Tyson Ballard is an international man of mystery. Originally from Adelaide, he's spent decent amounts of time in Melbourne and London, before recently packing up his family and a room literally full of synths and drum machines to resettle in Berlin.
Heading up the Voyeurhythm label, Ballard has recently added a new bow to his production, collaborating with vocalist Sheff to form Son of Sun. The duo teamed up for a lovely track on Ballard’s recent Feel Like I Feel EP on Voyeurhythm, and word has it they’ll soon have a full EP out together on Love Fever. We approached Ballard whilst on a recent tour of South Africa with NYC’s Justin Miller, and the mix is comprised solely of records he acquired on one of many digging trips around Johannesburg and Cape Town. Coupled with the analogue circuitry of his own Condesa rotary mixer, the voice of Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro and a touch of “5 Times Haze” – the mix is quite the trip!
So I know you just got back from a bit of a wild adventure in South Africa with Justin Miller, tell us about the trip…how did it come about? Where did you play and what did you get up to?
Justin and I have been pen pals for quite a while now and it was time to take our bromance to the next level. He came over from NY and we spent eight weeks on the road in Europe and South Africa, it was a blast. The ‘Brokeback DJs’ – because the gigs don’t pay well and the vinyl weighs a ton!
South Africa was a side trip at the end of the tour and super happy we went. We saw Zebras, chased down Giraffes, had custom built felt hats made, ate double our weight in burgers and milkshakes and in between played great parties in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The country and people are just amazing. There is some serious digging to be had too, it’s kind of untouched in that respect…….shhhhhhh!
You moved to Berlin from London a little while ago. Tell us about the reasons for the move and how that transition has been.
We moved to Berlin for a number of reasons. The music is amazing, it’s cheap, it’s very central in Europe, and it’s a great place for a little one to grow up.
The more time we spend here the more we are falling in love with the city and what it has to offer. There’s so much more beyond the clubs, did you know there are over 3 thousand lakes in and around Berlin?
I’m looking forward to this summer, our place has a private rooftop so can’t wait to get all Aussie BBQ based.
On top of music you always seem to have your finger in a few different pies like your own coffee shop franchise in London or your rotary mixer business Condesa electronics. How are those projects coming along?
Condesa is going great guns! We are working hard on a few things at the moment, a new design called Lucia will be out soon so we’ve been developing and testing the circuitry. We have some plans in the pipeline for some interesting marketing – all will be revealed in good time.
I’m out of coffee……sigh. It was a great journey but realised that to make any money you need to sell a hell of a lot of cups of coffee. I’m still passionate about a good cup but not sure I’ll open another shop in a hurry.
What’s happening with Voyeurhythm at the moment? I hear you guys are about to release your first LP from Francis Inferno Orchestra, what else is coming up on the label?
Yeah, what an album! Can’t wait to hold it in my hands, I’m really proud to put it out and all the attention it’s getting at the moment is well deserved. It’s out in just over a week.
Then Ben Sun has a killer two tracker, fans of Salty Tears won’t be disappointed. Shortly following that is a remix package from Legowelt and John Daly from my last EP, a follow up EP from Elliot Thomas and last but not least a belter from elusive man of the moment and new member of the VR family, Man Power. It’s going to be a busy few months.
Studio wise, you have a new project with vocalist Sheff under the Son of Sun moniker. Tell us about the name and how the collab come about. What do you guys have coming up?
We collaborated on the title track of my latest EP ‘Feel Like I Feel’ and it was just really natural and easy so we decided to jump in the studio again. We spent some time in the studio in Berlin a few months ago and created another EP called ‘Whispers’ which is out on Love Fever in a month.
Man, the name was chosen from a bunch of names we were throwing about. I was chatting to San Soda about names and he gave me some wise words of advice. “Tyson, there are never good names, only shit names, and Son of Sun isn’t shit so go for it.” He’s right. Choosing a name is not an easy task but I’m happy with Son of Sun, at least we can say we are love children of Ben Sun’s.
We’re just about to hit the road for a string of festival dates playing live so we’ve been busy working on the live rig. Working with award winning choreographers and pyrotechnicians has been great.
What can you tell us about this mix? What was the idea behind the mix and how did you record it?
Well it’s not a normal mix by any stretch. It’s a mix, made up of some of the records I bought on tour in Africa, accompanied by a midi tutorial from Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro.
There are some quirky $1 records in there and some I know I scored cheap but are super rare. All mixed on the Condesa with artistic inspiration courtesy of northern lights blended with 5 times haze.
What else do you have coming up next?
Well after the run of festivals in June I’m taking a month off and actually tying the knot. We’ve got a spot in Portugal on the beach to hang and just having a small wedding with just the familia. It’s been a really hectic time so looking forward to stuffing myself with lobster, swimming in the ocean and playing lots of table tennis.
P.S. How are the Crows doing? [Tyson is an avid Adelaide Crows supporter in the AFL, bless him]