Video shot by the crew and edited by Niagara
Words by Aimee Cliff
“Over the years, I’ve been more empowered to play my own style,” Firmeza told The FADER recently. “And to not give a fuck about what people say, or the stigma that is attached to my own style. I’ve just become myself.”
Filmmaker Clayton Vomero was aware of all this when he traveled to Lisbon earlier this year, but was aware of the limitations of capturing a sprawling musical community. “I never set out to tell the story of the Lisbon scene,” he says. “It’s too large and too vibrant to sum up in a short film.” He didn’t know exactly what he wanted to shoot: only that he was interested in the breathless, percussive dance music that was emerging from the capital city’s bairros, or ghettos, and that he was drawn to Firmeza in particular. Vomero had once watched Firmeza on YouTube as he mixed frenetic tunes in a living room. In early 2017, the director was mourning the loss of a good friend, and had packed up his belongings into a storage unit, leaving his home in New York behind for a while. When he met Firmeza in Lisbon, he realized that they had this fresh grief in common, and the film began to take shape.
The pair spent days talking about life and death — via interpreters — and nights bouncing between clubs and friends’ houses. “It wasn’t just his music,” Vomero realized, “But how he looked at life, and how he was coping with the loss of his father and becoming a role model to his family, and then still being an inherently spiritual person who doesn’t really care about religion so much. I just got lucky to have found Firmeza beyond his music.”