Interview: Balearic Super-Heroes Steve Lee & Graeme Fisher

We are full of wonderful little routines here at Proper Mag towers.  One of them is the weekly office quiz, in which one staff member sets questions for everyone to answer.  Hilarity usually ensues.  Oh, did we mention that we’re doing a party?  It’s at Kraak in Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter on May 26th and features the sublime DJ talents of Steve Lee and Graeme Fisher. Get your tickets here!  . In order to give you an insight into the mind of a Balearic DJ, we thought we’d subject Graeme and Steve to this week’s quiz questions and threw in a few extra music related ones as well. (Ed: You fucking liar, you couldn’t be bothered to write a decent interview). Anyway, take away, dudes.  And thanks to Liam for the quiz questions… 


I’ve just spent £66 on Apple headphones for my iPhone because I can’t have different branded accessories to the main product. What weird little OCD things do you have? 

Steve:  The Only OCD things I have are about cables.  I can’t stand to see untidy cables, which is pretty hard in a recording studio.  However, I’ll happily spend money on products, which keep cables tidy.  My other OCD is PVC sleeves for protecting records.  Essential if you are gigging with records.  I want my son to inherit records which have been looked after.  Oh and coats…  Perhaps, I’ll explain that later.

Graeme:  I don’t have any weird OCD niggles what so ever… unless you count the fact I have the same T-shirt in 10 colours and I have little stickers containing BPM info on all my records.

Balearica, what the fuck is all that about then? 

S: I use the term “Balearica” as identification for our party.  When we first started Balearica a few years back – I thought it would be easier to use a word, which instantly says –  “We play Balearic inspired music.”  If you ask any Londoner or European what “Balearica” means, they’ll normally say “Ibiza, the Beach, music…” This is all I wanted to do.  So, the meaning of “Balearica” to me is our music party.  Apart from that, I don’t use the word.

G: It’s about playing sunny records inside while it’s raining outside.

 London Mayoral Election. Bothered?

S:  Yes, of course it bothers me. I’m very dependent onLondon transport since my cycle accident and it affects me greatly.  There has been a massive rise in fares since Boris started and along with these fare increases there has been major development.  But, all of this isn’t cheap and fares can’t keep rising because ordinary people who rely on this service can’t afford it anymore.  So, this is my major worry and I can’t really stand either candidate…  Ken the corrupt or Boris the Buffoon.  It’s not an easy choice.  But, transport is key in this whole election and of course, youth crime.

G: I’d rather go to a dinner party with Boris than Ken but I’d rather Ken was in charge ofLondon than Boris. That said I’d rather Ken wasn’t in charge ofLondon either.

How did you two hook up and become bestest DJ buddies? 

S: We hooked up when Facebook started to go boom…  We were regulars on the group “Disco Not Disco” contributing audio and DJ Mixes.  Naturally this lead to a few disco parties inEast London at The Horse & Groom and then shortly after that, I started a Sunday Balearic inspired hangout and asked Graeme to come along and DJ.  Quite a few years later and three venues on from when we started, we find ourselves still doing the same thing, but on a bigger scale.  Together, we just have a natural bond over new music we collect, play and also reflect on our history of DJ’ing, that’s really the fundamental side of it all. I think we both offer something different but equally relevant in our music selection and it seems to work under the whole “Balearic / Acid House / Yacht / AOR vibe”.  It’s also been great to spin alongside..

“The Idjut Boys, Soft Rocks, Phil Mison, Justin Robertson, Richard Norris, Jonny Nash (Sombrero Galaxy), Seahawks, Tirk Records, Rob J – Main Stem, Coyote, Jason Boardman, Kelvin Andrews, Balearic Mike, Paul Murphy – Mudd, Stupid Human and The Acid Tree / Folk…”

G: We met on the now defunct bearded Facebook group ‘Disco Not Disco’. He kept posting records I was about to post. Our relationship has just flourished from there but he still plays records I’m about to play.

I want to live in the south of France and I wish I was French. Do you want to fuck off out of here?  Where you going then?

G: I’ll join you in France. I love wine and cycling and they’re great at both. I would also love to be French (just without the racism).

S: No Plans yet but, maybe soon.

Describe the sort of music you play? What can we expect when you hit our party in Manchester?

S: Personally, I couldn’t list all the genres I could play as I buy a massive cross section of music.  But, for the Manchester Party – I would expect to hear some Euro Disco, Italo, House and perhaps some Afro-disco and maybe some acid.  It really depends on my mood and what is inspiring me that week. I don’t do straight pre-programmed sets – I will have a kind of rough guideline of stuff I’d like to play and then go from there.  I’m sure we’ll have fun and I’m sure they’ll be some weapons ready to fire, should they be needed…

G: It’s a party in Manchester so you’ll hear lots of old and new party music with a Balearic slant. And if that doesn’t get people dancing we’re fucked.

What was the last thing you said ‘how bizarre’ about?

G: The last time I said ‘how bizarre’ was probably in 1995 when I last sang along to New Zealand one hit wonder’s OMC’s chart smash ‘How Bizarre’

S: Living in Hackney, London I’m faced with “How Bizarre?” events happening on a daily basis. But, I once saw what looked like an 8-year-old smoking with his mum on a park bench. Yep, bizarre.

What’s your regular crowd like?

G: We get the usual crew of beards of course but also mange to pull some good-looking young whippersnappers’ at the same time. I put this down to Steve’s youthful good looks and mountains of street cred.

S: Our regular crowd is a mix of local friends, music producers and DJ anoraks.  However, this does change from month to month, but normally it’s always a lovely mix of people who enjoy good music and a good time.  They’re a lovely bunch including our guest DJ’s.

I am currently unbelievably happy, smiling from ear to ear. How are you right now?

G: I’m also happy because for the first time in living memory it’s not raining, and the baby is asleep.. It’s almost perfection.

S: I wish I could say that I’m smiling, but it’s Monday morning, lashing it down with rain, I’m wet and I’ve got to do a license agreement for a compilation, several remix offers to reject (as I’m not taking on any production work) and a full inbox of new music to throw away.  Pretty dull, eh?  I often wish I had a management agency to do this stuff, as I hate negotiating on my own behalf.  So, being a bit grumpy – I would say I’m about a 5/10 right now – But, I’ve just got a coffee, which will take to me to about a 6 in a moments time.  And, if there’s a good tune in this inbox – I might reach a 7, if we’re lucky.  I hate Mondays.

If you had to imagine the perfect DJ gig or night out, what would it look like? What could we expect?

G: A small rave cave leading up to a Balearic cliff top terrace… overlooking the sea.. on and island… in the middle of summer..  a couple of hundred lovely people dancing and having fun well into the morning. Will that do?

S: My perfect DJ gig would be a beach bar on a solitary island with all my friends and family.  Complete with glorious sunshine and warm night.  Music wise it would be the usual mix of down-tempo beach grooves thru to heavenly disco & house vibe.

What’s the longest you’ve ever stayed awake?

S: I’ve done four days.  It was a truly painful and hideous thing to do. This classic line comes to mind “You only do acid, to remind yourself why you don’t do it.”  I really don’t recommend trying the Fly Agaric mushroom, even when filtered.

G: I was resident at Pacha & Space during the summer of 1994 – so about four months if I remember correctly.

How and when did you start DJing/making music? What are your influences, musical or otherwise?

G: I was always the one who turned up at the party and changed the music. When I was about 15 it would have been a mix of stuff like the Beastie Boys, Dead Kennedy’s and New Order. By the time I was 17 it was acid house and Balearic beats. I’ve always been in to a massive cross section of music and that’s never changed.

S: I started DJ’ing at a very young age ~ 9 years old. It was at our local cricket social club where my mum would sometimes work on the bar.  The DJ would let me play warm up records and also when he went for a “Chat up the Ladies” break.  Subsequently, it wasn’t long before I could mix and scratch in my teenage years and then went on to play in clubs and bars when I left school.  Music wise I’ve been playing the piano since I was 5, which lead me to into Music engineering.  However, having worked all my life in music and new media – It’s only been in the last 5 years I’ve turned my hand to music production and running my own record label.  It’s still an incredibly hard business to produce original music on vinyl and make a profit.  But, we’re doing ok..

On Tuesday I went to The Mayor of Scardy Cat Town, a secret cocktail bar where you have to go through a Smeg fridge in a restaurant/bar (Breakfast Club in Spitalfields) to get to. It was pretty cool. What cool/quirky places have you been to?

G: Too many to mention! Before all the clubs and bars stayed open all night there were loads of odd little after hours places inLondon. A room full of pimps, rent boys and drug dealers with a pool table in the middle and that kind of thing. I also used to love a place Called Garry’s Bar which was basically a guy calledGary’s Shoreditch flat that he turned into a club/bar. It was an anything goes kind of place that was always getting raided by the cops. I had some amazing messy nights in there.

S: Quirky Places…  I used to the love Abigail’s Party, which was a private members club inSoho.  I used to frequent this place when I worked at Universal Pictures.  I never had to become a member, just because of my infamous party boy behaviour.  The place itself had a very retro lounge full of old vogue magazines, old telephones with a secluded club in the basement.  I was pretty notorious throughout its lifetime – My fast living days of getting crazy drunk with production companies, producers, celebrities and generally being a wild child.  The quirkiness was really the clientele ranging from A to Z list celebs all partying behind a small locked door.  My last ever drink sat on the bar for about seven months after it was eventually shutdown.  It was the stuff of legends and worthy of a book itself. One of my favourite international spots was in Los Angeles.  Where there was this (possibly, illegal?) place ~ The Firehouse ~ A gated reggae, funk & soul den in the hills where you could drink and smoke pot late into the early hours.  10 bucks and you entered the iron gates into a mix of dub sounds and haze of ganja smoke.  It was my kind of place and I was always greeted with “Holy Shit, its London… And he’s brought a box of skins!!” (They never had any Rizla… So I used to buy them a box for the bar).  I used to sometime play records, but mostly get stoned with all the locals – which ranged from gang leaders, pro-ballers to 90210 rich kids.  Never remember leaving… Always too stoned.

Musically speaking, who or what is floating your boat right now? Give us some recommendations to go out and buy/download/steal.

G: The Golf Channel label is amazing, musically diverse but right up my street. I love almost everything on that label.  The same goes with Paul Murphy’s Claremont records and related labels. He’s a massively under rated talent outside of the Balearic scene.

S: New music:  I just try to buy music, which has a quality production and a timeless feel.  I basically want every record I purchase to live in my record box for years to come and never become redundant.  I think a good start is with vinyl labels like Emotional Rescue, L.I.E.S., Future Times, Claremont56, Golf Channel, Bella Union and ESP Institute.  However, everything is becoming smaller and smaller – So, a lot of my time is spent going thru every new release, of every genre.  As for old music, I’m really getting into the wholeIvory Coast afro scene – And, I’ve found a couple of good places to pick up various afro disco rarities.  Musically, these records just work within my DJ set.  I also have a filthy addiction to synth library records – Totally cosmic stuff which I can never play out, but I love the production elements and sleeve designs. I guess it somehow inspires me when it comes to my own sound design and production.  As a boy, giant synthesizers always fascinated me and something’s never change. 

Most inappropriate text you’ve ever sent?

G:  Haha! Last week I accidentally sent a text meant for my wife to one of my son’s nursery mates mums. I won’t repeat it again as I’ve already been embossed once by it.

S: I don’t think I’ve ever done this?  I’m not really big on phone messaging or using phones.  I only got an iPhone six months ago, because I had to be more contactable –  I’m definitely more of an Internet geek.   I did however; use to send my mum text messages to her landline which was like a robot voice giving her various life coaching lessons.  But, that’s about it…

 I hear that the ‘Balearic superhero’ is the look to rock in E8 at the moment. What’s the man about town wearing this season?

 S: The Balearic Superhero look is a particular favourite in an E5 bedroom – Speedos, Poncho & Aviators.  But, in reality, this is strictly for the white isle and a particular beach. My normal attire consists of the usual 8 quid converse sneakers or my comfy Clarks Originals, an Edwin/ Carharrt slim jean / pant.  A music or skate related tee shirt or light denim shirt twinned with either a Folk sweat or an anorak / pea coat / leather jacket.  That’s pretty much my standard.  I do have a worrying coat addiction.  I think I have about 25 coats at the moment.  Is this normal?  I think it is.  Possibly coat OCD, perhaps?  

G: Fluro Speedos (high cut of course) and maybe a sarong if it’s cold.

My dreams are so boring sometimes I can’t work out whether they were dreams or whether they actually happened. What are yours like?

G: My dreams usually evolve loads of random people I’ve know over the years quite often at a strange party or stuck in some crazy ‘LSD’ style situation. So yes I too am often unsure if they’re dreams of reality.

S: From time to time I do have horrific nightmares and often wake myself up.  I also speak heavily in my sleep after a few pints.  Something my girlfriend finds highly amusing or sometimes distressing at 4am in the morning.

What the flying fuck are you doing on the weekend of 26th May you beautiful person?

G: I might stop in and catch up on some wild flower pressing. Why is there anything going on?

S: May 26th will consist of packing records, jumping on a few buses and then dragging my record trolley to Euston.  Hooking up with Brother Graeme and then all aboard the first class carriage.  Hopefully, this will pleasantly take us to Manchester Piccadilly.  There is no doubt I’ll probably have a few early doors beers on the train. On arrival I think we’ll be going for some food at our Balearic amigos retreat “Folk” inWest Didsburyand then make our way to The Proper Party later in the evening.  I’ll probably nail about 10 pints and we’ll all have a bloody good dance.

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