June 26, 2024

Written by Callum.

Berlin-based artist Toada shares his vision for Alta Onda, musical motifs, and his transformation as an artist.

When you listen to the music of Toada, you probably wouldn’t pin him down as a Berlin-based artist. The Portuguese artist’s sound is one of Angolan, Cape-Verdean, Brazilian and European roots. A sonic immigrant who has settled in a foreign waveform, existing as an artefact in an otherwise linearly structured audio file.

When you put a microscope on his influences, his lack of adaptation into Berlin’s mainstream music sphere becomes unsurprising. His alias, Toada, is deeply inspired by British artists like Burial, Four Tet, Jamie Woon, and SBTRKT, whose sounds developed in the cultural and musical melting pot of the UK.

Because of this, experiencing a Toada record is a unique offering in itself. Spacious yet sonically dense, every re-listen reveals new sounds, different effects, and new things to focus on. His music is organised and chaotic, placing you in both the past and the present with dream-like sound design that has a nostalgic feel, and African-influenced rhythms inspire your body to move in the moment.

A DIY artist at heart, most of his music comes through his own label Plūma, although he has seen releases on XLR8R and Rádio Quântica, and has caught the gaze of artists such as Barker and Rui Vargas.
Preferring live and original electronic music performances over a traditional DJ set, he aims to capture the essence of Latin-American and African diasporic influences found in Lisbon. His recently released EP Alta Onda 01 is the entry of an ongoing series in which he aims to explore southern hemispheric rhythms and cadences. We asked Toada about his motivations behind the project and more…

Congratulations on your latest release. What was the motivation behind this project?

Thank you! I just wanted to explore the themes of fluidity and movement, while capturing the diverse influences from my cultural heritage. This EP allowed me to experiment with different sounds and repetition. I tried to create an immersive experience that invites people to both reflect and move with the music. Essentially, it’s about capturing the flow through sound.

Can you share more about the musical patterns and motifs that inspired Alta Onda 01?

“Alta Onda 01” draws inspiration from the natural flow of waves, which I translate into the music through recurring motifs and fluidity. The tracks feature steady basslines and rhythms, since there might be a lot of complexity on the melodic side of things. While the interplay of analog warmth and digital synths creates an atmosphere that’s both nostalgic and futuristic. The rhythmic elements are a nod to my diverse musical influences and heritage.

Has your sound changed at all from your previous project, Slow-Paced Tangents?

Yes, it always changes throughout my releases, at least that’s the intention. My music represents my ongoing journey as an artist, I want to keep exploring and redefining my musical identity. Nevertheless I’m very happy to always keep my signature sound, something that can be identified as Toada. I think I’m able to achieve that quite naturally. While my previous EP was characterized by its lush and organic tracks, rooted in the sonic landscapes of the late ’90s and early to mid ’00s, “Alta Onda 01” takes a more dynamic and rhythmic approach. “Slow-Paced Tangents” was a homage to downtempo, electronica, hip-hop, creating a space for contemplation and immersion with its slower tempos. In contrast, “Alta Onda 01” shifts the focus towards a blend of ethereal tones and modern cadences, emphasizing body movement and contemporary rhythms. There’s a stronger connection to the rhythmic and danceable elements. “Alta Onda 01” is more about creating an engaging and immersive experience that resonates both emotionally and physically. So, in essence, while “Slow-Paced Tangents” was more about slowing down and reflecting, “Alta Onda 01” encourages a more active engagement, blending introspection with movement and a sense of flow and repetition.

How have you approached the production of the EP?

The production process for “Alta Onda 01” was very hands-on and intuitive as always. I used a mix of analog instruments like the Sequential Prophet 5 synthesizer and the Dave Smith Tempest drum machine, to craft the sounds. The Ableton Push 3 was my main tool for composing and arranging, allowing me, for example, to blend the analog textures with the digital precision of Ableton’s Wavetable synthesizer. I focused on creating a cohesive sound that feels organic yet polished, capturing the raw energy with the meticulous details of the studio production.

Let’s talk about your decision to release through your own label Plūma. Why was this a better choice for you over releasing through another label?

Releasing through my own label, Plūma, arose from a necessity to have a platform where I could quickly and efficiently release my creative output. I have full confidence in my music and believe it captures exactly what I wanted to convey at the time of its creation. By releasing through Plūma, I avoid the potential compromises that can come with waiting for another label’s schedule and approval. That said, I am very much looking forward to the opportunity of releasing on other labels, especially when their vision for my music aligns with my own values. Releasing on other labels can bring new connections and reach wider audiences, which is always exciting and incredibly validating for an artist. However, while that doesn’t happen, having Plūma allows me to maintain full creative output and ensures that my music is presented exactly as I envision it.

What is your vision for the rest of the series?

I think the “Alta Onda” series will continue to delve into the theme of musical fluidity and repetition, incorporating various influences that resonate with me at any given moment. My vision is to build a body of work that is cohesive in its exploration of sound and emotion, yet varied in its stylistic approaches. While I’m not sure when the next release will be, I’m keeping my options open and might release other music, albums or EPs in between. This series is a way for me to create even more space for my musical explorations, almost like developing a new artist moniker but still adding to my existing catalog. It’s about maintaining the freedom to evolve while offering a consistent output.

What’s next for Toada?

For now I’m excited with what “Alta Onda 01″ might bring, since it just very recently came out. I’m also already working on new material for upcoming releases, both within the “Alta Onda” series and beyond. Ultimately, my goal is to keep evolving as an artist, pushing the boundaries of my sound, and sharing my musical journey with the people around the world that resonate with my music. 

Follow Toada

Purchase Alta Onda 01 here