Interview with Nuno Dos Santos

by Torture The Artist

Being a driving force in the electronic music scene for more than a decade Something Happening Something (short: SoHaSo) label head Nuno Dos Sontos has built up quite a reputation for himself with releases and remixes on labels such as Kompakt, Compost or SohaSo. With a new EP called ‘Trigonometry of Love‘ in the pipe and his return to Brooklyn for the first SoHaSo label showcase presented by Fiction, Nuno took his time to give us a detailed insight of the past and present of the label as well as personal preferences.

You founded your label ‘Something Happening Somewhere‘, short SoHaSo, back in 2013. What motivated you in the first place to found your own label?
Last December we celebrated our 3 year’s existence with a lot of the artists that have shaped the SoHaSo story so far. The decision to start the label just naturally evolved and it all happened very organically. Over 3 years ago I received some demo’s by Love over Entropy, who then was releasing music under a different moniker, which blew me away when I heard them for the first time. At that time, I was involved with club Trouw and the connected music label but the label didn’t work out in the end so I decided to start my own label. It felt like the right moment to do it, so I just started building from there and gathering music by people around me that I felt was worth releasing. When I got the first few releases together, I met up with Michael Mayer from Kompakt. They were very excited when they heard the first releases and ended up doing our distribution.    

Last year saw your label cooperating with Lossless for a Remix EP of the track ‘Uzuoamaka‘. How did this cooperation come about?
It was a similar story of it developing pretty organically. It’s a King Britt record from 2002 which I loved since it came out and I felt it was timeless. I wanted to re-release it and give it the attention it deserves. I just connected with King Britt and asked him if he would be up for it. It was a pretty long process, but I ended up asking a few remixers including SBTH (Thomas Herb and Mathias Schober) and Love over Entropy. Through talking to Thomas and Mathias, who run the lossless label, it seemed really cool to do a collaboration. In the music scene things can feel a bit separate sometime, everybody on their own island, so it feels really good to team up with others and cross those apparent borders. It was special in that sense, because Muting The Noise also collaborated with Kompakt on the distribution. Those things don’t happen that often, so it was a pretty great experience. I can actually unveil there is a part two in this story coming up pretty soon. I can’t disclose any details, but it’s going to be special and we have a great remixer on board. 

Having released remixes or EPs on labels such as Compost, Trouw, SoHaSo, Kompakt or Just This in the past years is quite an achievement. How many of your musical ideas end up becoming fully released tracks?
Up until now, not that much actually. Not enough in my opinion! I’ve also done quite a lot of remixes but I want to focus more on original material. That is about to change a bit as the next release on SoHaSo is going to be my own EP, which contains four tracks and is a personal record that is very close to me. I have a lot of new ideas and inspiration at the moment and I spend quite a lot more time in the studio so I’m hoping to share more of that soon. There’s also a few remixes that I’ve finished already but will be released in the coming months.

Talking about producing music, is there a certain skill you wished you had, or plan on learning sometime in the future?
I think that I always try to develop my skills at any particular moment, because that’s what moves you forward as an artist. At the moment I’m interested in doing a bit more singing. I’ve already taken a few lessons and I find it a really interesting addition to my productions, so I’m looking to take this a step further. Also learning my way around the piano a bit better and learning about music theory and chord progressions etc. I think it never stops: learning new gear or learning more about particular areas of music production like sampling, it all just adds to the skills you can draw upon when making music.

In terms of music, what releases can we expect to be released on SoHaSo this year and what EPs from you are going to be out? 
As I said the next EP on SoHaSO is going to be my own four track EP called ‘Trigonometry of Love’, which will be released on vinyl the end of March. Also, there is a special release coming up as another collaboration that also contains a remix I did. Besides this, there is a lot of new material on the label that’s going to be released in the next few months. New upcoming music by Kiani & His Legion, Polynation, Kurt Baggaley, Love over Entropy etc. 

What would you say was the most beneficial move you made to further your career? For example, was it to take a job somewhere, to submit your work to someone, to frequent certain places often?
I would say this was 6 or 7 years ago, when I really decided to quit my job as a graphic designer. Up until then, I was balancing these two things, but I found that it didn’t work both ways so I had to pick one over the other. I decided to stop creating flyers and booklets and the stress that comes with the surrounding print deadlines and focus fully on the music side of things. The first two years it was quite a bit of a struggle, but after that I found a nice balance and it was possible to make a living from doing what I love. It felt like the best thing and when I see where it has lead me to I’m very grateful for all of it. 

Are there any milestones, or notable moments, in the evolution of your sound? For example, getting a chance to work with an idol of yours, or hearing a new, and different sound for the first time?
There are a few, although I think that your sound and inspiration constantly changes and evolves. I remember working with a female vocalist who also worked with Massive Attack. Tj Kong and me were working on our album for the Compost label and we just approached her and she responded almost immediately. It was a great and inspiring experience and so was working with Robert Owens. With that record we worked quite a lot with vocalists, but as I said I think the sound that inspires and motivates you constantly evolves, your taste changes and is always subject to change in all areas of life. 

What makes a night at a club a memorable one for you?
It can be many things, but for me primarily it’s the feeling when there’s some kind of lockdown in the energy in the room. Sometimes it doesn’t happen and it can still be pretty good but time from time there are these moments when you feel the energy is right, the tracks to play seem to select themselves without effort and there is this kind of collective unity where everyone is a part of. These moments for me are the special ones that are worth remembering.

What records will definitely be in your box for your gig tomorrow in Brooklyn?
Difficult to say, as I like to prepare for every gig separately and is based on the vibe I’m feeling when selecting records to take with me. But I really enjoy the new Superpitcher stuff, Margot’s remix of Weval, Four tet’s remix of Todd Terje, and will bring along my own music from my Trigonometry of Love EP on SoHaSo as well as the new Kiani & His Legion and other upcoming music on the label. 

Name three places where you can be found if you do not DJ or produce music.
I would say one of these places would definitely be nature, being in the forest or taking a walk are great ways to regain energy and clear the mind for the tasks at hand. Especially after having travelled a lot for gigs and experiencing long nights with little sleep, these environments can function as a mental and physical reset. Other than that it would be Broei, which is a lovely coffee/food place nearby my home which has the most excellent vegetarian food and has a great vibe overall, and the Louis Hardlooper Complex, which is an art house cinema in Utrecht where I go pretty often to watch movies.