This week, we take a closer look at what's new on the island in 2014.
Interview: Kehakuma + Elrow
Of all the new parties to hit Ibiza in 2014, Kehakuma + Elrow is the most exciting. Merging the unrivalled fun and theatrics of the age-old Barcelona brand with some of the best house and techno bookings on the island, the collaboration has all the makings of a perfect night out. Eager to hear both sides of the story, we sat down with Elrow promoter Juanito Arnau and one-half of Space's Kehakuma team, Ciccio.
Juanito, I wanted to start with you. Elrow enjoyed two successful years at Privilege's Vista Club. Why the move to Space?
Juanito: Because it felt right. Jose Mari [Etxaniz, owner of Privilege] gave us an amazing opportunity when he invited us to take over Vista Club in 2012. We'd never been to Ibiza before and we were extremely grateful to him and his team for extending us the offer and allowing us such freedom. This year, though, it's time for a change. A lot of our customers in Ibiza have been asking for more from us, requesting that we move somewhere bigger. Jose Mari suggested we move to Privilege's Main Room, but we found it too clinical. It wouldn't work. After that we spoke to Amnesia and Pacha, but eventually Space got involved and we settled with them. It's funny because when we first came to the island, the choice was also between Space and Privilege.
And where did the idea to team-up with Kehakuma come from?
Juanito: We sat down with Juan [Arenas, director of Space] to discuss which day would best suit us. The original options were Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. We chose the latter because that had always been our day on the island; from a promotions point of view it made sense to stick with it. And then we really liked the idea of joining forces with Kehakuma—and that's exactly how we saw it: as a collaboration, not a competition.
From your side Ciccio, why were you keen to bring Elrow into the Discoteca? How will it benefit Kehakuma?
Ciccio: I'll you the truth, when Juan [Arenas] first told myself and my partner Roody Willeke about the plan last year, we wanted to make sure that things were being thought through properly, especially with regards to the kinds of artists Elrow would bring. At Kehakuma, music is the most important factor. The visuals, dancers, production are all secondary. Over time, as we discussed the party in more detail, I began to realise how serious Elrow were about it and just how powerful a promotional force they are. Eventually, I became convinced that it would work and now I can honestly say I'm delighted to be working alongside them. The Discoteca is much larger than the Terrazza; you need 2500 people in there for it to look good. As Kehakuma, we've never come close to using it, simply because the music we offer doesn't lend itself to those kind of numbers in Ibiza. I think it's great that they're in there, doing something different. Saying that, I also think the two parties will end up complimenting each other.
So why exactly do you envisage it working?
Juanito: Most people come to Ibiza looking to party, while a lesser percentage come for culture. On the one hand we'll be able to provide our crowd with the kind of experience that wasn't possible before, while those more inclined to Kehakuma will be introduced to the madness that is Elrow. Having the two parties in the same club will work well; when people want a break from Elrow, they can go and listen to some top-notch music, and vice-versa. It's going to introduce a lot of new visitors to both brands. We're offering two kinds of experience: musical and cultural. There aren't many other nights offering that.
Ciccio: Also, it's important that as much of Space is open to the public as possible. I'm sure it was the same with Privilege—people come to the party expecting to visit the biggest club in the world and they arrive at a club for 2000 people. The same applies to Space; visitors want the full tour. Variety on a night out is important.
Juanito: Exactly. Back in Barcelona, my father and I have always felt that people should have space to move around and explore.
It's interesting because on the surface Kehakuma and Elrow seem almost like opposites. One is very heads-down and serious, while the other is overtly flamboyant and silly.
Ciccio: The thing is both parties have their own rooms, which will still very much reflect the ideals of the individual brands. It's important for both of us that our image remains intact and that people still consider us in the same way they always have. Personally, I think it's great that there will be so much going on in the Discoteca. Have you ever been to an Elrow party? The effort they go to—the dancers, the sets, the lights—is incredible. At the end of the day, it's about maintaining as high a standard as possible, whether that be with music or production.
Juanito tell us about your plans for the Discoteca. Will you be bringing anything new to the space?
Juanito: Space is bigger than Vista Club, so the vision we have for this year reflects that. We'll be running 17 events. The first will feature only decorations on stage, but from the second week onwards we'll be kitting out the entire space. Like last year, we'll be bringing our Singer Morning and Row Show parties back. Just so you have an idea how popular these events are, in Barcelona our Singer Morning events hold 4500 people. We'll be running five of these at Space, roughly one a month, keeping to our five stock themes. For Row Show, however, we'll be putting together entirely new themes, such as a Brazilian sambadrome, Bollywood, Chinese New Year... There will be five or six of these. In addition, there will be three weeks of Row Music, a concept that sees us deck the club out in old vinyls and build a whole night around a particular era, be it the '70s or '80s. Working with the Discoteca will allow us to do everything we're well known for, only better. All the props, costumes and sets will all be brought by boat from Barcelona...
Ciccio: How many lorries are you guys bringing over? Listen to this, it's insane.
Juanito: About 12 or 14.
Wow. You're also going to be hosting four KER takeovers at Kehakuma.
Ciccio: Yes. We've decided to collaborate because the club has been doing really well in Barcelona. They've also supported our resident Javi Bora and so we've developed a sort of partnership.
That's cool. So tell us about some of the artists you have playing for you this summer.
Ciccio: At Kehakuma we repeated a lot from last year. That said, there are a few new faces on the bill to keep things fresh: Move D, John Talabot and Daniel Bell have all been booked. Marcel Dettmann will headline in August; we're really happy about that. We received a lot of feedback from last year and people seemed happy with the artists we brought. Plus, it's not that easy to book new artists...
...especially in Ibiza.
Exactly. And we also had our hours cut down. Elrow will man the Sunset Terrace from 10-12 PM, meaning we've had one less two-hour slot to fill.
Juanito: We're also working with a lot of artists that we're familiar with and who know the brand. We actually would've liked to book more artists, but in Ibiza it's difficult to attract certain people. Also, as we're on a Saturday, we're up against the weekend club circuit and the festivals. In any case, Elrow has never been about the DJ. Elrow is about the party as a whole. For example, I'd never book someone like John Talabot, even though I think he's brilliant. He wouldn't work in Elrow, he'd set the wrong kind of mood. We need artists that lift the vibe. Highlights this season include Tiga, Seth Troxler and DJ Harvey, who will also headline Kehakuma the week before.
Ciccio: I must say that when I saw the final Elrow lineups I was really surprised. I like a lot of the artists on there. It's a big change from Vista Club.
Juanito: We were working within the confines of a 2000-capacity venue. There were things we couldn't do, people we couldn't attract. Now that we're at Space it's time to push the boat out.
If you were present in Ibiza last summer my bet is you would strongly advise anyone against starting their own party. After all, you'd need two hands to count the number of A-list DJs that tried and failed. Barcelona's Coyu, though, was one of the smart ones. Rather than accept Booom's offer in 2013, he waited until now to launch his debut label residency, Suara. Earlier this week, we sat down with the man himself at Santos Hotel in Playa d'en Bossa as he geared up for the opening.
Let's start with a bit of context. For those that are unfamiliar with Suara, tell us a bit about its history.
Suara began life as a sub-label of Atypical Farm, which was the first label I started roughly seven years ago. Atypical Farm put out some of the first releases from Ilario Alicante, Gary Beck, Sergio Muñoz (Fur Coat)... In fact I was the first promoter to book Gary Beck outside of Scotland. With Atypical Farm, and now with Suara, the aim has always been to try and unearth new talent and bring it to a wider audience. I actually also ran another label for a while, My Cup Of Tea, which put out one of the first releases from Tale Of Us. Not many people know that... Anyway, eventually Suara grew to the point where it swallowed Atypical Farm and became my main focus.
And what about your personal history with Ibiza, as both a clubber and DJ.
Honestly, before I got to know the island I didn't think much of it. Even though Suara now leans more towards tech house, my roots lie with underground techno. Robert Hood and Daniel Bell, that kind of thing. Coming from that kind of background, Ibiza, with its sunny party scene, never really appealed to me, nor was the music I loved especially well represented here. It wasn't until I actually came to the island and discovered the real Ibiza—which for me has nothing to do with Playa d'en Bossa—that I fell in love with it. I've been coming here every summer for five years now; DJing all over the place, at Space, Amnesia, Sankeys. Last summer I was a resident for Insane at Pacha. And this year I've been given the chance to run my own party.
Going from being a resident at someone else's party to running your own is a big jump. Why now?
I believe Suara has reached a point where it makes sense. It's the next step. Last year they offered it to us but it wasn't the right time. Now it is. We had several offers, but Booom seemed like the right fit for us. Compared to the others they're a relatively small operation and that's what we need. Of course, last year they had a lot of issues but they've changed the staff and they seem ready to make a proper go of it this season. It's perfect for what we're doing.
Weren't you at all nervous to be partnering up with them after last summer?
I know all about the problems they had, with the government, the promoters, the club. Like I said, we had various offers and with each one we weighed up the positives against the negatives and Booom came out on top. The good thing about them is how much they've invested in us, in terms of promotion and the like. We feel wanted. Also, unlike the other clubs, they're not managing seven nights a week, so we get a lot more attention. Somewhere else, we'd most likely be bottom of the rung.
And for the time being you're Booom's only techno party.
Yeah. But, for me, Suara's sound, so to speak, is to not have a sound. Across the season we've got Andre Crom and Pleasurekraft bringing a slightly housier vibe, while the likes of Carlo Lio, Kenny Larkin and Gary Beck will rep for techno. The vague notion for the parties is to move from house through to techno. I think we've got something special there. A lot of the nights on the island only push one sound. They can lack variety.
I've never been to a Suara party—do you expect the crowd to be mostly Spanish?
No actually, not at all. If you look at our Facebook stats you'll see Spain fourth of fifth on the list. I mean, I'm Spanish and Spain isn't where I perform the most or have the most following. It'll be a mixed crowd.
You mentioned before about that desire to push new talent. Any young-guns to look out for across the summer?
Yeah, definitely. Ramiro Lopez, even though he's older, feels like a younger brother to me. He's going to be a resident, as will fellow Spaniard AFFKT. They're both good friends of mine and great musicians in my eyes. And then there's Adrian Hour, an Argentine, who I'm certain is destined for big things in the world of techno. What I want is for Suara to be a place for growth and expansion, so that ultimately as they grow as artists, so does the label.
As you said, Kenny Larkin is playing. He's one of two Detroit DJs you'll be hosting this season, alongside Kevin Saunderson. That must feel pretty good, right?
It's an honour. I've been following both of them for so many years. Like I said, I started with what those guys created. To have them playing at my party... Well, It'll be a proud moment.
This week on the island
Amnesia opening at Amnesia
Brought forward by a week, this year's Amnesia opening for once felt part of the island-wide ribbon-cutting celebrations. The party boasted its strongest house and techno lineup in recent memory, with both rooms entirely dedicated to the sound. At 5 AM, the looming figure of Adam Beyer took up position in the Main Room, settling in with a selection of punchy, swinging grooves. Expecting to hear him drop straight into his usual jackhammer fare, his set made for a welcome and very danceable introduction.
The opening, though, like so many parties at Amnesia, is all about the Terrace. Increasingly dwindling numbers in the Main Room conveyed the fact, as Davide Squillace took to spinning big-room house in the packed, adjacent space. Nic Fanciulli's remix of Hot Natured's sugary smash “Benediction” featured among the DC-10 DJ's more memorable moments. It was, however, Amnesia debutants Apollonia who stole the show. Playing for upwards of three hours, the trio more than justified their headline slot, bringing the kind of timeless, groovy funk every dance floor craves at that time of the morning. Cuts from Derrick Carter and Shonky made their mark, but none stood out quite like Argy's tech house classic, "Love Dose."
Cocoon opening at Amnesia
Returning to Amnesia less than 48 hours later, Cocoon's milestone 15th opening had the Terrace feeling like an entirely different place. Awash with soft reds and blues, the lights lent the room a markedly genial atmosphere, consolidated by Dixon's early, smiling crowd. It helped that the Innervisions boss was in expert form, balancing thick-edged grooves with warm melodies. DJ Koze's rework of Moderat's "Bad Kingdom," as well as Âme's remix of Sailor & I's "Turn Around," proved shining examples. As 3:30 AM approached, he let loose several off-kilter drums and grainy acid lines, much to the excitement of the floor. It was a classy performance.
One record later, though, and the room belonged to Sven Väth. Sticking by Dixon's mellow formula, he switched the focus onto the groove, letting the basslines do the work. Meanwhile in the Main Room, Ilario Alicante was on another tip entirely, pounding away at the techno drum. In what was an odd moment, he too played a "Bad Kingdom" remix (Marcel Dettmann's), followed shortly by the same Sailor & I track. Headliner Ben Klock's selections were more obscure, with an early rendition of Recondite's "Nadsat" setting a trippy tone for his set. Roomy and dark, the dance floor I left couldn't have looked more different to the one I entered. Music-wise, though, the quality remained just as high.
Suara opening at Booom Ibiza
There were times last summer when it wasn't clear whether Booom Ibiza would make it to 2014. As it stands, however, the club is back and gearing up for a smoother and more successful season. Rather than dive in head-first, they've decided to ease themselves in, opening with three residencies. The third, after the two Defected-run parties (Defected In The House, Glitterbox), is Ibiza debutant Suara. Operated out of Barcelona by local boy Coyu, the Wednesday night affair looks set to fly the flag for tech house and techno at the superclub. Judging by the opening, they could have a long and fruitful summer ahead of them.
Booom, for one, feels more inviting inside. A new gay-friendly mezzanine area, as well as unrestricted access to the bar above the DJ booth, means guests are able to move about more freely. Downstairs, Andre Crom was spinning feel-good tech house, densely populated with vocals and bold, energetic synth-lines. Ten Walls' persistent hit "Walking With Elephants" was among his more popular selections. After Crom, Pleasurekraft let musicality slip in lieu of raw power and drive, a move which, to his credit, caused the floor to swell. Coyu, playing on Traktor, toed a similar path for several tracks before heading off in a more hard-edged techno direction. If we take the opening as a sign of what's to come, both Suara and Booom Ibiza will enjoy their time together in 2014.
Cocoon - Phrank.net
All others - Tasya Menaker
For more information on what's happening on the island in 2014, check out our comprehensive Ibiza guide below.