Rune Lindbæk is someone who certainly doesn’t need his balearic credentials tested. From making Norway`s first, consciously balearic album – Alanïa`s Instinctive Travels – back in 1996, with Sven Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland of Royksopp, to his “eclectic” XFM radio shows in cahoots with Nuphonic. To working with fellow countrymen Hans-Peter Lindstrom, Bjorn Torske, Double vocalist, Kurt Maloo, Seahawks, Chris Coco, remixing Mudd, releasing records with Balearic Mike Smith. Together with Oyvind Blikstad he transformed Coyote`s San Raphael into a modern Mediterranean dance floor masterpiece. Founding his own Drum Island imprint way back when, its recent output focuses on promoting new Norwegian artists who keep that “balearic” vibe alive.
Flaunting these credentials, Rune`s new E.P. takes its name from the traditional Ibicenco liquor, Hierbas. Rocket fuel concocted from chamomile, fennel, juniper, lavender, rosemary, thyme, whatever `erbs are to hand. San Agustin is a short of Cafe Del Mar ambience constructed from a fanfare of Vangelis-esque synths. The wonky, eavesdropped sound collage of Grisefest could be an outtake from Pink Floyd`s score for Barbet Schroeder`s More. Mina Musica is Euro-housed up, big room beat banging, full moon-dancing, to a cool and breezy jazz guitar. Breaking down to that guitar alone, before kicking back in – Italo arpeggio, swooning strings, did I hear a harp? – and punching the air once again. The title track mixes disco high-hats and handclaps, punk funk bass-line and cowbell, with acoustic strum and ethereal angels. The sirens of Es Vedra.
Despite all of this, you know what, I tested him anyway.
When did you first become aware of the term balearic / balearic beat?
I found the Electra Jibaro 7″ in a shop in my hometown, Tromsø, in Northern Norway in 1988, and this lead me to the Balearic Beats Vol. 1 LP. The illustrator David Little put the words Balearic and Beat on the cover. These are to me some of the most iconic balearic images ever. Balearic maestro Moonboots has the original poster on his wall.
Did you DJ at, or attend, any parties that you would describe as balearic?
I used to frequent Manchester a lot in the 90’s and always went straight to the record shop Eastern Bloc’s downbeat and balearic section. My mate Bjørn Torske and I talked for years about inviting said Moonboots, who was “Mr. Balearic” there, to do a party with us in Norway but back then our organizing skills were limited.
Then in around 1998, I discovered Rob Da Bank´s strangely forgotten Sunday Best parties that ran in South London for years. I ended up playing there often. The whole Sunday Best crew took me to their heart and I had 7 of them visiting me on a mad winter trip over from London, staying in my flat in Oslo. They were the ones that held the balearic torch high in this middle period between those originators and now. It was so much fun!
Does your own eclecticism come more from balearic / balearic beat or afro / cosmic?
Right now I´m making some music with my friend Andrea Dama, as Tarantismo, in his mum Georgina´s lovely old farmhouse in the countryside – just outside the Italian village Gamberra in Brescia where Beppe Loda was resident DJ at the Typhoon Club in the 80’s – so that has been extra inspiring lately. But my musical landscape is so wide that I wouldn’t limit my eclecticism to any one, two, or three, genres.
Do you see balearic / balearic beat simply as one of many genres that you can cherry-pick from for sets?
That depends on where you’re DJing. If you´re playing in a sweaty basement in Berlin at 5 o´clock in the morning you might not reach for The Penguin Cafe Orchestra or Moments In Love – but if you drop William Pitt`s City Lights at the right time of night.. Magic.
In 2020 is balearic / balearic beat relevant as a term? Is it simply eclecticism?
Do you attend any current parties that you describe as balearic?
I annually go to my old chum DJ Harvey’s Mercury Rising closing party at Pikes in Ibiza – and I would say last year`s pre-party by the pool – the location of Wham’s Club Tropicana music video – with Camilo Miranda and Luca Averna was as balearic as it gets.
There was also a gig last year, a festival in the sun by the sea on the Estonian island of Saarema, with the Tallinn crew which was a balearic party with a nice Northern European twist. Although the music originally comes from the White Island, it has spread and mutated, and I like to think that we have added a little hint of melancholy into the mix, here in the north. Look out for the Kolonien Festival in Gothenburg’s archipelago this summer.
Are there any current labels, DJs or artists that you would describe as balearic?
Too many to mention – but big up to the lot of you! I’m glad to see that there is some beautiful music being made locally, and I’m trying to capture this with my ongoing Sommer – Ambient, Balearic & New Age From Norway compilation series on Drum Island Records. The third installment is on its way later in the year.
Everyone`s idea of balearic is different…one person’s poison is another’s…..but could you please if possible provide me with the names of three classic balearic tracks and three new tracks that you would classify as balearic?
Oh, there are so many but I would say these are pretty classic from a Nordic perspective:
Björn J:son Lindh – Transea
Back from the time when my Swedish friends couldn’t understand why I was hoarding Ralph Lundsteen and Björn J:son Lindh LPs when ever I visited their country. They were truly uncool there then.
Klaus Schønning – Strandbølger
A Danish genius who made some fantastic music in the `70s.
Tobben & Ero – Den Dag Kjem Aldri
Two Tromsø lads that made this midnight sun classic. Dagene Er Blitt Så Alt For Lange is another one from this duo.
The new lot…..
Telephones – 147 Stars
Henning “Telephones” Severud is a true gentleman from Fana outside Bergen and we lived near each other in the pre-gentrified Neukölln in Berlin a few years back. This is the opening track from his Vibe Telemetry debut album – which was made in his studio with my big old kitsch safari style carpet as a centre point, hopefuly helping with the vibe.
Helene Rickhard & Thomas Grødal – Helo
Helene is Oslo’s best new age and balearic DJ – and part of the Cosmic Oslo crew. Thomas is an accomplished painter. They´ve been making music together for 25 years – ranging from strange ambient to italo and rave – and this is a track from the Helene Rickhard & Thomas Grødal E.P. on my Drum Island Records.
Idjut Boys – Another Bird
London´s Conrad McDonnell and Oslo-based Dan Tyler from the Idjut Boys are two of the best guys on the planet, and I’ve been blessed in being able to make music with them for years. They made this loveliness on Smalltown Supersound. Joakim, who runs the label, has often been drawn to the darker side of music but he’s gotten deeper into balearic lately. Times are changing!
Rune Lindbæk`s Hierbas E.P. is out now on Drum Island. The best place to purchase and listen is probably over at Juno.