The sound of the island in 2011 is slower and deeper than last year, according to Grego O'Halloran.
Maybe it's just because I like it, but I've certainly felt the proliferation of something you could vaguely categorise as deep house in Ibiza at a lot of parties this year. I'd say it ranges from the almost undefinable sounds you were likely to hear Zip and Seth Troxler playing at Circoloco last week or even what Jamie Jones and Dan Ghenacia have done in the Cocoon warm-up sets in consecutive weeks, yet still can encompass what you'll hear from Maya Jane Coles at Kehakuma or regularly in the Red Box for We Love. Distinctively slower, definitely deeper: Art Department's 2010 hit "Without You" isn't the peak, it's just the beginning.
The Crosstown influence is tangible of course. Not only do their artists represent the biggest faction at DC-10's many parties, there are an abundance of other appearances for them at Kehakuma, Cocoon and Sasha's Ushuaia events as well. The intriguing thing is how this music that is suited for the intimate surrounds of Fabric's Room 3 or even the moderately-sized Panorama Bar has been able to translate to cavernous rooms at Amnesia or Space and even the DC-10 Terrace.
The popularity of disco-esque sounds and unprecedentedly low BPM levels has been helped along by the influence of the beach bars and their parties in the last two years. The likes of Radio Slave and Nina Kraviz last week at Ushuaia oozed grooving, almost tribal at times, profundity, while its general accessibility to electronic music fans—"underground pop" is what Seth Troxler calls it—means it has a chameleon-like quality that transcends boundaries of genre and taste. This isn't just music being played in the club. You'll hear it in bars and shops—and all day and night on the island's radio stations.
The impact and reach of producers like Clockwork and Tale of Us epitomise this sound and sparked an interest in my mind as to whether Italy in particular had something to do with all of this. Connecting the dots, I ended up at System of Survival, the Italian duo who hold residence at DC-10 for Circoloco and are regularly called upon island-wide as bastions of house music. Alex Carpentieri and Pietro de Lisi have been DC-10 attendees since the start and now reside in Ibiza all year. A recent mix of theirs that I heard seemed, to me at least, to represent everything about the spirit of this movement, so I quizzed them about their thoughts on it all.
Do you think there is a growth in true deep house at the moment?
I think more than a growth in deep house, it's a return to an old style of house music. It's an evolution of this sound, from the past, through the present and onwards. Elements of the past are really important to this sound that everybody is really starting to play now.
Why do you think this is?
Music is always changing and fashions change but these days in the clubs people don't want to hear banging records...there are certain sounds that make a particular effect, the atmosphere is different when they can go mental to certain familiar sounds or to sing the vocal and recognise a track. This music connects to a different part of a person than banging repetitive techno.
Many producers like Clockwork and Tale of Us are prominent within this, why the Italian connection?
I'm not sure that this is even an Italian connection, the connections are coming mainly from Berlin still. Most of the guys who are doing well and receiving the most recognition are based in Berlin even if they're from Italy. In Italy there are also a lot of good young Italian producers, people like Outart who is on our label and the crew from Bosconi Records for example who are producing some really interesting stuff, but unfortunately Italy is actually quite overlooked sometimes. We should move to Berlin!
Tell us about the "old school" influence in your music.
We have always played pretty much the same kind of music since 1989. It doesn't matter how old a record is if it was a good record in the first place. We still play records from that era and we create a set that incorporates good music from any era. There are so many current releases that imitate the old school, but you can't match the atmosphere of the original most of the times.
We just spent a year in the studio listening to old sounds and old tracks when we were making our first album, and a lot of our new productions are a reflection of that...creating something fresh from something that sounds slightly familiar, rather than trying to just copy an old record.
What are the main aspects/conditions for playing deep house right?
With this sound a DJ needs to have a sensibility and a respect for the power with which the people are involved, they need to really connect with the crowd and make sure that they can follow him...there are no big breaks or equalizer moments to cheat with when you're playing with this sound. They have to think ahead carefully to keep control of the dance floor.
Is there anything else you wanna say about this sound or style?
Actually we don't like to think we play deep house at all!