In this week's column, we follow around one of Minus' new names and visit the DJ Awards.
12 hours in Ibiza: A night with Matador
Ibiza is an island that heaves with big name artists who rent out villas for the entire season. Many, though, merely pop in for an evening before heading home. We decided to follow around one of the latter to find out what a whirlwind visit to Ibiza can hold. Last week marked the final edition of Richie Hawtin's ENTER., so we decided to hang with Minus' Matador.
When we first met Gavin Lynch, AKA Matador, at the airport early Thursday afternoon, he passed through arrivals wearing a beige tee, sunglasses, black jeans and dark high-tops. In tow, nothing more than his chrome, hard case luggage.
"So yeah, we really haven't slept yet," he admitted, motioning to his girlfriend while we smoked outside under the warming sun. "I was playing a gig in Milan last night, it was totally sold out. It went off—great fun. Then we had to get straight on a plane and come here, so we are totally exhausted."
After some much needed rest, we met in the lobby of Hotel Ocean Drive in Talamanca with Gavin, or Gav, and Minus CEO Phillip Soeffker. We plopped down there around a glass table on chic leather couches and chairs, and Gav ordered vodka, while we had gin and tonics. I asked Gav if he was feeling rested.
"Yeah, got a few hours of sleep," Gav said. "You never end up sleeping as much as you think you will though. You get into your hotel, then answer a few emails, unpack, and by the time you lie down, you only get three or four hours."
"You're playing from 3 AM to 4 AM tonight," Phillip said, sitting across from me and looking up from his phone. "Cool." Gav answered. "So what's the plan till then?"
"Well, dinner is at 9 PM, then we could head to the sake bar at 10 for a few hours, then go catch the parade in the port," Phillip suggested.
Gav barely had time to answer before we turned to see Marc Houle sheepishly sneaking up on us. Suddenly, a slew of Minus artists and management showed up, leading to introductions, hugs, kisses and another round of drinks. Gavin started telling us about his last big experience arriving at the Munich airport.
"So we're coming through just fine, when suddenly these plain clothes security guys pull us aside and tell us they need to do a random, full-on search. They bring us into this side room and I start unpacking my bags when I'm like, 'to hell with this mate, you want to search my bags, you do it, I ain't got nothing to hide. I'll be over here eating a Danish.' They went through everything, I mean everything—my clothes, my equipment, the whole lot."
"I know," said Marc, "I called them on you," he said with a dry smirk.
"That was you? You bastard!"
"Yeah, I told them you guys were up to no good."
"But no rubber gloves though, right?" I asked.
"No, no rubber gloves!"
Finally it was time to head for dinner over at Madrigal, located just across the street to the hotel in Marina Botafoch. The dining area was outside in back, with two long tables covered in white cloth, one on an upper deck, the second a few feet below, leading down to the dock, where moored yachts floated just feet away in the calm sea.
It wasn't always posh hotels and lavish meals for Gavin. He began DJing back in Ireland when he was about 14 or 15, traveling back and forth to Dublin to buy records and play gigs, eventually enrolling in a private college for sound engineering and music production while he paid the bills as a chef.
"I was so fortunate because the head of the college was a huge electronic music enthusiast—he was in an '80s electro band, into synthesizers—so we got his full attention. I recorded bands, worked down in residential recording studios, and learned both aspects of the trade, both in a studio programming on computers and micing up drum kits, recording bands, you name it. I think the more knowledge you have, the better equipped you are."
After spending four years there, he spent all his spare time in the studio, honing his sound, and eventually sent a few tracks to Minus' Soundcloud DropBox about two years ago.
"I didn't hear anything back for months! I think it was about four or five months later that I got an email from Rich saying, basically, 'What's happening with these tracks?' By that time most of them were already signed, released or on their way to being released, so it was a case of 'just keep sending us stuff.' Unbeknownst to him, about a week later a promoter called and said 'I've got Rich coming in to do Tripod, do you want to do the support thing?' And I said, 'Yeah, of course!'"
After hooking up with Richie at Tripod after the gig, the Minus boss told him to knuckle down and send him some of the material he heard that night when it was good and ready. Come September, he'd locked himself in his studio and had two five track EPs ready to go, along with a few bonus tracks, which he sent off.
"Three or four weeks later I saw he was playing them out and trying them, then around October I got the email saying that he signed the two EPs and the bonus tracks, about 14 or 15 tracks in total. He then invited me over to Berlin, we went to dinner, met all the Minus people, played my first party with them, and we all clicked…And here we are today."
Back over at Madrigal, Richie started moving around the restaurant pouring shots for everyone, starting at the far table. When he got to us, he told us they were sake for a toast later, so we shouldn't drink them, and Phillip explained the sake's origins.
"Before now, this sake had never been exported out of Japan. But Richie met the guy who made it, and as you know he's done a few years of sake courses now, so he persuaded them to export the sake out of the country for the first time ever, only to Ibiza. He even made a special bottle just for us with the ENTER logo on it."
Richie then made a toast to everyone who had been a part of the ENTER. season, and we drank.
"Oh, smooth." Phillip said. "I never liked sake until I tried this. But this? Amazing."
After we finished up, we all made our way over to the vans and went to Space. Once there, Gav kept checking when he needed to play, then checking the time, later explaining that it was all about timing. "There's too much drinking time tonight," he said about us arriving early. "The trick is arriving at the right time, like an hour before, otherwise you get too pissed."
"Should we go and get some sake cocktails then?" Phillip suggested.
"Let's do it," said Gav.
We headed into ENTER.Sake where Maya Jane Coles was laying down deep, funky techno to a one-in, one-out room. Gav and I squeezed our way into the bar and ordered up six Minus cocktails. The idea was to get a few photos with him next to the cocktails, lined up nice and neat for effect. But as the bartender poured, we got to chatting about Guinness, and the tiny, dusty pub next to Gavin's place that he claims people come from around the world to drink at. "Mate, I'm not just saying this 'cause it's no more than 20 meters from my house, but it's the smoothest, creamiest Guinness in the world." In our excitement, we forgot we were setting up a shot and went to grab our drinks before the bartender was finished pouring them, and Gav spilled his everywhere. The bartender was visibly upset.
"You can't stick a drink in front of an Irishman and not expect him to grab it," Gav exclaimed, then leaned over the counter and apologized to the bartender, who brightened up quickly.
We soon got talking about Gavin's sudden launch into the limelight on Minus. For some musicians, it can take its toll, both artistically and personally. Jealousy from friends who might not understand their new lifestyle, or trouble maintaining a long distance relationship with a girlfriend who might be suspicious of a job that combines late nights, girls and booze are occupational hazards. But so far Gavin has managed to avoid these pitfalls. His girlfriend tours with him, for one, and because the majority of his friends back home are DJs and producers themselves, Gavin says they're totally behind him.
"I can remember one of my friends, when I signed the deal and things totally started taking off, my friend said 'yeah, it's going be shit, we're going to see each other a lot less, but for such a good reason. You're doing exactly what we're all working towards. Every producer wants to make that their living, make that their job.'"
What seems to have taken more of a toll on him is the change to his professional life: "I was used to spending 60 to 70 hours a week in my pajamas, in a studio in Dublin, and now it's the flipside of that—spending 60 to 70 hours a week on the road. And when you're home, you're basically just sleeping, or else you're trying your hardest to get into the studio."
"It's like being thrown into a washing machine and fucking tumbled around basically," he says with a laugh.
After a few more beers in the back room, it was time for Gavin to get set up for his show over in the ENTER. main room. As we headed into the booth, Gavin sat down on top of his silver luggage box and started setting up, the whole time keeping his laptop and himself at a low profile so as to not disturb Paco Osuna, who was wrapping things up with bouncing, energetic techno.
Finally it was Gavin's turn. He started off fairly deep, with tracks like "Klay" from the Spooks EP that helped launch him on Minus. Slowly he started winding into more energetic territory with tracks like the funky yet haunting "Korrado," urging the crowd along. Things really got moving when he threw on the bass-heavy "Kingswing," motivating one partygoer to climb onto his friend's shoulders to hold up an Irish flag with "Matador" stenciled in huge black letters across it as the whole crowd put their hands up. The pace stayed high, especially with fan favorite "Spooks," and aggressive builders like "Hitbox." All the while, Gav threw himself into the show, bouncing to the beat and twisting knobs with precision and energy, so much so that immediately after he finished, he bent down and changed from his sweat-soaked shirt into a new black tee.
After his set, we headed back into the back room for a few more beers, though once the reins were off, keeping track of the energetic, euphoric Irishman became a challenge. I finally caught back up with him just as Richie was finishing up his set, and asked him how the night went.
"Couldn't have been better," he smiled as we clinked glasses.
We watched as the night wrapped up with the Minus gang climbing onto the decks, celebrating. Richie thanked everyone for an incredible season, announcing to the room where the afterparty would be the next day. With bags under his eyes, Gavin said that he was heading home to crash. After spending just an evening trying to keep up, I didn't blame him a bit.
The 15th annual DJ Awards took place on Wednesday night at Pacha, and all and all, the experience was as surreal as it was prefabbed. I realized, for instance, I hadn't seen anyone in a suit in months when the presenters came on stage. The first winner was Seth Troxler in the Tech House category, and the Michigan native delivered a short but poignant message about EDM. Clearly passionate about the watering down of electronic music, it was a rare serious moment from the usually happy go-lucky DJ.
In the Deep House category, American Maceo Plex took home the Kryptonite, the oddly shaped prize awarded to the winners. In the Techno category, Carl Cox was the victor, and delivering a relaxed, warm-hearted message via a pre-recorded video from outside of Space as a plane flew over. Nightmares On Wax took the Downtempo category for the second year in a row, and the Track of the Season award went to Pirupa for "Party Non Stop."
The Best Ibiza Night, which is selected by a DJ Awards panel, had two winners this year, with both Luciano's Vagabundos and Richie Hawtin's ENTER. earning the prize, while the Ibiza DJ award went to Pacha resident Andy Baxter. The Producer award went to Solomun, who also seemed to be a crowd favorite, with all of the stage performers grabbing a photo with him after the "Family Portrait," where all the artists gather on stage together for a group photo. Troxler was back in humorous form by then, mugging with a goofy smile and thumbs up before pretending to eat his Kryptonite award.
The week in pictures
ENTER. closing party at Space
Marc Houle showed up to support his former label boss as Minus finished up the first season of its new party.
We Love… at Space
Regis and Function brought a dose of techno this week to the Sunday night shindig.
Circoloco at DC-10
Art Department were among the many rocking the famed Monday party.