Our Ibiza column continues with a look at all that's new on the island in 2013.
Change is the lifeblood of Ibiza. Year on year, clubs, artists and promoters put considerable time and effort into regenerating their brands, finding ways to make the coming season as fresh and appealing for new and seasoned visitors alike. 2013 is no different.
Bomba and Ushuaïa Tower are the newest venue additions. The latter is part hotel, part club in a similar vein to the neighbouring Ushuaïa Beach Club. Boasting a pool areas and one of the top rooftop spaces on the island, the Tower welcomes Sasha, Defected and Louie Vega as residents for the season. Elsewhere, Privilege has developed a new-look programme, focusing more closely on its Vista Club and Vista Blue spaces. Catering to a more intimate vibe, Get Physical, Elrow and Cristian Varela will all feature heavily in the coming months.
Over at Space, Kehakuma is back flying solo after teaming up with ENTER. last summer. The in-house event will hold the fort on Saturday nights, presenting deeper shades of house and techno. Amnesia has remodelled the DJ booth in the Main Room so it sits lower and closer to the crowd, as well as adding lights and an LED screen. The Terrace meanwhile will come equipped with two brand new lasers.. And Sankeys looks set to enjoy its busiest year yet, with a full weekly roster of residencies in place for the first time. DC-10, meanwhile, has installed an incredibly punchy VOID soundsystem in the Garden, to go with the new wooden decking.
Venues aside, as DJ fees continue to skyrocket, so the power shifts away from the club owners and onto the performers. Gone are the days of exclusivity, with all of 2013's biggest players seemingly making a point of playing each other's parties. Luciano is back at Cocoon; Loco Dice returns to DC-10 for Paradise; and even Carl Cox, for whom performances away from his beloved Space are rare, ventures out to Amnesia and Ushuaïa. It's the likes of Richie Hawtin at Paradise and Jamie Jones at Carola's Music On that are perhaps the most eye-catching, affording partygoers the chance to view the pair in an unfamiliar environment.
Pacha has undergone the most changes. After a certain article in the New York Times went viral earlier this year, the story of the split between the owners and former musical directors Mark Netto and Danny Whittle became a hot topic of conversation. Today, Whittle stands as part-owner of Bomba, a purpose-built superclub situated just across the way from Pacha. We caught up with him to see how plans for the new space are shaping up.
Photo credit: Shane Webber
You officially stopped working at Pacha in August 2012. How did you feel about leaving the company after 13 years?
It was very sad. Once you put your heart and soul into something for so long, and become very good friends with the family and the owners, leaving was always going to be tough. Myself and the owner had a difference of opinion about how to proceed with the club and we decided it was a good time to part company.
How soon after you left Pacha were you involved with Bomba?
I suppose about three months later. I met Giuseppe [Cipriani] and liked him pretty much instantly. I consider myself quite a good judge of character and it's proven to be the case in this instance. He's a really smart, shrewd businessman but also a good person.
When you left Pacha did you envision yourself getting straight back into the club business?
Well I was never going to leave the industry. My idea was always to set up my own business and get into DJ management, and I was always going to programme something in Ibiza, even if it was just the odd night here and there. Of course, I'm one of the owners of IMS and a part-owner of Ibiza 123 festival, which we will be resuming next year, so there was never any question of me leaving electronic music. I love the industry. That said, I didn't imagine I was going to end up being a partner at a club across the road but so be it.
Was it very important to you to keep working closely with Mark Netto?
Yes. Listen, Mark and I have been together since the beginning. We work well together and we trust each other completely so we're a great team. He's got his values and I've got mine and together it's strong.
Together you've set up IBZ entertainment, a DJ management and booking agency for EDM acts.
That's right. I was approached by a company called Y Entertainment, which is owned by Ron Burkle. Ron's looking to get into the electronic music business, he's just opened up a huge club in Vegas called The Light, which Amy Thompson [manager of Swedish House Mafia] programmes. We ended up talking and he's offered to fund IBZ, in exchange for a percentage. We're building the new offices as we speak, as a Googleplex-style operation, and then sub-letting other offices to other people in the industry. We very much believe in collaboration, we like the idea of doors being open and we enjoy that working environment. That's all due to kick off later in June.
What exactly is your role going to be at Bomba?
I'm a partner in the club and also the main programmer between Mark and myself. We're looking at it in a similar way we've run Pacha—we're not reinventing the wheel. What we're trying to do is do it better, I suppose. Give the crowd a better service. We really think we can do it as good, if not better.
Explain a little bit about the vision for the new space.
We're trying to have slightly cooler lineups than we used to do at Pacha, but in order to run a club seven nights a week you've got to cross over a little bit. You can't do a week of the same type of events. I mean, if DC-10 tried to run seven Circo Loco-style events a week it wouldn't work. People want variety when they're on holiday; they want to go to different clubs for different reasons. We just want to present really good quality music and great service.
In terms of the music, Defected and Luciano's Vagabundos have both followed you from Pacha. Was it important for you to continue your legacy with those brands?
No, not really. It was mostly due to the fact that they didn't feel comfortable staying at Pacha without me. The relationship was with me and they went with that rather than the venue. I'll always be very grateful for that, I value loyalty highly. At the same time, I think the guys all felt like a change would do them good. It was great to see people in this industry still maintain that level of loyalty and respect for each other.
Photo credit: James Chapman - Ibiza Spotlight
Were you at all hesitant about opening another superclub? Ibiza isn't exactly short on them.
Not at all. At one point on the island there were more clubs open than there are now. There's more people coming to the island than ever before and if you're good at what you do the strong will survive.
What are the biggest challenges facing a new venue?
To be honest the biggest challenge is actually getting the licence and getting the bloody thing open. As you can imagine, Ibiza is not the easiest place to open a new business. Outside of that it's just going to be a question of getting open, getting running and getting all our systems right. Then hopefully people will come and give it a chance, which I think they will.
Have you found that the local government isn't very receptive to change?
I don't think it's the local government, I just think there are certain political hoops we all have to jump through in order to do anything. Even building my own house took three years. There's bureaucracy in every country, it just tends to be a bit stronger on an island that's 20 x 40 miles. In the end what you have to do is toe the line, be patient and have enough investment to see you through that initial period.
So that was why the opening has been delayed six or so weeks?
Yeah pretty much. Just waiting for the right licences and the right permission. We also changed a few things about, we put in proper wheelchair access and disable toilets. We wanted to make the club 100% legal in every way and that's what we've done.
Do we have a date in place for the opening yet?
The last few days of June, first days of July is our target. We want to get at least three good months out of this summer and then next year come back strong and open at IMS as we initially planned to.
Finally, tell us about the program of events you have lined up.
We're still working on Monday at the moment, but Tuesday we're going to do a thing called Chaos Colours with Danny and Tom King. Wednesday is just being finalised. Thursday is Circus with Yousef, who's put together an awesome lineup. Friday is the return of Mike and Claire Manumission. Saturday is Defected In The House. And Sunday is Luciano and his Cadenza Vagabundos crew.
ANTS Opening at Ushuaïa
This year, Ibiza's most voracious PR campaign arrived courtesy of Ushuaia and their new in-house event ANTS. Through a combination of bizarre Youtube clips and huge billboard ads, the message was made abundantly clear: JOIN THE COLONY. Quite where the inspiration lay was never made plain, but given the sizeable crowd in attendance at the opening party, word had spread. With a focus on tech house and the like, Saturday held resident Nic Fanciulli as the inaugural headliner.
Playing from the centre of the poolside complex, the party was afforded an air of laidback intimacy that I wouldn't have thought possible across such an expansive space. Sun-kissed revellers surrounded the booth, dancing in shallow pools and atop speakers, with a large portion of the crowd refreshingly unfazed at not being able to face the DJ. To close out the evening, Fanciulli spun a typically zesty two hour set, moving rapidly between cut after cut of chunky tech house, with Joris Voorn's remix of Mark Fanciulli's "The Tide" evoking a particularly loud cheer from the ebullient mass. It's a party well worth checking out if just for the feel-good atmosphere (and insect-themed décor).
DJ Mag at Space
Every year since 2011, on the middle Sunday between the opening and the first We Love..., DJ Mag throw a party at Space. The lineup was left late this time around, with Steve Bug, Catz 'N Dogz and Benoit & Sergio only announced in the days leading up to the event. Already one of the quieter weeks in the calendar, it wasn't altogether clear if the party was going to have sufficient numbers. As it happens, the Terrazza was comfortably busy.
Catz 'N Dogz followed Saytek with a pumping foray into their signature bass-heavy sound, raising the temperature with the likes of J Wilshere's "Closer" and their own "Good Love," a recent collaboration with KiNK on Dirtybird. By the time Eats Everything's rework of Breach's "Jack" filtered through, the crowd were in full-swing. However, in what was an odd programming choice, Benoit & Sergio were left to deal with a fervent floor. While an edit of Hot Natured's "Reverse Skydiving" and their own ubiquitous hit "Everybody" stirred some excitement, their slow-burning live show didn't quite suit the already-charged atmosphere in the room.
Steve Bug set about reinvigorating things as best he could, starting his set in the midst of a heady, swirling breakdown. Slowly, the crowd responded to the Poker Flat boss's dynamic style, rewarded for their added efforts with a closing rendition of Mr Fingers' timeless classic "Can You Feel It?"
Circo Loco at DC-10
Both the Main Room and Terrace at Circo Loco boasted a lineup that would turn most club-nights green with envy. Sossa replaced an absent Tania Vulcano in the latter, but his lighter sound had me in search of something a little more upbeat. The Martinez Brothers, with their weighty old school house and boyish charm, were just the ticket. Smiling and dancing from behind the decks, the pair's energy gushed onto the floor, with the Main Room's booming system perfectly tailored to their tough, groovy output.
Back on the Terrace, Tale Of Us were busy flitting between interludes of eerie melodica and their trademark throbbing basslines. Enveloping the room with their dark yet buoyant mood, their set made for a more complete, immersive dance floor experience. The Italian duo performed the set of the season to date, leaving Jamie Jones sounding a bit too linear as he started his set. Meanwhile in the adjacent space, Ellen Allien was peddling the total opposite. Thrashing both arms above her head, she moved through a flurry of '80s-inspired breaks, including a jumped-up remix of Kraftwerk's "Robots." By this time Jones was well into his peak-time groove. Infectious basslines met with thrusting electro-tinged stabs and catchy vocals (including an edit of Juan Maclean's "Happy House"), as DC-10's golden boy more than made up for his cautious start.