We check out a few of last weekend's big opening parties, and chat with Paul Woolford about the island's latest newcomer: UK bass.
With opening parties from Amnesia, We Love... and Cocoon, last weekend was a pretty big one in Ibiza, and not without its surprises. Here's a run-down of a few of our highlights, plus a chat with the inimitable Paul Woolford.
Amnesia opened its doors on Saturday, with a party that lasted well past dawn. On the Terrace, Audiofly weaved their way through grumbling, melodic techno early on in the evening, while green lasers beamed around the room in every direction. As morning came, Mar-T dropped house anthems like Pirupa's "Party Non Stop," to the crowd's delight, and even when the music accidentally cut out for several minutes, it didn't slow things down a bit. Next, Davide Squillace and Matthias Tanzmann played a back-to-back set, rolling into low-slung funk with tracks like like Zohki and Roozlie's unreleased "My Swag" and Sabb and Eddy M's "Groove Calling," as a slightly thinned out crowd of the truly hardcore casually ignored the recent smoking ban and cooled off with Matinee flyers.
Photos: Amnesia Opening Party
On Sunday, Resident Advisor streamed We Love...'s opening party for the first time, something that we will be doing weekly throughout the season. On a heaving terrace, the full Innervisions crew began their new monthly residency, including a live Henrik Schwarz set that ran through some of his best known tracks. Detroit techno has long been a staple of We Love... and this opening was no different, with Derrick May and Carl Craig (performing live as 69) delivering to the high benchmark they've set over previous years. Perhaps most intriguingly, we watched Paul Woolford spar with Ben UFO in a back-to-back session in the Discoteca. This was part of We Love...'s unprecedented initiative to bring more bass acts to the island, with Woolford involved heavily along the way; he reveals more about this in the below interview.
Photos: We Love... Space - Opening Fiesta
Cocoon photo credit: phrank.net
Monday began with Circoloco at DC-10, with Jamie Jones playing upbeat deep house to a packed out room on the Terrace, while Art Department kept things deeper and dreamier with tunes like "Meetin' Again" by Ultrasone.
Next was the opening of Sven Vath's Monday institution, Cocoon at Amnesia. Cassy, who takes a much more regular role at Cocoon this year, played punchy house early on in the Main Room, before Papa Sven dished out the type of hard techno he's favoured recently. It almost sounded and felt like a Cocoon of old. Ricardo Villalobos, the terrace's master-of-ceremonies, definitely began with a retro feel to his set, jacking out '90s house before teasing with a regular trick of his, acid house. Cocoon's afterparty is so legendary that it's almost threatened to overshadow the main event itself; the remote Punta Arabi was the location for this year's marathon carry-on.
Following his back-to-back set with Ben UFO at We Love... on Sunday, we caught up with Woolford to talk about how bass music came to the island and how it's panning out so far:
How did Sunday night go for you at We Love..., playing with Ben UFO?
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Really well thanks, we both agreed it felt instinctive and we had a lot of fun, which is ultimately of optimum importance. I knew immediately when he agreed to play that he would fit and he did so impeccably, maintaining the intimate atmosphere that his music elicits but at the same time being aware of the scale of the room. We had a blast.
This summer you're doing a number of back-to-back sets with generally unfamiliar names to Ibiza, such as Ben, Untold, etc. How did this idea come about and why did you pick these guys?
It followed on from Ben inviting me to guest on the Hessle Audio show on Rinse FM recently. We discussed taking it into a club situation and the next day on the train back to Leeds I tentatively floated the suggestion of We Love... at Space. I wasn't so sure Ben would be open to it, I know he used to prefer smaller situations but he went for it. At the same time, Mark Broadbent was asking me for my thoughts on Ben playing at the club, which led on to him throwing it open to me to invite anyone. Laurie Appleblim was a natural choice immediately, and after some careful consideration I then asked Jack Dunning who is someone else with a unique voice. I picked all three simply because their approaches are very individual, and I know with each that there's a synergy that creates sparks, so to transplant that into an environment like Space opens things up further.
It's the first real representation of UK bass in Ibiza, why do you think its happened now and why at We Love?
The time is right, the world is a huge place and there's a thirst for music beyond just dancefloor fodder everywhere. People want more from their experiences in clubs, and outside of bubbles like Las Vegas, especially right now because of economical restrictions, you want the best night you can possibly have. If you hear something fresh in the process then that's even better. These days artists are less afraid to step outside of the boxes that their peers and occasionally the media have perhaps painted them into.
As for We Love..., they have a bold commitment to pushing the booking policy forward, and to do it on such a scale requires belief and confidence, and you can clearly see this reflected not only in bringing in Ben, Jack and Laurie, but Shackleton is involved down the road, Cosmin TRG, Scuba, Skudge, all very individual artists with unique voices. It would have been easy to play it safe and throw money at whoever the "hottest" acts are but We Love... play by their own rules and always have.
Do you think the island's ready for bass music?
I don't see why not, why should we underestimate the ears of others? Having said that, there's definitely a careful way to introduce new acts to any club, some things require more care and consideration with programming, in fact the best results always occur when this is taken into account.
How much is UK bass influencing your own sound?
The energy and enthusiasm of the participants is key, but those people are not only from the UK, they are in different locations all over the world, with the common factor being the thirst to dig for the more interesting. The UK has been key, but you only have to look at the music of Dave Huismans (AKA 2562, A Made Up Sound) or Falty DL to see people from other nationalities contributing in wildly inventive ways. It's all fuel for the fire along the way, and it's manifesting itself in part on the Special Request project, and also in various other things. Ultimately, you have to take what you connect with and then put some kinks in the reflection somewhere or you may as well be working in a photocopying shop.