Working with samples and synths, creating melodic and atmospheric mixes, Mark Caramelli and Paul Hargreaves are Death on a Balcony, the deep house, disco groove playing duo who love their mums.
Playing individually and partying non-stop, Mark and Paul first met on the after party circuit in Leeds and bonded over their mutual interest in music production. Today the firm friends and full time DJ’ing duo are inseparable. Trotting the globe scattering Death on the Balcony’s warm, soulful sounds across vast audiences of informed dance crowds, the harmonious, soothing melodies these lads lace together are slow building and rhythmically rewarding. Championed as the electronic music industry’s next big thing, the boys have recently picked up serious speed remixing with the likes of Culprit LA, Pets Recordings, Silver Network, Illusion Recordings, Akbal Music and Airdrop, with forthcoming releases scheduled on Digital Delight, Hissy Fit and Join The Dots. Supported heavily by the fellow dynamic pairings Catz N Dogz and Eli & Charlie (Soul Clap), Mark and Paul play the long game like pros. i-D online chatted to the two brothers from another mother about what’s getting them going and how they first ever got it together.
Your name is based upon a dark event you both experienced, why did you name your music project after this tragic incident? Our name isn’t really homage directly to the event but something we both experienced at the very start of our production life together, more a moment in time that then sparked a deep life and death conversation on my (Paul’s) balcony at the time and it was a working title that stuck and we just went with it.
Who are your heroes? Our mothers!
When did you first fall in love with dance music?
Paul: Sat in front of the TV watching The Chart Show listening to electronic acts and artists like Prince, Human League and Ultravox, although I didn’t realise it till later in life. Roll on a few years with a brief journey through guitar based music, rock n roll and punk during my formative years and then fast forward to Leeds, the northern dance scene where I met Mark, who introduced me to a wealth of disco, underground house and techno. Prior to that I had been listening to more electro based acts like Black Strobe and obviously Ivan Smagghe, Felix Da Housecat and also people like Miss Kittin & The Hacker cemented my love for all things electronic.
Mark: Going to raves in the early 90’s, my first two times going to The Hacienda before it got shut down permanently. I remember losing myself on the middle of the dance floor, captivated by the atmosphere and DJs, watching Tom Wainwright & Graeme Park play in particular. After that I was hooked as a clubber, DJ and producer.
Where is the best venue to party and play in the world? Panorama Bar, Electric Pickle, Salon Renate, DC10, Off Sonar Week, DEMF Water floor at Watergate, The Garage/Waxwerks (Leeds), Below and so on. Places we haven’t been or played yet but are high on the list include Warung, The Burn, ADE, BPM… the list is ongoing!
Essential undiscovered Ibiza hotspot? The beaches in the north of the island are unbelievable. Not exactly a hot spot in the sense of nightlife but beyond the rave they are perfect.
If your music were to soundtrack a journey, what geographical start and end point would a mix transport your audiences to? London – Berlin – Barcelona – Ibiza – NYC – Chicago – Detroit
How do the creative processes work between the two of you as a duo? As DJ’s we play in the moment and are never sure of the order of what we play until we get there. We like to feed off the vibe of the crowd, the club and the environment. We don’t play back to back but three/four tracks on and off between us preferably over three hours. When making music we can start an idea separately but always come in on it together and agree on it as a “finished” track. Sometimes we start and finish one from scratch together.
Who’s the boss? Bruce Springsteen of course!
Tell i-D something about each other no-one else knows?
Paul: Not a lot of people know that Mark is Peter Pan in disguise. He’s also a trained photographer & designer and does all our artwork for our DOTB stuff and parties etc.
Mark: Paul is a vegetarian. Or to be precise a pesky pescatarian!
When are you most inspired? On the dance floor and in the thick of it at a great party, club, festival setting, as a clubber (not in work mode as a DJ) listening to a top selector playing. There is no particular one defining moment or place where inspiration happens. It could be walking in the street or equally just watching a documentary on TV or also weirdly enough just before you go to sleep.
Which up-coming artists are you championing at the moment? Illusion Recordings crew, Puente & Rosch, Robbie Akbal, Damian Uzabiaga, Wildkats, Jouhl, Ben Pearce, Krill Tipo & Kastil, Monaco. There are so many more, the list could continue. There is a lot of great music around.
Who has mentored you throughout your career? We feel we have achieved a lot through our own hard work however people like Catz N Dogz, Eli & Charlie (Soul Clap) have given us some platforms, which have given us great exposure plus all the labels we have released with and podcasts we have done too.
What equipment do you work with? In terms of production we use a mac running ableton with some old synths (Yamaha dx100, microkorg, juno 106,Novation X Station) that sounds great and we know it inside out, an SM58 microphone for vox hooklines and some moderately expensive monitors, one of which works 80% of the time after an incident at an after party ;) And our brains for the ideas, the most important piece of kit!
Where do you hope to be in 10 years time, what will you be listening to, what will you be doing and where will you be performing? Happy, healthy and comfortable, surrounded by a network of the people we love and trust. Still playing internationally, still successful in our own rights individually and together as a duo, producing music, creating film scores and it would be cool to have our own a party space to put on events. Also living in a sunny climate please!
Death On The Balcony One Thing appears on the More Music Compilation released on 24th September.
Text: Milly McMahon