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Nialler9 Podcast: What is Balearic? The story of Ibiza, MDMA, Alfredo & a genre

Nialler9 Podcast: What is Balearic? The story of Ibiza, MDMA, Alfredo & a genre


For a subgenre deep dive, Niall takes a dip into the idea of Balearic music, and finds out that it’s not as easy to explain as he first thought.

Balearic is often thought of as a signifier of music that is evocative, sun-kissed and downtempo, but as our deep dive discovers Balearic is a feeling, an approach, that encompasses those things but also can be cheesy, soft, rocking, easy listening, dancey, slowed-down, dreamy, psychedelic and as dance music writer Frank Tope put it “it’s pop music that sounds good on pills.”

The true origin story of Balearic is certain to includes the music selections of the Ibiza DJ Alfredo who DJed at Amnesia during the years of 1983 to 1988, just as all-night licences were coming to the Island.

You know Ibiza as the Balearic Island haven where superclubs bang out techno and house and big name DJs hold residencies now, but in the ’80s, the story of clubbing in Ibiza was being built from the ground up.

Alfredo played an eclectic mix of pop, soul, disco, electronic, house, psych rock and Latin pop including Sade, The Cure, Derrick May, Simply Red, the Pink Panther Theme, Madonna, Richie Havens, Queen, psych rock wigouts, The Woodentops, and The Style Council, but was initially derided for his DJ sets.

Our tale of Balearic music is linked to the Bhagwan Oregon cult selling MDMA on the island, new age dropouts, hippies, gays and party jet-setters, chillout Cafe Del Mar sunsets, and a sunny island mecca that became a setting for ecstasy-fuelled music epiphanies, that spread dance and club culture throughout the UK and Europe.

Let’s explore: What is Balearic? The story of Ibiza, MDMA, Alfredo & genre…

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