Interview: Barem

Barem released his first successful track as a free download in 2005 and a year later was already being featured by Minus.

His prolific output with Richie Hawtin‘s seminal purveyor of minimal techno, saw Barem release a series of EPs, finding himself on the lineups of festivals likes Mutek and Movement, culminating with the release of his 2011 long player, “After The Storm”. After extensive touring with his live show, Barem got back to releasing music around 2014, with work on the likes of Leftroom Limited, Mindshake, SCI+TEC and Moon Harbour.

Now, Barem has launched a new label, FUN Records, with Alexis Cabrera, symbolizing a move away from the mostly minimal early days to a more open-ended mix of house and techno jams. Earlier this month, FUN records released its third EP, coming in the form of “nUF” by Barem and featuring a remix by Christian Burkhardt. With that, I caught up with Barem to discuss the ethos being the FUN Records imprint, Berlin, Minus, Buenos Aires, and way more.

“Sometimes you need to change to feel better with what you do.”

First off, talk to us a bit about your summer so far? Have you had any stand out gigs? Anything that you have done personally that you’ve enjoyed?
It’s been a bit of a different summer for me compared to other years. I used to do lots of shows in Europe and then go back to Buenos Aires for the South American summer and take it easy there. Now the South American calendar is very strong, so I need to find a balance, because I don’t function well when I have no breaks. That’s why I’m now trying to take weekends off during the year and live at a less frenetic rhythm. I must say I’ve been enjoying it this way much better than in the past. The best event was the Fun Records Boat and afterparty at Village Underground we did in London in July with the Unleash crew. It’s always a bit more special when it’s your own party.

Speaking of the summer, as it is such a demanding time in the year for a DJ, do you have any specific way to maintain health and mindfulness? What about after summer ends? Do you have a way that you “wind down”?
Well, I always try to do sports at least 3 times a week, no matter if I’m touring like crazy or not. That helps a lot. I also try to go surfing once a year. But I never really found a great way to deal with it. You can be very strict and then one night you drink too much and it all goes to hell. As I said, the way I feel better is as simple as playing less, and then maybe have 3 or 4 periods where I go back to a heavy schedule.

Here, we’re primarily speaking about your new label FUN, and your upcoming release ‘nUF’ on it. Can you describe to us a bit about FUN as a label and as a philosophy behind a label?
Fun Records was born as a playground. That’s why in a way it doesn’t have too many rules. The concept behind it is pretty much to do what we think is cool and fresh, but not by releasing a specific type of sound. Since we started you could say the sound is more towards minimal house jams, but that doesn’t mean we can’t release techno tracks or anything else we find interesting. Playgrounds need to have the freedom to open up to other things eventually, in order to remain fun for us in the years to come.

I find it interesting that you now are so prominently calling and describing “fun” for dance music. The reason I say this is because, to many, the more minimal scene, where your roots are, can be considered a bit “humor-less” or overly serious/pretentious. Would you agree with that assessment?
Yes, I see what you mean. At least where I come from, the Minus sound and all, that was the case. But it wasn’t strictly the case for the whole minimal scene of the beginning and mid 2000s. There were many labels releasing less serious/mental/dark records. I loved the way the darker mental tracks worked around that time, but eventually I started feeling more and more connected with more organic, groovy and soulful ones. Sometimes you need to change to feel better with what you do. I always try to follow that instinct.

On that same note, why have you decided to move away from the minimal sound and into this more “fun” approach to dance music? How has your relationship with M_NUS paved the way for this change to occur?
Minus was a big part of my career and some of the best years of my life. I will never forget how special it was to be part of that unique group of artists. I think all of us eventually decided it was time to search individually for new challenges. Some earlier, some later, but we all did. It happened naturally I guess. In fact by the time I left, I had already been playing different music for at least 3-4 years. It’s very difficult to remain musically in the exact same vibe with 10 other people for so long. Sometimes it’s best to remain friends and find your own way of doing what you want. I think it worked pretty well in the end.

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