This week we catch up with a relative newcomer and one of the scene's truest veterans.
For everything you need to know about the island in 2014, take a look at our comprehensive Ibiza guide.
With gigs at Defected, Carl Cox, Paradise and a residency at ANTS, Deetron is quietly becoming one of Ibiza's more versatile and prolific DJs. Not bad going for someone who only played the island for the first time four years ago. We sat down with the Swiss selector backstage at Space to talk Ushuaia, three-deck mixing and his reasons for setting up a new label.
We're sitting here an hour or so before you go on stage in the Discoteca for Carl Cox. How are you feeling?
I feel good. About ten minutes before I go on I'll start to get excited, but right now just really relaxed. I've been at the beach all day.
Tell me about your earliest memories playing Ibiza.
My history doesn't actually stretch that far back. I only performed here for the first time around four years ago. My first set was at Privilege for some crazy party whose name I don't recall. I remember it wasn't very successful though. Ibiza just wasn't on the map for me but then all of a sudden the bookings rolled in. I think it was down to this track I made, "Starblazer," which did really well over here.
You're a resident at ANTS. What is it about the party that really speaks to you?
I love daytime events, partly because you get to sleep at normal hours. Laughs. That aside, it's a really friendly, upbeat vibe. And I get away with playing Moodymann tracks and things like that, which is funny at Ushuaia. I always play the smaller stage during the day, which I prefer because it feels almost like a club, more intimate.
It's interesting that Ushuaia has chosen to keep it on, despite moving almost exclusively towards EDM.
Yeah, but the thing is it's very successful. In its first year I think it was one of the better attended parties of 2013. Everyone that plays there and goes there just seems to be having a really good time.
There aren't many residents on the island that would be allowed to play three other parties (Paradise, Defected, Carl Cox.) How do you manage to avoid all the inter-party politics?
I'm not sure I know what makes you a resident in Ibiza. I play five or six times for ANTS, but because it's not a weekly thing they allow me to play elsewhere, which I'm happy about. Also, they actually like that I play other parties, because they think the exposure helps works in their favour. It's in their interest.
That's interesting, it's practically the opposite of the usual approach.
Yeah, I think Ibiza can be a bit narrow minded in that respect.
You're known as one of the more versatile artists in the scene—you play Ushuaia but you also just did a mix for fabric. Was it in you that finds appeal in both ends of the underground spectrum?
I always say to myself that as long as I can play what I like, then the type of party isn't of that much importance to me. I enjoy the big festival stages just as much as the small clubs. I don't see them as mutually exclusive, I just need to be able to play my records. Also, it's only relatively recently that the whole bigger side of the scene has been opened up to me. And plus, these huge shows are still pretty rare.
You mentioned playing Moodymann at Ushuaia—do you enjoy showcasing your deeper tastes to large audiences?
Yeah definitely. It's all about how you package it. Like, I'll play something moodier in between two more upbeat tracks. I like to go up and down in my sets. Sometimes it can go wrong though and then you have to work really hard to rescue the dance floor.
I know you used to be a hip-hop DJ, is that where the fast mixing comes from?
Yeah I think so, but also because the first techno DJ I ever saw was Jeff Mills.
As someone who mixes on three decks, what is your take on syncing? I mean, aside from keeping you busy, what do you think it is that beatmatching and manually mixing brings to your sets?
It makes for a better sound experience, in my opinion. When everything is so clinical, I don't know, it just doesn't sound as interesting. It's cool when the beats drift. And being as tight as possible is a real challenge. I view it as no different to playing guitar really. You wouldn't want to go and see a band and watch a computer automatically playing the chords; you'd want to see the guitarist playing them live. I understand the technical side of DJing is just one aspect, but for me it's essential.
You recently set up a new label, Character. A lot of people are setting up labels at the moment, what prompted you to join the pack?
You're right, they are. I've actually had the logo sitting in a folder for about ten years. We've updated it now but the idea is very old. I was just waiting for the right moment and the right music. Me and Raphael Ripperton did this EP together which I though would be the perfect start. I'm going to try and release some of my own material, but also try and provide a platform for some lesser-known artists that I like.
But this doesn't signify a split from Music Man Records?
No, not at all. They're actually going to handle the behind the scenes stuff for the label. News Distribution owns Music Man and everything is going through them. The only difference is I'm choosing which music gets puts out.
Ibiza histories: Pete Tong
Pete Tong and Ibiza are inextricably linked. As BBC Radio 1's voice of dance music since the start of the '90s, few have witnessed the island's shifts from as privileged a position. During this time, Tong also grew into one of Ibiza's best-loved DJs, holding down residencies at Space, Pacha, Eden and, more recently, Ushuaia. In town for Radio 1's annual Ibiza weekender, we caught up with Tong to unearth more about his deep-rooted relationship with the White Isle.
So when did you first come to Ibiza? What brought you here?
1986. Nicky Holloway. It was actually the year before the infamous trip. Nicky brought us over, it was me, Bob Jones, Trevor Fung and Paul Oakenfold. Nicky was running these events in London, and we'd do gigs at London Zoo and the Natural History Museum, and we had a residency in Bermondsey as well. So we had a community and it was literally like, let’s just take the whole gang on holiday. I think Trevor Fung knew people over here before anyone. And then we lined up this trip where we were going to DJ, bring a crowd, and actually kind of step into Amnesia, Es Paradis, or whatever it was called back then. And then Project Club which is where Paul and Trevor got the name for the one they opened in Streatham. The Project Club was good, Amnesia we got kicked off really quickly, and then Es Paradis was alright. And then the next time I came back was 1991.
What sticks in the memory from those early experiences?
Back in '86 no one travelled, the world was smaller, we weren’t as connected, so it felt so foreign. That sounds a strange thing to say but it was. You know, coming to Spain and then coming to the island of Ibiza, although it had that kind of hippie heritage, and a lot of English people from all over the world had come here, and you had that Ku club period with George Michael and Queen and everyone going there, it was still so foreign. It was another world. But by '91 it was actually the English, the English club promoters, that really got a grip on the island and starting doing things. It was the Manumission crew, it was obviously Ministry [Of Sound] eventually with Pacha, and Cream, and then Charlie Chester and his involvement with DC-10.
What was your involvement with Radio 1 in Ibiza at that time?
I joined Radio 1 in '91, and then their big public interface event was the Summer Roadshow, which is what I grew up listening to as a kid. The minute I got onto Radio 1 I was saying, 'it doesn’t work like that for what I do, you’ve got to start doing different things.' Radio 1 was almost like a dirty word in clubland and we had to kind of sneak in and start. I had to show them where the magic happens. So phase one in '93 was the start of Essential Mix, and the live Essential Mixes where we went to all the famous clubs and plugged in.
That was a two-year journey and then in '95 I managed to get enough belief and credibility with the management that they listened to me. I said, 'we’ve got to go to Ibiza,' because the Summer Roadshow was going round to Brands Hatch and parks in Leeds or whatever. It was OK but it’s not really where the scene was happening, and if you think about the history of house music and the whole rave scene, by '95 it was the biggest youth culture movement in the country, so it wasn’t actually that hard to convince them. But it was quite a humble beginning—the very first broadcast in '95 we were actually squashed into the back of Café Del Mar. We broke the windows we put so many people in there. We only did Café Del Mar for one year then we moved to Mambo.
So what kind of shape did the programming take at that time?
It was basically my show live, with guests. I'm not sure if we did a Saturday night event, but obviously that eventually came too.
Obviously you’ve gone on to report from the forefront of Ibiza’s burgeoning DJ culture. What was it like to be right at the forefront of that, did it feel like you were part of something huge?
It was great. When I look back now, at the time the mindset was very much that this was where Radio 1 had to be, because this is where everyone is going. I buy into the notion that ultimately we were reporters—I never believed that we could actually become a part of the scene. I don’t think that’s the right way round for radio, the gigs have to come later. I mean it's changed a bit obviously over the years, but the idea of us running a party and us being the news, that wasn’t what it was about, we came to Ibiza because it was fucking exploding and it was amazing. We needed to be here to report on it.
That was the mindset in 1995—19 years later I'm hugely proud that it's become this institution that people book their holidays around. It's grown into something completely different, in a way we are the news now I suppose, although I still like to think that we, by doing the Essential Mix tonight, taking Richie [Hawtin] from ENTER. and that kind of thing, that we're still doing what we're meant to be doing.
When you think back to that first year at Café Del Mar and then the long stint at Mambo where it was essentially just a free party on the rocks, and then to see what it’s grown into... We did a thing at The Windmill as well for a couple of years, round the other side of San Antonio Bay. That was when the game really changed, when we outgrew Mambo because it was actually getting dangerous. We did The Windmill for a couple of years, then eventually we moved to the Ibiza Rocks Hotel and then Ushuaia...
And at the same time you were juggling a DJ career and you were playing a lot. What parties were you involved in?
The '90s were dominated by playing for Space and Amnesia, and then in early 2000s I started with Pacha. It was all down to Paul [Oakenfold], who was one of my best friends at the time, and Danny Whittle, who used to work for Renaissance. Danny ended up taking over Pacha and Ministry was on a Friday, Paul had a Tuesday night residency and it was around the time he decided he was going to move to America. I was his main guest, playing once a month, and then halfway through the season in 2002 I inherited his night. I ended up there for five or six years, then I eventually took over Ministry as well on Fridays. I followed that with a break for Wonderland and then returned to Pacha for a couple of years after.
Wonderland was at Eden in San Antonio. Considering you were a mainstay Pacha, that sounds like a pretty risky move.
Everyone thought I was completely nuts. I was DJing at one of the hottest clubs in the world and wanted to move to this really unfashionable place. I don’t know, it was just like a mad notion of trying to reestablish a connection with San An, with Mambo and old friends. I think I just got it into my head that San An deserved to have a decent club so we went on a mission to try and do something. We did three years there, it was a long time and we pulled off some mad stunts: Luciano played there and Lady Gaga performed once, so we had some fun. But unfortunately for San An... What’s happened to Playa D'en Bossa is what I wanted to happen to San An, with the new hotels and restaurants and the renovation and the greater comfort. I think San An is still in a bit in the dark ages unfortunately.
Do you think it will get there?
I'd like to think so, but I've got a feeling they'll maybe miss the boat again and it will be another area of Ibiza that will start to get more developed. Maybe the north, we'll see.
2014 is the first year you haven’t had a residency for a while, is that true?
Yeah I mean, I'm kind of attached to Ushuaia and the Hard Rock, but it’s a long story. I was going to do it then I wasn’t going to do it, and then Hard Rock was going to open and then it wasn’t going to open, and it ended up that I'm just doing a selection of dates. This month I’m back at Ushuaia the whole time, every Friday, and I've done three Pachas and a bunch of other little things. But I live in LA now so it’s hard to do those residencies like I used to from the end of May to the start of October. I just can't do it. I'm happy about that, I've done that, that was a different period of my life and I want to try something different. And I had a lot of fun going back to Pacha this year to play with Solomun. It's been nice to actually be free you know, to be able to play for anyone.
This week on the island
Diynamic Outdoor at Cova Santa
There has been some confusion surrounding the launch of Diynamic Outdoor. The new residency was scheduled to start on July 22nd at Cova Santa, but due to issues between the venue and the authorities, the opening took place instead at Destino on July 17th. Since then, Cova Santa has been given the green light, locking in three Diynamic dates in August (Destino will host a further three.) The first of those took place last week, confirming that, for all its problems, the Amnesia-owned arena is not only one of the best spaces on the island, but is also brilliantly well-suited to Solomun and co.
With a venue as picturesque as Cova Santa, the strength of the party relies on a symbiosis between sound and surroundings. Upon arrival, Swiss duo Adriatique were sticking to the script, spinning balmy tech house to a bulge of smiling revellers. David August followed, resetting the tone via a dramatic opening of cinematic pads and dainty melodies. This soon blossomed into an hour of his signature smoky deep house, complimented by the drooping sun behind. Save for an ungainly remix of The Beatles' "Come Together," it was a deft performance. Playing back-to-back to close, Solomun and H.O.S.H. transitioned from light to dark with a flurry of big-room numbers. Amidst all the organ stabs and meaty basslines came Argy's "Love Dose," which proved to be the highlight of this well-attended and altogether engaging affair.
Paradise at DC-10
Following a reportedly lavish Boiler Room event at a villa overlooking Es Vedra, Jamie Jones and the Paradise crew gathered at DC-10 for week seven of the season. Perhaps as a way of dealing with the increased interest generated by the pre-party, those in charge decided to open up both rooms, despite playing host to only five DJs. Needless to say, though, they made it work, extending everybody's set by at least an hour. It also meant the club felt far roomier than usual, lending the overall dance floor experience an easier, more enjoyable edge. In the Terrace, Heidi's loud sound filled every inch of the blood-red space, with tracks like Geeeman's "Bang't" greeted with particular fervour.
Spinning back-to-back for three hours, Craig Richards and Jamie Jones closed the Terrace with a varied workout of big-room house and techno. Tempered by Richards' more considered, dubbier textures, their set moved from cosmic house to acid-tinged techno, with Jones even forced to leave his groove-reliant comfort zone on occasion. Best of all, though, there was ample space to dance, which many will know can be a rarity during headliner hour at DC-10. This coupled with a slightly older, more European crowd and Paradise looked and felt like a different party. Before the summer started, the organisers prophesied that by 2016 the residency would run across the whole club on a weekly basis. Judging by this latest edition, there's argument to suggest that date should be brought forward.
Wax Da Jam at Las Dalias
Tucked away in a quiet corner of San Carlos, Las Delias remains one of Ibiza's oldest and most iconic venues. Though most famous for its markets, the space has always enjoyed a healthy musical tradition, catering to the island's more alternative tastes (psy-trance, rock, hip-hop.) Back for a second summer, this season's standout party is Wax Da Jam, celebrating 25 years of Nightmares On Wax across eight weeks. For its third edition, the full N.O.W. band played live for 90 minutes, blending classics with newer numbers. As the music headed inside, most of the party's colourful crowd hung around in the warm glow of the outside area, nibbling on bite-size soul food or sipping elaborate piña coladas.
What's so immediately striking about Wax Da Jam, and Las Dalias more generally, is how very different it feels to the rest of the island. The venue and its attendees exude a cool class that is hard to find elsewhere. Hang around long enough and you might even think you've gone back in time, to an era when Ibiza had a certain raw chic about it. Inside, in a space that looks like a vibrant church hall, Babylon Beach residents Justin & Jack were warming up the smiling throng with cuts of funk-laden hip-hop and R&B. After a minor delay, Nightmares On Wax took to the decks, leading with a slice of shuffling drum & bass, before settling into a medley of classic hip-hop (Gangstarr, Notorious B.I.G., A Tribe Called Quest.) As Ibiza becomes more and more homogenised, breaking away from the glut of house and techno club shows can be a challenge. Wax Da Jam is one party that is well worth the effort.
ENTER. - Igor Ribnik
Music On - David Pareja
We Love... - Nel G Photography
Cocoon - Phrank.net
Defected - Ryan Dinham
All others - Tasya Menaker
For more information on what's happening on the island in 2014, check out our comprehensive Ibiza guide below.
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