Interview: Robert Babicz

The true artist whit over 25 years of skin in the electronic music production and maestro responsible for the best moments you ever had in a club (and other places I must add) accepted The Clubber’s invitation to talk about his career plans and his views on the philosophy behind the electronic sound. He worked alongside with our audience’s favorite acts such as Guy J, John Digweed, Hernan Cattaneo and so on.

With such a renowned experience, Robert Babicz is not only a leading producer in the underground world, but a record label owner, university lecturer and a father of two.


Hey Robert, what’s going on? What are you up to?

Um, I’m walking in my spaceship here. Um, I have to finish some remixes, some masterings but, easy stuff.


And when it comes to production, what are you preparing these days?

I’m a… some secret stuff.


Why so secret?

Well, because it will take some time till it will be released. So I cannot speak about it. But beside that, I’m working on the next Babiczstyle of course; I have to release some new music of my own. And you know, I have enough new music, but I just need to release it… Could you tell me where are you from?


Belgrade, Serbia. Have you ever been here?

I think I have a picture on my wall from a bar called Question mark or something.


You were there? Yes, it’s in the city center, perfect.

Yeah, I have it on my wall here.


Across the street there is a Cathedral, it’s one of the must see places in Belgrade. Hope you enjoyed it.

It was fantastic, I did!


6So for a start, could you tell me something more about your early beginnings – there is a rumor that you started playing in a club with unknown instruments, never played them before. Can you tell me how did you manage, and what happened afterwards?

Um, it was right after my first release, I had in 1991 or 1992. And I made this first release on borrowed equipment, and I had no idea what I was doing, I was just having fun and recording some music on the cassette and I sent this cassette because I saw like an advertising in a magazine “we look for new electronic artists”, and I have sent them the cassette where I have recorded the tracks, and like a few days later I got a phone call “Wow! This is so cool! We want to release. Please send us the master!” and I said, “You have the master. Its all I have, this cassette”. So they press it from this cassette and that’s how my first release happened. Later, I think like two months, or three months afterwards, um, a promoter was calling me, he somehow found out my number, and his artist for the night, he was not able to come and he was trying to find a replacement. And he told me “Ahh, I like your release” he asked me “Do you want to play?” and I said, “Of course, I come and play! No question, just one little, little problem- I don’t have any instruments!” and he said “Okay, cool, I can ask some friends” and then, yeah I was coming to the club, I had like a drum machine I never saw, a synthesizer I never saw before, so I take like two hours to program everything and just play, with no concept. I had no concept, I was just like “Oh, cool. I play.”


And what was the feedback, I mean how did the people react?

It was super cool. But it was like a very, very dark underground place with just some strobe lights and fog. So super dark, super loud and people freaking out. It was nice. That’s all you need for a good party so…


Okay, when it comes to Babiczstyle, and I’m not speaking solely about the label only but about all the philosophy behind it, what do you see as the main idea?

The main idea is that I see my music as kind of, um, I’m a storyteller, like every track is telling you a story, and at the same time I have like a vision of how the sound should be, cause I really love when the music is, like from the technical point, when the music is so good that you can go inside, you can close your eyes and you can go inside the track and you can look around at soundscapes and feel everything. It’s like a world that you can go into.


One of yours most popular tracks I heard was that track “Dark Flower”. How do you feel about it today after all those years?

The thing is with Dark flower, um, I think I got a bit scared because I was too successful. And with this there was too much pressure to make like, people were asking me “Please more of this. Please make the same again” and I don’t want to make the same again; its like, I give you a story, you like it, okay, I make the next one. The similar ones wouldn’t be that honest, I suppose…


 Is that also the way you look at your work now?

Yeah, its like, for me, you know when I finish a track; the next one will be always very different. And then maybe I come back to something I did before, but I always try to change it, I want to learn and to explore. Like every time I’m in the studio, I try to find something new, like new tricks or something that I never did before, always like, I don’t know, now I’m doing music for like, 26 years and I always, when people ask me “Oh, you are like master for us, your sound is so perfect” and so on but I always reply with “No, no, no I’m just an advanced beginner”.


Well it’s all about trial and error, right?

Yeah, and, but at the same time it’s about trusting yourself; like you have an inner vision, and trust your own voice, like your own feeling. I stopped caring what other people saying what is right and wrong, because its their expectation, if they want to think, want something different they can do it themselves. I do my music how I want.


And can you tell me something more about your new label-concept Dirt Cuts? The main aide behind it as I understood is that the future of electronic music is about making live performances for the crowd.

Dirt Cuts is kind of the homework and an experiment for me where I realized that when I work with the computer I can to everything I want. When I just focus on the few machines, I’m very limited. But with the knowledge I have today and with the old machines I want to make the music of the future, that’s my main goal. So how can I let the old machines sound new with the knowledge I have right now? And it’s like really challenging to make another old school track as I did before. And the second release on the label is ready, you should check it out!


Yeah, okay, that’s fantastic. So, I also read that you had, shall I go ahead and call it power or the ability of synesthesia, right?

Ah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, this is, I have this… I thought its like; normal like every human has this. But, yeah maybe its one of the things why I can produce so fast and why I say I’m telling stories with my music it’s because every sound is, for me at least, it’s a sculpture in time. I can see like, objects that move in time and if like, for example if there’s a mix, if there’s an error in the mixdown I can see it as a kind of distortion of the geometry. So it’s just like, I need a few seconds. It’s the same for mastering, when I listen to a track I need 30 to 50 seconds, and I can tell you ah this, this, this, this…


As you said you are a storyteller, my next question would be how would you describe the history of electronic music as far as you see it, but when it comes to shapes, what would be the main shapes and motifs during the nineties or 2000s?

The music was very raw and naïve, like very naïve, raw forms in the beginning. And this was good, it was like a baby was born and doing a lot of bullshit, and we had a lot of fun. And then, it was like an evolution, it was like circles, growing and growing- the music got more detailed and then it was, something around 2000 was interesting before like hard kind of techno, and then minimal came up. And this minimal, I thought for myself, it sounds super boring but it was, the concept was interesting making the max out of minimal elements, so I took my own view on this, and at that time, most of this minimal music had almost no base. It was like a very sharp little kick, like pok pok pok and that’s all, and at that time I thought, ok lets try and give it my own thing and I don’t know if you ever heard, I made a track called Battlestar. You can just, you’ll find it on YouTube. And this was my answer to minimal. And I think I was too early, because I introduced sub base thing that was not in that music before, like this whole, the music is rolling like a big tank, not in this techno way, its very different, its very like, trippy and to come back to a bigger story, why techno music was so interesting for me, and I understood now that when I was a kid and I heard electronic music I was very fascinated. And then when really techno came out, I thought this is like alien music. Like this is music that’s coming from spaceships above us and its like aliens dancing to this kind of music and I was a big fan of science fiction and I thought yes, finally we have a contact, I have to learn this, to speak with the aliens so somehow I got into this…


And what would you say are the main colors of the music today. I mean there are a lot of genres so you can divide them as you wish. I would just like to hear what you think

Yeah, I don’t see the music so much in colors. Its not easy to, I thought a lot about this, how to describe what I see because its more kind of a geometric figure, but its liquid and its transforming constantly in the time, like I have a special sense where I can feel time. Its like a forth dimension, its very, its super difficult to, its not just a color, or a taste, because in this liquid its not just form, you have like emotions inside. You can put human emotions inside this force and then you play with this. It’s a, yeah weird. But to answer, I have a small critique on this music scene these days. I would say most of the people have something going on at the moment again where everyone is competing everyone and when you listen to a certain, like if you go on people and kick through, you feel like its sounds like everything the same. And something I really miss is that the artists have the big boards to have their own sounds, like not caring so much of what is now superhot and what the other are doing, just make his own way, because then it gets interesting you have all this; every artist is a human and he has his own story and his own way of how he fells, so it would be super interesting to hear more of this personal humans then just sample pack 5 or sample pack 4. I don’t want to hear all these sample packs again and again. I want to hear the human that’s behind them.


2You are also an experienced teacher and lecturer right? I heard you said that the whole point of teaching is to teach someone to make their own style, own music and express his own emotions. How do you manage to follow those rules when teaching someone?

Yeah, I’m giving master classes or workshops sometimes where I get invited to universities or music schools. Most of the time I’m speaking about philosophy, not about “You have to cut the base at 30 Hz“. No, I’m speaking more about the idea, about the philosophy. Why we can do this and this and this, why it makes sense to try this and this.


How do you manage to answer to the requests of all those roles, as a consultant, teacher, artist and engineer all in one?

I would say I really dedicated my life into this whole music thing. I have almost no private life. Just recently I was speaking to one friend and said that personally I don’t understand what a weekend means, because for me a weekend is travelling and playing somewhere. I have no idea how this feels, because if I’m not travelling, I’m working. Like there’s never enough time, because I have so many ideas and so many people contact me, and its like full-on everyday. The only thing where I have some time to myself is when I go walk in the forest to be alone. But yeah, I don’t have these kinds of weekends.


There’s something that crossed my mind. There was a release on Babiczstyle with a Tom Middleton remix of your track ’Beautiful’ and it was called liquatech remix. Really like that liquid sound there and you also mentioned those colors you see are sometimes in liquid filled with emotions and everything. So have you ever tried to make a liquid tech sound or something like that, would it change the sphere or the shapes of what you see, or are just not into that style?

Great question. Maybe I just don’t have it too much on my focus, I don’t really know. But I have done so much music, and I still have so much unreleased music that I just don’t want to float the market with, it’s too much. So maybe there is something with similar vibes there on which I have forgotten.