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Interview: Barbuto

Written by on 20/01/2022

Back in his native Australia for the first time in over two decades following a twenty-five-year stint living in the USA, Antipodean producer, DJ and label boss Barbuto is a man on a mission. Boasting a slew of hugely successful releases on the likes of Octopus Recordings, Tronic, Phobiq, Unity, OFF Recordings, Transmit Recordings and his own Mavic Music imprint over the past few years, the Sydney-born talent now looks to grab 2022 by the horns as he unveils his latest musical offering, Techno Colour Dreams.

Released via his burgeoning label Mavic Music alongside a trio of remixes from some of the most exciting up-and-coming artists on the Australian circuit, Techno Colour Dreams is a veritable masterclass in modern, driving techno, courtesy of a producer at the very top of his game right now. Inaugurating the four-part package with the uncompromising title track Techno Colour Dreams, Barbuto’s relentless opener exudes raw, energetic dynamism across its six-minute duration as he combines pulsating basslines and cutting-edge production techniques with MC Flipside’s inimitable spoken word topline to open his 2022 catalogue in emphatic fashion.
We caught up with Barbuto to find out more…

Welcome Barbuto. Thanks very much for your time to talk to us. How are you today?

Thanks very much for this interview. Honestly I couldn’t be better. Even with this crazy world we are living in I have a renewed focus on music that is distracting me like a kid with a new toy so doing really well.

Please say a few words about yourself for our Only Techno readers.

I’m Australian born but have been living in America for the past 26 years. My wife and I just moved to Australia a month ago to immerse ourselves into the culture (back into it for me) and work closely with artists and music brands around the country. I started playing music in 2000 and started producing music in 2009 with bigger releases on well known labels such as Octopus, Phobiq and Tronic starting in 2015. I am now very much focused on my label Mavic and working with the Australian brand owned by Nick Reverse called WeLove. My passion is of course techno but I have also been successful as an open format DJ and like my hero Carl Cox enjoy mixing all genres of music.

From where are you answering this interview?

I’m in a small town called Bowral which is just a little over an hour South West of Sydney. I lived here when I was a kid and my parents are still here. It’s a stunningly beautiful part of Australia and makes me feel very creative. A short train ride to Sydney gives just enough time to go over tracks for that night’s gig.

What’s the music scene like where you currently live?

I’m going to answer this as though we are talking about Sydney as there is not really a scene here in Bowral however we are opening a pretty serious nightclub inside a beautiful hotel here (sometime in 2022). It should be up and running quite soon but we are having to navigate through the ups and downs of Covid. As far as talking about the scene in Sydney to me it’s top notch, high quality phenomenal and my favourite place to play (Melbourne too). The clubs are great and the party goers are super friendly and have an absolute blast. I just played the WeLove New Years party at The Cult in Kings Cross and it was full speed ahead techno bash till 5am.

How would you describe your particular brand of techno for those that may be unfamiliar?

Groove heavy, upbeat and fun with sultry dark tones and big bold impacts. Nothing too serious. Not tech house (a little heavier and a little faster typically) but not the trendy techno that to me all too often sound the same these days. I would describe it as a blend between Julian Jeweil and Matt Sassari. Most of my tracks are written in major keys.

You have an amazing new release coming up on your label Mavic Music later this month. Can you talk us through the release and how it came about? How did you choose the three remixers?

Yes, it’s called Techno Colour Dreams and these days I try to make music that doesn’t sound like everyone else. So wanting to have a stand out first release for my return to Australia I reached out to MC Flipside in Toronto with a track idea and asked if he could do some cool original lyrics over the top. Not just a riff but a solid story line. He loved the beats which are my signature heavy groovy chug and came up with the perfect top line. Since the release was going to be my first since moving back to Oz I reached out to 3 of my favourite artists who I think all have big futures, all from my hometown of Sydney and all make music that I play. Mike Turing is in my opinion Sydney’s biggest best kept secret, Lisa May from Newcastle has a ton of experience and has a truly distinct not sounding like everyone else style and Ludovic is a total weapon with a big future. So an all Aussie cast on this release aside from Flipside.

How does your creative process start when making a new record?

I’m not a musician so I start with drums and find an organic groove that gets me moving. Any kick drum and very basic top hat that sounds reasonably attractive (I know I will change these later) then work on mid range bass groove and melody to find the vibe and movement I want. This could be a combination of low end synth, percs and toms or anything else to get a cool techno bassline. After that I will play with synths, midi patterns and samples from anywhere (one of my Tronic singles has a David Letterman from the Tonight show laugh in it that I warped into a synth) and start playing with random patterns and musical ideas. Once I have a bit of a riff then I look for sound effects and impacts then top end variations. Then the arrangement. Once this is all done I play with plug ins from Soundtoys and UAD and Arturia to make interesting transitions and noises. At the end I will scour through kicks and tops until I find the best fitting ones. In my new studio I have 3 speakers, small cheap $50 computer speakers, 4 inch budget pioneer speakers and then the Adam A7X. I start with cheap speakers so I am not tempted to mix too much or overproduce then once the track is written and it sounds pretty cool on cheap speakers I go to the Adam’s. I send my work to a few professional producers for feedback and keep working till I get an objective sign that it is finished. These days I write tracks slowly a little each day and if it takes me a couple of months to be fully finished with a track that’s ok. I tinker with all the cool gear and have allot of fun.

What made you move back to Sydney after living in the USA for over two decades?

My wife and I love Sydney with an intense passion. We love the people and love the parties. If I never played anywhere other than Australia I would be ok with it. I love Australia. My parents are now just down the street and can see them every week and be available to them. WeLove Sydney is a wonderful brand and so professional and kind. Being a part of the WeLove family is a big reason for being here too.

Are you planning some touring down under this year that you can tell us about?

Absolutely. My main home base is WeLove in Sydney which to me is one of the best brands in the world just going off the fun factor so I have quite allot coming up including a small festival style event in January at the Greenwood Hotel as well as a big party with Victor Ruiz in February. WeLove also has a club on the Gold Coast in Queensland which I hear is pure fun and of course our extended family in Melbourne at Eat The Beat. I also hear there is an inquiry for a festival in Perth.

Is there anything else you would like to mention to our Only Techno community before you go?

Thanks very much for learning a little bit about me. Playing music and everything around it is my everything so a big cheers. Don’t ever give up on your dreams. If you keep chipping away at that dream it will come closer and if it doesn’t happen the way you have it pictured in your head that’s ok, just make sure you enjoy the journey.

Barbuto – Techno Colour Dreams (ft. MC Flipside) will be released on Mavic Music on Tuesday, January 25th.

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