Ease in the New Year the Balearic way.
In discussing music of resistance and rebellion, the mind inevitably jumps to loud, high-energy expressions—punk rock in the '70s, hip-hop in the '80s, rave in the '90s. But for Mark Barrott, sonic defiance takes on a quite different form. Over recent years, he's become a contemporary champion of Balearic, the eclectic, easy-going style forged by DJs like Alfredo and José Padilla in Ibiza during '80s, which Barrott sees as a "counterbalance to the globalist blandness of most modern electronic music that gets played [in Ibiza]." This laidback form of protest has taken shape through his label, International Feel, and his beachside residency at La Torre. International Feel was setup in 2009 when Barrott was living on the Uruguayan coast. It's been home to Barrott's well-received Sketches From An Island records and numerous singles from his aliases (EFEEL, Rocha, Bepu N'Gali and others), along with releases by the likes of CFCF, Wolf Müller & Cass., Len Leise and José Padilla, artists who seem to share in his relaxed alternative vision of electronic music. In the '90s, this vision was expressed through an ambient drum & bass project called Future Loop Foundation. Barrott gained success and recognition, but he eventually grew disillusioned with the genre's politics and moved to Berlin, where he became involved with the city's thriving downtempo scene. He's shifted shape over the years, but there's a clear line between Barrott's earliest music and where he is today.
Barrott's RA podcast draws on his experiences playing at La Torre and the changing seasons in Ibiza. The mood is tranquil and the purview is vast, with Colourbox, Project Pablo, David Sylvian and Talk Talk all appearing in this 70-minute session. It's a mix that fuels the idea that Balearic is less a sound and more a feeling.
What have you been up to recently?
Dentists, working on a new EP, signing a wonderful artist from LA called Scott Gilmore, finishing off the Talamanca System LP with Gerd [Janson] and Phillip [Lauer], and trying my best to put into practice the words at the end of this mix!
How and where was the mix recorded?
At the same table, sat in the same chair, as just about everything else I've done musically in the past three years here in Ibiza, with Ableton, looking out over the garden and fields.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
When September came around at La Torre, I noticed that I was really enjoying soundtracking the twilight period after sunset, trying to capture those feelings of intimacy, introspection and "hibernation." After the season finished, I did a bit of travelling before heading back into the studio, and got inspired by the wonderful golden colours of autumn and the cityscapes of Tokyo and Osaka at night. I put together a playlist to suit those moods and that ultimately became this mix, which also heavily inspired the new EP as well.
You're regularly held up as someone who represents an alternative side of Ibiza. How healthy would you say that side of the island is?
Well, in these days of consumeristic, hedonistic selfie culture, "heart music" is never going to be as popular as "ringtone music," but Ibiza more than most is still a haven for alternative culture and thinking, and music-wise there's La Torre, Sundays at Pikes, and a few other under the radar goings on—growing pockets of resistance that counterbalance the globalist blandness of most modern electronic music that gets played here. Sometimes just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.
Do you have any New Year's resolutions?
I'm more the kind of person who has a few things they want to achieve in a certain timeframe, but even then, I'm becoming more aware that ambitions, goals etc are all just constructs of a mind bombarded with social programming. So I guess my permanent resolution is to keep being as "present" as I can, content in the moment, cos actually, that's all there is.
What are you up to next?
Back to the UK for family stuff, shepherding through the upcoming International Feel releases, planning a rare London gig at Spiritland in early March, writing new material, and I've just come back from a meeting to start planning the next season and album at La Torre, which on a wet and windy day in Xmas week seems a bit crazy, but that's the nature of things these days. Even my cats have their own label (and facial hair) these days, so them vinyl presses are backed up, man.