Interview / Jose Manuel / Harmonie Exotic

DJ / producer Jose Manuel has been around for a while now. For over a decade his music has danced at the crossroads of afro / cosmic / balearic as he’s created his own global network. Releasing music on labels such as Clandestino, Is It Balearic?, Kinfolk, and NuNorthern Soul – as well as his own imprint, Black Pepper. Bilimbosa from his 2016 LP, Excursion Africanism, on Music For Dreams, certainly got a lot of plays from me. 

Last year Jose launched his reissue imprint, Harmonie Exotic, and last week saw its second release – the well cosmic, sometimes balearic compilation, Magic Carpet. 

I always assumed Jose was Spanish, but then Jose isn’t his real name….

Where are you from, and where are you based?

I’m from Italy, but based in Berlin. I moved here because of the club scene. 

What inspired you to start DJing?

DJing started by chance. At 15 years old I found myself playing in a mountain resort. I DJed at Discoteca Tabata in Sestriere, and Black Sun in San Sicario – two mountain destinations near Turin in Northern Italy.

Discoteca Tabata

Tabata Club in Sestriere

Your music kind of overlaps between cosmic and balearic. When did you first discover Baldelli, Loda, afro and cosmic? What was your introduction to Balearic?

I`ve been listening to Baldelli and Loda since I was a kid. The tapes were given to me by friends and fellow DJs.I`ve always loved the afro / cosmic style of music. My introduction to balearic was really the Jose Padilla / Cafe Del Mar end of things – through listening to new age and world music. 

You`re pretty well “balearic networked” – with releases on Is It Balearic? Kinfolk, Music For Dreams, Dennis Kane`s Disques Sinthomme, Joe`s Bakery, Steve Lee`s Above Machine, NuNorthern Soul, and Clandestino. How did all these connections come about?

As soon as I finish a piece of music I send it out to labels who I think might like it. This is the way all the collaborations you`ve mentioned were born.

What inspired you to start making music?

My inspiration? It was instinct. I think that’s the right word. It could also be the shiva canvas I have in front of me and the incense that`s burning, sending me good signals.

What kind of equipment did you have when you started and what equipment do you have now?

I`ve always used Cubase – with a lot of plugins. Then it depends on the song. For example, on Excursion Africanism I used a lot of live percussion. I still use Cubase, but I now I also have a drum machine – a Yamaha RY30 – and a Berimbau – a Brazilian instrument. 

How would you describe your sound?

When someone asks me what music I do, I never know how to answer (laughs).  Cosmic, disco, slo-mo disco, oriental disco, electronic world music … so maybe an “exotic cocktail”.

Do you have any DJ residences?

I often play at amazing party called The House Of Red Doors at Wilden Renate in Berlin.

Red Doors at Wilden Renate

Are there any good listening bars near you?

Yes, sure. There is Bohnengold, and Sameheads, in Berlin. 

Bohnengold

Bohnengold

Sameheads

Sameheads

Can you tell me something about the compilation, Magic Carpet? Is there a theme? How long did it take to pull the selection together?

The compilation was hard work. It took about a year to license everything. The labels that originally released these songs were small, so it was very complicated – tracking them done – but now I’m very happy and satisfied.

The selections are pretty obscure and from diverse sources. Would you describe yourself as a “digger”? Do you buy a lot of vinyl?

Yes, I am a ” Digger”. I have the addiction, the need to buy and look for vinyl.

Can you tell me something about the new label, Harmonie Exotic? Will this be focused on reissues – the Alex Dorothée is really nice – or both old and new music

Thanks for the appreciation for the Alex Dorothee reissue. Yes, Harmonie Exotic is focused only on reissues, but soon there will be a new label – the sister of Harmonie Exotic which will be focused on new music (laughs). 

When can we expect some new music from you, the next Jose Manuel release? 

My next release, with remixes by Front de Cadeaux and Alterleo will be out soon on Kinfolk. 

Jose Manuel’s compilation, Magic Carpet, is out now on Harmonie Exotic. You can order a copy from Wordandsound. 

Magic-Carpet_layout_Front_Back (2)

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