When we judge these mixes, there’s a few rules we follow. They should tell a story, the music should have a natural flow and it should be about quality tracks and not what the latest top 10 tunes are on Beatport. Colin’s mix easily ticked all those boxes and more, and that why we are proud to announce Colin Balzli as our August mix of the Month winner. Head of A&R, Simon Huxtable when to meet the all conquering hero and find out a little about his story.
Hi Colin, thanks for finding the time to chat with us at Decoded Magazine. Let start with winning this months competition. How does if feel? How did you find out you won?
Really, really nice actually… I wasn’t expecting it at all to be honest so it was massive shock to enter a competition and find out the next day that you’ve won through Facebook. I was waiting on a call about a new job on Friday so when that didn’t come this news certainly made that situation a lot better.
Tell us about growing up in Switzerland. What music were you exposed to and who were your heroes?
I didn’t actually live in Switzerland for a very long time so most of my musical exposure came from Ireland. I have a fascination with 80’s music. Acts like Imagination, Prince, Blondie and Depeche Mode would be artists that I still absolutely adore today. I don’t really have a fancy musical heritage like a lot of people out there. As far as dance music goes Laurent Garnier was the man that changed everything for me. I still remember getting into the club at 16 with a fake ID I made myself.. most of my friends didn’t get in so I spent most the night on my own. It was still a life changing event for me. Over the last 6 years or so Dixon has been someone I have massive admiration for.
You’ve studied a music related degrees. At what point did to decide that working within the music business was what you wanted to do?
I think the exact moment was after TimeWarp, Mannheim 2008. They gave out some free music and a demo version of Ableton and from that point on I knew I wanted to make music. It wasn’t until I actually started college that I got serious about it all. At the time I was out of work and had just dropped out of an engineering course and one of my best mates Austin rang me up and asked me would I be interested in doing a music tech course at college… we just went from there really.
You’re now based in Liverpool. How do you find the city and its musical heritage?
I love Liverpool, there’s always lots of quirky and weird things going as well as plenty of local promoters bringing every aspect of dance music to the city. The people here are unbelievably friendly too, I’ve made some really good friends over here.
Where should we go in Liverpool for a great night out?
The bombed out church is my absolute favourite place.. It’s a big roofless church in the middle of the city. I saw John Talabot there in the last few months. The guy is phenomenal, best selector of music I’ve come across in recent years. I have had many good nights in the Magnet. I just really prefer small clubs rather than big huge ones but I did have a really good time at Luna when they had Stephan Bodzin down. Believe it or not I don’t think I’ve been to many pubs since I’ve been living here, so there are none that I’d really class as essential. As far as Restaurants I would always recommend Bakchich, Miyagi’s or Lucha Libre.. actually most places on Bold Street are really nice.
And where should we head for some chillin out and relaxing?
Sefton Park… I love it there. I probably go there a couple of times a week just to look at all the dogs and squirrels running around the place. It’s a really peaceful place and when the weather is nice it’s one of the nicest places to spend your day doing nothing other than relaxing.
Tell us about your label RePublik Records.
Well the label is the offshoot from the RePublik Club nights. They’ve been running events for 10 years running now and have had the biggest names playing there. I believe Saturday Marcel Dettmann was playing and before that it was Agents of Time. I’ve known the RePublik guys for a few years now and through drunken conversations at parties the idea was put out there and about a year ago we came up with the concept. So now, the label is made up of the Republik clubnight owners Michael Kennedy, Warren & Eddie Sauvage and now myself and a good mate of mine Austin Larkin. The ethos of the label is one that very much supports the grass roots level producers as well as the already established. The first release is by an amazingly talented producer called Wayne Duggan with a remix coming from Patlac & Matthias Meyer.. the whole EP is fantastic and I’m not just saying that! The EP should be out in September (hopefully) on digital and vinyl.
What has been the most challenging aspect of starting up the label?
Well you can plan all you want but the majority of the time you are at the mercy of others which can be frustrating. Most of the time you’re dealing with emails and people can take a long time to reply to emails and can often change agreements at the drop of a hat. Other than that the hard part is always finding the right music. We’re in no rush to pump out releases, everything has to be perfect and also has to be what all of us want so that can be tough at times but it’s what will ensure all the releases are solid.
Let’s talk about your development as a DJ. How did you learn to mix and where was your first gig?
Well I’m really more of a live act and that’s where my focus has always been but if you’re into dance music it’s only natural that you want to collect and play music, Its impossible not to. My first gig is actually a memorable one.. I was asked dj a big festival (Life Festival) back home about 5 years ago I think. I turned up and they had this old allen and heath mixer with the gains on the back.. needless to say I made a huge balls pretty much every mix for the first half hour and cleared the dance floor ha ha. Eventually I got myself together and started to enjoy it but at that stage there were only a handful of people there. You live and you learn.. its all a learning curve!
The mix is fantastic; a proper journey covering lots of styles. How long did it take to select and mix, and what advice would you give to new DJs struggling with the art of the mixtape?
Thanks a lot, sometimes its hard to judge if you’re recording a mix that’s more for you than others! The selection took a while.. I think I ended up doing five versions in total before I was happy. I think it’s important to make a mix memorable, and for that I don’t think it’s always best just to use all of the latest tracks.
For me it’s important that a mix makes sense, that its going somewhere and is not just a selection of tracks mixed together, there has to be a theme or musical direction. It doesn’t do any harm to do some edits of your own and really make it sound your own.
Ahh yes, we understand you also dabble in the studio. Talk us through how you began writing music.
The studio is my favourite place in the world, I could spend days and days getting lost in my own world just playing around and making weird noises and sounds. It’s just a place I feel really happy and comfortable in. It just started out with demo of ableton and my mother’s laptop and over the last 7 years its slowly expanded to a separate acoustically treated studio and a choice collection of production toys.
With Soundcloud very much in the news at the moment, how does the affect of copyright laws and the current cracking down by major labels effect you as a DJ and as a label owner. Do you think an alternative to Soundcloud exists, and if so, are we going to see further issues with them?
Copyright is something I’m very much interested in anyway, so I have been following this for quite a while. The whole Soundcloud thing is just another flash in the pan, the circle of life. Soundcloud are just reaching the end of their life cycle now. They had a great idea and lots of users but now that the industry is trying to force people into paid streaming, Soundcloud was always going to face problems.
They became big enough to be a torn in the major labels sides by hosting music for free. There’s a few other alternatives like hearthis.at but it’s the same thing, they’ll expand and be shut down and then someone will have another great idea. As I said it’s just the circle of life and this copyright issue has been ongoing since the days of people recorded cassette tapes of their favourite songs off the radio.
What are your views on social media being used negatively to draw attention to particular artists?
To each their own. Everyone does things differently to appeal to the audience they want to attract. For some people that involves a lot of social media presence or attacking other artists. I don’t like it personally but it’s just a combination of business and pettiness. I just think worrying and complaining about others is just taking time away from focusing on your own music and career.
Well, Colin, it’s been wonderful to meet you, we wish you all the best for the future. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just thanks for picking me and make you sure you check out the label!!
01// Ame – Rej (A Hundred Birds Beatless Mix)
02// Moosefly – The Space Between
03// Clarian – Lusic Dreamers
04// Wayne Duggan – Experiment 1
05// Frankey & Sandrino – Acamar
06// Booka Shade – Charlotte (Mic Newman Remix)
07// Schlepp Geist – Tura
08// Patrice Baumel – The Vanishing
09// Chaim & Guy Gerber – Myspace
10// Vince Watson – Eon
11// Ian O’Donovan – Forever Untold (Satoshi Fumi Remix)
12// Oniris – Daylight
Want to join our Mix of the Month? simply head to our website for more information