Balearic Breaks: Infusing Ibiza with Soulful Drum and Bass

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Bridging the gap between Drum and Bass and House music with smooth, soulful sounds on the island of Ibiza, which is no stranger to the dance music scene; Balearic Breaks is pioneering a new label from the nightlife capital of the world. This is not an easy feat; however, with the combined experience of Darren Jay, Rhyan Paul and Alex Herbert Balearic Breaks has a solid foundation on the ground and big visions for what’s to come from the first drum and bass label to be launched from this island paradise which typically gravitates toward the House music sound.

Their philosophy?

“To champion the producers of today and develop the new producers of the future. The music we release is cross genre and we want it to appeal to both D&B purists and also to house aficionados as well.” – Balearic Breaks

The first release on the label is hot off the presses from Simon Splice is a double dose of delightful drum and bass full of feel good vibes and uplifting energy. “Dance With Me” utilizes percussive elements to create a gentle build as symphonic strings harmonize and melodies from the keys sway softly in reply. A strong classical influence is evident with a bit of a punch as the vocals stab, echoing to the drop. Rolling fluidly with smooth, mellow vibes Simon Splice shines in production with every element of this track fusing in a warm, glowing composition bursting with beautiful piano as the measures glide by. “Dance With Me” is an exemplary track that emits the soulful vibe Balearic Breaks strives to provide.

“Life Goes On” featuring Ewan Sim boasts a bit of an ethnic intro as tribal beats and chants wind through the build, an intense journey into a wild paradise, you can almost feel the thickness of the jungle surrounding you as the composition cuts to Ewan Sim’s compelling vocal building amidst soft keys to the drop. Emotional and heartfelt the vocals soar bright, verse by verse, measure by measure twisting the tale as it winds through beautifully composed rhythms and soft atmospherics enhancing the angelic keys that caress Ewan’s voice. Deep, intricate and emotive “Life Goes On” is a symphonic saga and sediment of uplifting vibes. This is just what Balearic Breaks was hoping to deliver and they have done it!

Use this link to get your copy of “Dance With Me” and “Life Goes On” from Simon Splice on Balearic Breaks.

And that’s not all…

This week I had the absolute honor of going a bit deeper into what Balearic Breaks is all about interviewing the legendary Darren Jay, one of the three masterminds behind the Balearic Breaks label working alongside Rhyan Paul and Alex Herbert. Keep reading to see what’s in store as Balearic Breaks introduces their soulful, uplifting style of drum and bass to the world.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with Best Drum and Bass about Balearic Breaks! We are so excited to learn more about the first Drum and Bass label to be born out of Ibiza, Spain and share this milestone with our audience. Let’s get right to it.
(Responses have been transcribed from voice text; slight edits have been made for clarity.)

To set the stage it was 2020, lockdown had consumed the world and the three of you found yourselves in Ibiza. What inspired the idea to start this label? Tell us more of the story on how Balearic Breaks came to fruition.

So being the oldest out of the three I have been coming to Ibiza for a long time. I have been part of quite a lot of the jungle nights over here back in ‘93/’94. Then me and Mickey Finn put on some beach holidays which run for 7 years which was a dedicated drum and bass holiday. In that time I met Alex. I’d then come over here to live. Me and Alex played very different music but had very similar views of what we wanted drum and bass to be in Ibiza. We got together and started a radio show which was a live stream that went on for 18 or 19 weeks which was pretty difficult in Ibiza; sometimes you can have no internet and all sorts of challenges but every single week we were on time and went on. Up the road we met Rhyan Paul who obviously run Metalheadz as a label and managed Goldie.

The three of us were all like minded in believing that there was a place for drum and bass in Ibiza and that was the beginning of Balearic Breaks.

There is tremendous talent and experience coming from all sides of this team, how do you think your past experiences will increase your chances for success in the future?

I think that we’ve all got, obviously me and Rhyan are a little bit older than Alex, we’ve been on quite a long journey in very similar ways with running record labels and working with artists. Me and my business partner Rene was the guy who founded Black Market Records, me and him years ago got a label deal with MCA which turned into Universal. We had a 3 or 4 year label deal there with a label we had called Mecca Recordings. We won a MOBO with Phoebe One for best hip hop artist. We used to do quite a lot of different compilations for people back in the day. We done a couple of liquid albums funny enough in ‘94/’95/’96, we done a series of albums called Total Science, which if you look back now a couple of them were liquid or what used to be called intelligent DnB. We also had chart success and won a few awards so we have quite an extensive experience in the music business.

I think it’s a great scene I think we’ve all got different strengths and the one thing that we’re all pretty clean on doing is making this work. We’re pretty bloody minded about it. We do believe there is a place for Drum and bass in Ibiza. I think the difference is you have to make music or you have to play music that wouldn’t offend House people and there’s got to be a connection. I don’t think if you went in with the hardest drum and bass track, as much as we like some of that music, I don’t think you’re going to get House people to listen to that personally.

You have to have sound that would bridge the gap between Drum and Bass and House and we hope Balearic Breaks, as that’s what it is, we hope our experience of what we do helps that come to fruition.

How do you delegate responsibility to keep things flowing flawlessly?

I think we all bring slightly different. I am more to do with the A&R, the music, talking to the artists, going through their back catalogues going through ideas that they have. Helping to nurture some of the ideas and turn them into tracks. One of our artists we’ve already literally got an album with Skuff already so that’s what my strength is. I’ve got a strength of having a vision of what this should be about. I’ve been around a long time I kinda know what I want it to be and what I want it not to be. I think there’s some unbelievably great labels out there at the minute and very good businessmen and they’ve got the digital side of it kind of sewn up they’re clever in the way they do their marketing that’s not really my forte, I’m more into doing the music.

Alex has found the artists so far, the artists that we’ve got Alex has found them by being a young man and going up online and being up all sorts of hours in the morning chatting with people. Me and Rhyan are probably tucked up in bed by about 11 o’clock (laughs). So yea Alex brings that his youth and his enthusiasm to what we’re doing. Like I said before he’s also a really talented DJ and as I’m finding out a talented producer me and Alex are making some tracks together at the moment.

And Rhyan does all the unforeseen hard donkey work which is the more unglamorous stuff which is contracts and the label side of everything which is something that I’ve been no good at I can tell you that now (laughs).

What unique elements will Balearic Breaks bring to the drum and bass scene? How do you plan to continue to innovate the style of this music as you unveil Balearic Breaks to the world?

I think what we’re trying to do is the philosophy of the label is, one of them is, drum and bass for people who like House music or like R&B. We think there’s a gap in the market for that. We’re not reinventing the wheel; people have been doing this long before us. I think that we have maybe a different perspective being away from London, I notice living in Ibiza is a very small island mentality. This can be a place that a lot of people imagine is just the cutting edge of music. The last few years I think it’s actually gone backwards in that sense, personally. I think that it needs a little bit of freshening up. I think a lot of people on this island that do music would also agree.

I think what we’re trying to do is, with the whole Balearic feel, is we listen to a lot of music. I personally listen to 30-40 albums worth of music a week, every week, maybe more sometimes. I’m immersing myself in what’s out there and we’re going for soulful, it’s very soulful. We still like some of the techy stuff, I mean, if you listen to people like Ivy Lab and such and people like Alex Perez, they can make beautiful music that’s quite dark and maybe techno-y and then they can put elements with it which is soulful and makes it sound beautiful. A track like “Blurred Lines” comes to mind is an amazing piece of music. I’m trying to look for stuff from the A&R point of view that kinda fits us doing something that’s maybe a little bit different to what other people are doing in the scene but at in same way kinda runs alongside it. Hence the name Balearic Breaks.

What are your biggest challenges in the process of the launch as the market continues to be redefined by global obstacles and so many unknown variables?

I think the situation we find ourselves in now, in a way, is kind of a double edged sword. Possibly without the world stopping how it did for COVID, possibly we wouldn’t have had the time to of come up with the concept and the idea and actually put it into practice because we would have been too busy trying to carry on earning a living and doing whatever you’re doing on your normal day to day basis. I think in a strange way for myself personally, I’m not talking for the other guys on the label, but COVID was a kind of blessing it made me slow down and revaluate what I like and what I’m doing. I think that we’ve faced quite a few challenges putting music out at the minute because the market is so saturated. I must say I am pretty fussy with music I can listen to 100 tracks and maybe find one that I like which is a lot of time wasted. Hopefully some of them gems that you find are worth it and I’m just trying to sign stuff up to the label which are gems and while it’s not a great time to put music out because there’s no one really playing it on dance floors and seeing people dance, in another way I think it’s a perfect time because you’ve got people’s attention. More people are at home. And there’s never going to be an ideal time to start a new record label at the moment. I think that we’re just trying to spot stuff that’s quality and get in some older producers to maybe go back in on stuff, on tunes, and touch them up and maybe make them more for today and also nurturing new talent which we definitely do with some of the guys that are coming along at the minute so, yeah, looking forward to the new challenge.

Let’s talk about the first release a bit that will be available the 25th of June. You have Simon Splice on deck with two beautifully composed tracks “Dance With Me” and “Life Goes On” featuring Ewan Sim both emitting warm, uplifting soulful liquid vibes. What made this the choice for the inaugural release? Will this be the standard of sound from Balearic Breaks, caressing the softer side of drum and bass?

Alex was engaging with Simon I think he met him when Alex was one of the residents at Together, he met Simon there a couple of years back. They’ve stayed in touch. Alex explained to Simon about the label, Simon actually brings out some liquid stuff as well so he kinda knew what we were after. I went through quite a lot of music with Simon, listened to a lot of stuff and played with quite a lot of vocals over the phone when I was back in England looking after my mom. We went backwards and forwards quite a bit. I heard something he played with Ewan he had done and I really liked the sound of Ewan’s voice, very soulful and he had a couple of tracks that were just ideas and I helped work with him to get them to be the first two singles. I think “Dance With Me” the piano in it straight away just reminded me of a Balearic vibe from maybe when I first started coming here. Beautiful pianos and it had just the real Balearic feel about it, a nice uplifting piece of music.

And I think the other side, the Double A side, which has Ewan’s beautiful soulful vocals on and the track entitled “Life Goes On” which also with Simon’s production was very different it reminded me of something, I don’t know what it was, there’s some parts in there that reminded me of old Fleetwood Mac records which was something which was obviously not very drum and bass at all. So that’s how we ended up with Simon and Ewan being the first release. And I think it’s a good indicator of the label, of where we’re going with the label. Both the tracks are quite commercial and in fact Skuff on our second release is also quite commercial. After that it gets a little bit more underground. But we’re not worried about if it’s a commercial track or not we’re just trying to bring out good music.

Have you discovered any new opportunities for success in this new age of connecting with the audience? I see there are three Balearic Breaks radio shows in the works can you tell us a bit more about what those will offer? “Stories From The Streets” on Openlab in Ibiza, “The Balearic Breaks Show” on Bassdrive in Miami and “Impeccable Selection” on Future Sounds Radio UK.

With Bassdrive and Louie and the guys over in Miami, I’ve been listening to Bassdrive for awhile actually for a few years and I know 2shy on there with Zo. Promo Zo. Zo had a word for me with Louie and me and Louie had a conversation. I was actually going to do the show possibly 6 or 7 months before the COVID situation happened. It never happened for some reason, just timing issues I think I was away in Africa doing some stuff with the ABOE Project and Last Night A DJ so that didn’t really work timing wise and I was backwards and forwards to London. Then obviously we got the label together and the shows, me and Alex started doing the shows ourselves and spoke to Louie and said how about we start doing a Balearic Breaks show we’re just about to launch this record label and this concept that we’re doing. So that was that and now we’ve got a bi-weekly show on there, every other Wednesday.

Openlab is probably I’d say the coolest radio station in Europe at the minute. It was actually founded by Robert Miles and the thought was for it to be a community based radio station with people; doing art projects, art installations, photography. So we started doing a show on there where Rhyan goes out and interviews people. Everyone from people that are homeless to people that have got restaurants, people who have lived here for a long time to people that haven’t been here for long, but they’ve all got totally different stories going right up to the CEO of the Pacha Group, Nick. So we’ve got a real varied amount of people being interviewed. On the last show we had Alfredo was on there talking about the changes in Ibiza, so obviously an Ibiza legend. So yea we’re trying to do something that’s a bit more community based. Rhyan is a photographer as well, a very good one, so we’ve put some of the photography up there as well that Rhyan does, some interviews, we have a lot of inspirational tracks of the week that people choose for us and like a 50 minute mix. One week it’ll be me the next time it would be Alex. That’s every 3 weeks that show.

And another show which I done a series of mixes called Impeccable Selection once we was locked down; ten different mixes, mainly soulful and Future Sounds Radio kindly hosted them every week. We’re just about to start another little concept which we can’t really say about at the minute. We’re going to start another concept with these guys to do a Balearic Breaks the next couple of weeks toward the end of July.

Looking at the big picture you’re covering releases, radio shows, artist development and more but is there a bigger goal in sight? Ibiza is quite possibly the nightlife capital of the world; will there be a Balearic Breaks festival in the future? What else do you hope to accomplish with the label?

So for the future hopefully our timing is pretty good. I think Ibiza has been in a little bit of a rut musically for the last maybe 5 years maybe. Half of the events over here now are urban which I think is a good thing because I think that everyone was trying to chase the same market you know to do with House, obviously it’s a House island. I would love in the future, we would all love in the future, that we could run our night alongside; you know we look at people like Defected Records where they’ve stuck to their guns with quality music, I’d love and it would be an honor to host a second room for people like that.

The whole ethos of what we are doing from where it started when I grew up when I was a young lad I was heavily into reggae and soul music and it’s never really left me at all. Obviously getting into something like the jungle scene had elements of reggae in it and it was something that we invented which made us very proud to come out of England. But that whole emphasis on something being soulful I think is what’s running through our label and running through what we’re trying to achieve so I’d like to get involved with maybe people like Vocal Booth who do a soul weekender. Some of the music on the label I keep hearing people say ‘that reminds me of tracks you’d hear at Stop at Southpool weekender back in the day’ which is an absolute, for me for people to be saying that I’m absolutely honored that they would even consider us in the same breath so yea who knows, look out.

I’d love to be doing some festivals up the road. But I think to get this music out there we need to run alongside people with brands that are already quite soulful and already have a unique sound about them and hopefully Balearic Breaks is going to have its own unique sound about it as well which hopefully is going to open a lot of doors.

Obviously everything seems to be gearing towards outdoor events and festivals especially with what’s going on with COVID at the moment so yeah for this year and especially for next year, everyone seems to be planning for 2022 already, and if that is the case next year we’d love to have some Balearic Breaks sets and even our own tents going on at smaller festivals.

Also on a different side of it from the music side of it, I’d really like to be able to get some of the artists that we’ve got involved with us, we’ve got Simon Splice, Skuff, Surreal from Germany, we’ve got Hadley, we’re looking at a few more artists right now at the moment as well and also myself and Alex are doing some production together at the minute. I’d love to get some of these acts and cross them over to majors because I really believe there’s a gap in the market for that. I’ve done A&R for MCA for quite a long time via the Black Market Record label and via Mecca which we started, me and Rene, and I really believe there’s a good chance of having us… I hear people like Skuff and I think on his day he could be remixing like Jay-Z records you know. Why shouldn’t any of our artists on our label be out to do exactly the same? They’re all very, very talented and have got a unique talent about them. I think that we could really, really bring something to the party.

What would you consider to be the most rewarding thing about starting Balearic Breaks?

I think that in a time that was so negative to do with people losing their jobs and their livelihoods and people being away from their loved ones and obviously people dying and people being unwell, I think in a time that was so negative all around to be able to start something and see it get to where it’s at already. I mean our first record is out in a couple of days on the 25th of June. We have got releases taking us all the way out to 2022 we couldn’t fit another release in if we tried. We’ve also got an album literally finished on the horizon with Skuff. If anyone would have told me when we started this that in the short amount of time this is how far we would come, and with three fantastic radio shows we’ve got which are all pretty different as well, I’d of told them that they was mad. So in that sense I’m very, very proud of what the three of us have achieved.

And also out of something pretty dark we’ve created something pretty beautiful. It’s been pretty cathartic, you know you keep away from the news and the doom and gloom and you have something that’s pretty positive and that’s what I feel we’re quite proud of how far we’ve come in a short amount of time. And like you say the journey’s only just started who knows what’s around the corner. In a time that was pretty difficult we actually produced and nurtured something which is quite, in my eyes anyway, is pretty unique and beautiful.

Thank you so much for your time and taking us deeper into the inspirations behind the label, and we wish you the utmost success with Balearic Breaks.

Be sure to keep an eye on Balearic Breaks they have some great things lined up for the rest of the year from Skuff, Surreal and Hadley as well as big things in the works for next year.

Interested Artists can email demos to: balearicdemos@gmail.com

Balearic Breaks Official Website 

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Drum and bass is life! Co-founder and operator at (((dB))) Decibel Drum and bass. Proud to represent Boomslang Recordings as an official DJ. Check my SoundCloud for fresh mixes weekly! Connect on Facebook