Playlist: Charles Bals of Another Slang

I first got to know Charlie in Dusseldorf, when I was 17. Somehow it is hard to believe that he still lives there and also installed the headquarters of his agency in town. At hey woman! you might know him for his work: when we launched the site, it was somehow obvious that Charlie had to be involved, and ever since he diligently creates stunning collages for us. His talent, his eagle eye as well as his great sense of aesthetics impress me every single time. His home, which he designed and furnished himself, looks like an Eldorado of 70s – a DJ booth and a record shelve that reaches the ceiling included.

Hence, it was long overdue to introduce him in our “Playlist” section. “How many songs am I allowed to pick” he asked until I understood what he meant: as he composed a playlist consisting of no less than 84 songs! Since his answers were so charming on our not actually published questionnaires, we decided to share them with you in all their (almost unedited) glory… Let’s go on an odyssey into another world, Charlie’s world that is!


How did your interest in music start? Can you remember somthing like a „starting point“?

Actually I can. In the mid eighties my grandfather dragged me into stores in Paris to ask the saleswomen if any new Amanda Lear, Jean Michel Jarre or Cerrone singles had been released. It might have been his way to have me fight my shyness. At the same time I connected a little more to the music he would play to me. His favorite single was clearly Diana Ross’ Upside Down. That one was playing up and down and turning round and round indeed. When I hear that track somewhere it all comes back. Ironically he was a very classic, classy dandy kind of man. That taste in music did not fit the rest at all. I would rather picture him like a jazz or classical person. Everything had to be perfect, even when he was dying from a severe illness, he would not leave the bed for dinner without wearing a nice suit. Even alone by himself he would have done that. That cheesy disco-ish music taste was probably some sort of sweet tooth.


Do you play music in public? If yes, whats your favourite setting?

I never really pursued DJ-ing, so I rarely play. I am not good at live mixing, if anything I am probably more of a curator/collector kind of person. So when the setting allowed to expose my taste in music as a concept and people were actually in that place to embrace the moment – like when they watch a movie – that usually got my interest. But yes I play maybe a handful of sets every year and I like the ones outside, on a cemetary movie night, in the woods or on the beach the most, especially around the golden hour, where day and night shake hands and the vibe is about to change.

What is the music you listen to actually?

I entirely dissolve in music that creates a strong mood. Music that enables my mind to attach pictures or a vision to it. I have a hard time when it’s too basic, too predictable and pleasing. It has to be either a strike of ingenious perfection or a charming fail – both really catch my interest. I am usually sold when I suddenly get confronted with a great production detail – whether it’s an instrument I did not expect (some whistling for example), a crazy good break or a twist in the melody.

Much of the stuff we find on obscure and rare vinyl is either great or very fucked up. Imagine the sleeve of a 45 with a sketch done by the teenage daughter of the drummer. And when you put it on it sounds like a bunch of stoned mermaids trapped in a hobbit hole. That is something I would listen to right now.

But as my mood changes about every other hour, my playlist does, too. It can be Soul, Funk or Folk as long as it does all the things I mentioned. It often comes with a trippy or cinematic edge somewhere. Fantasy Folk, Psychedelic disco, Yacht Rock, Jazz Noir, just a piano – anything really – if it creates a memory.

You are selling your taste for music to some big names –  what is this?

Yeah a few heavy DJs and producers buy from us at Beachfreaks Records. It is a little side project of my two partners Danny McLewin from PSYCHEMAGIK and Evan Jordan and I selling very little amounts of heavy vinyl to a small group of people. The styles are mixed: Dance, Afro, Synth, Balearic and Amateur, only original pressings from the 70s, 80s and sometimes 90s. We closed the public store and only deal on a private level now, before it becomes too exposed – here is a ridiculously flattering article about us.

And finally: tell us about the playlist you did for us.

84 tracks.

To pick a fancy theme and compile a good dozen tracks for the length of a mix is something else completely. This playlist here lasts for the duration of half a work shift – so until lunch or from lunch until the evening. For five and a half hours of music I had something in mind that would develop slowly, change character and pace, without ever getting too hectic or confusing.

I was wondering if there could be a playlist that works well with my mind entirely switched on to it, as well as in a situation where I would be further away from the music.

I approached the playlist very much like I would approach a film. Many of the songs /characters would not talk to each other at a party. But maybe a few hours later? And yet I can’t stop thinking about all the scenes that didn’t make it into the final edit. So here comes some very sweet soul, cinematic jazz, a few tropical places, abandoned deserts, gypsy guitars, breezy yachting and weird dancing around a bonfire on Jupiter.

I could say something about every track, but with 84 of them I rather introduce you to them, than the other way around.

Recommendation: Please choose HQ Streaming in your settings and allow a 3 second fade between the tracks.

To get a glimpse into Charlie’s home, have a look at this feature we did with his girlfriend Anna last summer. 

Translation: Jessica Aimufua

Julia co-founded one of the first fashion blogs in Germany in 2007 and became a freelance consultant for digital strategies after publishing her first book in 2010. After an eventful four years with Condé Nast working mainly in the digital department of Vogue Germany, she decided to launch her own online magazine with her dream partner, Veronika Heilbrunner. She is based in Berlin and loves to read books.