Bawrut is a Madrid based, Italian born producer and DJ.
Heavily influenced by the work of Chicago pioneers, established European teachers and every sound he can find on the internet or during digging sessions, Bawrut’s taste toes a wonderfully balanced line between classics and brand new tracks. Kicking off 2020 in style, Life And Death welcome Bawrut for some of his distinctly off-kilter brilliance.
As part of our behind the headphone series, Bawrut opens up about the life of DJ & producer.
Madrid doesn’t necessarily spring to mind as one of Europe’s top music destinations, however, with super clubs like Fabrik and Goya Social club it appears from an outside view that things are pretty healthy. Would you agree and how does the city compare to others like Amsterdam & Berlin?
Madrid is a beautiful city with a vibrant scene. Besides Fabrik and Goya there’s also Siroco, (where I saw Axel Boman for the first time in 2015 with only 100 people). Then there are others; Berlin Club, a lovely place with good residents and international guests. Daycap is also a very forward-thinking venue hosting daytime events with the likes of Bufiman, Manfredas and Ivan Smagghe.
The local scene is well balanced between “underground” events and big room clubs. There is a good mix of classic genres like Techno and House to new wave-like Latin Urban and Broken Beat. And then there’s Mondo, the club where i’m one of the residents which, in my opinion, is the best and most complete club in town. International top-notch guests perform twice a week, there is a very good sound system and an amazing connection between the dance floor and the artist. It’s not a mystery a lot of famous DJs love it for this feeling.
In my personal opinion it is difficult compare any scene with Berlin because the sense of freedom you have in some clubs is unique and difficult to find elsewhere. I guess it is something related to the soul of the city itself. There are very interesting clubs all around Europe, the areas I know the most, are Tbilisi, Vilnius or Glasgow and you are guaranteed a good time.
Sometimes here in Spain, although this happens more or less everywhere, there’s a problem of perception and expectations: dreaming about the same Dekmantel Festival vibes you had last August in a 300 capacity club is not living in reality, or complaining because we don’t have an equivalent to Panorama Bar in Madrid is also the same – it doesn’t make sense to me. The grass is always going to be greener on the other side.
Maybe what might be missing is more unity between clubs, promoters and DJs – unfortunately what creates solid artists and clubs may not be creating a solid scene… but I’m the last kid in town and I arrived here five years ago so maybe I don’t know all the aspects.
The last year has seen things pick up for you as an artist with 2019 seeing you play across the globe as far away as Palestine, Vietnam, Lithuania and even Jordan. What has been your career highlight to date and why?
My favourite moment ever was my first Sonar in 2016. It was a rollercoaster of emotions: a set with stage and logistic problems, during a scorching Thursday evening. It ended up with an amazing flow and strong feedback from a yelling crowd. I still have goosebumps when I think about that day.
My Asia tour last November was also very interesting – I found good energy in Singapore and Jakarta. The local scenes are very lively and vibrant. This year I also enjoyed playing in Palestine or Jordan a lot, it was a pleasure sharing my music and having fun in places where there usually isn’t so much space for clubbing events.
During EXIST Festival in Ramallah every single exhibition, from local artists to international guests, used to receive a lot of great interest and feedback and this was overwhelming. In Amman, the club was simply a big room on a restaurant’s roof, which isn’t a big deal but for me, it was the best I could have asked for. Give me a good sound system and an open and safe space for everyone and I’ll play for hours.
Sometimes as “western” DJs we forget how lucky we are living in Europe with all the comfort, and clubbers can become bored by the number of events a big city can offer every weekend. I was in Lisbon a couple of months ago in an old creaky warehouse on the docks, the crowd and I were at the same level. Out of nowhere a guy with dreadlocks brought another subwoofer to add more bass to the sound system. It was kinda weird but that old school spirit, is sometimes forgotten, it was like the first party you had with the feeling of “community” you experience during those moments.
The fans assume every DJ is always away eternally playing three nights a week to big crowds and earning tons of money. What’s the reality of touring life like and how do you handle the ups and downs?
Being a professional DJ is maybe a dream that became real. It is great paying your bills with your passion and skills but at the end of the day is just a job – a job I’m very lucky to have.
I appreciate it a lot and as such treat it like that: I’m always listening to new promos every week, trying to sleep and rest a lot when I play around, staying sober and focusing on the tracks I have to select. This is my personal routine and i guess that everyone has a specific one sometimes very different from mine.
Since the average Instagram profile seems to show normal people living their life like a billionaire artist / famous entrepreneur it’s not strange that a DJ is basically considered a first-class traveller and partygoer, with endless successful club nights and three Michelin star meals.
It is true that the role of social media is very important nowadays, at one side you can show to your audience (and promoters) the feedback of your latest club night or work in the studio, how nice it is travelling and meeting nice people and amazing places around the world and of course, the way I’m on social, promoting your music and your sets. It’s also true that all of this fuels fake expectations, toxic competition between DJs, envy and making the person an easy target for fans and haters… when in the end we are basically just music nerds.
When putting out a track what do you look for in a label? Do you choose the label or does the label choose you?
Since I started as Bawrut I tried to shape my music by focusing on the way I use the different tools and the approach I have with those tools, more than a specific style, so I usually don’t look for labels and genres. Of course, I’m getting influenced by the music I listen to and play but my aim is not “I have to do a track that sounds like the Beatport top 100 or Phonica best sellers.”
I’ve been very lucky, in the last 4 years I have received crossover support from DJs that sometimes aren’t found on the same line ups. This helped me spread my name in different scenes. From day one I have released with Ransom Note and I’ll continue in the future, meanwhile, I used to receive offers from other labels and I try to provide music for them. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to produce ten tracks a month but I try…
You have an upcoming release on one of our favourite labels, Life&Death? What does it mean to have the support of an artist like DJ Tennis and is there any other artists, labels that have been influential in your musical upbringing?
I’ve followed Life And Death since the beginning when Manfredi passed me the Disco Gnome EP and through these years I’ve continued to follow the label and its evolution. Now I’m very happy and lucky to finally release a whole EP with them and receive the support from Tennis and his team.
In terms of some of my other influences that first come to mind, labels include Environ, Kompakt, Roulè and Crydamoure, Warp, L.I.E.S., Sleeping Bag naming the first coming up in my mind. It’s true that sometimes you can find a secret weapon in a label catalogue you don’t usually like or play, but then there are also labels that can’t fail such as Comeme, Hessle Audio, Optimo Trax, Whities, Hivern Discs, Keinemusik, or Numbers where you can see that everything is cared to detail: the sound, the cover artwork, website, merchandise, etc.
What important lessons have you learned over time that has made you a better DJ?
Listen to all of the different kinds of music and dance genres. Even if you don’t like that fast and hard techno or trance. Tons of DJs are playing it nowadays. Listen to it because it will open and influence your ears and style. Same with disco, house and whatever you want. Sometimes I don’t get impressed by a track itself but then when you see the feedback on the dance floor or you just get a feeling in your gut you finally discover something new. I usually take inspiration from sets, podcasts and radio shows that don’t 100% belong to my ‘niche’. They force me to listen to something new and discover different approaches.
Focusing on just one genre is limiting and drives you to always listen to the same patterns, sounds and cliches and impoverish your style. It’s very sad in my opinion. At this moment I’m listening to the last Andras Beats In Space podcast, please do yourself a favour and push that “play” button because it’s amazing!
Finally, if you could produce a record with anyone past or present who would it be and why?
I could say Barnt, Ricardo Villalobos, Maurice Fulton, Midland and DJ Koze among others. I’m not 100% sure they fit in the same genre and with my style but I always liked their open-minded approach to the dance music.
Besides that, I don’t know if I’m ready to work with them but it’s true that until now I like more or less all their stuff. Thinking about the past I don’t know what to say. Today a lot of people like to think about the “good old days” and sometimes elevate too many artists that aren’t unfortunately with us anymore.
I prefer to be focusing on the present and don’t think about a collab, say with Larry Levan, because what happened between 1979 and 1985 won’t come back again. Look what’s happened between Giorgio Moroder’s “The Chase” and his last album “Deja Vu” for example…