Your Questions: What Is Balearic Music?

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Balearic Balearic Beat Balearic Islands Chill-out Music Club Music ibiza music Privilege Ibiza
Last updated 3 August, 2017

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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!