oscar was my colleague (Jibóia), Cláudio (Cangarra) as well. I started to make music with Filipe Felizardo, Claudio, Óscar and Guilherme Canhão, with whom I did the band Lobster, meaning that this all comes from António Arroio. Design was something that I discovered a lot later, I was a little bit lost for a while, I was working with sound, I made illustration and at a certain point, at the age of 28, I discovered the interest in typography, in design, and that’s when I really went for it. António Arroio was worthy for all the connections and friendships I’ve been building and making, friends with whom I take pleasure in making music.

4 – You lived in Barcelona, a huge cultural center. How was your experience?

I went to Barcelona to finish illustration, the initial plan was to stay only 6 months. In the meantime I wanted to get a masters degree in design and then I worked in a studio and I ended up staying 3 years. I also played with bands there, there was one I met when I was playing with Lobster, who are Familia Miranda from Chile but live in Barcelona and they were looking for a drummer and I was playing with them for a couple of years, we did some great tours, it was cool. I ended up going to Barcelona, but I never stop coming to Portugal to play with friends who were here.

5 – Do you think that the digital evolution of the media, such as blogs, for example, are directly related to the boom of the portuguese underground music scene in recent years?


Internet helped a lot, netlabels were super important for us to start editing music in another way and get out of the garage faster, for example. Blogs too, anything that helps spreading what you’re doing is great. In relation to the underground I think there is a strength and camaraderie that allows bands to feel confident. Inside the underground scene you feel that you are creating small families, so people helps each other a lot, although I don’t think that things outside of the underground scene are that disconnected, it’s just another kind of relationship, the proximity is a bit different. Most of the concerts I played at the beginning were either organized by friends, or I was the organizer, the same with the first tours, I organized something for a French band to come here and then they organized for us there, that makes you create small support platforms, which are actually friends who like music, like you, and who want to be surrounded by it. I remember it was very easy to plan a tour, because you already knew who to play with everywhere, it was simple. Of course this also exists outside the logic of the underground, it’s just a world that I know in a different way, I don’t know how it works.

6 – The music genre “math” in Portugal has always belonged to a niche, but there is a certain idea that outside our country our bands have a little more recognition in this style. How was your experience with Adorno, for example?


With Adorno we played much more outside of Portugal than in Portugal. The excuse with Adorno was to travel, to release records, to enjoy, so we always did one or two tours a year. We made many splits and then you start creating relationships and making friends that remain until today, super important guys for us. Adorno played very little in Portugal. When we did the concert number 100 (in Serbia) we had played very, very little in Portugal, I don’t know if ten times. It was the same with Papaya, so we started a tour with 14 international dates and only one in Portugal. It was a bit of an excuse for us to go out every summer. I’ve been missing doing that, we’re even talking about planning something like this this year, because despite having done tours in the last few years this has not happened so regularly.

7 – Some of your music can be characterized as chaotic, in a good way. Do you feel good in the middle of this chaos? Is it something that you consciously seek out or it comes out naturally? And why?


I’m a bit chaotic ahah, there’s an intensity that I like to put into music and this can be chaotic or be confused with chaos. I think in recent years what I’ve been concentrating on a lot has been to dose this chaos, this intensity. At first, with Suchi Rukara, for example, it was very visceral, it was like that and I didn’t have great control, it was a lot my own identity. Then along the way I tried to work it, to polish things that worked less well, so they didn’t exist so much. I feel things in a way that goes to the music I make and shows this intensity difficult to dose, but I don’t want to lose it. The music that I have developed for theater is not based so much on this logic, or the music that I am developing in Pop Dell’arte for example, I don’t think that it’s so visceral or uncontrolled, this chaos gained maturity. I always feel that it’s easier to have in excess and cut than not having and being necessary. And I think that was a bit my way, at first you try to push the limits of everything. I remember leaving certain concerts, at first, in total exhaustion, half dizzy, because you want to give everything you have and there was no filter. Then, in time, I realized what I wanted and nowadays I have no interest in proving anything, having to play very fast or super intensely, whatever comes out comes out.

“It’s increasingly important to have support to stimulate ways that you don’t know, creativity, and they may not go anywhere. I like the logic of looking, searching, and in the end I may not find anything, but the journey is quite important. “

8 – Tell me about a memory of your childhood that you still remember.


Well, I was one of those kids that played in the streets, always climbing things and falling, playing football and playing in an olive grove that was nearby. That’s what I remember most of all.

9 – Tell me about a person or several people who are important to you personally and professionally.


In the personal field, my grandfather. I didn’t have a very close relationship with him, only in the end, but he was a person who stirred a lot with me and of whom I have very good memories and that I miss a lot. He had a tricky past and then he was able to break free and reborn quite beautifully and I was there at the time and it was very important to me. In the professional field it’s the team that I was able to build with Margarida, which mixes with the personal field (in the role of my favorite person!), But suddenly you have a dynamic duo here and she inspired me a lot at the beginning and continues to inspire in design. I think the people who are very important to me are related to my professional and personal area, it’s like you said a while ago that making music and being my profession and hobbie at the same time makes me go with my friends to the garage make music. Most of the people that makes music with me nowadays also started with me in 2001.

10 – Do you think that the economic crisis in Portugal boosts, to a certain extent, artistic production? Do you think people find other ways when they are more limited?


There does not have to be a crisis for things to flourish, I think we are always in crisis. To make music and art in Portugal is to always be in crisis, you can often only count on you and when you start to count on other things and supports sometimes you don’t want to, that was something that happened to me. I think it’s super important to have support for art and lately this allows a lot of bands to edit more, travel around and I think it’s amazing and if I can get that help, wonderful, but I also have that thing of doing by myself. I often feel that some of the platforms that can help have not defined priorities and this is also an interesting conversation. There are, fortunately, good examples. Portugal is still very young in all this, we still have to hit our head a lot. There is much this idea of ​​supporting projects to work, but for me to make music is not to do something to work. It’s increasingly important to have support to stimulate ways that you don’t know, creativity, and they may not go anywhere. I like the logic of looking, searching, and in the end I may not find anything, but the search path is quite important. In the music I play solo sometimes I’m working on one thing and then you’re done six months later, and you don’t want to go in that direction, you go back to the beginning and you go the other way.

11 – Do you think that the music scene has changed a lot in recent years? Maybe thanks to the internet?


Sometimes they ask me what is the difference between now and, for example, 2005, I think it’s the same, there are super tricky bands and incredible projects. Luckily I’m being surprised everyday and I’ve never lost the desire of playing. I’ve never been without internet, you used to do things before as well and there was myspace and you would book concerts through that, but you would travel with a map, without gps, and the difference is that at that point you would get lost a lot and now you don’t get lost and I feel that getting lost was very important. Now everyone is afraid of getting lost, because if you take a false step it stays forever on the internet. If you make a record just to try something it will always be there and it can be scary, when I started we were more innocent, but otherwise everything is the same.


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