Brazilian artist Stephan Barnem is about to release his new album on his own label Encants.
It is a self titled work that goes deep, and really takes you on a trip over the course of 11 tracks.
They range from deep techno bangers to melodic house and here he chats about it, his musical process when making it, and his upcoming tour this summer.
Stephan’s ‘Stephan Barnem’ LP is out on Feb 15th and you can purchase the first EP from the album on Beatport.
How are you Stephan, great to meet you! How was your xmas and new year?
Hi guys, nice to meet you too, been following your blog for a while now! I spent Christmas with my family in Italy and my New Year’s Eve and day with my second family (my agent, team and friends) in Barcelona where I played two gigs, one in the early morning from 7 to 9 AM in a warehouse, and one later on during the afternoon on top of Barcelona’s hills, both were very special locations and I had a lot of fun.
Why did you want to do an LP, what inspired or influenced it?
I wanted to release some of the music that I’ve made throughout these years and kept unreleased up to now. On this album there are some techno bangers to play in clubs and some other tracks that are not exactly dancefloor smashers, but more of an electronic journey which are also good if enjoyed at home with a cup of tea and closed eyes.
Where was it written, and does that matter? Are you influenced by your environment like that?
There is a long time span among all the tracks, more than 5 years between the most and least recent track on the album and of course there are several locations involved.
I used to have a studio in Italy in a country house where nobody lived surrounded by trees where I would spend a lot of time and I produced several tracks in there. Then there is Berlin where I also produced some stuff and just more recently Barcelona, where not only I made some of the tracks but mostly finalised all the previous work.
I’m convinced that the environment influences me, not only the locations but also the people that I am surrounded by at a given time and of course by my own mood too. I think this is natural and normal.
Was there a plan for it from the start, did you know how you wanted it to sound? What was the aim generally with it?
Well, having a clear vision and go for it since the very beginning until the end is actually the aim for my next album. For this one I mostly gathered tracks throughout time and only toward the end was I starting to see the connection between the dots and that’s when I made some of the final tracks that helped me give it more cohesion to it all. The general aim of this album was to showcase my musical and producer taste and to be able to push myself a little bit beyond certain boundaries.
Now that I let out my more-eclectic-self I feel more free to concentrate on making “dj’s tracks” for the dance-floor.
There are lots of deeper, more melodic tracks on there - are you formally trained in music piano or anything? Or is it just trial and error?
I was given a keyboard for birthday (or Christmas?) when I was a little child, maybe 5 or 6, and I would spend hours every day on it trying to play famous pieces but without any musical knowledge. That’s probably where I picked up my ability to play by ear, until my parents signed me up to a piano school but I was really bad and lazy at doing homeworks and assigments. I liked playing not studying so of course came the day when I dropped from school and since that was many years ago, today I cannot really say that I’m formally trained. Same happened with guitar and drums. I regret it.
Is the LP a continuation of your usual style or have you switched it up?
I think (and hope you agree) that I have levelled up both my style and technique. I’m easily bored when it comes to doing always the same stuff, in every aspect of life, so I always like to try new things and styles when making music too. Surely defining my own style from a genre must be quite hard if not impossible but I hope other people’s ear can somehow recognise a style in my music. It makes me happy when sometimes people come and tell me “this is Barnem style!” but I have to admit that it’s really hard (read impossible) for me to tell.
How did you find the process? Fun or torture getting it exactly how you wanted?
Usually for me the fun in making a track is inversely proportional to the time spent on it. And this kind of reflects what happened to this album too. I loved the creative process, which is the very first part of the job, but came to nearly freak-out at the very end when it was time to finally polish, mix and doing the last details on the tracks.
This album also taught me that all the things that I was giving so much importance to and that were driving me crazy at the end of the process like “use this and not that compressor” or “that snare must be 1db louder in here” or “I should cut the hats at 16.2kHz and not at 17.1kHz” or who knows what, are not so important in the end.
It’s just something that very probably only you as the producer will know and notice. And the funny thing is that many producer friends warned me to not go crazy for but I always have to experience something first hand before really learning it, so now I know. In other words? More music, less bullshit.
Tell us about your own label Encants - what is the aim and vibe of it?
It was in my plans for years to open my own label and when I stopped listening to other people’s opinion I finally did it. So far so good, I released two new artists AN5 that makes analog techno and last week with Futuristant’s first release we hit the first label’s Top 10 on Beatport. The third release titled “The Break” is from myself and it is an anticipation of my album coming out in mid-February. I will do some VA’s every now and then and also have guest remixers but I try to keep the regular artist base quite small, during all these years I’ve noticed that (apart some exceptions) when labels start “opening the doors” they start losing their identity and eventually implode. I want to leave artists of the label as much artistic freedom as possible and have them express themselves doing what they do best. Later on this year we will also start doing Encants label showcases.
What else have you got coming up/are you working on for the rest of 2019?
In 2019 going back to touring (also with an album tour that we’re organizing) and I have several EP’s and remixes coming out this year. One of the first to see the light after my album on Encants is an EP on “This Side Up” a new Barcelona-based label with remixes from Zombies in Miami and Undo. I’ll be working on music production for a movie and television but I really can’t say anything more about this.