How Denis Sulta Found Inner Peace Through Dance Music

Apr 26, 2023

Harry Levin

3 min read

The idea of artists of all disciplines using monikers has always been a cornerstone of the craft. For example, the celebrated author George Orwell was the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair. The new wave innovator Elvis Costello is actually named Declan Patrick MacManus. And the house and techno stalwart Denis Sulta was born Hector Barbour.

Considering these artist monikers are really just other regular-sounding names, it’s not so clear why they would make the change in the first place. Perhaps to conceal their true identities or have a name more dulcet in its oration?

In the case of Hector Barbour, Denis Sulta is a different side of his personality entirely, and that’s not always a good thing.

“For a long time, I was cross-eyed and Denis was always at the end of the seat and following me. I couldn’t prove it but I had in my head that he was bad news. He always used to knock on the door, and I’d never answer. Eventually, I opened the door and we had a chat, and I realized the bad news I was expecting wasn’t a valid thing to believe. It takes a long time to be OK with who it is you think you want to be. Now that I feel OK about who we are together, that feels fucking great,” Barbour told Mixmag in 2019.

Mental health is a vital conversation in the arts, especially when it comes to music. Hector Barbour isn’t the one touring the world playing hundreds of gigs a year. That’s Denis Sulta. That’s the face and name Barbour puts out into the world.

As such, Denis Sulta is the one who has to deal with the endless travel in the life of a touring musician. He has to be in situations where drugs and alcohol are ever-present. He has to take in the polarizing highs and lows of one minute being surrounded by screaming fans and then the next completely alone in a hotel room, lucky to get four hours of sleep before heading to the airport to do it all again.

What Barbour demonstrates through this separation of Sulta and himself, is that it takes time and patience to find that balance. The life of an artist is not easy, and it is not for everyone. Finding a way to cope with the realities of that life is something every artist must face, but he’s proven that it is something every artist can conquer.

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