Just before he headed off to Sonar and preparing music for the festival, Tom Lally caught up with Barem to speak about his relationship with Minus and how his career has progressed.
Hey Barem, thanks for taking the time to speak to us, where does this find you right now? Hey! No problem! Thanks to you! I'm at home in Berlin right now, preparing some stuff for Sonar this weekend, going through promos, record stores, etc.
I see you were at the French Open tennis last week, saying that one of your “dreams came true” watching Roger Federer in Paris. How's your form on the court? Yeah, I was! It was super cool. I always wanted to go to the French Open since I was a kid and I've always been a big Federer fan, so it was amazing to go there. I'm ok I guess. I played a lot as a teenager and stopped for about 12 years until I started playing again a year ago. Normally I play twice a week, I've recovered my old skills and got better than I was.
What else is going on in the world of Barem at the moment? Lots of touring around this time of the year. Normally I take a break in winter from heavy touring. I still play but not all the time, but right after WMC in Miami every March I start the normal touring schedule again. It's been great so far and I like it a lot. Other than that, I've been working on some remixes, one for Lorenzo Bartoletti on Paco Osuna's Mindshake Records, another one for Jay Tripwire on Akbal Music and also one for Timid Boy on Times Have Changed. Right now I have 2 more to finish, one on Upon You and the 2nd one for Rawtentic and in the meantime slowly working on a new solo EP for Minus. It will all take a while but hopefully everything will be out by the end of the summer.
Being based in Berlin, are you able to go back to Buenos Aires as often as you would like? How is the scene there these days? Yes I am. Not in and out 'cause it's very far and a very exhausting trip to do all the time, but I always go there during my winter break and stay for about 4 months, which is great. That way I never really feel that I miss Buenos Aires, because in the middle of the year I feel I've been there recently and by the end of the year I feel I'm going there soon and then I never worry about it. To be very honest, I'm not that connected with what's happening there in the music scene most of the time. Even before I started going on tours I already had my eyes in Europe and once I left, it all went more and more in that direction. When I go to Buenos Aires I don't play much, because for me it's the time to spend with family and friends I don't get to see for the best part of the year. I play some events like Creamfields Festival or a few big clubs, but other than that I keep it very limited 'cause for me being there is also about other things.
From what I hear from friends there it's still pretty much the same since 3 or 4 years. There's a new generation of people going out, which is great, but also very few locations to go out. I always see that as a problem, especially when new people want to open new spaces and give alternatives to the crowd and they find a lot of stones on the road. Other than that, there's a lot of new people from Argentina making good music, and that makes me very happy, even more because a lot of the younger ones see in some of us traveling around what it could be their future, and in a way they see us as an example of what they wanna do.
You have been a Minus artist for many years now. Do you find the label influences your sound or would you porduce music exactly the same if you weren't part of the family? Well, at the beginning I was making music that was very compatible with Minus, mainly inspired by the older artists who were there first, and of course by Richie. But I have always been inspired by other labels that had different approaches too, like Perlon just to tell you one. Then I came on board and kept developing my sound, and at some point I started moving into a 'housier' direction. Today I think Minus influences my music but not always musically speaking. I get influenced by experiences, people involved, new projects, etc, instead of what was happening before like direct inspiration by this or that record. We can't expect everyone on the label to like everything Minus puts out or get inspired by it, but we are all very good at supporting each other, even when our tastes or interests take different paths.
Could you ever imagine your sound moving in a completely new direction? It sort of happened. I mean, when I released Kolimar EP in 2008, it was a breaking point in my career. Even though I kept aspects of my own vision that still made it sound like me, it was a pretty drastic change, and I would most certainly do it again if I feel like it. But if you mean moving away from Techno and House and produce Trance, Drum and Bass or Dubstep, I wouldn't think something like that will happen.
Following the release of your debut LP last year, you said that you returned to playing live as it was an easier way for you to present your album more effectively. Are you still playing mostly live sets, or do you like to alternate between playing live and DJ? No, I'm not. What I did last year was a very limited series of Live shows with visuals as part of the album tour, that also included DJ shows. But I played the last one at Day One festival in Madrid on the 1st of January and I'm not planning to go back to that until I present a new album or something like that. However, I will play only one live set this year, and it will be at the ENTER opening party at space Ibiza. After that, I think I won't do it again for at least a year or two.
In London you will play for OneMore.. How do you feel about playing in such underground venue as a Car Park ? I heard it's great! I'm very looking forward to it. London has great clubs but it also has a very cool underground scene that I'm always happy to experience when invited. Crowds are different, vibes also... It's interesting to get a piece of both sides, same as in New York or even Berlin. (Tickets and info here)
Do you consider yourself more of a DJ or producer? Definitely DJ. Maybe at the beginning I was seen more as a producer, 'cause my initial production had a very nice impact at first, but with time I think I've concentrated more and more energy on becoming a better DJ, and even though I kept working on music and I really like it, most of my efforts and interests come out behind the decks instead of the studio. Sometimes I spend a whole year without making a single track, but I don't think I could be one year away from playing records.
Could you share three of your all time favourite or most influential records with us? Sure! but first of all I'd like to mention a few sets. At the beginning in Buenos Aires it was very hard to find records, so a lot of my initial inspiration came from listening to mix CDs I think. Josh Wink's Profound Sounds Vol.1 & 2, and Richie's mix for BBC Radio One around 2001 / 2002 were my biggest discoveries around that time and their tracklistings helped me discover a great amount of producers and labels that dramatically changed my way of understanding music.
- Jeff Samuel on 7th City: New Joob.
I think this record shaped a lot of my first music. The way Jeff used to play with repetitive percussions and even percussive sounds with notes and the use of shuffle really affected my view on minimal techno, to the point that most of my first EPs and remixes have that in one way or another. Purchase on Clone here
- Ricardo Villalobos on Playhouse: Halma. Track: ''What You Say Is More Than I Can Say''
This EP was also very important for me. Of course maybe Alcachofa was more influential in many ways, but Halma was the EP the made me find out about Ricardo and his different approach to music in general. After finding this one on Josh Wink's Profound Sounds Vol. 2, I discovered a whole new world going back in time to Ricardo's older records that I never heard till then, and also to the future as he kept developing and changing our scene for good.
- Plastikman on Plus8: Sickness / Panikattack
The track Panikattack really blew my mind when I first listened to it and it still does today. A lot may say there are other more mind-blowing tracks and even albums by Plastikman, for some reason this one had a tremendous impact on me. How simple and complex it is at the same time, how much power it has while still being very abstract, I don't know how to explain it, but I will always have it in my top 3, if not the top 1 of my most influential tracks ever.
This summer we’ll see Richie Hawtin’s new weekly night ENTER debut at Space in Ibiza. Can you give us some insider information about the concept? What’s in store? It's all pretty much out there already. To be honest I don't know a lot more than what's been announced so far. The main idea behind ENTER is to get together. Minus has been seen for a long time as a very close group of artists who didn't share much with others. I don't think that's true, because we all have been interacting and sharing experiences with everybody else in the scene for many years, but the minus concept of a party has always been just minus and that's a fact. This time it's changed. We have a lot of friends from other labels coming to play with us, even sharing extra days in Ibiza and that's what I think makes ENTER very different than everything Minus did in the past. There will be a very cool Sake bar where we will always begin the night with very special guest DJs at a very small and cool atmosphere, then we have the main room which will be mostly Minus but also important guest DJs. Finally we have the terrace that we share with Kehakuma which will be a mix in between Minus and other friends we have who usually play at the Kehakuma solo nights since some years.
It all looks amazing and we're all very looking forward to it. This is our main thing this year and we're all gonna do our best to make it a very important new alternative in Ibiza.
What other plans do you have for the 2012 summer? The usual I guess, playing a lot at beach locations, Festivals, and clubs mostly around Europe. But as I said before, ENTER is our main focus, so no other crazy plans for now!
(Barem plays OneMore in London Sat 30.06.12 - Tickets and info here)
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