What do Ibiza's inhabitants make of the dance music scene? This week, we try to find out.
There are just over 130,000 people native to Ibiza, residents that live and work on the island all year round. Every summer, between May and October, their home is visited by in excess of two million tourists, the majority of them seeking wild, hedonistic experiences. We sat down with three locals to better understand the impact of the influx.
Tell us about the history of the record shop.
The shop was opened on the Day of the Innocents [the Spanish equivalent to April Fools day] in 1967, more than 45 years ago. It was originally in the port, until we moved to where we are now on Av. España 24 years ago. We were totally dedicated to music of all sorts: pop, soul, rock and of course all the electronic stuff when that first hit the island. I had 25 turntables and the place would be teeming with people buying records. There would be queues all day long. In summer, 99% of what we'd sell would be electronic, and in the winter it would be the opposite. Without all the summer trade from visiting DJs and alike, we'd never have been able to keep the shop running in winter. One paid for the other.
Though the shop still stands, it doesn't actually sell music anymore. Why not?
In 2010 I had to get rid of all the music because of piracy and mp3s and the big shift towards digital media. For a long time, no one played vinyl and that really hit us hard. Everyone pursued what was easiest and most comfortable. I had enough and started selling clothes, souvenirs, trainers.
How do you view the relationship between the local Ibicenco community and the dance music scene?
The thing is, while everyone comes to Ibiza in summer to party and have a great time, that's our time to work. This is when we make our money for the winter. That's when we take our holidays and relax. I don't think there's much of a relationship at all to be honest. I'd say that 99% of people in the clubs and bars these days are foreigners.
What do you make of Ibiza's electronic scene today compared to, say, ten years ago?
It's changed a crazy amount. Before you'd go out to see the resident DJ, or to admire the beauty of the club and spend time with friends. Today you go out to party. The hike in prices has had a huge impact. The price of entry and drinks these days is mad compared to what it was. And what they pay the DJs! It's very over the top.
I heard you were going to start selling records again?
That's right, I am. People keep asking me to, so I think it's about time I got back into it. Plus, vinyl is coming back into fashion. I know a lot of these techno DJs are playing only vinyl these days—all the Cocoon and Circoloco guys—and the Italians in particular love it. A good DJ plays vinyl. It won't just be dance music, though, I'll stock all sorts like we used to. This year I haven't found the time but next year the operation will be up and running. 100%. I've got the Technics stored away, ready to go!
You've always had very close links with Ibiza Sonica radio. Would you say that was a platform designed to support and nurture local talent?
Yes definitely. Originally, the vast majority of fixed shows on the station were manned by local DJs, from Ibiza and Formentera. In summer that would always change a bit, as all the promoters wanted to use the airwaves to push their parties. These days there are probably less local shows than before, but I'd still say that a strong 75% of the schedule is Ibicenco. That's the great thing about Ibiza Sonica, it conveys the real sound of Ibiza. In my opinion, much more so than any of the others.
Is there a strong community of Ibicenco DJs?
Yes, but we don't all know each other or necessarily interact. And of course, when summer arrives we're very much in the minority. There are some very talented DJs from the island, but the problem is that the focus has shifted away from the resident DJ and onto the superstar. The role of the resident DJ, as it was, has all but disappeared. Before, the resident DJ would play all night and people would go to the clubs to dance to them. This is the culture that the likes of Alfredo and DJ Pippi created. But today they're an insignificant part of the team, if they're even present at all.
I would imagine Ibiza is one of the best places for a young DJ to grow up in. Would you agree?
Definitely. Aged 12 I was watching videos of DJ Pippi and Cesar De Melero and I grew up totally surrounded by musicians, producers, DJs and music-lovers. As a result I started DJing at 15, making it my profession by the time I was 20. Everyone I'd speak to growing up would talk to me about this DJ or that song, it's a huge part of the Ibicenco identity. It has to be one of the best, if not the best place to grow up if you're a fan of music of any kind.
Do you feel enough is done to integrate the island's electronic scene and local DJs and musicians?
That's a tough one. Say there are 30 to 35 top local DJs—I'd say only five or ten of those are truly integrated into the wider international scene that arrives at our shores every year. It would be great if us locals had more of a presence, but then again, we're also up against the best DJs from all over the world. Just because we're from Ibiza it doesn't make us any more talented. As residents, we are an integrated part of the scene. We provide the soundtrack to the smaller spots—the bars, beach clubs, hotels—where we spend many hours playing. Of course, I would love us to be more integrated and have more of a voice. We'd do a good job.
Leaving parties aside, what about conferences like the IMS. Do you feel they could be doing more to reach out to the locals?
That's interesting you mention the IMS. I actually played there, at Dalt-Villa, in its first year. At that time, there was an agreement with the local council that they include a local DJ on the lineup and I happened to be the one selected. In following years, that condition was sadly scrapped. I thought that was a bit of a shame. Though I do understand; after all, it's the global superstars that draw the crowds.
But what about the conference itself? There's a real opportunity there to get the two worlds interacting.
I fully agree. I think people would be really interested in what we had to say, to hear our opinions, as locals, on the scene and how it could be altered or improved. It's an island-wide issue, however, it's unfair to home in solely on the IMS. No one puts in the effort to merge the two spheres. It's also up to us, as citizens of the island, to ask for it. We can't just sit back and expect it to be offered to us. That's part of the problem.
What changes would you like to see made?
Personally, I'd like to see the clubs and promoters place a little more faith in us locals. I'd like there to be more openings for local acts to express themselves on a bigger platform. Ibiza is too saturated at the moment, every day you have five or six great parties, with top-notch DJs playing, and only two or three of them will be full. But yeah, I'd like to see more of an open-minded attitude towards local DJs. You have the likes of Willie Graff, Tucillo—these guys are from Ibiza and play at Circoloco regularly. It would be great to see more of the same. And a shift in attitude towards the resident DJ. I feel like these days it's considered an almost lowly position, which is something I don't understand.
What are the positive impacts of tourism on the island and its citizens?
The money. Spain is currently embroiled in a huge economic crisis and Ibiza is keeping it afloat. The amount of foreign spending that arrives on the island in summer is huge. From Russia, Europe, the US, Australia... Everyone comes here and spends millions of pounds. Us locals can make more money in a week here than most people make in a month.
Culturally, Ibiza becomes this incredibly rich and vibrant place. You have people of all ages, all races and all nationalities coming here and co-existing for months at a time. The clubbing scene is just one part of it. Ibiza is for everyone, from teenagers through to the elderly. And people are coming here specifically to enjoy themselves and let themselves go. There aren't many places in the world that you can say that about.
And the negatives?
I'm not sure there are that many to be honest. The beaches become very dirty and overpopulated. The roads are dangerous, as all the different nationalities drive a certain way and people are often a little drunk or tired. Other than that it does the island nothing but good.
Do you think the people that come here respect the island as it should be?
No I wouldn't say so actually. People come here and act in ways that they can't get away with in their own country. Ibiza is much more relaxed than a lot of Europe. People come here and treat is as a neutral space, forgetting that people actually reside here all year round. The English are especially disrespectful in my experience—running around semi-naked, smashing glass, throwing bottles. Causing chaos, basically. That's why security has stepped up recently in nightclubs and on the roads. Mind you, though there are more controls than before, they're very lenient. You're breathalysed, and so long as you're not drunk, you're free to go. It's much more strict everywhere else.
The interesting thing with Ibiza is that because of its long history, and because hordes of Europeans have been coming here so religiously for so long, you now have these independent communities of holidaymakers taking root on the island during the summer. The English, the Italians, the French—they all have their own versions of Ibiza, none of which have anything to do with the real Ibiza, as experienced by the locals. It's a foreign idea of the island, and that can conflict with our perspectives as residents. In winter, you should see it; it's a completely different place.
Do you prefer summer or winter?
The summer definitely. I like working and having the island full and working, it has a great buzz about it. Sure, we have to work hard—I often work a shift at Pacha or DC-10 and then have to go onto an afterparty and get up and do the same thing again. We grind for these months to be able to take it a little easier in winter. Winter is for taking a little holiday, for walking the dogs or going to the gym. In summer, you meet so many different people and experience such a variety of things. The island is small, everyone knows who you are. I like that.
This week on the island
Different, however, does not often go down well in Ibiza. Entering the Basement to the sounds of Sam Supplier, there can't have been more than seven or eight people on the dance floor. T.Williams tore through cut after cut of peak-time floorfillers, attempting to draw in the numbers using the likes of Harry Choo Choo Romero's remix of Hardrive's "Deep Inside." The dance floor swelled slightly for Pearson Sound's bouncy, vocal set, but never to a size deserving of the Hessle Audio boss. Up against Circoloco and Cocoon, and sandwiched between VIVa Warriors and Diynamic Neon, Hypercolour's island debut was always destined to be tough. For Rinse, the pop-stylings of Katy B and P-Money might do it over in San Antonio, but they'll need to be patient if they want the more cutting-edge side of their operation to work elsewhere in Ibiza.
Arriving just as tINI was finding her groove, the Desolat DJ was busy laying down her brand of super-deep, dubby house to a responsive mass of people. With the dial on so many of the island's headline performances set firmly to full-throttle, her considered, hypnotic pace makes for a welcome change. That said, certain tracks in the first hour of her set did feel a little sedate. As she rolled over into the final stretch, tINI took things it up a notch, quickening her mixing and opting for records with a touch more thump and drive. Maybe it's the free entry, or the fact that it's constantly pushing new talent, but tINI & the gang feels like the kind of party that Ibiza could do with a few more of.
On warm-up duty, Samuel Bellis threw down funky tech house to an already heaving and hot Basement. Coming on at the respectable time of 2 AM, Dice started off typically rolling before edging up the intensity through a combination of meaty basslines and thumping techno kicks. The likes of Len Faki's DJ edit of DJ Hyperactive's "Wide Open" and Geeman's "Bang't" lent his performance an old-school, incisive edge, well suited to the club's gritty aesthetic. It felt, at times, like the Dice of old, before his status and success aligned him with Ushuaia. Having played at Amnesia, Space, DC-10 and now Sankeys so far this season, could the Desolat boss be scouting for a new home in 2014?
Solomun +1 - Faris Villena
Carl Cox: The Party Unites - Nel G Photography
All others - Tasya Menaker