#109 - Thomas Barnett
His early work as a founding member of the ground-breaking group, Rhythim is Rhythim (with Derrick May), contributed to and helped establish the signature sound of Detroit Techno. We are indeed honoured to have him man the controls which he does with aplomb on this perfect party mix. Heading straight in with an atomic mix up of House of Pain and Cybersonik, he whips up classics from Cajmere & Dajae, Marshall Jefferson, TKNO, Ben Sims & Kirk Degiorgio, DJ HMC, Chip E, Fjaak and more with a few surprises on the way. Techno / House – old and new its all up for grabs in this glorious dancefloor workout.
Way back in early 1987, when he was still a teenager, Barnett released ‘Nude Photo’ on Transmat Records and unknowingly secured his place in dance music history. He has subsequently over the years gone on to release many releases using different aliases like Groove Slave, Subterfuge and Four313 (with Blake Baxter). Barnett’s music has appeared in commercials, movies, clubs, radio, even an adult film, and his hit ‘Do Bionics Crystalize?’ appeared on Richie Hawtin's groundbreaking CD/DVD ‘DE9 Transitions’. Working in the studio and running his own label, Visillusion Records (started in 1996), keeps him busy when he is not out on the road DJing. Currently he has releases on Chez Damier’s Balance Records & Michael Zucker’s Finale Sessions, as well as kicking off the digital version of Visillusion with new music and his entire back catalogue. This month he has two further EPs released - Thomas Barnett vs Ecilo - FRENCH LOOP EP (VSD-002) and an updated version of the classic Thomas Barnett - NUDE PHOTO EP (VSD-003). But in the meantime, grab your party trousers and get your groove(slave) on with Thomas Barnett’s EPM Podcast.
Q&A with Thomas Barnett
- Let’s start with the mix. House of Pain into Cybersonik is an inspired start. Is that you basically announcing, its party time and this is going to not be totally what you expected?
You have me figured our already… Lol. I really wanted to set the stage right away to allow the audience to feel that I am not doing anything like anyone else & that I come to get down AND party BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!
- Can you remember when you first became aware of ‘electronic’ music as opposed to just music on the radio?
When I was a total young blood I would listen to Trans Europe Express, Firecracker, & One Nation Under A Groove, to name a few, & I knew that these guys were doing something very different & I was instantly addicted to the power of ‘electronic’ music by 1977. It was 100% no turning back from that point on.
- When you first started trying to produce music, what equipment were you using?
Some of the very first gear I used was very basic, like the Synsonics Drum pad, & a Casio… then not long after that we were playing with the Roland SH-101 & Korg Poly 800.
- What was the mid-late 80s Detroit club scene like? What parties were you going to at the time?
I was just coming out of high school & really didn’t know too much about the serious club scene, but I did know enough to sneak into CHEEKS nightclub where Jeff ‘The Wizard’ Mills would bless us with his mastery, along with many other DJs that are really current today still. I would follow Delano Smith, Blake Baxter, Reggie Curry, & Scott ‘Go-Go’ Gordon in the clubs or parties back then, and it was The Electrifying MOJO’ on the radio…Gary Chandler is another super fierce jock that would just kill it, and still does.
- When you made ‘Nude Photo’ in 1987 was the word techno even being used?
The genre title had not been thought of yet, I was told that it was an ‘Acid House’ record whenever people tried to define it at the time…
- How would you define the difference between music released as Groove Slave and music under your own name and Subterfuge?
Groove Slave is actually a robotic body-suit that takes several hours to get into & properly hook up before it becomes fully functional. There are bionic body parts & direct cerebral links that I can't talk about at the moment due to an agreement with NASA & a private corporation based in Antartica, but let’s just say it is a very experimental project. Subterfuge is the name I used in the early & mid 90s because I was naive enough to believe that I needed to divide my market share & promotion into multiple artist names. I guess I was just a closet masochist & didn’t accept it at the time.
- What does Detroit mean to you now?
Detroit is where I’m from so it will always give me a sense of identity & I think that can best be described as being futuristic, hard, soulful, & certainly paradoxical.
- How does your studio relationship with Blake Baxter work when you join forces as Four313?
I have learned so many things from Blake over the years that we almost mind-meld when we join forces. It really feels like I am working alone because we vibe so well that we have literally finished each others melodies or drum patterns perfectly in sync with one another. I just haven't figured out a way to let him allow me to either cover or properly remix “When We Used to Play”.
- If a friend came to Detroit for a long weekend and wanted to take in the city where would you take them for culture, food, drinks and music?
Detroit is experiencing a cultural revitalization currently & there is a lot to see, do, & eat here now… Like, Detroit is going to become the culinary hot spot of the midwest, if not the entire country if things keep going like they are right now. With that being said, the best place for all those things would be my crib, I would play a live set for a bit, then DJ for a few hours, while grilling up some yummy veggies, and pouring some stiff cocktails for the drinkers. I’m an excellent host and excellent driver, I’m definitely an excellent driver.
- If you could only save one of your productions from a burning building, which one would it be, and why?
Impossible to pick just one in the same way you couldn’t just go save one child or pet… But… I might have to say “A Pair of Dice” since it hasn’t been released yet & there aren’t back-ups off-site yet. But, “Friday (Night Mix)” possibly also because that song always lifts my spirits when listening to it & reminds me of the planet I used to live on when I wrote it… Fun times.
EPM Podcast 109 – Thomas Barnett – Tracklist
- House of Pain - Jump Around
- Cybersonik - Technarchy
- Yotam Avni - Midas Touch
- TKNO - Sanctuary (Avision Remix)
- Mome - Gang & Gang (Alden Tyrell & Gerd Remix)
- Marshall Jefferson - Lock the Doors (Rhthym Masters Remix)
- Chip E & Saladin - Way of the Dragon
- Cajmere & Dajae - Brighter Days (Just Blaze ‘The ReOPENed 3am Mix)
- Ben Sims & Kirk Degiorgio - Machine Theme (Ben Sims Dub)
- DJ HMC - Phreakin’ (Dirty House Mix)
- Fjaak - Don’t Leave Me
- Technasia - Obsession (Hombre Lowdowns French Kissed Edit)
- Ecilo - Jack Off
- Kill Frenzy - All Night Long
- Thomas Barnett - French Loop
- Dirty Channels vs Danny Russell - Watchin Out
- Spike Jones - Knock On Hood
- Ecilo - Life Recycle (Thomas Barnett Remix)
For full discography from 1987 - 2018: https://www.discogs.com/artist/11663-Thomas-Barnett
For current & older DJ mixes: https://www.mixcloud.com/thomas-barnett/
Resident Advisor: https://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/thomasbarnett
French Loop EP (released 9/7)
Nude Photo EP (released 9/21)
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