In January 2014, four of us drew up a list. We had this idea for a book. Paul Byrne, Jolyon Green, Phil Mison, and me. We were gonna interview everyone we could think of connected with the birth of the “balearic beat”. We were gonna whack these interviews together with all the White Isle memorabilia that we`d amassed, and “y ahí vas”, we would have THE balearic coffee table tome. Our list was focused largely on DJs – those that had played on the island between the late 1970s and late 1980s. But it also included bar / club owners / promoters, the proprietors of fashion boutiques and record shops, and a few of the characters who had been visiting Ibiza during that time, year in, year out. The list had around thirty names on it. We tracked down and contacted them all, save the ones who had sadly passed away. I`ll be honest, initially the response was poor. Close to zero. So I turned to Leo Mas for help. I said, “Leo, amico mio, do you know any of these people?” He said, “Sure, I know them all. Leave it with me. I put in a good word for you.” And within a week the majority had replied offering their time and help. In the process expanding our potential points of contact out to nearly fifty.
Some of us perhaps – those in love with lists of records – entered the project selfishly with no real goal other than discovering more music – and adding forgotten balearic classics to their own vinyl hoard. But it very quickly became apparent, talking to these DJs, that there was a story here that previously hadn’t been told. We all know that “balearic beat” was born as a marketing term. Coined by Paul Oakenfold and Pete Tong in 1988, in order to sell their comp. And everyone knows the legend, of how Trevor Fung introduced Oakenfold, Nicky Holloway, Johnny Walker, and Danny Rampling – four Englishmen – to Amnesia (and ecstasy) in the summer of `87. How they returned home and evangelically spread the gospel. But this legend leaves out the labour of the French, Italian, Spanish and South American DJs who soundtracked the island’s clubs throughout the 80s. Season after season honing a playlist that produced the classics contained on Balearic Beats Vol. 1. These people – Cirillo, Carlos Diaz, Cesar De Melero, Alfredo Fiorito, Leo Mas, Patrick Michaut, Pippi, Joan Ribas – no one really knew their story. Not only that, but the folks who had influenced them – Massimo “Max” Zucchelli, DJ Gerardo from San Sebastian, Jean Claude Maury – knowledge of their importance was all but lost. Hopefully by publishing this small booklet, a selection of the interviews conducted, we can go some way towards fixing that.
Hopefully, just as I did, you’ll read the interviews, check / cross-reference the playlists and see that no DJ on Ibiza was working in isolation. The balearic beat was no one person`s doing, and it didn’t happen overnight. That within the freedoms provided by Ibiza in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, this sound was pressure-cooked and created by the island`s unique climate of open air clubs, their colourful staff and clientele. It`s super important to remember that from the 50s to the 80s pretty much everyone resident on Ibiza was seeking sanctuary from one form of persecution or another. So the atmosphere was like one huge celebratory sigh of relief. It`s just as important to bear in mind that records were scarce. That the tunes which “worked” didn’t work for just a season but were passed on from DJ to DJ, from club to club, like a musical baton. Creating the eclectic mix that became the island’s beat. Something, in my opinion, that remains defined by both the place, and the time. It also needs to be noted that rivalries and disagreements still exist over who was the first to discover and play certain songs – The Woodentops` Why being a fine example. You have to know that there are egos here. Also that these were hazy, hedonistic days, and nights. So memories might not be as reliable as they could be, and that everyone writes / rewrites their own history anyway. Hopefully by reading the interviews, contradictions and all, you’ll get the picture. Form your own conclusions. It was a conscious decision not to include a foreword, any editorial, only the largely unedited words of those who were actually there, to allow you to do this. To not put my spin on it. But I guess I’m doing that now.
What happened to the bigger book, that definitive tome? Life, really. Situations, priorities shift at such a clip. I’ve got everything crossed that if, with your help, this booklet is a success, that we might see a Part 2, a Part 3, maybe even that bespoke coffee table edition. Man, I`d love that, I really would. But for now I’m more than chuffed that these stories are out there, off my hard-drive, for others to see. Like “the beat” itself this tale is all about context – about circumstance, and passion. For none of the people interviewed was DJing simply a job.
You can purchase a copy of Ibiza DJs 1976 – 1988: A Series Of Interviews from the freshly refurbished Test Pressing website.