For Glasgow-based DJ, Ivan Barrientos, his deep-rooted passion for music stems from a very young age. Having attended the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where he studied flute and piano, and currently a half of the duo, Illyus & Barrientos, Ivan’s influences and inspirations are eclectic.
Here, Ivan chats to us about his musical development over the years, having Illyus & Barrientos’ work bigged up by the likes of Annie Mac and Carl Cox, and offers a glimpse of what he has in store for 2017.
Hi! I’m Ivan. I write, produce and DJ under the name Barrientos and I’m also part of a duo, Illyus & Barrientos. We’ve been working together for the past few years and we’re lucky enough to have DJ’d in some amazing clubs and festivals, and also feature heavily on some of the dance music shows on BBC Radio 1.
I’m definitely inspired by a wide range of music; anywhere from John Coltrane and Chet Baker, to Luciano and Ricardo Villalobos. Chuck some love for Every Time I Die, Brand New and Deftones in there too!
Have you always had a deep-rooted love for music? How do you hone your craft as a DJ?
Music has always been a major part of my life. I previously studied flute and piano at the RSAMD (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), and when that came to an end I found myself more and more interested in the electronic side of music.
My passion for this scene really developed from experiencing electronic clubs and festivals – former club nights such as Death Disco, How’s Your Party and RPZ really gave me a supreme musical education during the early years of my career.
Constantly seeking out new, old, weird and amazing music has been a big driver in pushing me towards the current style I have. Practice has also been a major part of honing my craft. The early pieces of music I wrote were utter bullshit, but writing shit music is all part of the learning process.
I write musical ideas pretty much every day, and that’s really helped me give me an idea of how to write an actual song. Being able to finish songs quickly helps too, as this allows you to sit back and listen to your song objectively. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s crap, it’s crap!
How did you and Illyus meet?
We were put together by our current manager, Kevin McKay (owner of Glasgow Underground, former manager of Mylo). He basically saw that I had the ability to write music, and Illyus had the ability to take music and use his production wizardry to make it sound like the finished article. The first time we met I took Illyus out for Japanese food and beer.
Can you describe Illyus & Barrientos‘ musical style?
I guess we could call it ‘House’. I love melodic house music, so I always try to incorporate that aspect into all the songs Illyus and I write together.
My DJing style is a bit different, as I love playing everything out from house, techno and breakbeat, to deep house, Afrobeat, and electronica.
What have been the highlights of Illyus & Barrientos so far?
The highlights have definitely been getting big love from Annie Mac at Radio 1. She’s really helped push our career to the next level, and it all stemmed from doing the Minimix for her show.
How would you like to see the project develop?
The past year I really feel like we’re beginning to hit our own style of writing – we never copy anybody else’s style and I always believe that’s the most crucial aspect of music. It’s so easy to become a derivative musician.
I want to keep going with developing a unique sound and develop our ideas for the first album – I don’t want to rush it though. I want to write something that not only is special to me, but special to the people listening to it.
What DJs have you got your eye on at the moment?
I’ve been ranting and raving about Mark Mackenzie. He sent me some demo tracks a few months ago, and they’re brilliant. He’s just about to put out an EP on Fly Boy Records, and it’s great. Mark also happens to be an absolute gent, so he deserves any success coming his way. KC Lights is also smashing it up at the moment.
Is the Scottish dance music scene distinct to the rest of the UK?
I think it is. You can always see this when we go down to DJ at a night somewhere in England. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but the energy is totally different. In Glasgow and Edinburgh we’ve got this I-don’t-give-a-fuck-who’s-looking-at-me attitude that you don’t see elsewhere.
Scottish clubbers aren’t afraid to show the DJ that they’re having a great time and that in turn helps you as DJ really push their clubbing experience as far as possible. I’d rather play to 100 up-for-it ravers than 1000 too-cool-for-school posers.
What else do you have planned over the next few months?
We’re about to drop our new single on Glasgow Underground called ‘Touch My Mind’. It’s a big disco number, which has been going down so well in the clubs. We’ve been remixing a hell of a lot lately, so we should have them coming out over the next few months too.
Why is it so important to continue chasing a creative career in something you love doing?
It’s important because I believe that creativity is in the middle of strangulation in the UK. We have some of the greatest creative minds in the world, but what use is that when we have government and councils making incredible irresponsible decisions that directly affect the creative industry?
When you have this bullshit at the forefront of creativity, people have to keep pushing themselves and fight back against it.
Besides that, doing some you love gives you the best feeling in the world. It’s a tough journey with no guarantees, but there is no reward without risk…
What advice would you give to those who are looking to get involved in the music industry?
Be part of the community. Go out to clubs. Go to the afterparties. Don’t get too mangled, and try and spend your Sunday writing music and watching YouTube videos on parallel compression.
You have to be determined and thick skinned. Also, don’t take criticism so personally. If you have a friend who can give you honest feedback, it’s far more useful than 5 friends who are telling you what you want to hear. I’ve always believed in the 10,000 hours rule. Just keeping practicing!