Despite the worldwide crisis, Italy’s Hell Yeah! have had a hectic year. Operating for well over a decade, in 2020, regardless of lockdowns and physical restrictions they remained positive and were relentless with their releases – consolidating and cementing a sound that for many has in part come to define “modern balearic”. To my ears at least their catalogue and artists serve as inspiration to a scene of smaller, younger labels, such as Eclectics, Higher Love Recordings, and Modern Manners. Digital highlights from the imprint included E.P.`s by My Friend Dario – Tora / Kiki – and Gallo – Small Things. The latter containing a cracking remix by The Balearic Gabba Sound System. Then, seemingly out of nowhere was the energetic EBM of Brazilian new-comer, Pedro Bertho. On vinyl there was Max Essa`s epic Great Adventure, and Quiroga`s remixed Re:Passages. Periodica`s Whodamanny produced a take on Martinica Feelings that turned a lot of heads, while for me My Friend Dario`s rework of Chiaia Sunset was the one. Fukagawa Kiyotaka aka Calm, also turned in a 12 of revisions. Personally it was his “Still Dreaming” mix of Kenkou`s Everlasting Dreams that truly shone. The big news though was the boss compilation, Buena Onda Balearic Beats – a showcase for the label, their artists, and their long-running, now Berlin-based, club night.
Words and selections by Hell Yeah!`s Marco Gallerani.
I spent my year in a retrospective mood. I filed and sorted out old records, listened to old records – and checked new music – as I never have done before in my life. After 3 months away in Asia I came back home last January with “even” more confidence in my records – and so during these last 12 months I’ve practiced my horrible mixing skills. You know, if it will happen again to DJ, making some tight beat-matching here and there would be a nice achievement (laughs).
Could you give me a few pieces of music, released or reissued this year, that have helped you make it through 2020?
Smagghe & Cross – Lincolnshire Poacher
This was the first record I bought in 2020… I bought it without listening since I am a hardcore Ivan Smagghe fan. This little tune, its loopy mood, the random numbers, the melancholic piano reprises, this is 2020 in one track for me.
Along with Cantoma’s Into the Daylight album, this was the balearic sound of the first lockdown. Hear & Now’s sophomore record is their best work to date in my opinion. I love this tune – it`s kinda Gigi D’agostino lento / violento concept gone totally balearic. Maybe this description doesn’t give justice to the tune. A Balearic Gabba classic.
My brother Gallo and me have many projects planned for our Berlin balearic entertainment concept Buena Onda. To date we have only have been able to release the compilation, cassette, and vinyl sampler. In amongst all the fantastic tracks, I was thrilled to release this majestic Lucas Croon’s suite. He’s definitely one of the most interesting producers out there.
Right now the Buena Onda activities are on hold due to our situation, but we have teamed up with Music For Dreams Radio for a series of monthly Buena Onda Sessions curated by Gallo.
Fishmans – Atarashii Hito
My senpai Calm-san reacted to the pandemic situation in fine style by posting weekly deadly chill selections up on his mixcloud. Needless to say I’ve discovered some amazing tunes and he has opened many new listening doors, like this one.
I am happy to see My Friend Dario on the balearic map now. Dario is a trained musician / producer but his balearic approach to electronic music is still very fresh, pure and prolific… Props to Phat Phil Cooper at NuNorthern Soul for helping us to share the vibes.
deadbundy – Lorenz (Calm Extended Mix)
Summer tune at Casa Gallerani.
Reuben Vaun Smith – Open Chakras
Like many of us, I’m loving this new talent’s album on Soundway. I got into it through this tune. I don’t remember where I’ve heard it first but that melody, those hooks. Music for Balconies. Hands in the air stuff!!!
Lauer & Skatebard – Volpi Polari
More hands in the air – dancefloor tune of the year! Bjorn Torske rocked this anthem at our Hell Yeah! party at Tangram in Perugia last February 29th – that was my final clubbing experience of 2020.
Action Bronson`s Only For Dolphins album is very good – it prompted me to listen again to a lot of old / new hip-hop and beats, especially instrumentals by Harry Fraud and The Alchemist`s Yacht Rock2 instrumentals
Martin Rev – Venise (Early Version)
The last record I bought in 2020… Venise has been on repeat ever since.
All being well what plans do you have for 2021?
Between postponed releases and searching for new music, we are busy as always. It’s obvious that niche record labels will have hard days ahead without the the help of parties, club nights, any social activities – but let’s keep our fingers crossed and keep pushing forwards.
I recently realized that on November 22nd 2006 I released the first Hell Yeah single – Luca Baldini`s Hermann Der Rammler, with a Radio Slave remix – so in 2021 we celebrate 15 years of Hell Yeah! Recordings. On top of that, personally, I will have a total of 25 years in the record business. I will plan something special… but at the moment I’m not in the mood to party at all.
Due to a production delay the mixtape Bjorn Torske made – blending only Hell Yeah catalogue – will be out in the early days of February and should be filed as the first of the above mentioned celebrations. There will be 12″ E.P.s by Ibiza legends WIllie Graff & Tuccillo, Perugia legends in the making Aura Safari, and a radio friendly 7″ produced by Riccio under his Jazz N Palms project. There is another 7″ planned – by Italian-kraut-something dream-duo Cacao. We also have albums confirmed albums from The Vendetta Suite and Sergio Messina & The Four Twenties.
Is there any way that I, we, others, can help and assist you in achieving these goals? Are you looking for partners for any forthcoming activities?
Hell Yeah Tribe is our Bandcamp subscription system. I’m not a fan a of fund campaigns for records so I think this monthly subscription is a fair, real cool idea to make everyone happy.
Also, If you are reading and make music, maybe you want to contribute a tune or two to the next volume of Buena Onda Balearic Beats… me and Gallo are collecting ideas, so please get in touch.
You can check out the catalogue and subscribe to the Hell Yeah Tribe over at Bandcamp. They have a new 12 in shops by Willie Graff & Tuccillo – New Dreams – more about that next week – and a marvelous mixtape lined up from Norwegian institution, Bjorn Torkse.