Get To Know: Baltra

Birthed out of the lo-fi blogosphere, Baltra’s music allows for space but can also feel like a white-knuckle ride, serendipitous but also concise. Discovering new music and making friends within the scene, he started sharing bills with the likes of DJ Seinfeld and producing synth-laden, woozy cuts of house such as ‘Fade Away’ and ‘Never Let Go Of Me’, carving out his own take within the self-built community.Playing his first gigs in the early 2010s, in warehouse-style settings like “the side of an airplane hangar”, his ability to find glimmers within imperfections is a conscious impetus that he revels within. “Maybe that’s why I was able to breakthrough,” he muses from a sunny NYC. “I still take that approach no matter what. For me, that’s where the magic happens.”Growing up in Philadelphia on a diet of his older brother’s MTV- and hip-hop-driven sounds, freestyle and radio elements can still be felt within the music he makes today.

Lead single ‘Ahead Of Time’ from his forthcoming debut album ‘Ted’, named after his late father, takes a Korean vocal via Park Hye Jin and knots itself into a smooth and sexy, breaks-heavy slice of four-four. “It’s a track that I made on an afternoon when I missed a flight from Tokyo. I was stuck, so that attracted a summation of the album and relationships, it speaks so much to me because of how it came about,” he tells DJ Mag of the Drake and Aaliyah-underpinned cut, which received commendable feedback after he first played it on Amsterdam’s Red Light Radio.

Birthed out of a “mutual respect” for each other’s work and converting their URL connection into something tangible IRL, the track felt “serendipitous” in its formation, with Park recording the vocals in her native Korean from the get-go. Across the rich 15-track LP, Baltra spans 110-165bpm, offering both underground club and atmospheric material, swelling with emotion. ‘Opal Drip’ wiggles with 707 punch, while ‘Ted’s Interlude’ dials-in with voicemail textures that he sneakily recorded as he and his father indulged in quality time, smoking back-garden joints, and explores emotive space with pipettes of horn. “I really tried to push myself into new territory and into things that I thought were — possibly — weaknesses in my arsenal,” he says, punctuating the listen with “flawed” moments purposefully to make the listener reassess, and to develop his artistry further. With talks in the works to expand the album into a live show, Baltra is igniting a cathartic fuel with the fire of the club. On ‘Ted’, he ultimately crafts his best work in striding across lush textures that are injected with ardour, encapsulating both joy and pain produced out of fortuitous moments.