We sit down with Balearic Mike to quiz him about music, travel and all things balearic.
An introduction, please … who are you, where are you, and what pays the bills?
I’m Balearic Mike, I currently reside in Hove (actually), a 10 minute walk from the beautiful Brighton beach. We’ve been here for nearly 4 years but prior to that Manchester was my home for over 2 decades. For about 20 years I paid the bills by working in a specialist record shop in Manchester called Vinyl Exchange, then 8 years ago I took a bit of a left turn and began working in libraries. DJing has always just been a nice bonus to having a lot of records, although I did my first gig when I was about 15. I currently work for the University of Sussex in their library. So in order to pay the bills I’m a librarian by day and a DJ by night…
Where was the mix recorded, and what is the inspiration behind it?
It was recorded at home on 2 x Technics 1200, a Pioneer CDJ 1000 and an Allen & Heath Xone64 mixer. I usually record straight to CD on a pioneer CD recorder, but as this was going to be a long mix I recorded directly into my Mac using Audacity. It was inspired by some of the places I’ve visited this year, both holidaying and DJing, hence the title and slightly horizontal mood of the mix. I also wanted to include a lot of new music from this year, as well as older stuff I’ve dug out again, and I suppose the end of the mix is more of a reflection on some of the sadder events of the last 12 months as well, with a definite tribute to David Mancuso’s Loft. I think it’s been a pretty shocking year on many fronts for most people, so it’s great that music can help us transcend all that, at least momentarily.
Strictly vinyl? Strictly digital? Couldn’t care less?
I do care, but not so as to be an arse about it! I always buy records, hardly ever buy CDs or digital, but I DJ mainly with CDs now. I love records dearly. The way they sound, the way they look, the scale of them, the smell of them, the artwork, the gatefold sleeve, the full colour insert, the label art – EVERYTHING. But CD and digital is just more practical to DJ (and travel) with. I DJ regularly with Kelvin Andrews under our Down To The Sea And Back moniker, who is also a vinyl junkie. He’s been DJing digitally with tracktor for about 6 years now. I think it’s fine as long as you don’t let the technology define your style – which sadly some do – but he doesn’t. I think the important thing is that it’s still the DJ’s responsibility to present the music in the best way possible to an audience. Back when we all used vinyl that meant finding the best / loudest pressing of something you could, hence DJ’s obsession with the 12” single and original pressings, or 45’s over LP cuts. Nowadays DJ’s should still be striving for that, so finding the best digital copy you can matters (i.e. no playing bloody mp3s – even 320’s sound shit!). With laptop DJing you can actually get even better quality sound than CD as CD is 16 bit and a few DJs I know use 24 bit WAVs when DJing from laptop.
‘Balearic’, seems to be a somewhat overused term these days, but if you had to – and we are asking you to – describe the essence of ‘Balearic’ in one record?
Favourite place you’ve travelled to? And why?
San Francisco, California – it’s like Brighton, but on ecstasy. Wonderful location and geography, climate, architecture, people, attitude. Just incredible. Favourite place I travelled to this year would be a hard choice between the Cyclades and New York City – both totally different, but beautiful in their very different ways. Sunset or Sunrise? And the best place to experience it? I love both! Best place for sunset is anyplace warm, with a view of the sea, my wife by my side and a cold drink in my hand. A pleasant soundtrack would be a bonus. Sunset over the Pacific at Big Sur in California is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. Much the same goes for a sunrise actually, although sunrise on the dancefloor at Barbarella’s in Croatia is hard to beat with the right DJ playing.
The most you’ve ever spent on one record that you’re willing to tell us? Or the best bargain bin finds you’ve digged out over the years, which you’re happy to brag about?
The most I’ve ever spent on a record is well documented actually. Bill Brewster mentioned it in the article he wrote about Danielle Baldelli and the Cosmic scene for Wax Poetics, and I mentioned it in the sleeve notes I wrote for the first Down To The Sea And Back compilation I did with kelvin Andrews. It was Phil & Friends Band – This Man. It was an eBay auction and it came out at £217 with shipping and insurance. I also spent an almost similar amount on a rare Patrick Adams record from Nick The record, but I don’t really buy expensive records anymore. In terms of bargain bin gold, there’s loads. I got the original US promo of Sylvester – Over & Over / Down, Down, Down from Expansions (now sadly defunct Manchester jazz specialist) for £1.00. They had mountains of obscure US Disco, Funk, Souls, Boogie 12”s, but this was in the very early 90’s – if only I knew then what I know now, etc. Found a spare of Ozo – Anambra for 50p in a shop in Didsbury. Rescued an unplayed copy (with promo sheet) of Escape From New York – Fire In My Heart from a £1 bin. Walked into a shop in San Francisco with my friend Darren Davis and found 3 copies of Craig Leon – Nommos in the basement (1 sealed copy). I’ve found a few copies of Impossible Dreamers – Spin in the bargain bins in King Bee Records in Chorlton over the years. Just seems to turn up again and again.
Favourite DJ you’ve heard play out over the years?
Too many to mention them all really. The first time I heard Baldelli live, in the back room of some pub in Nottingham, was pretty special. Harvey’s almost always incredible, and I had some special nights at the Tonka parties at the old Zap Club first time I was in Brighton, and some very special nights listening to him at Electric Chair parties. Laurent Garnier at Bugged Out at Sankeys back in the mid 90’s still gives me goosebumps. Idjut Boys are proper DJs and always worth hearing. Mark Seven, Phil Mison, Kelvin Andrews, Moonboots, James Holroyd, Rob Bright. I heard Eddie C. at Psychemagik’s Magik Forest Festival a few years ago and was really impressed. Lots of good DJ’s in my new hometown like Nick the Record and the Kinfolk lads.
Anything else we should know about you or what you are up to?
For the last year and a half (actually, just over) I’ve been doing a weekly radio show on a new underground Brighton community radio station called 1 Brighton FM with my friend Ben Monk. If you like this mix it’ll be worth tuning into us. We’re really good, honest! I also REALLY like pizza – must be round things?