After a decade dominating the minimal underworld with the Minus crew, Mauricio Barembuem (aka Barem) steps out from under the overarching imprint of his mentor Richie Hawtin. The time has come for the veteran producer to launch his own label alongside compatriot and friend Alexis Cabrera. Fun Records is the vehicle set to take the boys on a new journey, one where the two producers can establish their own legacy. Intent on dictating their own musical destiny, they are driven to express their artistic desires in a carefree and joyful collaboration.
For Barem, the label comes after ten years under the wing of Minus chief Hawtin. Thanks to the guidance of the tech maestro, Barem's career took flight. He sculpted his own sophisticated sound and garnered massive respect for his artistic skills. Starting out with fiery cuts like "Opal" and "Link" he later cemented his place on the pioneering imprint with weapons like "SEEEE" and "Censored Elephant". He released the much-lauded After the Storm LP on the label in 2011 while also contributing tracks to the likes of Ghostly, Mindshake, and Soma Records. Amassing a plentiful following in the most discerning of music scenes, the seminal imprint provided the producer with an education like no other—a scholarship in the dark arts of minimal techno with the shadow lord himself.
The draw of the Minus, however, began to waver in recent years as monotony crept into the producer's process. "I had the feeling that for two or three years I was stuck in a dead-end, a comfort zone, where I felt I wasn't achieving anything anymore," he explains. "I kept going. The parties were good and my DJ side was okay, but I wasn't very motivated as an artist. That process of understanding my frustrations opened the doors to taking a new direction." The contemplation and the subsequent new drive have reinvigorated the producer, encouraging him to break the mold. A release last March on Rhythm Cult whet the appetite for what was to come, offering a more melodic and forward facing sound. It was an indication that he was ready to shed the stylistic shackles of past projects as he set out to trial new musical pastures.
This month, with the wealth of experience and professionalism from his Minus days under his arm, Barem took the leap alongside Cabrera (himself a respected multi-instrumentalist and established producer) to launch their own imprint. Fun Records represents a declaration of independence for both producers, offering Barem, in particular, a rebirth. "I think I'm mature and experienced enough after ten years to know what I want to put out and how I want to present it," says Barem.
For the new label head, this is an artistic ascension away from what some have criticized as a constrained "cool" to a vast paradise of self-actualization. Fun Records is custom-built to bring back the buzz that inhibits the music-loving producer within him. Now, production alone is a wholesome experience for Barem. "For me, making music represents a lot of friends I would have never met, places I would have never visited, and food I would have never had the chance to taste."
Amid the current dance music gold rush labels are sprouting up left, right, and center, so establishing an enviable outlet will be an arduous task for the duo. Though it seems that their clear commitment and cause (fun being above all), along with their willingness to openly collaborate with like-minded artists will uphold their longevity. There will always be space for quality and good vibes in dance music.
Following months of speculation, the debut release from Fun Records arrives next week with a vinyl release set for July 13 and the digital to follow shortly after on August 10. The release will see Barem and Cabrera go head-to-head on an EP that exhibits everything they hope to inspire with the new label. No boundaries, no set styles or structures. In that fashion, the pair has rendered three no-nonsense grooves. "Turn On The Fun" fittingly leads the EP, it's an edgy slice of tech house brought together by a boutique, funk-tinged bass-line, and mystical arpeggiators. On the whole, the three-track collaboration marks the commencement of a new chapter in the techno tale of Barem. Fun Records is a story yet to be written, a musical adventure for two friends, which should be met with absolutely no expectancy, only excitement.
Dermot O'Sullivan is on Twitter.