What does Balearic mean to you?
DJ and tastemakers closest to the spirit of the original Ibiza scene give us their take.
by Joshua P. Ferguson
By nature, Balearic is deeply personal. It's a time, a place, a music—and not just one style but a confluence that ebbs and flows with the whim of whatever the DJ is feeling at the moment. We've dedicated a lot of space this month to dissecting the eclectic wonder of this legendary movement. We've talked to its supporters, old and new. But whenever you ask, what does Balearic mean to you? You get a slightly different answer.
To highlight the color of each of these individual impressions, we reached out to some of the DJs, writers, and tastemakers who embrace the early spirit of Balearic music which DJ Alfredo and José Padilla helped create and asked them all this same question. Here's what they had to say.
"Balearic always meant to me what José and Alfredo started years ago, not being locked into one genre, playing great music of all styles and tempos. So, it’s more of an approach to music than a sound, but there is a certain something that makes me identify a track as being Balearic. It’s that magical ingredient that I cant quite put my finger on."
— Pete Gooding, producer, radio host, talent manager, and Café Mambo resident
"Personally I associate the term primarily with music. Breezy, positive, summery, dreamy and Mediterranean are some terms that spring to my mind. Music that creates joy and helps to put one's mind at ease."
— Lexx (Kawabata), DJ, music consultant, producer for Running Back, Permanent Vacation, Claremont 56 among others
"DJ Alfredo says it all for me here, 'My definition of Balearic: it's a music mostly eclectic, happy, sexy, not cheesy, that gets its roots in the origins of dance music and flourishes on the dancefloor, as a sound that makes you forget genres or categories and you just enjoy it, listen to it, dancing and sharing it.' Beat poetic, but real!"
— Paul Byrne (Apiento), writer, producer, and one of the creative minds behind Testpressing.org, a website dedicate to good music on the Balearic side of life
"As a term, Balearic has been bandied about so much—often in half-jest—I'm not sure it really means anything anymore, apart from to a few hardcore aficionados who still live by the spirit of '80s Ibiza. If it means anything, to me, it's a spirit of openness to different styles of music, tempos, approaches, that could range from a Carl Craig remix to the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. The original Balearic DJs played in the way that they did, because they were often playing for ten-hour stretches at a time and had limited access to new music, so they had to use what tools they had to hand to entertain people and dancefloors. A lot of the music they played did have a certain vibe to it, often with Spanglish guitars, loose percussion and slightly pop vocals, that you can hear right down the years from Elkin & Nelson to the Woodentops and through to tunes like "Sing It Back" by Moloko. However, I don't think there are many people left in Ibiza itself who give a fuck about that original spirit and attitude. It's pretty much all been destroyed by British promoters and corporate greed."
— Bill Brewster, DJ, music historian, found of djhistory.com, and author of Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
"Balearic has always been about a feeling, that fuzzy buzz that you get when music just takes you, makes you feel really good. It's a DJ's excuse for playing great music whatever the genre. It's sunshine on wax, or in digital bits, it's deliberately impossible to define; that makes it possible to keep changing and keep playing whatever works."