Barraca has had its up, its downs and its in-betweens. Its owners have seen everything. They were there before the infamous '80s and '90s boom that was the ruta del bakalao, and were one of the few clubs that survived the bust in nightlife that followed. But the constant has always been music. In the late '70s and early '80s, eclectic and educated DJs like Juan Santamaria and Carlos Simó played post-punk, synth pop, garage rock and plenty more to Valencians who were more than ready to party in the post-Franco era. Further along, there was the aforementioned ruta del bakalao, a golden era for clubbing in the city spurred by a lack of laws governing club opening and closing times. Parties would often go well into the next day, similar to Ibiza or Berlin, a temporary autonomous zone in which anything could—and did—happen.
While most if not all clubs from that period have since closed, though, Barraca has endured. Moving away from eclecticism and weathering the storm of trends, it has emerged on the other side as the most successful big club in the city, catering nowadays to house and techno fans with a steady diet of renowned locals and international visitors such as Ricardo Villalobos, Sven Väth, Radio Slave and Richie Hawtin. But despite its longevity in the scene and its international reputation among DJs and fans, the long-standing residents of the club were unknowns internationally. Danny Fiddo, Alberto Sola and Rafa Siles were legends among Valencians, but didn't share the same status as similarly positioned DJs at fabric, Berghain or DC-10.
Outside of Barraca during Las Fallas in the '70s, inside Barraca in the '00s
It was Andrew Grant, resident DJ at the latter venue, who was among the many to recognize this fact. Armed with the knowledge that DJs need to have a few releases to their name to further themselves on the international circuit, Grant met with the owners of the club with a plan to help them launch a label. It was something the club already wanted to do anyway. The club owners wanted to push their residents, the residents wanted to get their names out there, Grant was more than happy to help; the only thing that was missing? Ah, yes, the music.
This is where Marc Martinez Nadal comes in. A sound engineer at the club, a drum & bass producer and advertising soundtracker, Nadal's musical acumen was unquestioned. As he worked at the club and his appreciation for house and techno grew, he naturally began to experiment with the form as well. Nadal, under the name AFFKT, took each of the residents into the studio, trading ideas back and forth with Fiddo, Siles and Sola, and the group ended up with what would become the trio of releases that began the label. El Prologo, Cocofai and Big Cake featured each DJ in collaboration with Affkt, and each sounded slightly different, no doubt due to the collaborative process.
From the trio, however, the biggest hit was undoubtedly AFFKT & Fiddo's "Points," a track that played merrily along with the sort of bustling organic minimal favored by Villalobos before unleashing a ridiculous breakdown of clattering snares. It was as though a live drummer had suddenly entered into the studio, sat down for a few moments at a drum kit, welcomed a friend who spoke Spanish to the party and promptly left, leaving his friend behind to chat for the rest of the track. Its adherence to dance floor functionality was certain, but so was its addiction to the unexpected—a vestige of AFFKT's drum & bass past, no doubt. It marked the label out as something special from the off.
The two are still inextricably intertwined, of course, but Grant has since begun to form a new sort of Barraca family around the label, letting his A&R hand travel freely around the world, searching for new talents outside of Valencia. Posh 111 and NoiDoi are from Romania—finds that may have never have happened without Grant's DC-10 connection with the [a:rpia:r] trio. Karm, meanwhile, is from Milan, a producer that Grant met while on tour with Circo Loco a few years ago. Slowly but surely, there seems to be a family of young producers forming around the label, unknowns that will likely only become bigger names as time—and the label—continues on.
Like many labels, Barraca has formed an agency with its key artists, all of whom trade ideas, tracks and inspiration but still clearly retain their individual identities. Timid Boy also helps run Time Has Changed Records, AFFKT has plans to create a new label called Sincopat later in 2010 and young gun Edu Imbernon runs Eklektisch.
Imbernon and Samuel Knob represent the new crop of Barraca residents, taking over when Danny Fiddo and Alberto Sola left the venue. As Grant said, the crowd has changed considerably since he first started playing there. It's likely that Imbernon and Knob are as responsible as anyone, luring in a slightly younger crowd that has embraced the label's sound, which has lately shifted from the more organic techno favored by AFFKT to a slightly cleaner house and techno hybrid that falls in line with the prevailing sound of modern clubland.
As Barraca Music brings more artists into their family, the label's identity will continue to evolve. But like its club namesake, that's the point: You don't survive 44 years in the club business by standing still. You stay alive by bringing in fresh new talent, working with established hands when it makes sense and building something that can withstand the ups, the downs and the in-betweens. Barraca Music may already be eight in dog years, but, like the club, it won't be going anywhere for a long, long time.
Download: RA Label of the Month 1001 Mix: Barraca Music (right click + save target as)
Filesize: 97.1MB Length: 01:24:53
01. Danny Fiddo & AFFKT - Points (Ricardo Villalobos V1 Unreleased Remix)
02. Posh - Coconumit (Petre Inspirescu Remix)
03. AFFKT & Rafa Siles - Cocofai (Daniel Stefanik Live Jam Remix) / Los Updates Vs Ricardo Villalobos - Bank Brotherhood (Jorge Gonzales Accapella)
04. Andrew Grant - Dancing Cranes / Archivos
05. Karm - Reika
06. Karm - Untitled (Future Barraca Music)
07. Dana Ruh - You Got It!
08. Dana Ruh - Untitled (Future Barraca Music)
09. Andrew Grant - Colorado BB
10. NoiDoi - Deep Down Chicago
11. NoiDoi - Untitled (Future Barraca Music)
12. Samuel Knob - Track 2 (Uner & Edu Imbernon Remix)
13. Posh - Nedenumit