Kris "Wuki" Barman: a fresh direction in familiar territory
There’s a lot to be said about a market that attracts talent rather than push it away. Denver’s funny that way. The true artist realizes our city’s potential and helps build the creative oasis we’ve carved into the desolate area. Denver’s secluded watering hole of entertainment magnetizes creatives in pursuit of higher accord.
Pennsylvania born and bred creative Kris Barman looks to be one of those imaginative transplants. Once one-third of the nationally acclaimed electro-rock act Innerpartysystem, last year Barman moved to Colorado while rebranding stylistically as a musician, pursuing the electronic avenue harder without his IPS counterparts. He now goes by his DJ stage name Wuki and hosts channel 93.3’s long-standing late Thursday night institution E-Leven.
“With Innerpartysystem, we played here all the time,” Wuki says. “This was definitely one of our best markets. We always got really cool random shows, and would be here all the time anyway. I fell in love with it. I really wanted to move and I didn’t want to move to LA so I just decided, well…Denver it is.”
Innerpartysystem became like local blood here with successful shows and an intensely steadfast fan base. The transfer from alt-electro-rocker to DJ, however, didn’t guarantee a built-in following for Wuki.
“To be honest a lot of the IPS fans are not down with the electronic music,” says Wuki. “They’re pretty hardcore rock people. There are some electronic kids, but IPS fans were all over the board. I’d post (my stuff) on the IPS Facebook sometimes, and then of course I’d get the hate messages about it ‘not being IPS and you guys should get back together,’ blah blah blah.”
Even so, the electro-heavy dance sound was something that had come out of the IPS camp during its peak run anyways. Wuki says he did most of the programming and Innerpartysystem labeled remixes during downtime on tour, and they distinctly hold the same kind of characterization as his current work.
“That’s the funny thing, it’s really not that much different when you look at the span of our remixes,” explains Wuki of the irony. “People get attached to what we were though, and then I’d go do some goofy EDM and people wouldn’t get it.”
As a musician Wuki says he had always hovered around the technical side of the scale performing one-offs as time permitted, so the bridge to gap wasn’t long.
“I started DJing during Innerpartysystem,” he said. “Jared (Piccone) and I would go do IPS DJ sets. We were really into electronic music then and were doing remixes. The transition wasn’t so hard as it was to rebrand myself. I went from being an established artist to basically nothing.“
A big part of the rebranding effort, he adds, was to immerse himself in the deep-rooted EDM world and basically start from point A and traverse within unknown territory. As it sometimes goes, it never hurts to have the right friends in the right places to boost the process.
“After IPS I kept in contact with Nerf (program director for 93.3 KTCL) because he’s a good dude,” says Wuki. “After about 6 months passed someone left the station and he asked me if I wanted to do E-Leven – it just kind of fell in my lap.”
The new, weekly gig serves not only as an opportunity for him to discover new artists, but to be able to help out a community that’s given him so much in the past.
“I have pretty free reign,” says Wuki, “but I want to keep some Colorado artists in the playlist because 93.3 does a lot of local artist promotion anyways; so I want to stay true to that. Also, if there’s DJs in town, I’ll try and promote them.”
Alongside the new radio gig, Wuki has been laying out tracks through multiple sources. He’s released on notable labels such as Ultra, Dim Mak, Main Course, Warpath Group and Teenage Riot Records. He says that the abundance of releases from so many labels isn’t all that uncommon because of his trial and error routine.
“I’m kind of a weird case because honestly I’ve been trying to find my sound for the last few years,” says Wuki. “The best producers out there, in my book, are the ones you know after listening to a song for 5 seconds. I’ve been trying to pick out my niche. I think I’m finally, finally getting there. In that process I made a bunch of different types of tunes. I made like a heavy-ass, electro house tune. I made some weird dubstep one that was out on Ultra - so it’s kind of been all over the board.
“For that reason there’s been so many labels. Now I’m pretty defined on where I’m going, though. I’m really into this booty-music thing I’m doing and getting into more of a techy house deal.”
The sound was something that caught the ears of the right people and landed him a signature opportunity on some very important papers. Wuki is currently a client of the OWSLA family - a label best known because of its love-him-or-hate-him founder, Sonny “Skrillex” Moore.
His next venture titled the “Framework EP” will be 5 tracks, including 4 originals and one VIP (Varied In Production) remix. OWSLA plans to release it sometime early this month.
“The EP is all completely original,” he says. “No samples. Well…no, I sampled my girlfriend, that’s about it.”
No, he’ll never have the privilege of driving around town with a dopey “NATIVE” sticker on his back bumper, but he deserves an ample amount of Colorado hospitality all the same. Listen for Wuki every Thursday night on channel 93.3 FM’s “E-Leven” from 11:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. and be sure to follow his platforms for releases and upcoming shows.