Toronto-based techno artist Barbosa swung by to chat about his recent track “Android,” his label Heist Mode, and plenty more!
If you’re someone who is dialed into the dance music scene then there’s little doubt that you know how impressive the sounds coming out of Canada have been. Whether in the realm of house, techno, trance, or bass, artists have continued to move crowds near and far with their stunning sets and releases. One of those artists is Barbosa and he’s looking to carve out his own place in the techno scene.
Based out of Toronto, Barbosa already caught the attention of those who were hunting for some fresh techno tunes to feast on. Over the past few years, he’s gifted listeners with tracks like “No One,” “Her Mind,” “Gattsu,” and “Introspection,” which have decimated speakers in their own rights. More recently, though, he’s taken his career to the next level with the launch of his imprint, Heist Mode.
Centered around the global sound of techno, Heist Mode isn’t just a place for Barbosa to release his tunes that have been sitting around on his hard drive. Instead, he’s looking to continue to grow the techno scene by looking to some of his friends and other artists who have stood out as special with their booming beats. And it’s evident that he achieved this goal with the release of the label’s first compilation, Heist Mode Vol. 1, which featured his tune “Android” along with over 20 other tunes from producers including the likes of Rhyot, Cespedes, FÜÜLROD, and PVR, to name a few.
Looking to gain some insight into his own story as a DJ and producer, as well as what’s to come from Heist Mode throughout the rest of the year and beyond, we jumped at the opportunity to chat with Barbosa. Listen to his exclusive guest mix below and read on for the conversation as we dive deep into his mind!
Stream EDMID Guest Mix 273 || Barbosa on SoundCloud:
Hi Barbosa, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, and hopefully things are looking a bit brighter up in Toronto. You’re a man of many different roles in the scene, and we’ll get to that in a minute, but first let’s turn back the clock a bit. Looking back, who were some of the influences on you musically that helped you develop a passion for dance music?
Hi, thank you also for having me! Dance music first caught my attention when I made friends with a new German kid at school. He shared his CD mixes compiled of mostly Adam Beyer, Armin van Buuren, and Eric Prydz. I went home to search for music to burn my own CDs, and the only music that I could find (and was interested in), were from artists like The Prodigy, The Crystal Method, and Aphex Twin.
When I got old enough to realize dance music was intended for raves in a live setting, clubs like The Guvernment and Footwork really developed a passion inside of me. The people of Toronto who built the dance music scene would be the real influence for me here. They put on the best raves ever. You would see everyone you can think of back then like deadmau5, Dubfire, Richie Hawtin, Derrick Carter to mention a few. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what generated that passion inside of me, but it really is everything that went into the music scene at home.
Many artists talk about having a specific moment in which they realized they wanted to pursue a career in the industry. Do you recall a specific lightbulb going off in your mind that drove you to do so as well, or was it a natural progression?
I always wanted a career as a music artist. I tried many times from a young age actually, but things never worked out. I decided to take a break and I got into a career shortly after high school that prevented me from pursuing music. Despite this when there were opportunities, my close friends and I would get together and we would throw our own parties with music that we liked. I was on my way out of my career and when I put in my resignation notice – I immediately knew that I wanted to go back to pursuing music seriously whether it would be successful or not.
Over the past two years, you’ve released a number of tunes like “No One,” “Introspection,” and “Lilith,” that really show off your passion for driving techno beats. What drew you to the underground techno sound, and how do you get the creative juices flowing when in the studio?
I guess the music that piqued my interest initially would now be considered underground techno. That sound is just what still resonates with me today; anything from those years really.
More recently, you dropped your latest track “Android” on Heist Mode Vol. 1, the debut compilation for your label. Can you share some insight on the production process behind this tune and how it came to be?
With Android, I start out by laying a foundation and worked my way up. I began with putting together a hard-hitting kick and layers to make it groove. I added textures and percussive elements, and then I added hi-hats. At that point, the acid lines came easy, because the foundation has a good rhythm going. After that, I added my own vocals so all my elements can “talk” to each other and keep everything moving smoothly.
Speaking of Heist Mode, your label made quite a splash with that first compilation that’s jam-packed with stunners. What was it like putting it together and collecting tunes from artists from all over the world? Was there a specific method you took when sifting through demos?
That was honestly the biggest challenge for the label so far. I had a goal of looking for Canadian and American producers primarily, as we are lacking techno labels and producers. I would mostly come across artists on Discord servers or just cold-call message artists on Instagram. I 100% have a method and criteria. To keep it short, I first look to see if the music fits within my vision for the label and the intended sound. Second, these artists needed to not just appear professional, but be professional in their behavior. Techno has always been a DIY scene and these artists need to be self-sufficient – not have just the talent alone. I came forward with the label’s visions, goals, plans, etc. to these amazing artists and people and went from there.
Now that Heist Mode Vol. I has officially been unveiled for the world to hear, what plans do you have for the imprint moving forward? Are there any specific releases we should be keeping our eyes out for in the coming months?
The label’s main focus is to bring back more of a scene and DIY raves across North America, led by local producers. We’re currently putting together a series of live events that take place in Canada and the US, hopefully, Europe as well – we’re working as best as we can around the pandemic. As far as releases we’re planning on putting out the second installment of our Various Artists compilation. We have a few artist Eps planned as well.
With live shows beginning to return at an increasing pace, especially in the fall, can we expect some upcoming performances from you and the Heist Mode crew in 2021?
As far as the live event series, you can expect our take on a rave: dark, sweaty, good sound systems, and body music. Some of these events will be in collaboration with some reputable collectives, labels, artists. Some in club settings and non-club settings. I think people will be surprised to see some familiar names who will be working with us, which is exciting.
Beyond the label and continuing to grow that, what personal goals do you hope to achieve this year?
I hope to get out there with my team and to put on a great time for people in our communities. The pandemic has affected everybody. I hope to bring people back together to a place where they lose the sense of time and space; where they get lost in the music – whether it’s by themselves or with their friends. I really want to have a system in place where not just artists, but those who want to be a part of music, can come over, contribute, and achieve whatever goals they have.
Finally, when things are safe, Canada is reopened, and we come to Toronto for a visit… where are you taking us for a night out on the town to grab some food and catch a show?
I’d take you to all-you-can-eat sushi in Chinatown… but you’d probably get tired of waiting for me and my friends to finish haha. There’s a great bar called Petty Cash, that has amazing food, hospitality, and all-around good vibes. After food and drinks, we’d probably go to Coda – Toronto’s world-famous techno club – or if there’s a big rave at the 500 Keele Warehouse or the Masonic Temple we’d be there till late, otherwise Vertigo is always a great option.