We had a chance to interview techno producer Barbuto before his debut EP release ‘Arcana’ on Sian’s legendary Octopus Records. We’ve had our eyes on Barbuto ever since the release of his track ‘Major Arcana.’ Plus, it’s always great to see new talent from underrepresented parts of the states.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from, what do you do for fun, and how long have you been making music for?
I’m originally from Australia but I moved here when I was just 8. I moved back to Australia when I was 12 then winded up back here in the USA when I was 21 after spending 5 years racing bicycles around Europe. I’m thinking about techno all the time, either musically or the business side. I like to make music in the morning then once I can’t go any longer I switch to promoting upcoming local events, blogging and business stuff. I DJ locally between 2 and 3 nights per week, so I stay busy. This to me is super fun and could not do anything else! Aside from music fun I like to simply hang out at home. I live with my girlfriend in a 36ft travel RV in the gorgeous Texas Hill Country outside of Austin. We are surrounded by wildlife and beautiful nature so just hanging out and going for hikes and bike rides is my thing, and eating Texas BBQ
As a US based blog trying to promote Techno in the states, it’s really cool that you hail from somewhere that is rarely thought of as a Techno hotspot. What’s the scene like in Austin?
It’s very special here in Austin. We only have around 850k people in the entire greater area so Austin is a very small city compared to big techno cities like New York. The difference is Austin is a passionate music town full of artists; people have pretty open minds here and are up for a high calibre performance regardless of music genre. Techno is growing fast though, over the last few years it’s really caught on. Lately I have been having at least one or two nights per month and the club I throw events at Kingdom is always slammed. The club is a DJ owned and operated venue and the DJ who built it (with his own bare hands) Garrett Boyd aka Remmington Steele is a very talented techno DJ who plays frequently so when Octopus or Drumcode DJ’s come through the events are taken very seriously and passionately by the staff and the DJ’s can feel that intensity. Our crowds are very enthusiastic too. I’m always posting pictures of dancers literally losing their minds. The sound at Kingdom is perfect.
We know that making music can be a tricky career, especially if you are fairly new to producing. What do you do to make ends meet? And do you have any words of advice to those who are struggling to find the balance between music as an art form and music as pure entertainment?
When I moved to Austin 6 years ago I was sick of the daily grind and having bosses to answer to so I decided I am going to DJ to pay my bills no matter what. If I get to play techno great but if I have to play top 40 I will do that over having to be at work Monday morning so I started to DJ any type of gig I could find, from Sushi bars to Corporate parties and weddings. After about a year I had so many of these I was actually making pretty decent money. I still do these often and I quite enjoy it. I personally feel DJ’ing weddings and mainstream events is what has caused me to be confident during my techno sets as well as confident as a person, the pressure of a wedding is so high, it really makes you tough. If you are being pulled between what your inner morals want you to make or be and what is going to be successful or what you can sell, I would say focus on making music that people are going to respond to but let your gut tell you that you are still within the boundaries of your inner you. 6 years ago after deciding to DJ full time I was 100% techno at heart but only 10 or 15% expressed when playing or promoting events. 4 years ago it went to 25% 75%, and now its nearly 100% techno all the time. On a Saturday I might DJ an early party with some pop and funk but 4 hours later I’m playing techno at Kingdom. As time goes by I’m sure everything will be techno 100% of the time!
So your ‘Arcana’ EP comes out soon on Octopus, which is a pretty big deal. How long have those two tracks been in the making, and what’s the story behind them?
Sian’s ears had been open to what I was up to for about the last year. He had mentioned that when my sound fell into place that there would be a home for an EP on Octopus so I really started to buckle down and get serious. I did lots of tracks that went back and forth with the objective of coming up with an EP. These two just kept lingering for a while and after a little bit of random polishing and playing out they just stared working and they came together. Right now I start tracks with an open mind and do tons of experimenting. I love plugins and messing with stuff randomly. The thing I try to keep in my head and ask myself as it’s going along is “does it sound dark and does it sound classy and is there a catchy riff”?
Now, this isn’t your first Octopus release, right? How did you get connected with the label? Have you met Sian?
I had a really fun single come out on the 2014 Octopus compilation called “Major Arcana” (not connected to the Arcana EP, I name my tracks based on star systems and galactic council stuff, its very methodical actually lol). Anyway I play this track all the time and it always gets a strong response. My buddy Jon Eric and I wanted to bring Sian to Austin to play Kingdom so we had him the day after Christmas in 2013 and we had a great show. After that we stayed in touch and since then we have done a few parties together including a label night he had me play in LA last December and we just closed down music week here in Austin during the SXSW 2 nights ago.
We love asking artists a silly one. TR-909 or TB-303?
I wish I could say I owned them both but I don’t own either however I would probably go for the 909
What’s your favorite YouTube video?
Carl Cox 24/7 full documentary, it’s very inspiring!
What tracks are you listening to at the moment that you think are going to blow up?
Major Arcana & Twilight Imperium that come out on Octopus the first week of April hehe!
What’s in store for the rest of 2015?
Really excited to be on the Octopus label night at Treehouse with Sian and Boryana with special guests Gaiser & Drumcell, beside that we want to start an Octopus artist night at Kingdom to get as many Octopus artists through Austin as possible this year. Other than that I look forward to spending as much time in the studio as possible. It’s alot of fun!
Thanks Barbuto! Look forward to seeing you out there on the dancefloor sometime soon.
Barbuto’s debut ‘Arcana’ EP is out Monday April 6th on Octopus Recordings. You can read our review here.