I Used to Go Out With My Art Teacher: Barnt's First Club

Ahead of his appearance at Simple Things the Magazine founder and Hinge Finger man opens up about about hippies, drugs, and sailing clubs.

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Oct 7 2015, 3:13pm

My First Club takes us back to the beginning, transporting DJs and producers back into the depths of their memory, asking them to take us on a trip to those pivotal first nights in clubland. Following entries from the likes of Michael Mayer, Herve, MK, Slimzee,and Hudson Mohawke, we caught up with Magazine founder and Hinge Finger man Barnt ahead of his appearance at Simple Things festival later this summer.

Before I made it to a club for the first time, I already had a nascent interest in dance music. When I was about 14 or 15 a friend of mine and me heard this tape that his older brother had passed onto him. It was pretty much all techno and some more...awkward stuff, which we probably thought of as techno at the time.

I was lucky that the town I grew up in had a record store that primarily stocked techno stuff, so me and my friends started heading down there and just finding our way round records. It also stocked this German techno magazine called Frontpage, which was invaluable, mainly because of the super nerdy review section.

There was another record store in town, too, that was a bit more "normal" and mainly sold rock records. There was a basement that had a small selection of electronic records, though, which was very curated and only tended to stock things on Warp, or Basic Channel 12"s. Stuff like that. I think the owner was happy to have someone young to share these things with. He'd hide special editions of things from other customers so I could buy them.

One afternoon in the store the guys who worked in the techno shop were talking about a club called Re-base. They must have been a good five or so years older than us, but me and my 15 year old friends, decided we would try to go. Re-base was a club that had a pretty mixed clientele. Hippies mingled with more traditional clubbers, and though everyone was at least — or so it seemed — a good 10 or 20 years older than us, we felt at home. Were were there for the music so pretty naive to other things. Like the amount of drugs that must have been circulating round the place.

Because drugs simply weren't a topic of interest for us, we never felt excluded for not taking them. No one ever looked at us as if we were strange. Sometimes we'd notice other people looking strange but, again, we were so naive that we never really linked their oddities to drugs. We were happy to just stick to drinking.

Back then, techno was so closely related to drugs and drug taking. If techno was on TV it was always related to them. "You can only listen to techno," you'd be told, "if you take drugs!" And that made us lose interest in them.

I remember the music being super fast, like 140BPM stuff, with lots of trancy hooks but you'd also get stuff like Underground Resistance or Dave Clarke. Everything was played together.. After a while, Re-base started to book guest DJs. I remember Sven Väth playing one night and just decksharking him the whole time. He was really nice and passed on information about the records I was asking about. I must have been 17 at the time. Weirdly, my art teacher from school was always there. We created a kind of silent agreement to never mention it in school. It was a special bond we had.

There was another party in town, too. That one — Boothaus — took place in a small boat yard right on the sea. It was cool. There were no hippies there and the crowd was more my own age. There was this big balcony, so it was kind of like the Robert Johnson. In a small town sailing club.

Barnt plays Simple Things in Bristol on the 24th of October alongside the likes of JME, Skepta, Ron Trent, Hunee, Helena Hauff, Galcher Lustwerk and DJ Funk. Head here for more information.

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