Words: Colin Brownbill
Since emerging in 2014 with a slew of bassy house jams, Glasgow duo Illyus & Barrientos have kept their foot firmly on the accelerator. Consistent releases and a sample-heavy sound have kept them in near constant rotation on Radio 1, with guest mixes for Pete Tong, Annie Mac and Monki, while their fun-focused, club-rocking sets have made them firm favourites around the UK, with bookings everywhere from XOYO to Phonox, Sub Club to Stealth.
It’s common knowledge that breaking into the dance music circuit (or circus, depending on how you look at it) can be difficult, and staying relevant is the true test, but with a production palette which ranges from grin-inducing disco-house to body-jacking belters, I&B have managed to keep things moving.
And it's not just in the studio and club that the duo have been grafting. Whether it’s Illyus’ new label, Lyceum Social Club, which he’s just launched with Mia Dora’s Rob Etherson, or Barrientos’ Subcity Radio show and blog, Lava Lava, the duo have strived to stay visible, and this Friday (31st) they bring the party home for the launch of their new night, Black Market.
Inviting Crazy P’s Ron Basejam to join them in The Admiral’s basement, a producer who shares the same feel-good philosophy as his hosts, the duo hope to shake-up some of the predictability of the modern dancefloor. “For too long clubbing has had this heads-down, don't get involved with other clubbers type of mentality” says Illyus, “you should engage and embrace people! It feels better leaving a club with a big cheeser on your face."
Listen to the most recent edition of Black Market Radio below and read our full interview with Illyus & Barrientos in which we talk more about the inspiration behind Black Market, injecting some fun back into dance music and what we can expect from Illyus’ new label:
SG: You’ve both been an active presence on Glasgow’s club scene for many years now, while also touring extensively around the UK. Why did you feel the time was right to launch your own party and what was the inspiration behind the name, Black Market?
Illyus: We had been thinking about it for a while, mainly because we love DJ’ing in our own city; plus I also feel in today's music world, exploring different avenues can be a major bonus. Running our own night is a great way to build a rapport with fans on a regular basis. It also means we can get DJs/producers involved who we're really into - like Ron Basejam for example…true legend!
Barrientos: I guess the inspiration behind ‘Black Market’ is from that kind of seedy, underworld, wheelin’ and dealin’ type of vibe! Nothing too sinister, but basically keeping it rough and ready. Imagine if 'The Barras’ threw a rave and maybe we’re close to the inspiration…
SG: The press release talks about an off-the-record experience, with pop-up parties running out of ‘bootleg basements’. How would you like to see Black Market develop as a concept and brand?
Illyus: The idea is to keep the party raw and about a good, fun night out. To us, that has always been the main ingredient of clubbing; just come out and let your hair down! That will also be a major factor in deciding on what guests we book. For too long clubbing has had this heads-down, don't get involved with other clubbers type of mentality. You should engage and embrace people!
Barrientos: Yeah, I’d love for it to be something that we could take on tour; go from city to city and play alongside somebody who we are huge fans of. We’re not aiming to be the next Elrow or anything like that; we just want a good time!
SG: You’ve invited Crazy P’s Ron Basejam to join you for the first event, a producer who perfectly bridges the gap between house and disco; what makes him spot-on for Black Market and what would you describe as your favourite ‘Basejam jam’?
Illyus: As you said in the question, that perfect bridge between house and disco – that’s exactly what Black Market is about. If you're clued-up on Ron Basejam's music, then you will know the feel-good vibe he brings to a party. For the smoother side of things, check out his remix of The White Lamp 'It's You' and for the disco mob, get involved with his tune 'The Carrington Spirituals'. They are both out on Futureboogie Records.
Barrientos: I’m a huge Crazy P fan and I’ve seen them, plus guys like Ron Basejam and Hot Toddy at The Garden Festival (Croatia) over the years. They are just the perfect fit for that style of atmosphere. One of my favourites is definitely ‘When I Hear That Music’ – it’s got that perfect clubby, driving feel to it, all the while keeping the disco essence alive.
SG: We absolutely love some of the disco-tinged tracks you dropped last year like ‘Strings’ and ‘Alright’ – do you feel people are ready to hear some more funk and fun in dance music? It seems like everything got very serious for a while…
Illyus: I totally agree! It’s time to bring some fun back and lift spirits again. I'm sure it feels better leaving a club with a big cheeser on your face rather than crying bout life's issues. We 100% wanted to showcase that feel-good side in our music last year and it’s something people have been enjoying!
Barrientos: It’s much more fun writing music like that. Plus, I just don’t think me or Illyus are serious enough to write serious music haha! If you’ve ever been in the studio you’ll know. Writing feel-good records makes you feel good. Simple.
SG: Illyus, you’ve just launched a new label with Rob Etherson called Lyceum Social Club; can you give us a little introduction to the label and the type of sounds we can expect to hear on it?
Illyus: The label was set up as an avenue to release music for everyone that we work with; it's a way of showcasing all the talent that myself and Rob know. Outside of music we are close mates and felt this was finally the way we could work together. It's been a bit nuts since we set the label up because we already have releases tied up 'till the end of the year. We didn't imagine for one second people would buy into Lyceum like this. Musically, as long as it's raw and has some soul we will be into it! The tracks don't all have to be club-oriented, and we definitely want to spread things a bit further than that.
SG: We gather that you dropped some fierce new material supporting Gorgon City recently; what’s been cooking in the studio over the last few months? And what else does 2017 hold for I&B?
Barrientos: We’ve just been getting back to basics with writing new material; making tracks that we can play out in clubs when we’re touring. We’ve got a record coming out with Monki’s label Zoo Music, a huge club banger on Danny Howard’s label, and possibly another big one that we can’t announce yet! On the gigs front, we’re playing at Hideout Festival in Croatia in June, Café Del Mar with Sonny Fodera in Cyprus, and a cool underground night in Manchester with DJ T over the summer. A lot to be getting on with!