Photonz: The ‘Ransom Note’ Mix


Photonz is a leading figure in the underground music scene in his home of Lisbon.

Alongside fellow DJ, partner and collaborator Violet, he’s helped put the city on the map through an array of parties, collectives and initiatives, whilst also creating and facilitating spaces for artists in Lisbon to thrive. It’s with Violet that he launched Rádio Quântica, following years of experience in national and local radio, as a grassroots platform to support the local scene and give a voice to artists and activists from across Portugal.



mina is another of his inclusive and supportive initiatives. With Violet, Rabbit Hole co-founder marum and collaborator VIEGAS, he launched the queer trans feminist sex-positive party as an alternative to the other clubbing options in the city. It’s now grown to be come a collective of diverse DJs and producers working together to nurture a safe space and use the medium of music to advocate for sexual and gender liberation.

And all the above doesn’t even cover his extensive work as a producer. Manoeuvring sonically somewhere between electro, acid and techno, his output has landed him releases on the likes of Dark Entries, Unknown To The Unknown, Don’t Be Afraid and, of course, Violet’s Naive imprint – the home of his latest release Planetary Spirit.

From the sounds of it, there’s plenty in the pipeline for Photonz release-wise, solo, collaboratively and as part of Mercury Haze alongside his pals Ness and Slug Beetle. And on top of production, he’ll be spending his time focusing on the new venue and gearing up for some exciting live sets later this year. But before that he takes control of this week’s Ransom Note mix, channeling that Tuesday rave energy with a blend of bubbling electro, techno and breaks.

Please introduce yourself… Who are you, where are you and what are you

I’m Marco Rodrigues from Lisbon, Portugal. I make records and DJ as Photonz and I’m part of a few collective initiatives that bring me much realisation and sense of belonging, such as Rádio Quântica, mina and No UFOs. As a part of mina I also spend a good chunk of time helping run a new venue in the outskirts of Lisbon called Planeta Manas, which is really exciting stuff.

What does your music sound like? Can you draw what you think it sounds like for us (an image from the old internet is acceptable)? 

Like 80s airbrushed chrome Venus.


Where was the mix recorded?

At home in our living room, on XDJs and a DJM mixer.

What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?

Personally, I like to listen to mixes on my headphones when I go for a longer walk at night but I think it’s probably ok for a night drive with mates or on your own, on the way to the club, on the bus ride, subway etc.

What should we be wearing? 

Either silver bell bottom pants with jimmy doyle boots and a baby blue velour jacket or a baggy yellow tracksuit with black trainers and a pink kangol beret – or a combination of the two outfits.

What would be your dream setting to record a mix: Location/system/format?

I’d love to record a mix on the defunct Alcântara-Mar booth In Lisbon, 1996. On vinyl plus DAT tapes with unreleased tunes from friends and those early CD players for DJs that predated the whole CDJ thing. No idea what the system was in there but everyone agrees that it was very bassy and punchy. Some say it was really hard to mix in there but it’s the whole mystique thing for me.

Which track in the mix is your current favourite?

Probably the one from The Connection Machine with the keyboard sax, or the first one by Vibronics.

What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?

Not gonna pick just one because you knew perfectly well that it’s impossible when you wrote that question. I’d go with Kaos Totally Mix by DJ Vibe (1995), Radio Caroline Vol.1 by Miss Kittin (2002), X-Mix 4 (Beyond The Heavens) by Dave Angel (1995) and the Kemistry & Storm DJ Kicks (1999).

If you could go back to back with any DJ from throughout history, who would it be and why? 

My favourite b2bs are always with Violet. Not saying this as a couples thing but just from experience it is pretty obvious that magic happens 90% of the times when we play together. There’s a weird energy that takes over and makes it more than the sum of us and our musical choices etc. especially if we don’t plan anything before hand. It’s a spiritual thing.

What was your first DJ set up at home and what is it now?

I didn’t used to have any dj set up at home for ages after starting to play out. Couldn’t afford it etc. First one I had I bought it together with my old mate Miguel who used to be in Photonz until 2013, just two very old second hand technics vinyl decks and a 2 channel mixer. We used to have it set up at his place. Then bought some xdjs while living in London around 2015 which I still have. My old vinyl decks are now at Radio Quântica’s studio.

What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on?

The last track usually reflects how far you were able to go with your set, the connection between you and the crowd or what you were able to get away with – how open the crowd was etc. It tells you a lot more about how it went down.

What were the first and last records you bought?

The first record I ever bought was a double 12” compilation called Nuphonic 02 in 1999. Still go back to it sometimes, some real classics in there. The last one was “Dirty Riddim ’87 / Black Accordion” out on Dirty Blends.

If this mix was an edible thing, what would it taste like

Hopefully something rich, fragrant, hearty and spicy, like a Red Art Cafe menemen. I miss Red Art Cafe.

If it was an animal what would it be?

The black dog from Madonna’s “Frozen” video.

One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything?

All records can be mixed in some way or another but the one I keep fucking up in the mix is actually a house track called ‘Carrier’ by Jackmate (R.I.P.). Something about it tricks my brain to correct it in the mix unnecessarily. You just have to give up and let it play from the intro, which is an amazing one btw.

Upcoming in the world of …

Not much I can announce at the moment but I’ve just released a rock/songs EP with Lisbon mates Ness and Slug Beetle as Mercury Haze. It’s out on Radio Quantica’s label on Bandcamp. I want to start a new label this year to self-release some stuff, no name for it yet. I’ve finished a new record, a long EP or small album, not sure. It’s for a well-known label I’ve been releasing on in recent years but still to be announced. There’s a collab EP with Yen Sung to be released on Lisbon’s Discos Paraíso, the label of my mates Shcuro and Maria Amor. Playing Sonar Lisbon in April with a lot of friends, gonna continue helping out running the new venue as well, making parties, etc. There’s also an interesting collaboration for a couple of live shows in the summer with a well-known French artist that I can’t announce yet.

Anything else we need to discuss?

One last line to express radical anti-war and anti-imperialist sentiment during this terrifying invasion of Ukraine by Putin. Imperialism exists in multiple forms as a constellation of conflicts and illegitimate occupations worldwide all the time, necessarily linked to capitalism and colonialism – which we should make it our mission to question and dismantle. War in Ukraine should be an opportunity to raise our voices against imperialism as a whole and prevent the obfuscation of other victims of illegal occupation worldwide. War, imperialism and colonialism are a betrayal of all peoples, of the global working class, of all culture and humanism.