As a rare glimpse into the inner workings of Glaswegian underground music culture (beyond the LuckyMe and Numbers success stories), Dummy is proud to bring you the third and final instalment in the Glasgow Spotlight mini-series: where local figures take a moment to present themselves and what they do outside their city boundaries. Our last mix comes from David Barbarossa, a stalwart of the Glasgow DJ circuit whose vinyl record collection has passed into local urban legend and bolstered his reputation as a selector. With an enviable knowledge and childlike passion for rarities from around the world, Barbarossa takes listeners of his Wild Combination radio show and attendees of his Strange Paradise parties on some seriously weird and wonderful journeys through disco, funk, R&B, krautrock, psychedelica, afrobeat and soul – to name a few – and it’s the time, energy and characteristic charm that he puts into his sets that has made him the last (and far from least) in our mini-series. Thanks for listening.
Hello, please introduce yourself and tell us what you do.
Hello there. I’m David Barbarossa, and I play records, make bad puns and dance.
How long have you been DJing, and how did you start DJing in the first place?
I have been DJing for about seventeen years now. It started with dancing and a general love for all kinds of music initially, but then I began to collect records that made me dance and then after a while, people started asking me to play them to make them dance. I was happy to oblige. I still am.
How would you describe your tastes, and what kind of sounds really grab you?
My tastes are pretty varied. I can get equally excited by electronic drones as I can by a party bass line. I tend to like records that are a bit “wrong”; maybe the musicians were aiming for something, missed it by miles and created something much more exciting – to my ears at least – in the process. On the other hand I sometimes like straight up party jams about dancing and having a good time. Fortunately I don’t have to choose one over the other and I can just enjoy it all at any time.
You’re know for being something of a vinyl freak so just to clear up a local urban legend, just how many records do you own?
I think the legend goes that I have around 15,000 records. What nobody ever mentions is that 14,678 of those are multiple copies of Lifted by The Lighthouse Family.
What is it about vinyl records that you love, and makes you willing to spend so much time, energy and money on them?
I really love music more than records, but there’s something about the added pleasure of the physical hunt for an object that’s beautiful on every level. I feel that owning a record is much more special than a downloaded sound file in your iTunes library. That said, I also enjoy tapes, but they’re a pain to cue up when you’re DJing.
This past week saw another Record Store Day. What did you get up to for RSD, and what do you think of it as an event overall?
I hung out in some unexpected Glasgow sunshine, bought a few things, got embarrassingly drunk with my friends and played some records for listening and dancing in Mono. It was pretty great, from what I can recall of it. I think it’s probably quite easy to be cynical about the whole thing [take a quick look at eBay profiteers for proof], but if it enables some of my favourite shops to keep going for another year then what do I care? I’m lucky my tastes are generally odd enough that the records I really want don’t usually sell out early doors, so I can have a long lie-in and avoid the queues.
How do you feel this mix you’ve made for the series reflects your tastes, and/or the kinds of music you like to play out in clubs?
The mix is pretty much a distillation of the last few hours of one of my parties after I’ve played a few weirdo selections and some slow jams to coax you onto the floor, and everyone is loose and ready to dance.
What’s one of you favourite record finds of recent memory and why?
I’m not sure I could really narrow it down to one but some I’ve been loving recently have been the Streetwalker EP, The Dunkelziffer triple pack from Emotional Rescue, The Spike LP on Golf Channel, Max D’s ‘House Of Woo’ LP and the Valerie Btesh track that finishes off this mix. Why? They’re great!
A tall order, I know, but is there any one record that you just couldn’t live without?
Again, it’s hard to narrow it down to 1 track but as we’re talking about Glasgow, I have to mention Talking Drums ‘Courage’. It’s Glaswegian post-punk afro-pop perfection that I would love to know more about the origins of. If anyone is related to any of the members of the band, please drop me a line.
Who else do you support and enjoy musically in Glasgow?
Hmmmmm… This could take a while, and I apologise in advance to anyone I forget… Silk Cut/Golden Teacher, The Instructional Media crew and Fielding Hope who does the Cry Parrot parties has wonderful taste. He’s definitely in it for the love rather than the free records and trainers. As for DJs, anyone with a broad outlook and a dedication to the good stuff gets my vote. Pro Vinylist Karim, Wrong Island, Optimo, Duncan Harvey, Mother, The Guild, & the young team [Ean, Fergus et al] all have something worthy of both your attention and mine. The best DJ in Glasgow was – of course – James Pole, but he now resides in Amsterdam and is involved with The Redlight Records guys. I imagine he’ll take over the world in the not too distant future.
What inspires you to keep doing what you do?
Great music and a desire for further fun times.