Ramsgate Spotlight: Jim Breese

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A regular fixture in Ibiza’s more reclined circles, Jim Breese used to take up residency at Cafe Mambo and curated all ten volumes of the respected Ku De Ta album series for the much-loved Bali based sunset venue. His Balearic compilations take the baton from Jose Padilla’s Cafe Del Mar series and go some way to capture the contemporary spirit of laid back Ibiza. Jim is now based in Ramsgate, a small spot on the southern coast of England that is home to a surprising number of high profile DJs and producers (see below for the dizzying list). The smaller neighbour to the burgeoning Margate, Jim made the claim that his home draws comparison to the golden shores of Ibiza; a lofty claim, and one we challenged him to justify through some questions and an hour long mix.

Jim’s Breese’s Balearic 3 is out 12th June – buy from Bandcamp.

Hi Jim, thanks for joining us. How’s things been on the south coast for you recently?

Hola amigos, thanks for having me. Things are bright, sunny and on the up. I’ve been working the next record hard – this summer’s album, Balearic 3. It’s all good.

You’re just about to release your third Balearic compilation. Could you give us an insight into your approach and the outcome, especially in relation to how it stands apart from the first two?

This latest is the thirteenth compilation I’ve produced. I did the Ku De Ta series which got me prepped and ready for taking on Balearic, and I tell you, they are all fucking hard graft to get right! The approach is to be really open when listening to music, looking for that something that moves you or creates a happy, uplifting feeling. Kinda the same ethos as watching a sunset with tunes flowing, or having that classic club memory with your pals. You just have to do things proper from a good, grounded place. The Jose Padilla compiled Cafe Del Mars sound like that to me – unaffected and natural – so I really hope I’ve got that in this series. I actively try to make all the albums coherent, and hopefully Balearic 3 will follow its previous editions harmoniously, especially with the sunset ending / finale track. 

What about some of the exclusive tracks on the compilation – how did you go about commissioning those? 

Commissioning stuff I find a bit tricky, as I need complete conviction in putting a record out. Often, when you get things made exclusively or when remixes come in, there’s an objective behind the track and their looseness somehow gets lost, so I don’t ask for much stuff from artists directly. The right tracks tend to find you, or ideas are born from good working relationships and vibes with those people. Exclusives on this came about by chance. I signed the Madrigal – a proper kooky act from Ireland – a while ago, and ‘Ride To The Moon’ was something I produced up and mixed. It’s a fun, Latin sound and I felt it really worked on the comp. The finale track by Tommy Awards was something I’d been loving since Balearic Social put it out, so I asked them if I could do a Sunset, Ambient version which has given the ending a real, unique epicness.

You’re now based in Ramsgate, which you draw comparisons with Ibiza. Seems a bit of a curveball – fancy elaborating? 

Jesus, I’ll get crucified by my Ibiza mates for this! It’s a personal thing – maybe many won’t feel it. When I first arrived in Ibiza some years ago, there was a free spirit to it. Both the Island and the people had an offbeat wonkiness going on, which, to quite a degree, I feel in Ramsgate. Nothing to do with banging mega clubs and beautiful laidback beach bars, I’m talking about a little spark of eccentric energy that feels somehow similar and I find myself in tune with.

You also put on your own parties there. What’s the idea with those? 

For years I was doing pounding gigs and festivals for a big dance brand. Amazing times, but I was a bit numb to it all in the end. I felt I needed to get back to the roots, so I got a turntable and pulled out the Del Mars and got excited by tunes again. That’s how Balearic started. As I moved from Hackney to Ramsgate and felt that openness here in the town, the parties kinda just happened in little boozers and kicked off. It was a mutual exchange in that I found people wanted the party and I wanted to play. I’ve got a lot to thank the town for: I’m DJing from the heart. I’m playing like I did on the night shifts on my residency in Ibiza at Cafe Mambo in the 2000s – varied tempos and styles and I think it sounds exciting.

In the winter, we set up in the various boozers for good old fashioned pub raves, then in summer we take to the outdoors with parties on a terrace set out to sea. That’s a special vibe being surrounded by the ocean and looking back on the town. Everyone’s carefree on that one, it’s worth the journey down for. This mix I’ve done reflects exactly that and what you’ll hear this Summer.

Away from the stereotypes of donkey rides and fish & chips, is there much of a healthy appetite for underground music in Ramsgate?

I think Ramsgate bats above its weight for a town of its size. In the cooler pubs, you can expect lots of reggae, northern soul, a bit of house and afro vibes from different crews. A club called The Ramsgate Music Hall flies the flag bigtime and hosts an amazing amount of shows from massive bands in varied styles. It’s incredible who pops down for a midweek gig there. A festival highlight for me is Contrapop. It’s off-kilter sounds provide a weekend of music culture on the beach and it’s always worth keeping your ears to the ground for private beach parties and cave raves.

Is there anyone else – parties, DJs, producers, venues – doing good things for the locality?

There’s a crazy list of musical legends living life here. It’s mental to bump into Ashley Beedle and Jo Wallace down the shops. I have a studio next to junglist Congo Natty, I’ve done sessions making island vibes with Skip McDonald, I put on some Ramsgate and Margate parties with Hannah Holland, and you can find Adamski and Baby Bam from Jungle Brothers just hanging out in bars and spinning. If I’m looking for creative inspiration then I head to On-U Sound studios to see Adrian Sherwood at work. He’s got me on a new musical path. The ‘Balearic Dubs’ I’ve been doing on our single releases have come from sitting in on sessions and watching that great man at work.

Do you have any favourite spots to go digging there?

Island Vintage on the high Street is worth a good few hours digging. I’ve had some great disco and 80’s pop 12” for cheap. I even scored duplicate copies of the Cafe Del Mar Volumen Uno, Dos and Tres, to stick in frames at home! Shop owner Gary is into quality music across the board, it’s a total diggers secret and delight.

What are your plans in Ibiza this year? 

Will nip over throughout the summer, spin some sunsets and do the beach bars, no doubt do Pikes On Sundays which is good laugh and catch up with the Ibiza crew. The label needs steering with output and new ideas, so it’ll be a lot of heads down in the studio, cracking on once Balearic 3 is out and bubbling.

Anything else you’re looking forward to on the horizon?

Will be sorting the big parties in Ramsgate over the summer. I’ve got two excellent versions of ‘Abraham’s Theme’ to put out by On-U Sound & Bartosz Kruczyński, and a stack of stuff to mix and finish in order to put out some warm Balearic heat in winter.

Enjoy the mix session! Jim

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