Behind the expansive club sounds of Hivern Discs is an A&R whose tastes reach far and wide. As label manager til 2015, Daniel Baughman helped build the label to become a flag-bearer in Barcelona, which simultaneously gave Spain’s tourist capital city a clearer dance music identity. Recently his work with Hivern has been signing new talent, alongside helping set up the city’s first listening bar, Nica. His main role here is to book a programme to reflect his broad tastes while also building a sense of community around experimental music that’s often found wanting in Barcelona. On the side, he helps run Magic Teapot Records, an online platform and DJ unit with a focus on obscure records.
In a new interpretation of the Diggers Directory format, Daniel ripped all his records and, using the CDJs at Nica and fuelled by a self-confessed “obsessive-compulsive nature”, tested the limits of creativity with looping. The result is a broad mix of genres, tempos and moods to reflect his many different approaches to DJing in one, synthetic whole.
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
Nah, not really. My house was pretty normal in terms of records. We had a small collection with a hi-fi set up in our living room. Sometimes I would play these records and my mum and sisters would dance to them. But it was only me who developed this interest in discovering and collecting music. I made a deal with my mum when I was a kid; every time I helped her with the weekly grocery shopping I was allowed to buy one vinyl LP from the record store outside the mall. This is when I got my first records, mainly 80s pop stuff. Later I switched to tapes, they were cheaper and I could carry them with me and play them in the most awesome tape player ever made, the Sony Walkman Sports haha. I went fully into CDs in the nineties.
When I was like 15 – 16 I started to go clubs where they would play Mákina, the Spanish interpretation of hardcore that had traveled from Valencia after the golden days of La Ruta, a huge clubbing movement that started in the late 80s. I never made it to Valencia, I was too young, but the older brothers of my friends had, and they were the same who were introducing us to these clubs. I also discovered illegal raves back then, in secret locations out in the woods. As for pivotal records, I bought Daft Punk’s Homework just went it came out and totally blew my mind, didn’t see that one coming. I think it’s the first time I took electronic music seriously, not as part of a hedonistic gathering; it was an actual record with songs and its own narrative. This record fuelled my interest in electronic music and eventually I went back to buying vinyl again, got my first Technics turntable when I graduated from school and started to experiment with deejaying.
People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?
I think I sort of answered this question with my previous reply but yeah records are beautiful objects and sound amazing and in a way a record collection becomes an extension of somebody’s personality and I think that’s a beautiful thing.
In the last couple years I started to collect tapes again, especially private issued stuff, after I bought a Nakamichi vintage tape player (below). I really like the fact that these were made without any financial or industry constraints. This artistic freedom translates into nice surprises when digging for tapes. I like to think there’s still a lot of exciting music hidden in tapes yet to be discovered.
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
I really enjoy digging for records when traveling. Same with food and wine I guess. Restaurants and record stores are a nice way to discover a city. It’s great to end up in shops, or flea markets, that are totally new to you, and also hooking up with local collectors for a trade. I really enjoyed a dig I did a couple years ago in Paris, at a flea market in the north of Paris, tipped by Raphael Top-Secret. David (Boule O) has a small shop there with an amazing selection. I bought great Kadans records from him. I’ve just been to Naples and met with Lorenzo and traded a Catalan 7” I had a double of for an obscure wave Italian 7” he introduced me to.
If you are in Barcelona of course Discos Paradiso is a must, not only for their amazing taste for both new releases and second hand stuff, but also as the social hub where all kinds of people with a shared interest in music meet. And if you have the patience and spend the afternoon there you might strike gold at Edison’s. But I lately don’t go that much to physical record stores in Barcelona to be honest.
I’ve also been buying a lot at Low Company Records in London, exquisite selection of records and best written reviews.
As for online digging, I tend not to use Discogs that much, and buy directly to private sellers instead. I like the human component when digging, it’s much more interesting for me. Meeting records through people, and people through records.
Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?
Gerard from Paradiso is definitely a main colourful character in my digging past. Before Paradiso existed, he was working and buying records for a guy who had a record store called La Ruta Natural. I used to go there often, he had the ability of pulling out the right records for you, so he introduced me to a lot of great stuff. I bought my first John Talabot 12” from him without knowing Uri was behind that project.
Another colourful character is David G. Balasch. Great DJ and collector from Barcelona. Back in 2005 / 2006, when I moved to Madrid, he used to manage the record store CD Drome in Madrid and I used to buy a LOT of stuff from him. Mainly records I could play in my sets – when I was resident of clubs Low and Mondo in Madrid and also played at a big daytime event called Goa – but he would occasionally slip in some more experimental or leftfield albums. He introduced me to a lot of stuff, I respect a lot his taste and we’re still in touch, organising events linked to his reissue label Passat Continu at Nica. Next one is with Lino Capra Vaccina!
At that time I started to buy also from Flexx in Belgium. I got heavily into more leftfield disco, funk and italo through them.
Speaking of CD Drome, before Madrid there was their first store in Barcelona and I used to go there all the time. My friend Luis Costa (DJ Lui) used to work there and also hooked me up with great records back then.
Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?
Mmm I wouldn’t mind owning an OG copy of the Lata Ramasar 12”.
As for tapes, there are a couple The Nightcrawlers’ cassettes I really want but these are not easy to find.
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search for strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?
I tend to record shop on my own. I get a bit anxious and also distracted if there’s too much people on a record store or if I have to depend on someone else’s plans. I guess I need my space and my time. That being said there have been spontaneous digs with friends in the past that I enjoyed of course. I like to share record tips with people whose taste I connect with. With Marco from Magic Teapot for instance we’ve shared a lot of record finds.
Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?
Artworks can get my attention quite fast. Then always ask the guy behind the counter. If he knows your taste he might pull out some stuff you will be into. If he doesn’t know you then he might introduce you to new music you weren’t aware of or didn’t know you liked.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?
Essential. I discover amazing records I never heard of through their cover. I guess through working with Hivern Discs this role grew bigger, since we take the visual aspect of records quite seriously. The back cover can also be crucial, especially when they break down the instruments used or there’s some additional info about the production. A DX7 and a 909 on a Portuguese folk record? That’s definitely a good sign.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?
The first idea was to put together a collection of songs that have had an emotional impact on me. I’ve been through a difficult personal process in the last couple of years, a lot of anxiety and emotional stress involved, and the process of understanding and accepting this has been a very positive journey. So I wanted to depict this journey involving many different feelings. I started with the set up at my place, using records and tapes, but then I realised I needed something more complex, more intricate, in terms of mixing and progression. So I decided to rip all the music, borrowed the CDJs from Nica, connected them to my Master Sounds mixer at my studio and started to experiment a lot with the loops. I ended up investing a lot more time that I first planned on this mix, but I have a bit of an obsessive-compulsive nature. There’s nothing I can do about it. There are a couple rips and also some forthcoming bits from friends and colleagues, which to me also makes sense because the human factor has been essential in my own personal process.
I also wanted to bring together in one single mix my different approaches to DJing, from the more esoteric and experimental stuff to weird finds and records you could play in a club at 4am. Starting at 85 BPM and building it slowly to 115, drawing a line between Spanish synth-pop or a Red Cloud dub to a slowed down Perälä track in a seamless way, I hope I ended up with something coherent; it does make sense to me!
Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?
I guess a main factor in this mix for me is how far you can go with looping in a creative way, not only with straight forward electronic music like you would do in a regular club set, but also with old records or weird private tapes for instance. Unlikely mixes of genre and tempos end up making sense; there’s room for the unexpected. I think this is also a positive approach to life, getting rid of expectations and prejudices. I try to be aware of this as much as I can.
More specific stand outs would be that crazy Spanish Echo Romeo 12” (thanks Breixo!) or the Bruno Due electonic tribal track from his 1989 tape, I really like the way it ended up sandwiched between a dope forthcoming Dazion remix and this sick New World Science jam.
Thanks for taking some photos at home. What’s been your approach to designing this space?
Being someone who tends to accumulate stuff and hesitates when getting rid of things, the main focus here was to keep it as minimal as possible. I’m learning to let go of things and that involves objects.
Any hacks that have helped you make it a give it a more personal twist?
Plants are essential. I bought them not too long ago when I started feeling more rooted to this space. They breathe life into it, and I like taking care of them.
Is there any method to the way you store your records?
It’s basically the method of absolute chaos at the moment haha. Most of my records are in my dad’s basement. I was living in Berlin for a while so when I moved back I left a lot of records there. These were organised by country and then genre as well, and the boxes were tagged accordingly. So what you see in the pictures are the essential records I kept with me and what I’ve been buying since I came back, but these are not organised right now.
Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?
Uri has an amazing taste for records and the stuff I’ve discovered through him has always been super interesting. I recently booked Alexis Le-Tan and DJ Sundae for Nica and their selection was next level. After that we shared some music and they sent over really top stuff. Lauren Hansom also played an excellent set at Nica. Marco obviously, he has a very personal taste and I’ve discovered crazy stuff through him.
And are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?
I really like Vince Privat’s involvement with some records, traveling to meet the original artists, selling their dead stocks and sharing profits with them. Sometimes these kinds of records never translated in any financial revenue for the artists so it’s nice that at least after some years they get something back. I use to buy from Vincent when he was selling privately and now he’s partnered with someone and opened the record store Dizonord, didn’t get the chance to visit it yet though, I’m really curious about it.
One of your main job is for Hivern Discs. How did you come to be involved with them, what’s your role and how have you helped shape where the label’s at now?
I’ve kinda been connected with Uri and Franc for more than 10 years now, and when I moved to Berlin and wanted to focus more on music as a profession the label was at a point that could use some help with the managing side of things. This is how it all started. I worked as a label manager until 2015 and from then till now I’ve been focusing more on A&R duties. Meri joined for some time and Alicia took over the label management a couple years ago. Despite of the different roles it’s basically the four of us participating in almost every decision and shaping the label together.
What are you most proud to have helped release on Hivern?
There are a lot of records I enjoyed contributing to. The INIT records come to mind for instance, the project of Benedikt Frey and Nadia d’Alò, whom I signed whilst living in Berlin. Another project that I enjoyed specially working on is the Dorisburg album.
You also do the bookings for Nica, a listening bar in Barcelona. That kind of venue isn’t something that is easily embraced in a city like Barcelona. Have you faced much of a challenge in the first year?
We are still working on fine-tuning the space, a place like this takes time to build, but we already invited a lot of great artists. Barcelona is not easy when it comes to new musical proposals. The city does not understand electronic or experimental music as a proper cultural discipline, so regulations are quite strict and there’s no such thing such as a financial, legal or institutional support from the city. On the other hand everyone complains about the lack of more adventurous musical programming, but then it’s really hard to get people involved and supporting your event so you have to work around these contradictions. I don’t think we have a sense of community in Barcelona in a way other scenes might have, and I like to think we can build something different in the future with spaces like Nica.
On the side, you also run Magic Teapot Records with Jens and Marco. What’s that all about.
It started as an online record store for special finds and it has evolved into a platform to share those records online (we stopped selling a while ago) and through our DJ sets with Marco. At some point we were working towards a label, we had a couple nice releases lined up, but at the moment that’s on stand by, we are all super busy with other projects and a label needs a lot of time and attention, if you want to do it properly.
How does it allow you to express yourself as a record collector and DJ that’s different to Hivern?
Mmm a DJ set linked to an Hivern event would most likely involve club ready stuff of different genres and tempos and with MTR or when I play at Nica for instance I can go a bit more all over the place in terms of genres, from wave or cosmic stuff to weird tropical records. If it’s a DJ set combined with a guest live performance at Nica then I would most likely prepare a set based on ambient and experimental records and tapes.
Finally what’s coming up on your horizon that’s getting you excited?
I’ve got a couple nice gigs in Istanbul and Bordeaux soon. Marco and I play Dekmantel Selectors in August, which should be fun. There are a couple of new mixes around the corner; one with Marco for a very nice platform and then another one on my own for one of my favourite mix series. The next three months at Nica are already booked and we have great artists on board, already working hard on fall and winter bookings. I’m also quite excited about Hivern’s upcoming release schedule, we just announced the new Cleveland 2 x 12”, and we are starting to work on some exciting future label events as well.