Your Questions: What Is Balearic Music?

Privilege Ibiza

Privilege in Ibiza -the biggest club in the world, and a place I've been lucky enough to DJ in. Ibiza is where Balearic began.

Digital DJ Tips reader and forum member DJ Quantum writes: "You mentioned in session three of the How To Digital DJ Fast course a type of music you like to play that is derived from old rock? You called it "Balearic"?

Can you list some examples? Or point me somewhere that has a list? I have a lot of old classic rock, that I think would be fun to try and mix, but I am not familiar with the genre you mentioned at all. I would like to see what I have that would fit and is mixable/danceable.

Digital DJ Tips says:

"Balearic" is a genre named after the Balearic islands and particular Ibiza, where it became popular in the late 80s/early 90s. The genre includes old pop/rock songs that sound good to clubbers, and anything that sounds good in the sunshine - be that because of lush instrumentation, a laid-back beat, or simply lyrics that encourage you to slam another Tequila and celebrate the summer a bit more!

Legend/myth has it that late 80s Ibiza/UK club DJs playing on the island who ran out of club tunes (remember it was all vinyl back then, and there was a scarcity, not a glut, of club-friendly music - especially on an island with one record shop...) started raiding their older tunes - tunes they'd bought before the acid house explosion of 1988, for stuff that worked.

Truth is, though, that DJs like the legendary Alfredo were actually mixing up a truly eclectic bunch of tunes in the clubs for Ibiza's global cosmopolitan crowd as a choice, not as a fall-back.

There's an element of "guilty pleasures" about the genre, for sure. Anything goes - from back in the day, listen to The Cure's "Lullaby", Ace's "How Long (Has this Been Going On"), Talking Heads "Once In a Lifetime". Or, check out more purposefully Balearic tunes like A Man Called Adam's classic "Barefoot In The Head" (on the album pictured here). We're talking traditionally performed songs but which have a smoothness, a groove, and often lyrics, that just work at sunset, on the beach, or simply when you've had your head pounded by EDM for half a weekend and want to hear something less frantic!

Cafe Del Mar 5

The landmark chill-out compilation 'Cafe Del Mar 5', named after the world famous sunset venue in San Antonio, Ibiza.

Now put this stuff into the hands of skilled DJs who know all about mixing club music, and all of a suddden you can get really nicely crafted, flowing DJ sets that go from Carly Simon to the Rolling Stones to Bat For Lashes without dropping a beat. I like to mix these kinds of tunes with very deep house, slo mo disco, half-speed trippy dubstep and DJ Shadow-style hip-hop to produce really varied sets that are full of surprises and are great for chilling out to. This makes it a lot of fun to play, and it really challenges your mixing skills.

To me, anyway, that's Balearic - it's one of the most most intriguing music scenes simply because it is so hard to pin down, and it depends upon taking often pretty uncool source material and crafting it into something that is artistic and unique. But think, sunshine, eclectic, timeless, club sensibility and you're half way there... and think Ibiza, too, where it all began and where it got its name (it's no coincidence that Digital DJ Tips is based in Spain...). I have to admit though that if you haven't experienced dancing to dawn in an Ibiza club with the roof off, Balearic may not make much sense to you! :)

• Check out the DJH Spotify Top 100 Balearic tunes

Is there a musical genre you don't understand? Are you playing a genre nobody else seems to know about? Is there something huge in your city that doesn't seem to be recognised elsewhere? Please enlighten us in the comments!

Comments

  1. I’m all for mixes where the tracks are not nailed down in the same genre and style — like in cooking you need spices and variations.

  2. Dirty Disco Soundsystem says:

    Hear that! DDS crew love genre hopping and mixing along the Balearic lines. That’s our MO…

  3. Try to mix remixed/reworked or re-interpreted versions of classic tunes, stuff from Marvin Gaye to White Stripes to Madonna and MJ… Like Phil said, throw in a bit of slow upbeat house, broken beats and even acid jazz (Brookly Funk Essentials and Jamiroquai come to mind…) and anything with a groove and a mood and that´s it!

    I absolutely love to do such mixes. It also makes up for excellent, cool warm-ups when no one is paying attention, people will flock to the dancefloor with their drinks without even realizing it! I love to play this at dinners and impromptu gigs, like at friends´ b´days, weddings or more VIP, intimate parties.

    And yes, it´s trully the ultimate test of any DJ´s skills, and most of all, musical knowledge and repertoire.

  4. P.S.: Digital DJing is perfect for this since you can have all your music in a PC/iPad, beatgrided, analyzed, BPM´d and ready to rock.

    Loops and harmonic mixing (having your music key) help a lot for mixing since you can extend intros and outros, match (or sync) it and even do live mashups

  5. Robert Wulfman says:

    would Nalin & Kane’s Beachball be considered belaric? I have it labeled as belaric trance and I want to make sure that fits.

    • LOL, it’s one of my favourite tracks, but Balearic is more a mood, a mixing style, as much as individual records… straight dance tunes don’t normally get included in such lists.

  6. Hi Robert , i would lean more to the trance side with that track.

  7. Sistah Cee says:

    I LOVE playing Balearic tunes. I usually play some as part of my warm up sets.

  8. must ad the amazing sounds of roger shah aka ‘sunlounger’ – the trance side of baleric music..

    http://www.rogershah.net/

    thanks for the article..

  9. Nice Article, esp. the myth/legend comment :) Balearic to me, is about being creative, bringing in unexpected tunes in your “regular” mix venturing out of the comfort zone.

  10. Love the balearic sounds, goes well with cosmic disco/norwegian/nu-disco sound.

    Though there are classic indie bands of old that go well like Pixies and Radiohead, recently I found myself listening to some new ‘C86′-esque and Psychedelic bands recently that got me thinking they would suit a ‘balearic’ style set, bands like Tame Impala, Sun Araw, Diiv, Peaking Lights, Beach House. Like Phil says its hard to say a specifc as its just lush sun-drenched feeling and if you find that listening to a record it will prob fit.

  11. First time I ever heard the word “Balearic” was a about 2 years ago with that track “Born Again(Balearic Soul Remix) by Ricky L ft MCK.I thought it was just a word they had made up!! I’ll have to check into this genre,,it sounds like I could use this as warm up set instead of my usual Bossanova House stuff.

  12. I know this article is a year old, but I just had to say that I recently discovered the term “Balearic Beat”, and it has been like the hugest epiphany to me. I’ve been DJing for close to 15 years now, and in all that time, I always pull out the most random songs to mix together. I perpetually live in a state of genre indecisiveness. I’ll jump from Nu Disco, to Glitch-Hop to Afrobeat, to Flamenco Revival, to East Asian Trip-Hop… to just whatever floats my boat at that particular moment in the mix.

    It’s so incredibly refreshing to know there is an entire scene for this kind of genre experimentation. I would be ever grateful if you could possibly point me to some online communities for this style of freeform DJ expression? I’d love to connect with more DJ’s like this.

    And if anyone’s curious, I share all my mixes here: http://www.mixcloud.com/vernianjosh

    Cheers,
    Josh – aka. DJ FACT.50

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