Barbara Boeing is bringing a slice of sunshine from her home of Brazil. In Curitiba, in the south of the country, she runs her Alter Disco night with a group of friends, and has become a pioneering force on the independent music scene championing freedom of expression and changing social paradigms. This year has seen her takeover dance floors across Europe including a debut Boiler Room at Nuits Sonores and a joyful set at Lente Kabinet, sharing her 10 years of experience digging deep into music spanning different moods, decades and frequencies.
Here she divulges her relationship with records and her musical motivations alongside a mix that meanders between Axé, Synth Pop, Rap, Soul, Funk; all from Barbara’s home of Brazil.
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?
I wish my musical education had come from my family, unfortunately this is not how it happened. I had an early interest in music learning how to play acoustic guitar and a little bit of drums when I was a teenager but always focused on rock at that time.
When I got into the engineering university I met a DJ called Felipe Muller a.k.a. Phil Mill who is now my best friend for years and my partner/co-founder at Alter Disco, a party we do with four other best friends here in Curitiba, south of Brazil. Phil had a big collection of vinyl and was (still is) a really good DJ. I believe he is the person who had the most influence over me when the subject is electronic music.
At that time, only CDJs and tracks from Soulseek were affordable to me. Buying vinyl in Brazil can get really expensive because of the shipping, so I only started buying records two years ago when I started earning a little bit of money with music.
I think a track that caught my interest when I started playing was Deck The House from Akufen. I used to like Minimal Techno formerly, and he introduced me to Micro House. For me, this was a unique moment and a type of evolvement for me as an artist, because this is when I started to open my mind and listen to other genres, even though they are not much alike the type of music I listen to nowadays.
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 started my record collection only two years ago. Previously, to enhance my digital collection, I used to send emails to record labels or to artists trying to buy their “only vinyl” tracks and sometimes I had success in it. Also, I loved trading music with other DJs or collectors.
The idea of collecting records came a little late in my life and this took place when I compromised with myself to go further in my DJing career. When I started doing it, a new world opened up in front of me. I met so many nice, new people who have an excellent taste in music. It is an amazing trade, both cultural and musical that I have with them.
When I started mixing with vinyl I already knew how to do it because it works the same way with CDJs, but it is obviously a little bit more difficult and the chances of error are considerable, so, this is another element that motivates me to get better in order to elevate my mixing.
Where do you store your records and how do you file them?
I stored them at my living room. I play almost everyday, so there is no other place they could be at. I file them by moods, for example:
1- Easy + Happy – Radio: Low BPM – Ambient, Balearic, Rap + Hip Hop, Reggae, Zouk, Kwaito, Synth Pop, Bubble Gum.
2- Easy + Dark – Radio: Low BPM – Industrial, New Beat and some darker Tribal and Prog House tracks.
3- House + Disco – Dance floor: Around 120 BPM – Garage, Nu Disco, Old School, Deep, Arab, Euro, African, Polish, all music that makes people dance.
4- Dark and Dreamy Music – Dance floor: Around 123 BPMs – Italo Disco, Acid House, Breakbeat and some good old Techno,
5- Brazilian Music – Radio + Dance floor: From 80 to 135 BPM – Latin Freestyle, Brazilian Rap, Axé, Synth Pop, Free Funk.
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
Usually I buy records from Brazilian diggers who sell over the internet. They send me lists, I listen to it and tell them what I want, Rodrigo Breakrecords from São Paulo and Fachinneti from Rio de Janeiro are good examples of it.
Another good place I can find records for usually a quarter of the price from Discogs is Mercado Livre. I already found a considerable amount of Brazilian records this way.
But for me, the best way to do it is when I am travelling. I like to visit traditional record stores in each city I go to and mostly, if possible, I try to talk to the curator from it and ask for musical tips to add to my own findings.
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?
On my last tour to Europe, in May of 2019, I got to meet some of the best diggers I know. It was fun, because I was invited to their houses and we talked a lot about music and everything around it. I had already bought online records from the three of them and went there to collect them.
I met all three in Amsterdam, the first one was Igor a.k.a. Iggy P, a Serbian guy with a big collection of good records and owner of the Youtube channel Up Down.
The second one was Priscila Cavalcanti AKA Hhhoppp, who is Brazilian, lives in Miami and was visiting her daughter in Amsterdam. She has a big collection of Brazilian records and owns a newborn Youtube channel called Concreta. She is always travelling and bringing records to those three countries – Brazil, Holland and United States, so, it gets easier and more flexible for me to meet her and not pay heavy prices in shipping. Also, she is really adorable company, so meeting her is always golden.
And finally, I briefly met Barney AKA Bongo Barns. Added to his unique channel also at Youtube called Sentinel Island Disco, he is a great edit maker and I love playing his music. I hope next time we can meet with more time!
Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be elusive over the years?
There is one specific record I am trying to find, the name of the artist is Paulinho de Camafeu and the name of the records is Naja. It is a really rare Axé record, I already put a sign on every record store in Brazil I went too, but no one ever answered. I hope I am luckier in the future.
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?
Usually I do this by myself, but if there is someone that can do it in my pace, a good company will surely not be dismissed. My girlfriend always likes to go with me and even though she is not a DJ, she has good taste in music, so I think we make a good team.
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?
Yes, sometimes it is a little bit intimidating to enter a record shop, so to have a good approach with the curators from it, I usually send them an e-message talking a little bit about what I am looking for and also to humbly introduce my music. This way it is easier for them to understand what kind of music could fit for my taste. Usually, I can only do this only at smaller shops where people have more time to talk and share their musical experience with others.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?
When you do not know the music the record carries inside, the cover plays the most important role. I only listen to records of artists I do not know because I loved the cover. Also, there are some records that when I look at them, I have a feeling that I am going to like the music from it. Sometimes it is because a specific kind or pattern of art that reminds me unconsciously of a decade or even a genre. I think this is also a feeling that gets better with time for sure!
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?
This is a special mix for me, it was the fist time I recorded a set with music that comes only from my country. I collected those edits and records for a year. I feel this is a really happy DJ set and it involves lots of different genres that come from Brazil.
Some tracks are considered almost “unmixable”, so it took me some time to organise them in a way I could mix them properly. The tempo of the tracks are constantly variable so minor mixing errors are supposed to be expected when you listen to it and they are part of my constant effort to go where organic meets electronic.
Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?
I was happy I was able to add a track from Daniela Mercury in the mix. She is a Brazilian singer who just married a woman and became a symbol of resistance of the dark times we are living in right now in our politics.
Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?
Other than those I previously talked about, names like Craig Ouar, Millos Kaiser, Augusto Olivani, Kamma, Maybe Tonight, Trujillo and John Gomez are good examples of good taste and I believe they are trend setters in underground music.
And are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?
Recently I met Wessel a.k.a. Goodthingman, a guy from Utrecht that came to Brazil and did a warm up at my party. I was amazed by his collection and his good taste. Frequently, to become a good collector you need to have a lot of experience and obviously this comes with time. For him, it came before, he is a natural.
Also, only a few diggers are also DJs, and when they are, this is where good quality meets technique and it becomes a superb combination. Wessel just became a DJ, so I am pretty sure he is someone to keep a close eye on.
Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?
I think the most important thing that is coming up right now is that I am coming back to Europe in October and I have some cool gigs already, and also some open dates. It is something really new and exciting for me to be able to do the second tour in Europe in the same year. I am really happy about the acceptance of me as an artist in the old continent, so yes, I am coming back for more!
Tonho Materia – Maravilhosa
Guilherme Arantes – Ouro (Running Hot’s Golden Edit)
Roberto Carlos – Não vou ficar
Ed Motta – Jantar pra Dois (Remix)
Imprensa Marrom – Happy Mineiro MC
Jorge – Verdadeiro Amor
Daniela Mercury – Saudade (Batonga)
Ricardo Villas – Andróides
Taciana – Tudo faz Sentido (Suba Extended)
Sintético – Eternal Love Edit
Dominó – Novela Zé
Carlos – Venha