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NME, July 1988

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Original publisher: NME

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Electra: the chant has just begun


New Musical Express 30th July, 1988

Age of Chants

Club DJ makes record shock! PAOLO HEWITT talks to PAUL OAKENFOLD, the man behind ELECTRA's 'Jibaro', about his faith in the new Balearic Beat. Picture: OLIVER MAXWELL

In crazed Ibizan clubs when things are reaching fever pitch, and the DJ has just started playing the crowd's favourite record, sweaty hands start clapping and delirious voices begin shouting, "Jibaro! Jibaro!".
    It's the equivalent of a massive thumbs up to the DJ and, thanks to Electra, a motley crew of clubbers and DJs thrown together by friendship and their love for Acid and Balearic Beats, it's a ritual which could soon be taking place over here.
    Electra have taken the 'Jibaro!' chant and welded it onto a contagious mix of percussion, horns, piano and drums, to create the summer anthem, a stirring dance record that is greeted with wild enthusiasm every time it's played in a club. And, in keeping with the times, the tune has been liberally borrowed from another source.
    DJ Paul Oakenfold is the driving force behind the record, along with his partner Rob Davis, former Mud guitarist, and now a busy songwriter. It's Oakenfold's name that will constantly recur when they come to write the history of the phenomenon known as Balearic Beats.
    Along with Nicky Holloway and Danny Rampling, Paul was one of the DJs who made that fateful trip to Ibiza last year, saw how the clubs were mixing up all kinds of music, and returned to London to put the theory into action – in his case, at his club in Streatham.
    "We came back", recalls Oakenfold, "and there was nowhere to go. I was doing The Project Club and we decided that after that had finished for the night, we'd let in our friends through the back door and do a Balearic night. We did that for three months and then we decided, right, let's do a proper one and introduce it. That was the one where we brought the DJ from Amnesia (Ibizan club) over and we got busted by the police. End of story.
    "So we approached Heaven and did Future which was going for a month before The Schoom opened."
    Oakenfold now has two nights at Heaven, with Spectrum on Mondays now becoming a regular feature. Two months ago it was possible to walk into Spectrum with no problems. These days, people start arriving at least an hour before the doors are meant to open. It's the same at most clubs playing Acid or Balearic. There's a sense of frenzied excitement that has not been seen or felt in clubs for years.
    "No one gives a sh*t. Everyone is going mad, everyone is dancing, and everyone does their own thing. No one cares. It's so different to go somewhere where people don't have an attitude problem, where people run about, and scream and talk to each other. It's exciting and different and I wanted that. I didn't want to stand at a bar and not talk to anyone, as everyone has been in London for two years."

Talking is something that comes easily to Oakenfold. I first met him when he was A&R man at Champion Records, and snapping up the best imports like "a greyhound on speed". Having established Champion as a credible dance label (Oakenfold signed Salt 'N' Pepa's debut LP to them) he then went on to start Profile Records' British office, whilst promoting acts such as Bros or The Pasadenas in the clubs.
    Now he's trying to turn London into a Balearic Beat, although he says the odds are stacked against him. "Every London club," he points out, "is playing Acid House, but how many clubs are playing Balearic music? Or how many clubs understand what Balearic is about? A lot of people are going to take Balearic the wrong way.
    Balearic is playing all different kinds of music. Now if you go to the Balearic Islands, and the main one is Ibiza, and you go to any of the clubs, you're going to hear everything.
    "Last year they were playing The Beastie Boys, and Kool Moe Dee. That's rap. They play Prince, they play The Woodentops, they play Farley Jackmaster Funk, they play opera, they play everything. Balearic is everything.
    "60 per cent of what they play is a cross between indie and House, which is what a lot of people are looking at. But in London 90 per cent of the clubs only play House, they don't know what Balearic is. It's a misunderstanding of the word. It's a wide spectrum."
    "You go anywhere in the world and they've got all different types of clubs. You go to New York, you got rap clubs, funk clubs, rock clubs. In Ibiza you haven't. There isn't such a thing. There's all clubs playing all different types of music. That's Baleraic music."
    "It's also a likely way of dividing club culture. People into rap, soul, House or funk, aren't likely to be taken with amongst others, U2's. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' being blasted at them. Soon, there's bound to be a reaction to the Balearic Beat and its all encompassing nature.
    Similarly, Northern DJs, like Mike Pickering, as well as London's Jazzie M have been playing Acid now for well over a year. 10 months ago, Pickering played in London. No one took any notice. At the first week of Nicky Holloway's Trip club, a month ago he couldn't put a needle wrong.
    Oakenfold smiles at the fickle nature of the beats. "It was the wrong time, Listen, four years ago I went to Ibiza and met a mate out there who was working the summer. We came back and we started this club, The Funhouse. We did it local, had 600 people there and we tried to do what we saw in Ibiza by trying to play a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
    "They didn't want to know. People wanted soul. It was the wrong time. Just like Delirium when they went House. It was the wrong time. If they'd come now, they would have cleaned up. Even Thursday nights at The Future, I'm finding it hard because I play every different type of music there and they don't want it. They only want House and Acid. I play it anyway because I'm trying to educate them into what's happening."

Oakenfold's record, 'Jibaro', though, is not being ignored, having been a London favourite for months now. It's actually based on another record called. . .'Jibaro'.
    "That record," says Oakenfold, his robbery now detected, "is in Portuguese and it's a very fast percussion record. It's all in Portuguese but they shout out, 'Jibaro!' So I've taken that and I've slowed the bass line down and used it. We have changed it all around," he says grinning.
    It took three days to make the record and about as many minutes to put together the group which includes Micky Jackson, Johnny Rocca and a singer named Nick.
    "We ain't taking this too seriously," says Oakenfold. "I ain't no pop star. We're just having a go."
    This is the second record to emerge directly from London's clubs, 'Sure Beats Working' being the other, and yet another piece of vinyl inspired by a DJ. Oakenfold says there's little rivalry between the fraternity and plenty of space for everyone.
    "When something is so good," he says, "and everyone is enjoying it, it should last for as long as it can. I know there are people who are in a position to control it, a little bit. You can't control 2,000 people outside a club but you can at least restrict who comes in and who doesn't.
    "You have to keep the undesirables out, you can't say, everyone come in because you want the money. That will kill it. But it's the best thing to hit London since punk, it's easily the most exciting thing."
    Oakenfold pauses for a rare breath. Next week, he's off to New York, no doubt to spread the Balearic word there. By the time he gets back, 'Jibaro' will probably be massive.
    "Well, we'll see," he muses. "I mean, you gotta have a laugh, haven't you?"