Seth and friends take over DC-10, Johannes Goller from Cocoon interviewed and more in this week's column from the White Isle.
Visionquest at DC-10
In many Native American groups, the vision quest is a turning point in life taken in order to find oneself and the intended spiritual and life direction by establishing contact with a spirit or force, sometimes through hallucination. Last Wednesday, the Visionquest crew lived up to their namesake, transforming DC-10 like few have ever seen.
We arrived to see the garden of the venue complete with comfy beanbag chairs, teepees and Tibetan flags crisscrossing overhead. It was an immediate signal to me that this night was going to be a bit different than usual. Once inside the terrace, it took a minute to orient myself under strobes and rolling fog, but eventually I noticed an ancient rotary phone sitting on a small, Roman-style pillar, with a beam of light illuminating it in an otherwise black room. You could pick it up and, if lucky, you might chat with another clubber on the other end in the garden. Past that, we could start to see that the entire terrace was a maze of black hallways, beds and rooms leading to who knows what.
We decided to make our way further in, passing a giant, mirrored diamond leaning against the wall to our left, and a large, white geometric shape hanging from the ceiling, hardly even noticing the ambient, tripped-out music gently squeaking out the speakers overhead. After getting my bearings at the bar, I headed toward a corridor leading to the main room when a costumed man suddenly greeted me, wearing a mask right out of Eyes Wide Shut, and beckoned me into a curtained-off area. I was led into a glass box filled on all sides with white blinking lights. I couldn't help but smile, and neither could the couple taking pictures inside with me.
I came back out, ready to head back into the garden to catch up with friends when I realized there was one last thing next to the phone that I hadn't noticed before. I cautiously peeled back the black curtains to a small room, revealing a simple white bench. As I did, a man laughing and talking with someone on the other end of the rotary phone noticed my apprehension and abruptly hung up. With a mischievous smile, he motioned me inside and pointed to the ceiling, which was flashing with eerie and indiscernible images less than a foot in front of my face. He simply laughed and ran out.
After catching up with my thoughts in the garden for a bit, we headed into the main room where the journey continued. Sparse in comparison, it was decorated with Persian-like sheets, leading in from all corners of the room to a large, Persian-like pillow in the center of the room. The focus in here seemed to be squarely on the music.
Ryan Crosson and Shaun Reeves were pumping out oldies-but-goodies like Luciano and Quenum's "Orange Mistake," Cobblestone Jazz's "Dump Truck" and the dubbed out, groovy "In Da Bush" by Rob Mello. It wasn't all old-school, though—the gently melodic "Elephants on a String" by Julien Chaptal was one of the night's highlights.
Feeling the mood and energy, Seth Troxler kept a sly smile while he mixed later on, keeping one ear on the headphones, head cocked to the side as his free hand danced through the air, making small circles with the beat. Countless times, he'd finish a mix by picking up a record and pumping it in the air. The crowd, one of the friendliest that you could imagine, was clearly enjoying it as well, and as the party passed into the early hours of the morning, one look around DC-10 told you that something very special was happening. Epic.
Exclusive interview: Johannes Goller
As the head promoter of Cocoon's night at Amnesia, it's safe to say that Johannes Goller is Sven Vath's right hand man in Ibiza. We caught up with him in the VIP area at Amnesia on Monday afternoon last week to check in on how the season was progressing.
How's it going this year?
Very, very well. You know, when you come to the island, and Amnesia was closed for such a long time, there are always some [issues]. You need two or three weeks until the whole thing really, really rolls. From Amnesia's side, it's things like the soundsystem and the door. They had some new people, we had some new people—two big teams. Before you really get into a workflow, it takes like two or three events before you can say, "OK, now we have the sound equalized." But yeah, then [a] perfect fusion of Cocoon and Amnesia is done, and now we are ready to roll until October.
How's the crowd been?
Super good. I mean, we have a little bit less than last year, which is, I think, a general fact on the island this year, that there are less tourists from Italy and Spain because of the crisis. We can see this everywhere, not only Ibiza. So we have a bit less people, but in general, I'd say it's nothing compared to the situation we are really facing. It's like five percent less.
And I'd have to say that 2011 was an extraordinarily good year on the island. Last year in August we had 98 percent of all hotels rented, and this is something that has never happened to Ibiza before. So I would consider 2011 to be the best season since (I've been) here, which is 15 years now. And of course, after such an amazing peak, [this year] there's a bit less.
On top of this there is so much competition as well this year. I mean there are techno parties everyday somewhere. At Amnesia we have two, we have one at Privilege, we have four techno nights at Sankeys. Richie Hawtin launched his own night, Marco Carola launched his own night, DC-10 is for the first time open four times a week. And I think all this is also due to the amazing 2011, that now suddenly everybody thought "wow, in Ibiza the clubs are full, the parties are full, wow, wow, wow. We want our own night—let's try it."
Do you think there are too many parties?
Absolutely. You can do Steve Angello and Swedish House Mafia parties here three times a week, this is no problem, because it's mainstream, commercial dance music. But when we are talking about techno, this is still a niche. This is not a product where suddenly 4,000 21-year-old ravers come in and say, "that's hot shit, we are in." Techno is something that's happened here [for], many years. We attract people from 19 to 40. Sven has been DJing since 30 years [ago]. And so, it was always good to have techno under one roof. It was Monday at DC-10, it was Carl Cox at Space, it was Cocoon at Amnesia with Hawtin, Vath, Carola, Dice. Of course, it brought us into a very comfortable spot.
This was '99 as Cocoon started. We kind of worked for this position we have, this exclusivity of the sound. Now, it's available everyday, everywhere. And this of course takes focus away, but since we've been doing it for 13 years, we've tried to adapt. We've brought new people in, signed new residents. I don't know if you were here last week with Ricardo and RPR, but there were people coming and saying, "this was the best Cocoon in the last five years. This was an absolutely outstanding night, music-wise, vibe-wise, people-wise, the dance floor." People were crying on the dance floor saying, "fucking hell, this is the best music I have heard in Ibiza."
And so I'm really happy that we've made the right steps to bring people in like RPR and Mathias Kaden and Cassy. The important thing is to find the right balance between the headliner that makes the club full, but bring fresh people in to spice the whole thing up, and I think we did this very well.
Do you think there's a solution to the oversaturation of parties?
Yes, the solution is already happening, because this cake is simply not big enough. Maybe last year it would have been big enough, but this year it's definitely not big enough. And next year we'll see who has the strength, and also the financial background to say, "OK, we do it again." Not all nights are ENTER. with the treasure in the pocket.
You mentioned Carola and Hawtin earlier. Was it disappointing to have them leave and go their own way?
No. In Richie's case, he has a record label behind him, he has a booking agency, Clonk, and he has a manager, Ben Turner who's very well connected on the island and a very big influence in the dance scene. So for us it was kind of a question of time of when it would happen. It didn't hit us like surprise-wise. What was very nice, and not a surprise, was the way he communicated it. He called us up in December 2011 and said, "Hey guys, I've been with you since 12 years now, I want to put this straight—love, respect, friendship. You guys changed my life, [it was] a defining period." But he had an offer on the table, and he knows we can't bring all his artists in anymore, and he really was thinking about it and on his way to Ibiza to talk to Space.
And we said, "Hey Richie, totally understandable, thank you very much for your openness, your kindness, your friendship, whatever we can do, let us know." (We asked) "can we still put an offer down?" He said, "Yes, put an offer down, no problem, no decision made," And you know it was super cool, super easy. Then he called and said, "I can see it happening, I really have an idea, and I think it will work." And we said, "Yeah, Rich, but how can we do it? Maybe we can support you, you can support us." So we had this idea that Sven is playing once for him and he is playing once for us in the same week, and before the season started he even played once for us. So you can still see there is still a super cool friendship. There's a bond, and a lot of respect.
In Marco's case, I have to say, I really expected a different way of communication.
Can you elaborate on that?
Pantomimes zipper movement over his mouth with fingers, then laughs and shakes head.
You mentioned bringing in fresh faces. One artists I found very interesting was Maya Jane Coles, who is traditionally known as more of a deep house artist. Can you explain some of the thought behind bringing her in?
We've known Maya's productions for about two or three years, so she was always on the radar, but we never really heard her play. And Sven and me went to Miami and we visited a party at this villa, and the party was on. We spent like four or five hours there. Maceo Plex was playing, Visionquest were playing, and we stood at the bar when we suddenly realized there was a change in music: different tempo, different tracks, different vibe. And we were like, "who's playing?" Looks around. We said, "I don't see anyone." This mix was amazing.
So we listened to this music for like an hour without even knowing who was playing. And Sven said, "fuck me, this is the best set of the day so far. Who is that?" And then we went on stage and saw this little Maya Jane Coles playing an eclectic mix of all styles—super confident, super powerful, super enthusiastic, and she got the people like this! Snaps fingers.
Two days later I contacted the management and said, "we have the lineup done and confirmed, but we have one slot left, and it's this one, and we would love to bring her in." And they said, "Yeah, super cool, let's do it!" There was even the idea to try and do more, but it was not possible from our side. But we are already working on 2013.
How did that night go?
Super nice. She played in the main room before Sven, and again, Sven and me were just listening, and—claps—again, how confident this girl is, how much pleasure she plays [with]. She's just an absolute talent. Amazing.
After parties. Are things a little bit more relaxed with after parties?
Yes. Especially in Playa d'en Bossa, with the new situation with Ushuaia, things are a little bit more relaxed. It's still not the same rights for all, but there are a couple of locations at Playa d'en Bossa next to Ushuaia where there are possibilities to host after parties. To start at 12, from 12 to 12, that's the deal.
What are some of the locations down in Playa D'en Bossa?
We have a new, very interesting place called La Sal Rossa, which is actually right next to La Plage. It reminds me of old Ushuaia. I think we're gonna host Loco Dice's birthday there. But I think it's Sands, La Plage, La Sal Rossa, Ushuaia.
What do you think of the scene in the island in general?
I see a change due to the fact that the clubbing generation of the last ten years is not so present as in previous years. There are a lot of younger tourists who may have never been here before. I mean, the main attraction is Ushuaia with Avicii, with Swedish House Mafia.
Do you think this is a good thing?
I think it is a good thing because every year there are new people coming, new tourism, new ravers, new generations; and it's important to keep Ibiza on the top of electronic dance music—new DJs, new followers. What I'm a little bit, I don't want to say scared, but what I see with different perspectives is this whole new VIP market, with tables getting more expensive, and it's all about who has the best table.
Yesterday I walked up and down Playa d'en Bossa, I checked all these venues, and everywhere you go you see big beds, big bottles of champagne, magnums of Rose…this is not Ibiza...the clubbers were first; the VIPs came and joined. The attraction is the dance floor, the music and the party, not the VIPs, and this year, in my opinion, they get too much attention.
Behind the scenes...
We spend plenty of time talking about the superstar DJs on the island, but what about the heroes that make sure everything is running smoothly? In this irregular feature in RA Ibiza Weekly, we'll take a look at some of these integral cogs in the White Isle machine.
James Dutton has many roles on the island, but most prominently works as the production manager for Cream Ibiza at Amnesia, making sure everything from LED screens, lights, stage, decor, FX and audio equipment is working properly, as well as working with artist's tech riders and monitoring changeovers between artists.
How did you get into the tech side of the industry?
It's something I've sort of fallen into. I've always been a bit of a tech geek and used to work in electronics shops in my teens. I started DJing from a very early age and I always used to save up for the latest DJ equipment, then take them apart and try to build something new with them. They never worked afterwards! Then I went on to study music technology at college and university, and during the summers I got a job at Amnesia doing hospitality. Occasionally something technically went wrong, and as I was always in the booth, I ended up trying to fix it, so my role developed over the years. Now I've been the production manager there for two years now.
Can you tell us what it was like to set up the Radio 1 event this past weekend?
It's lucky that I tend to thrive under pressure, as this was probably the most pressured environment I have ever worked in. There were nine artists playing between Annie Mac and Pete Tong, including two live PA's—each with sets between 15 and 20 minutes long, and I was responsible for all the artist's riders and changeovers.
The biggest challenge was ensuring everything sounded good for the millions of Radio 1 listeners as well as at the party itself. I'll never forget that feeling of pulling cables out, and thinking it could cut off a Radio 1 broadcast. Thankfully it all went without a hitch.
What have been some of the craziest things you've experienced while working with all the equipment?
Too many to tell! A couple of years ago I plugged a fridge into a very suspect-looking power socket which tripped the power of the Amnesia terrace during a very important sound check with sound system, LED screen and lights on full. I didn't have the heart to own up. It was a while ago, so hopefully they will forgive me!
The week in pictures
We Love... at Space
Joris Voorn has once again been a key resident for the Sunday party this summer. He'll play again this week alongside The Chemical Brothers and Simian Mobile Disco as Space celebrates its 23rd birthday.
Circoloco at DC-10
Carl Craig came to celebrate Circoloco's Anniversary party last week. Look for Matthew Dear and Marcel Dettmann among the regular crew members this Monday.
Diynamic Neon Night at Sankeys
Solomun once again ruled at his label's night at Sankeys on Tuesday. Next week promises a live set from Kollektiv Turmstrasse, their third of the season.