Q&A with Barem, Playing at Electric Pickle Tonight
Barem went on to join the expatriate EDM community in Berlin where he continues to bang out his signature stark booming techno cuts while also gigging hectically across the globe. Crossfade caught up with the talented young producer for a Q&A on the eve of his pre-WMC performance with PL0T at Electric Pickle, and he sure as shit set us straight about producing more than just your ordinary loopy minimal.
Barem at Electric Pickle. Friday, March 19, 11 p.m.-5 a.m. 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami.
Read the full Q&A after the jump.
New Times: How did you first get into music production?
Barem: I started when I was 17. I got software by coincidence that had all these loops and you could organize them and make some changes to them. It was very simple, but I spent a lot of hours with it. Then I found more advanced software and began expanding my possibilities. I was also going out a lot and getting new ideas all the time.
Where there immediate influences in Argentina for minimal techno when you first started producing? Where did the inspiration first come from?
Yeah, there were some really good DJs playing what back then was super new and modern. Thanks to them I got to know more experimental sides of techno and house. So then I started finding more and more names from the international scene that I loved and so on.
How do you approach your production work? What is your typical process in the studio?
Normally I just start loops depending on what I feel like making. I spend a lot of time working, trying different things and colors until i finally have the main idea. When I was playing live I used to take those loops on tour and jam with them to see how the crowd liked them, and after a while I would just go back to the studio and record it as if was playing it to the crowd. A few edits later the tracks were done. Then I stopped playing live almost two years ago and now I can't do that test with the crowd I used to do, but I also DJ all the time and I have a better idea of what works and what doesn't. I still use the same method though. First draw a nice idea and then sequence it as if I was playing it live.
In the last couple years there's been a resurgence of more melodic forms in techno, with pure minimal giving away to deep house influences. You still continue to play a lot of straight-up percussive minimal though. Do you ever get bored of it after producing/DJing in this style for almost a decade? Do you see yourself evolving your sound in the near future?
Totally, but you should do a bit better research before asking that. First of all, I did get bored over two years ago and changed a lot. My music became a lot more organic and soulful and I've basically not written a single straight-up percussive minimal techno track since then. I played a lot of minimal techno for four years more or less, two in which I was just playing live, which was only one hour of my own music and of course it was minimal techno-oriented. But when I switched back to DJing I also went back to playing a lot of different styles and colors. I play techno, house, tech-house, some minimal, also different intentions on each style, happy, dark, hypnotic, atmospheric, percussive, etc. I even released a tech-house record on Minus that includes a deep house track. So if you would listen to any of my sets, records or remixes from the past two years, you would probably be asking me something else.
[Writer's note: Really, who can keep track of the increasingly nuanced gradient between techno's deep/melodic end and percussive/minimal end, let alone the minute differentiating characteristics of each EDM subcategory: house, deep-house, tech-house, micro-house, techno, deep-techno, minimal-techno, et al? At the end of the day it's just dance music right? If it sounds good, that's all that matters.]
How did you first hook up with Richie Hawtin and Minus?
Rich started playing my music when I released my first record on Unfoundsound Records from Philadelphia, which is a super cool free net label. After that we met in Argentina and he asked me if I'd like to send him demos for a new label he had in mind. I did, but after a while the idea of the new label went down. We still kept in touch and I slowly started being a part of Minus, first on a few compilation and then finally with my own records and going on tour with them.
Argentina seems to be the leading exporter of cutting-edge minimal techno talent in South America, with such internationally-recognized producers as Guti, Dilo, Andres Zacco, Gurtz, etc. What is the scene in Argentina like now?
It used to be a lot better than now in terms of popularity. It's just we got to be popular now, and it's not as great as it used to be. Parties are not as full as 5 years ago, many people who used to listen to EDM every weekend are either not going out anymore or picking other kinds of music like indie rock. It's still very decent and good though. I guess we were known at the beginning as the Argentinean kids who were exporting minimal techno to the world, but again, if you listen to what most names on that list are doing now, plus all the others, you won't find a lot of minimal techno.
How do you divide your time between Buenos Aires and Berlin?
I live most of the year in Berlin since 2006. I go back to Argentina every winter because I can't stand how cold and depressing Berlin gets, but that's usually from December to March only. There's no way I could tour as I do if I was living in Buenos Aires all the time.
You have been on a hectic touring schedule for a couple of years now and played in cities across the world. Any favorite spots? What's the most memorable experience you've had playing live?
I do have a few favorite clubs. At the moment my two favorites are Womb in Tokyo and Warung in Brazil. I love a lot of other clubs in Europe and other parts of the world too, but if I have to pick right now, I'd say those two. It's very hard to pick the most memorable experience. I think I had memorable experiences many times and also in many different moments in my career. If I have to go for one, I'd pick the first time I heard Richie play one of my tracks because I didn't know he knew my music and it was a very intense thing to experience at the age I was. I wasn't playing though, but it was just the beginning of everything.
What can Miami expect during your performance at Electric Pickle?
I'll play 3 hours of straight-up percussive minimal techno! *winks*