Madrid-based producer and DJ Bawrut has nailed the tricky inbetween space between ambitious house music and homage-style nods to the countless artists who have inspired him throughout his career. A contemporary vintage within his hometown and across multiple continents, the tastemaker never strays too far from the beaten track of his musical inspirations, yet simultaneously forges his own personal avenue right onto the record-shelves of numerous esteemed selectors. With a hefty catalogue of releases on the likes of Ransom Note and an acclaimed residency at Mondo Disko in Madrid, the European artist is never short of things to do. Having premiered his latest release with Pets Recordings, ‘Pioneers’, on Torture The Artist a few weeks ago, he now looks towards what’s in the pipeline for the beginning of 2019, including a sinuous remix for Jimpster’s ‘Burning Up’ on Freerange that’ll land in the bowl of public consumption towards the end of January. We took a moment to speak to Bawrut about his extensive upcoming calendar, the effect of iconic American music upon his career and personal life, and the reason why love is the magnet that leads him to the places that he calls home.
Torture the Artist: Hello Borut, how are you spending the second weekend of advent?
Bawrut: I spent it working on some new remixes alongside finishing and finalising my forthcoming EPs. I also bought some Christmas stuff. I come from an Italian region where the Austrian influence is strong and all of these kind of things are very popular – but here in Madrid the spirit is quite naif.
Torture the Artist: What’s the story behind your artist alias ‘Bawrut’? Is it a neologism deriving from your first name and something else?
Bawrut: There are a couple of DJ Boruts in Slovenia (my name is Slovenian since my city is divided by the border) so I tried to find an alternative way to title my music project using my first name. I checked how to pronounce the name Boris (Baw • ris) and that’s how I found my alias.
Torture the Artist: Originally you were from Gorizia in Italy, which is close to Slovenia, but you left Italy and moved to Madrid. When and what made you decide to move to Spain?
Bawrut: Love. I met my girlfriend in Italy; she was working there and after a while she received a good job offer to come back to Madrid. So we packed everything and decided to move here. This is my fifth year here in Mad city and I’m still sure that it’s the best thing I did in my life. <smiles>
Torture the Artist: In your biography it says that your music is ‘heavily influenced by Chicago pioneers’. When and where did you first get in contact with electronic music and what fascinated you so much that it literally drew you in?
Bawrut: The first time I said ‘this is the music I want to listen to’ was when Ciaky, a friend of mine, played ‘Let Me Ride‘ by Dr. Dre in his VW Polo. That West Coast lead (thanks George Clinton) blew my mind! Then, it was July 14th, 2001, and I was in Jesolo (a famous seaside town close to Venezia) because one of my best friends, Roberto, had told me that Daft Punk was going to DJ there. It was a Crydamoure party to be honest; there was just Guy-Man, Rico, Play Paul and Raw Man, but that night was THE night.
After the first record (Holidays on Ice by Le Knight Club) I realised what kind of house music I would listen, play and make! I still have goosebumps when I think about that moment! Now, imagine me listening to ‘Teachers’ and trying to connect the dots between George Clinton and Louie Vega or Dr. Dre and Lil’ Louis – how you can’t be fascinated by the Pioneers? I don’t know why Chicago House entrapped me – maybe it was the functionality and the simplicity of that music along with the DIY spirit, compared with Disco where everything was played by musicians.
Torture the Artist: Name a track that you connected with during that period of time; what memories pop up in your head when you think of it?
Bawrut: Kool Rock Steady – I’ll Make You Dance. Not 100% Chicago, 0% pioneer, but it’s the first TRAX record I bought and I still love it.
The voices of Frankie Knuckles and David De Pino talking about the Paradise Garage and Larry Levan are my special tribute to all the Pioneers.
Torture the Artist: You just released the EP, ‘Jomo’, on Pets Recordings. To what extent is the EP a homage to your early musical influences, as we’ve noted that one of the tracks is named ‘Pioneers’, too?
Bawrut: That track is a deconstructed disco/early-house track. It has disco elements, percussions, strings, and house elements, like a simple arpeggio and a digital bass line. The voices of Frankie Knuckles and David De Pino talking about the Paradise Garage and Larry Levan are my special tribute to all the Pioneers.
Torture the Artist: We’ve basically caught you in between the release of ‘Jomo’ and your upcoming remix for Jimpster’s track ‘Burning Up’, which will be out on Freerange in January. How did working on ‘Burning Up’ come about and what did the original track have that made you decide to give it the remix-treatment?
Bawrut: When I released ‘4×4’, my third EP on Ransom Note, we also decided to make a remix EP and I was already in touch with Jimpster. So it was quite easy make a remix swap; he did a brilliant job on my ‘More Cowbells’, and he asked me to put my hands to his ‘Burning Up’. I really like the remix and how it sounds.
Saying that I’d like to remix them is like saying their music needs something more, and honestly, I don’t think it does.
Torture the Artist: Generally speaking, what’s an artist or track you would like to remix, and why?
Bawrut: I don’t know. All the tracks I like are too good to be remixed so it wouldn’t make sense to do so. There are a lot of good producers that I like, but saying that I’d like to remix them is like saying their music needs something more, and honestly, I don’t think it does.
Once your music has been labelled it’s difficult to change the perception already held in people’s minds.
Torture the Artist: Your first release, ‘Scuola Furano’, dates back to 2004 and was a collaboration with Marco Busolini. Later on the project Scuola Furano was only run by yourself, and in 2016 you started to release music under only your Bawrut moniker. What’s the reason you came up with a new project and did this turning point reflect a significant growth in your musical career?
Bawrut: Once your music has been labelled it’s difficult to change the perception already held in people’s minds. If, tomorrow, David Guetta makes a tremendous techno album, nobody would care about the music itself. It came from Guetta and would be commercial crap for sure.
Scuola Furano was a nice period of time and I’m very proud of what we made in the team comprising of me and Marco – and what I did after alone. The project was more housey and focused on album concepts, like Daft Punk’s Discovery or Basement Jaxx’s Rooty. But there was a moment when I realised that I had to turn the page. Once I moved to Madrid, I decided to have a fresh start with a new moniker and a different music approach based on techno and house tracks with no particular boundaries.
This more ‘melodic/pop’ side left in the music I wrote for Fiorious; he’s a friend of mine who has worked on the last Scuola Furano album and is now ready to debut with his latest album on a big dance record label. I’m incredible happy for him! <smiles>
Torture the Artist: Having produced music for more than a decade, and having being involved in the scene for so long, what were the highs and lows in your artistic career, and how did you manage to overcome the lows?
Bawrut: I don’t look at the highs and lows; I look at rather what I have achieved and learned from good and bad situations. I think now that I have had a good experience in the dance music business, including relationships between artists, managements, booking agencies, everytime I think about all of these very important parts of the game I remember that my mission is simply just making music – and I forget about everything else. Like a horse race. Right now I’m just focused on what I have ahead and don’t look at what is on my left and right side.
The less devices you have, the more creative you have to be in always trying to do something different with the same tools.
Torture the Artist: Whilst producing music what is a sound or studio device that always does the job when you perhaps found yourself stuck creatively?
Bawrut: I don’t know. I did a lot of music squeezing the best out of the Roland TB 303 – now I’m exploring the KORG MS 2000 more. And plugins and Ableton Live as well. I’m not a great fan of that studio with 7 drum machines, 12 synthesizers and 2 modulars – too much stuff in one room. The risk of losing myself into the beautiful sounds of all these machines is too high! I think that the less devices you have, the more creative you have to be in always trying to do something different with the same tools.
Torture the Artist: What would you say is the essence of your being and how is it represented or implemented in your music?
Bawrut: I’m a normal guy with a grandpa spirit that sometimes mutters about a lot of things… I’m joking… ha ha. I just make music with 4/4 beats and repetitive loops – nothing special or innovative – but a lot of new music today doesn’t surprise me. It sounds flat to me and maybe my productions reflect this – me mumbling on the lack of ideas, imagination and boldness. It’s a pity because making electronic music today is affordable for everyone, but the charts are ruled by cliches.
Torture the Artist: If you could return to any period of time of your creative being, which period would you most likely choose, and why?
Bawrut: This one. I’m feeling free. I don’t have the urge to look back at what happened. Even if I like different genres – and I’m very respectful to the pioneers – I think that we have to look forward and try to do our best using the knowledge we have accumulated.
Torture the Artist: Where or in which kind of surrounding could you imagine your music being played the best and most fittingly?
Bawrut: In clubs. With energy and smiles.
Torture the Artist: What kind of track would you like to produce that you haven’t?
Bawrut: I’m not actually sure.
Torture the Artist: What kind of other medium – such as movies, theatres etc. – would you like to produce music for, and why?
Bawrut: I did music for runway shows and it was very fun; I made some baroque / electro / flamenco experimental pieces that were cool. It would be great to work on movies and doing something a la Cliff Martinez.
Torture the Artist: What was the last thing that deeply touched you?
Bawrut: The first 2 episodes of a series on Netflix about dogs. As I finished watching them I ran to my dogs and gave them a hug. And listening to Eurythmics a couple of days ago; it reminded me of when I was a kid.
Interview by Holger Breuer