By Euan Leopold
Glasgow has always been a place where talented musicians have been given room to learn their craft and flourish and the city’s dance music scene is no different. There’s a whole host of young DJs and producers out there pushing the scene in the city forward and bringing the spotlight back to Glasgow as one of most exciting places to be right now for dance music lovers everywhere.
Ivan Barrientos is one of those young producers, but this modest 23 year old isn’t buying into the hype just yet. As one of the recently featured future stars for 2014 on Pete Tong’s BBC Radio 1 show, an experience he calls “a little surreal but also mind blowing.”; he understands that it is up to him to make a success from the new opportunities he’s been given:
“it was a huge honour for me. But I’m not getting carried away with it. It’s a good piece of promotion in all honesty, and it’s up to me to build on this hype. I think the main result from it has been record labels sitting up and paying attention to demos now!”
Starting at a young age, Ivan began his musical career studying classical piano and flute at what was the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. This didn’t necessarily mean a future making music was the natural progression for the budding DJ as he says, “I never thought I would enjoy composition. I used to hate it when I studied classical music and I can tell you my compositions I wrote when studying at RSAMD were fucking atrocious.”
It wasn’t until a trip to popular Scottish dance music festival Rockness that Ivan’s interest in house music and producing really spiked. “I was mesmerised by Erol Alkan playing Roman Flugel’s ‘Gehts Noch’. He says. “I had never heard this style of music in my life and I remember thinking how tribal it felt responding to a hypnotic beat with a bassline that drove people nuts. I knew from that very second I wanted to try that for myself.”
That epiphany on the banks of Loch Ness several years ago has lead Ivan to work with some of Glasgow’s best creative minds, remix the work of dance music legend Romanthony, and release his own successful debut EP, Feel the Waves, on excellent local label, Glasgow Underground last year. He is acutely aware that he could not have done it alone and is very grateful towards Glasgow Underground label boss Kevin McKay.
“I definitely wouldn’t be the stage I’m at without the help from Kevin. He’s been in the music game for so long now and I reckon he’s seen it all. It’s always great to have an honest, critical ear to give you feedback on the music you make because that is truly the best way to learn and develop.”
Coming to Glasgow Underground has also resulted in a successful partnership with local producer and label mate Illyus. Together their recent release “Do Anything You Wanna” was featured across Radio 1’s dance music output as well as being championed by the likes of Skream at trend setting station Rinse FM. The duo look set to repeat their success with future release, “Ballin’.” But how did this partnership come about?
“I had been working with Kevin McKay since remixing Romanthony on Glasgow Underground and basically Illyus had just finished a remix for Kevin’s release on Congaloid – I then had an email from Kevin asking if I’d be interested in working with Illyus as he reckoned we would be a good match in the studio. A few emails later and after a few beers we decided to get into the studio and muck around with a few ideas.”
Ivan attributes the two producers successful collaboration to their equal levels of experience:
“I think what is interesting is that Illyus and I were in a sort of similar point with music before we started working together – a little unsure of what direction to go in and sitting just at the “cusp” of the dance scene. The collaboration has really given us a new lease of life creatively and a determination and energy to push on with writing new music.”
Interestingly music isn’t the only thing going on in Ivan’s life right now. This talented trend setting DJ is also currently studying for his PhD in biomedical engineering. This is probably something that comes totally out of nowhere for anyone that has seen Ivan rock the party at any number of shows in Glasgow and around the country. Whether he’ll one day swap the title of DJ for Dr. remains to be seen. “It’s difficult to say whether I’ll take one direction or another, I’m just going with the flow really. I don’t like to plan these things too much. As long as I’m happy with what I’m doing, then nothing else really matters.”
For now however, he is happy producing alongside his PhD course. Don’t expect him to disappear behind a wall of doctoral research anytime soon though, as his plans for the rest of the year are coming thick and fast with a new EP with Illyus set to be released on the label Love & Other on the 19th of May as well as another release the details of which Ivan is keeping close to his chest just now. Just like at his shows he finishes the interview leaving them wanting more. We will just have to wait and see what he has in store later in the year.
What are you listening to? Ivan’s Top 5 records right now:
- Chester Watson – Chinamen
- Arthur Beatrice – Too Late (Medlar Vocal Remix)
- Leon Vynehall – Music for the Uninvited LP
- Mineo – Ghju Lia EP
- Chesus aka Earl Jeffers – Decisions EP
Follow Euan on Twitter: @EuanLeopold