Shout Out to Bridge 48
Updated: Jul 14, 2020
"When I leave this world, I want to have left something for music’s future generations. I’m completely committed to that." This week we shout out to Bridge 48 - a multi-faceted studio and members' club that is quickly becoming the epicentre of electronic music production. Alongside its ever-growing community, a unique magnetism is beckoning some of the biggest names from around the globe; because whilst Bridge 48's frame may vibrate with bass, its heart is pumped by an exceptional creativity. I was fortunate enough to meet Bridge 48's founder Hernan Herrera, who over the last 20 years has played an integral role in cultivating Barcelona's electronic music scene as a producer, DJ and promoter. In 2019, Hernan added to this legacy by founding Bridge 48, and last week he generously took the time to meet me and to share his journey so far. Whether you're an aspiring electronic artist or simply endeavouring to pursue your life's passion, there is a wealth of wisdom to extract from his words and so many moments that will resonate. Because really, at its core, this is a tale of how to get from one side of the bridge to the other...
But! Before we hear from Hernan, let's show you around...
Hernan, I'm so thrilled to be here, I've seen first-hand the invaluable impact that Bridge is having on Barcelona's electronic music scene. As far as I can tell, this is the first studio-sharing space of its type that exists, not just in Barcelona, but anywhere! You’re right! There are studio complexes all over the world, there are music academies, private studios and event spaces... But there is no place that brings all of these elements together. There isn’t a place that unites people from the different sectors within this industry, and at different stages of their career, that combines all of these elements in one place. It’s a space that teaches the professionalisation of our future music creators, and it’s totally unique.
So how did you come up with the idea for Bridge and what inspired you? The idea was really the natural progression and culmination of twenty years in the music industry. First as a music lover, second as a producer, then artist, DJ and promoter. I took my brand all over the world...but my roots are in the studios. So whilst I’ve dealt with the pains and the challenges, I also know how to turn those pains into triumphs. I didn’t want to waste all of that knowledge and all the experience that I have, and I felt compelled to give back to the musicians that are coming through. When I leave this world, I want to have left something for music’s future generations. I’m completely committed to that.
Rodriguez Jnr @ Bridge_Talks
Can you elaborate on the name ‘Bridge.’ Is it just a name? Or is there an underlying meaning to it? Yes, there is definitely a deeper meaning behind it! Firstly, it speaks to me personally... I’d been building my own brand and my career for so many years, I was going at 200 miles an hour, and then suddenly, I just stopped. I felt as though I was standing on the edge of a mountain, staring into the abyss. I wanted to cross to the other side of that mountain, whilst still taking with me all the knowledge I’d gathered, the experiences and the people I’d met so I could continue on my journey. The way I did this was by constructing this Bridge! Secondly, music is an extraordinary element that fuses different artistic expressions. Bridge connects new generations with established artists, and it encourages collaboration between different professions within electronic music; the DJs, producers, audiovisual technicians etc. Bridge isn’t just my dream, but it’s a dream for so many people, so I wanted to help others break down the barriers that I had faced in my life and career. Bridge is helping people to break down these barriers to entry, by giving them knowledge and true accessibility. To be a member at Bridge is very reasonable, and we wanted it that way, because normally it’s very expensive to hire a professional studio, to join the courses, to buy all the gear. Bridge is giving people access to these opportunities, and it will help them to progress on their journey and move forward with their careers.
The 48 is significant too. Of course it’s the street number, but 48 as a number means creativity. It also symbolises the 48 hours that we have on the weekend, the precious time we have to connect with the activities we love; the festivals, the music. We often wait for the weekend to work on our passions because we are perhaps working on another job in the week. All of this combines to tell the story behind the name
It’s an amazing space, did you have a particular type of building in mind for Bridge? I was looking for Bridge’s location for 6 months. I wanted it to be located in 22@, which is Barcelona’s equivalent of Silicon Valley. I love this area (Poble Nou), I live here too, and again, like with the no. 48, I think the stars aligned and the universe brought me here. It’s like there were all these external forces that came together and decided that this needed to be our location. I was looking at smaller locations but now, if I think of Bridge elsewhere, it would be completely different. It wouldn’t have the space to develop all our activities. So all the investment, the risk, was totally worth it. This space is big enough that we can house so many elements under one roof - we have an auditorium for performances, we have classrooms where the new generations of artists are able to learn, we have studios where both new and established artists are recording. Having all of this in one location is extremely powerful Yes, the collaborative nature of the space is amazing, and the ability to learn through osmosis so valuable. Yes, it encourages inspiration and creativity, and co-collaboration between artists, it’s amazing.
The Maceo Plex Studio Within these walls are the synths and drum machines that produced the sounds of Conjure Dreams and Solar Detroit... If that doesn't inspire you, I don't know what will...
"I believe in the saying - if you’re going to go fast go alone, if you’re going to go far, go together."
As DJ Herr you’ve played alongside some of the world’s most eminent DJs and producers. Have they been eager to get involved in Bridge? How? And who?! Well I met some of them playing, but I also booked them when I was an art director of different clubs, so I got to know a lot of these guys from that! For example, when I was the art director at Macarena back in 2009, I booked Maceo Plex, back when he was Maetrik. He played to a crowd of 100 people...and now he’s one of the most talented guys in the world! I met them at the stage of their careers when they weren’t as famous, I followed their careers, and I booked them for events, for different festivals, I trusted them at the beginning, loved their music and saw the talent in them. And I suppose in a way, they want to give back to me. Maceo Plex has donated an amazing studio, Dubfire jumped in as an investor as well, I think he has been trying to add value by giving back to the future generations. Davide Squillace was the first guy to believe in me, and at the time I was working for Martin Buttrich - I was his assistant, of course I was also his tour manager, brother, psychologist...haha,, but from that point Martin Buttrich was the person that changed my life. He’s like a magician in this industry, I think he’s touched by God somehow! He’s so talented, and because of him, I met all these artists, and I received so much validation with him as my mentor. But I think the level of support that I’m receiving is because I trusted them at some point in their careers. They are in love with the project, I think that they see it as something romantic in it, but without their support, this wouldn’t be possible at all. I believe in the saying, If you’re going to go fast go alone, if you’re going to go far, go together. Well it is romantic, because now the community that you helped to grow, is building the space within which others can generate theirs. Yes - I am a real believer in showing gratitude, being grateful in our lives. When you receive a favour, or if life just puts you in a place that means you’re able to achieve what you want, you have to be grateful and do something to pass it on, to try and add value down the line.
What moments of magic have you witnessed at Bridge so far?
It was the week before COVID, and it was probably the most magical week at Bridge so far… It was during Mutek, which is a global festival for electronic music and digital arts. They had chosen us as their headquarters which was amazing. We had a coordinated schedule of events with Mutek, we had seminars, residence programs, then alongside this we had our own training programs for our emerging artists. Our studios were full of people recording; every time you opened the door magic was being made. In the same week, Pioneer was doing a workshop here, Fideles and Drumcode were recording here, and Apollonia was presenting. Then, in the middle of all this craziness, Derrick May showed up! Not only that, but he signed up as a member pretty much as soon as he walked in! He opened up our computer, put his credit card down and said, ‘I want to do this now.’ Really! That’s incredible, for one of the pioneers of techno to offer you such validation must have felt amazing.
Yes it was incredible, when he left he shook my hand and said "Hernan, I wish you the best for this, because the world needs this project and the initiative."
Wow! I know he has spoken about the importance of cultivating these communities before… Yes, because for all of them, it was very hard to develop their careers. We all say, "imagine if we’d had a place like this twenty years ago" with all the equipment, the knowledge, the community, bringing new artists and connecting with established artists and the accessibility. Accessibility to all of this is so important because it isn’t expensive to use our services or to become a member.
So now, with all of this industry support, with the traction and validation, how do you hope that Bridge will continue to evolve?
We want to contribute to Barcelona’s artistic community by making Bridge the epicentre of electronic music production and development, making both Bridge, and by extension Barcelona the world’s epicentre of creative minds. It’s happening already: artists are literally packing up their cars with their equipment and driving here so that they can rent a studio for 2 months to record an album, or to join a course! They’re moving to Barcelona to do that because of Bridge. Fideles came from Italy, Oscar L came from Miami and booked in three courses! Artists are coming from Germany, Netherlands, and Iran. It really shows our potential, that we are pulling in these artists from all over the globe!
So, Bridge has the potential to go global? Yes, we are convinced that we will take this global, the idea is something that is super strong, and the most interesting thing is how the music community has reacted. Everyone is trying to support us somehow, so many artists are trying to contribute to our mission and its values. Taking it back to how it all began - you moved from Argentina to Barcelona in 2001, and you’ve been a key contributor to Barcelona’s electronic music scene for over a decade. Back then, without social media, how did you find a community of fellow musicians and artists? Was it easy to build that community? Barcelona conquered my heart 20 years ago - I came here and immediately fell in love. It's a special community, the social life is great, the values, the creativity, along with the weather and the size of the city, it’s become an epicentre of artistic development, and of course, musicians are drawn to that. But when I was starting my career, 15 years ago, I started with parties on the beach. I would play my records there, at parties for about 10-15 people, and it became bigger and bigger, and In the end we were hosting parties for 15,000 people. But during that time, so, around 2004, we would use SMS - we would take phone numbers from people at the parties, text them the details - the location, the time, and then the community grew and grew!
In your opinion, what does it take to become a successful producer/DJ? Well, don’t just try and make music just for labels, because, well, I guess it’s a question of what success means to you? Is it playing all over the world? I already did that, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re successful. Of course it’s a target to reach and a challenge, but being successful is being happy with what you’re doing. But over the last 20 years this industry has changed so much. As a DJ back in the day, it was hard to find music. To find a record you had to travel all the time and actually hunt through record shops. Being a DJ was really being a DJ. But then the distribution companies and the digitalisation of the music changed the rules of the game. Then later, social media tools changed everything again, because now some artists aren’t necessarily great producers but they are great DJs and also great communicators. They know the power of their image, and how to communicate it to their audience. So nowadays, it isn’t just about the music. You have to be a great DJ, you have to be up-to-date with the tracks, you have to have skills in the studio, to know how to develop your sound, but you also need to take care of the channels that are communicating your music to the world. We are really trying to teach the emerging generations how to do this. But It’s hard now, although it’s easier to make music with all the new technology and opportunity, with that comes more competition.
And how are you helping your members to deal with that competition? All you can do is to stay focused. Focus on making the music, focus on the work, be consistent and work hard. Of course the passion will take you to the next level, but you can be the biggest music lover and still need to work on it. Commitment is so important and that’s what we’re trying to teach the guys and girls here. But of course keep a balance because if you’re obsessive the music won’t come from your soul and it won’t attract people.
And you’re able to help them break through? We are helping to scout new talent here with different programs, and we are able to connect them with established artists. For example, Dubfire launched a mentoring scheme competition at Bridge. Out of 200 artists, he selected 10 to mentor, and then chose 1 to release an album on his label. Because let’s not forget, Dubfire won a Grammy, and we’ve already had 3 artists from Bridge sign up to his label, a Grammy artist’s label! It really shows that our mission is working, and that Bridge itself is working.
You’ve played in some of the most prestigious venues around the world; Fabric, Watergate, Pacha to name a few. If you could have played in one venue during lockdown, where would you have chosen? Well, for me, it’s always about the audience, a piece of art becomes a piece of art when you show it to an audience and they give you feedback. It's very hard because I love playing in London; at Fabric, or at Watergate. Argentina is also an amazing place to play. I played in Crobar and the crowd started singing, someone recorded this video and I heard 3000 people singing! You just won’t hear that in any other place in the world. However, I choose Warung in Brazil, it’s open air, it’s hot, it’s just in front of the beach, and for me it’s one of the best clubs in the world. I love all the rest, they’re all different experiences, but Warung has the weather, the energy, the beach, and I can play deeper there.
THE FINAL VINYL There have been times over the last few months when it felt just a little too apocalyptic. I guess it's what inspired my last question.... It's the 'end of the world' party, you’re lining up your last and final track ever. It's your final vinyl. What would you play?
For me, the last track is super important. It’s how you say thanks, you say goodbye, and people leave the club singing what you played. So the track I’m choosing is by Gustavo Cerati - he died a few years ago - and Daniel Merelo. The track is a remix called, “Vuelta por el Universo.” I used to play this track as the last record, and it’s so beautiful. The lyrics I suppose just represent where I am in my life at the moment!
Thank you so much to Bridge 48 Studios and Hernan Herrera! BG x
If you're an aspiring DJ or Producer, I implore you to check out Bridge 48, I simply can't imagine there's a better place for you to be right now...