You lucky bleeders. Ahead of this Saturday’s Balearic Legends special we asked veryverywrongindeed boss and resident Tim Sheridan to take time out from his sun lounger in Ibiza and speak to our two legendary guests. He asks some questions to help us understand the concept behind this one-off special event. “Balearic” doesn’t just describe the group of islands that Ibiza is part of, it is a sound. It is a feeling. And these two guys started it all over 3 decades ago…
MoS: Hello Gentlemen. Can you describe who you are, and where you are from?
Alfredo: My name is Alfredo, I’m a DJ whose work has been based in Ibiza for more than 30 years. I was born in Argentina, and moved to the island in 1976. I became a DJ in 1983, and my first professional work was in Amnesia.
Leo: Hi all, I'm Leo Mas. I'm a music lover, DJ, vinyl collector and producer. I started my career in DJing in 1985 alongside Alfredo at Amnesia in Ibiza. I'm Italian, and live in Milan.
Going to start with a very basic one for the younger readers. What does “Balearic” mean? As a sound?
A: Balearic for me its a way to play and to make music, based upon freedom, eclecticism and an open mind. Of course, it is elementary that you must also have good taste.
L: In ibiza, in the 1980s, we played music coming from many European countries; Italy, France, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and the US and Japan too. Which is something English DJs did not do at that time. The British DJs played mostly music from the US and UK. Then after the summer of 1987, they began to buy more and more European music, and House Music from the US. Balearic for me means playing quality music with freedom and fun. With eclecticism. Music without frontiers, from Erik Satie to Front 242.
Do you think that term ‘Balearic’ has gone out of control?
A: Its a bit overused, but most concepts and genres are out of control.
L: Being a term that embraces so many genres it is easy to confuse Balearic with something that it is not. In recent years you hear a lot about Balearic, much more so than a decade ago. Many think that Balearic is just playing music for sunsets. But that's called “Chill Out”. Balearic is playing Synth Pop, Indie, Funk, Disco, Afro, Reggae, Latin, Brazilian, Pop, Wave, Jazz, Ambient, Soundtracks... Alfredo and I first saw the phrase “Balearic Beat” in September 1988. It was the title of the compilation “Balearic Beat Vol 1”. Paul Oakenfold brought the record to us in Amnesia. Seeing the tracklist we understood that the London DJs that came first time to Amnesia in ’87, Paul, Danny Rampling, Nicky Holloway, Johnny Walker, and Nancy Noise (she was already at Amnesia in 1986), created this name for the sound Alfredo and I played in Ibiza. In order not to create more confusion, one should always ask the DJs of that period whether a track is Balearic or not! [laughs].
Has it lost it’s meaning?
A: No, not if you understand Balearic as I, and many people do.
L: I do not think it has lost it’s meaning in Ibiza. Since 1990 clubs have been invaded by DJs and PRs. English, also from Germany, Italy, France... and the club world has become a global industry. There are two small but beautiful entities, “Pikes” and “Hostal La Torre”, where the original spirit of the Balearic Beat lives. When I am in Ibiza, I like to play at these two places.
What do you think about all the hundreds of Balearic DJs that have appeared in recent years?
A: Balearic has a great appeal to young generations, because they are looking for something new. That is why so many young DJs like to be labeled Balearic. Also, of course, they are some people that just jump into the boat, knowing very little about it.
L: I'm fine with it. I'm glad they have so much passion and interest in what will be remembered as the world’s greatest musical revolution. One that has influenced and changed all the clubs in the world. 1987 was ‘Year Zero’. Since then the clubs were no longer the same. House Music appeared more and more in the clubs. The way of celebrating the night became more and more in the style of Ibiza. This continues to this day. This year we celebrate the 30th anniversary.
I know you both as working DJs, I have seen you in many situations. Do you think these Balearic fans really understand what it is to be a working DJ?
A: I have no idea, probably not.
L: I do not know if people understand the work behind a DJ set. To dance. To entertain people, it’s very important. It is a great responsibility. But a DJ’s work is not just what you see in the Club. That is the concluding moment of a job that begins much earlier. The most important work is to select the music to play. Know where to go buy the music you like. I spent hours and hours in record shops, in vinyl import stores, often in vinyl shops in the cities where I was playing. Since 1989 I started taking airplanes. To go to London or NYC, to buy vinyl. It is even more convenient today, you can do it from your laptop. But you need to know the online stores that have what you like and always suggest something interesting. Then spend hours listening. To choose and to create your own personal style. This work can not be to copy the playlists of DJ you like, by looking at the list of your preferred genre’s 100 most popular. It is much better to have a variety of genres. For me the most interesting thing in listening to a DJ is to understand the sounds. What is its musical culture? A DJ understands what a record sounds like, and from what it sounds like you then understand it’s cultural significance. Culture makes you grow, it is very important.
New DJs care a lot about vinyl. Is it important?
A: It was the way I started. With vinyl, and I love it. But times change and also technologies. At the present moment there is plenty of new support for the music, and I personally consider that we can use technology any way we like. For some people maybe vinyl has become too expensive, or too heavy to transport. Anyway, taste and the knowledge to mix the music is still an art form, whatever you use to do it.
L: I buy vinyl, then I convert into digital files. I also buy things from Beatport and Bandcamp in digital form. Then because I am lucky, many labels send me the files of their releases. It makes me very happy that young people buy vinyl. Spend money on music! It makes you appreciate more what you've bought. If you download free music just to accumulate thousands of files, it puts you in the position of giving less gravitas to what you listen to. Because you did not pay for it. Even then, your interest will be on the amount of music, not on quality. Even when I make productions I always want there to be a vinyl release. It's great to have the product of your work physically in your hands. But I always think that it's not really all that important. Just support the music you like. The vinyl/digital controversy is something for young people to worry about.
Is “Balearic” maybe only an English concept?
A: It is fundamentally an English concept, that just happened to become popular around the world.
L: At the beginning I would say yes. Now there are Balearic enthusiasts in Japan, Montenegro, Denmark, Australia, Germany, Indonesia, Croatia, Italy, Sweden etc. etc.
Have you both played back to back before?
A: Yes, and I enjoy it a lot. Not many people know that Leo and I met 33 years ago!
L: Alfredo and I played the first time back to back five years ago at the 25th Anniversary of Shoom. For Danny Rampling in London.
When was the last time you played at Ministry of Sound?
A: A long time ago, with my son Jaime Fiorito. I don't remember when exactly, but years ago.
L: I think it was in 2001 (The first time in 1992).
It is great to have you back. Where is your favourite place to work?
L: Ibiza. The original open-air Amnesia in the second half of the eighties. Something unique and unforgettable. Sadly no longer there.
Is there a DJ you would go to hear?
A: A few. Black Coffee. And my son Jaime playing in a good club, for example.
L: I played with many of the most important DJs of the last thirty years. Certainly there are many DJs that I do not know and that I would love to hear. I just can’t name them for you.
Do you have any advice for young DJs?
A: Enjoy your time. Play what you like. This thing is not forever.
L: The best advice is to lovingly cultivate your passion for music. To create one's own culture and musical tastes. To be brave, and to believe… always.