Tell us about your journey… How long have you been producing music now? Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started?
Barrientos: My journey started when I was younger leaning classical music. I played the flute and piano. I went through school doing that, not really listening to electronic music to be honest. Eventually when I was 17 I went to a music festival called Rockness. I went to see Daft Punk and that was the first time I’d really experienced Electronic music and see a DJ play. I just thought it was absolutely fu**ing brilliant. I saw Tim Deluxe, Soulwax, James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem and I thought it was just amazing and wanted to get involved in it straight away. Then I started writing music. I was actually writing ambient music for a while and then I started writing dance music. Just after I started DJing I then met Illyus. That’s my story.
Illyus: I was really into hip-hop as a kid. I started DJing in my late teens and it was naturally hip-hop things; I was really into scratching and turn-tableism. I felt at one point I’d hit a brick wall, then I went to see Jazzy Jeff DJ. He was playing all sorts of records mixed with hip-Hop and I just thought it was amazing! Then a week later, me and a few of my mates went to see Ferry Corsten. Admittedly, I wasn’t into to any of that stuff. But when I went there, I could see everyone just going absolutely fu**ing bananas to his set and I found out later that they were all his own records! A light bulb kind of switched in my head. It just dawned on me that that’s the next step I needed to take into that electronic world. Learn about more about it and try to hopefully enjoy it. So I started to dabble in learning how to make electronic music. I started to mess around with an MPC and thought that’s how you made records! But I realised you needed to involve many more elements, one drum machine was not enough. For two years, I was making records on my own and then I finally met my knight in shining armour, Barrientos.
Your backgrounds are both pretty diverse, how did you actually meet then? What do each of you bring to your productions?
Barrientos: With the productions, I bring the musicality to it. Sometimes I tend to over-write and make it really melodic and musical… so I think that’s what I bring to it with my background in classical music.
Illyus: Mine would probably be from a more sampling perspective because of my background in Hip-Hop, even some percussive elements maybe. Because Ivan is so musically talented, he says it himself he overwrites and my thinking head is more what works on the dancefloor and thinking about the club environment a bit more. I might cut things down, make loops shorter, so maybe that’s why we work so well together. We’re both good at different things and that’s why we have such a good relationship going.
What is it about Glasgow that makes it such a special scene in Electronic music?
Illyus: I’d say it was probably our whole attitude towards everything. We make the most of a good night and we don’t have many boundaries when it comes to the culture. We experiment. We Try. We support one another. There are so many people up here: Denis Sulta, Jasper James, Jackmaster… there’s so many artists that produce in Scotland and do it well.
We might not be all into each other’s sounds, but all support one another and recognise what everyone is doing. I think that’s really important up here. There’s no secrecy, it’s just a good community of people and I think that’s what has allowed us to flourish.
Barrientos: I agree. That’s it. I just like the ‘don’t give a f*ck attitude’ that we have here. Some people might take themselves seriously, but we’re just a good community here. We’re not all necessarily best friends, but we all get on and we have the same personalities. I think that is what gives us the best creativity… We’re not too militant.
Illyus: We’re living in an era now where people really want to see someone’s personality and who they are and I think people buy people and that’s what shines through with Glasgow.
Can you remember when you both started going clubbing? What clubs were you going to?
Barrientos: My introduction to clubbing, as far as I remember was Optimo at Sub Club on a Sunday night and Death Disco at The Arches. I think that was on a Friday or Saturday night at the start of every month. Both of these clubs no longer run anymore but I really felt back then clubbing was more inclusive. Death Disco’s ethos was ‘everybody is welcome’. It was all electro music, people like Crookers, Miss Kitten… artists like that and all the people that went, it really was a case of gay, bi, straight, transsexual, but really nobody cared! It wasn’t necessarily about sexuality, it was just about people getting and being together. Everyone loved it and did their own thing.
Illyus: My first experiences weren’t so cool as that. The clubs I started going to were pretty cheesy… They weren’t really my kind of places to be honest. I just wanted to go to the hip-hop room. I feel like it took me a while longer to work out where I really fitted in because I wasn’t brought up in Glasgow and many of the clubs I was going to was because my friends were all going there.
‘So Serious’ comes out on Toolroom soon! Where did your inspiration come from for that?
Barrientos: I don’t even know where the inspiration came from apart from the fact that I thought it was a really good idea. Illyus had sent me this idea over, it had a real energetic percussion sound and it had so many different elements and I just knew there was an idea in there somewhere. We didn’t really write the track with one idea in mind, it just developed naturally which is really cool and I find they are always the best tracks.
Illyus: It was one of those tracks that when I started the idea, it was just that idea of having fun, a little bit tongue in cheek. We called it ‘So Serious’ but when you listen to the horn and the vocal it’s just sort of a play on words. It was literally just an element of fun, nothing depressive! Our records are fun. They’re bit housey, uplifting… That kind of vibe.
Barrientos: I think with ‘So Serious’ we’re kind of making fun of ourselves! We called it ‘So Serious’ because we don’t take ourselves serious at all. We’re just having fun.
Your artist led sample pack lands January 1st, what were some of the highlights of putting it together?
Barrientos: It was the challenge of coming up with 20 new ideas for people to use. It really got our creativity going. We started writing loads of bars and loops and we’re so happy with the outcome. We wanted to keep them all for ourselves! We created these amazing synth and basslines and it felt good to be that creative in that way.
Illyus: With this it was a case of sitting down, taking our time and being creative in a different way. We gave each other roles. So I was doing all the percussive elements and Barrientos was doing all the melodic stuff. We didn’t hear what each other was working on and then when it came together we were so pleased with it. It was so much fun and as Barrientos said, so good to be digging into that creative side that sometimes we might forget about because we’re so busy.
What get’s you inspired to make a track?
Barrientos: I think when we come back from shows. When we’ve played out couple of good tracks and you know what has worked well on the dance floor we just feel so inspired to get writing. We always think that the best track you make is the first one you make when you’ve just come back from a gig.
Illyus: I think its just because we love it as well. There’s an element of wanting to do shows, wanting to write music. We enjoy our life. We don’t want to stop doing this. When you hear your records being played in a club, there’s no better feeling. It’s about making people happy and that’s what makes us happy.
What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given in your career?
Barrientos: That’s a really good question… We get advice from so many people. That’s the thing about music, we’re always learning and we will never stop learning…
Illyus: There are a lot of people in this industry and my advice would be to not burn bridges. We’re all trying to achieve the same thing and we’re all in this together. Maybe that’s why we get on people so well, we’re always okay with anyone.
Barrientos: Always be nice!
Illyus: Never be horrible!
And in regards to music, we just stick to our guns.
Barrientos: Everyone always says to us ‘You keep doing what you do’, and that’s always nice to hear.
You’ve both come such a long way in the last few years. What does it feel like being supported by the likes of Pete Tong and Annie Mac? And releasing on some of the biggest labels like Toolroom?
Barrientos: Just amazing. We think Annie Mac is on top of her game at the moment, she’s one of the most influential tastemakers. Annie has played most of our singles as a ‘first play feature’ and it doesn’t get any better than that for us. It’s such a buzz for us. It’s incredible and it’s very humbling.
Illyus: The support from radio DJs is amazing. I still get goose bumps. When our friends are out in clubs and they hear our tracks, they text us and it’s always a total buzz. We get videos sent from our friends in clubs too! We’ve had videos from Amnesia and it’s like ‘WOW!’ – It’s just amazing and it makes me want to be in the crowd.
What can we expect from the Black Market experience at Egg next year?
Barrientos: The usual from us to be honest! It’s going to be fun. Messy. And nothing serious. That’s the reason why we’ve done Black Market, there’s so many nights and it’s got very serious artists… that’s not us! Let’s have some fun. Let’s have a laugh. We’re so excited to play with Tube & Berger and Superlover. We’re huge fans of those guys.
Illyus: We’re going to totally abuse the Toolroom rider! We’re so excited. It’s going to be good fun. Tube & Berger and Superlover are awesome; we’re really excited to playing with them.
Alongside your sample pack and single, you also have a Toolroom Academy course coming. Can you tell us about that?
Illyus: Again for us, it was a way in which we could be super creative. We have a way of working and I just hope we can inspire other producers with what we do. What we do is quick, we get ideas down… Some people think time equates quality, but sometimes it doesn’t. It can take us a few hours to make a record and I hope everyone can take something away from the course.
What else is in store for 2018 for Illyus and Barrientos?
Illyus: We want to just expand… more releases, more parties and make it about the work as much as having fun. We want more pressure than before. We have a release on Kitball coming.
Barrientos: Just lots of records and working even more closely with Toolroom. We have the sample pack, the single and a Toolroom Academy course coming too. It feels like less output but more, better quality tracks. We’ve also got a remix on Defected too which we’re really looking forward to.
We want to keep doing what we’re doing with the Toolroom family. It’s hopefully going to be a big year for us.