It's been ten years, almost to the day, since the debut release from Argentine DJ/producer Mauricio Barembuem — better-known as Barem. Released for free on the fairly obscure (and thus aptly named) Unfoundsound Records, the Kleine EP might have ended up relegated to the dustbin of underground techno history had it not serendipitously made it into Richie Hawtin's DJ bag.
The techno legend would go on to sign Barem to his iconic Minus label almost immediately, kicking off the production wunderkind's first ten-year run as an internationally celebrated artist — arguably Argentina's hottest electronic dance music export since Hernán Cattáneo.
Fast-forward to 2015 and Barem is coming full circle with the launch of his very own label, Fun Records, alongside fellow Buenos Aires DJ-producer Alexis Cabrera. So ahead of his upcoming booking at Treehouse, we here at New Times caught up with Barem to chat about the new label and his decade in the game.
New Times: How did you first get drawn to electronic dance music? Were you exposed to much of this music while growing up in Argentina?
Barem: It all started when I was 16. I used to go out with friends and slowly got into electronic music. At first, I didn’t like it so much, ’cause all I listened to in clubs was trance, which I always associated with aerobics at a gym. But then time went by, and I started discovering other types of music that got me hooked. There was already a big scene in Buenos Aires back then, around 2000-2001, so it was pretty easy to access it.
Today, Buenos Aires has one of the biggest the electronic dance music scenes in the Latin America. What make the scene there so special?
It was already big when I discovered it, but now it's much bigger and has a lot more variety. There’s a big spectrum of clubs, from big ones to little ones, and they all have their own identity. Before, we had less, but now it seems that it kicked-in again, stronger than ever. Also there’s a new culture of after-parties that was very dodgy before, but now it’s kind of nice and you see all kinds of people there. I like the fact that there always seems to be new people in the dance floors — lots of young people, new DJs and producers. Maybe even a bit too many, but still a great thing! It’s probably the closest scene to Europe in all Latin America. There’s a lot of attention towards what happens in Europe, musically, and now it's a lot easier to stay updated cause there are lots of international acts there every weekend, and obviously a lot more access to check out what's happening in the hottest cities in the world. Not only in Buenos Aires, though. The whole country is full of electronic music action.
You've had a longstanding relationship with Richie Hawtin's iconic techno label, Minus. How did you first hook up?
I met Richie in 2005. After he started playing some of my tracks, he asked me to meet and to submit some music for the label. It took me till 2008 to fully become a stable member of Minus, but I released my first track there in 2006. It was a wonderful journey with them. The whole group was unbelievable. It was a great experience for me because I learned in the first few years what normally would take at least double. Touring with them and being part of such an iconic label made me very professional at a very young age, which is probably one of the main reasons that kept me alive in the scene all this time.
July 2015 marks ten years since your very first release. How do you feel you've evolved as an artist and producer during this past decade?
I always remember that release as something amazing. I sent Sean [O'Neal, of Unfoundsound Records] my first demo ever after three years of making electronic music, and he loved it. I couldn’t believe that, coming from somewhere far like Argentina, a U.S. label wanted to put it out. Even if it was for free, it felt amazing. Sean was my first very important mentor. He guided me a lot at an age where you easily make mistakes and the wrong decisions. And because of that release, Richie approached me. So I was always in good hands. I guess my music evolved a lot since then, but so did the scene. It was all about minimal techno and minimal house around that time, and later on, most people took different directions. I kind of took many directions myself because I focused on my DJ side more and became much more eclectic than I used to be as a live act. As a producer I could say my first tracks were super simple compared to the ones I make today. It was that simplicity that made it work, but sometimes when I look back I laugh at things like the sound quality and stuff like that. No regrets of course, but I try to do things differently now.
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Well, the name says it all: Fun Records is all about having fun. The idea behind it is to create a playground for me and some friends to do cool things together. The tracks are simple, but they always must have something special. Even if some are just a loop, it must be an amazing loop. It’s very free in terms of style and structures. I like to keep it that way, probably because I come from a very structured and defined label for many years, but I also enjoy the feeling of being a bit more freestyle and impulsive.
So what can we expect during Saturday's gig at Treehouse?
House, techno, and many things in between that I like. Groovy basslines and some hypnotic beats — that’s mostly what I like to play as a DJ.