Ryan Keeling spends time with one of dance music's most colourful characters.
Earlier this month, I travelled to Ibiza to spend time in the company of Sven Väth, who, if you didn't already know, is one of the world's biggest techno DJs. We met at his villa in the hills, and after some small talk about London, which is now his home during the winter, we settled at his kitchen table. Sven seemed slightly hesitant to begin with, but he soon found his groove, and the stories flowed. He told me about Cocoon's upcoming Ibiza season, and then traced a line right back to his first visit to the island in 1980. The experience of dancing under the stars to DJs like Pippi and Alfredo showed the then 16-year-old Sven the open-ended possibilities of DJing.
Back in his hometown of Frankfurt, he established a career that saw him become a respected DJ, open a highly influential club called The Omen and gain international fame as the lead singer of a pop band. Sven spoke openly about the ups and downs that eventually led to him setting up Cocoon in 1999. The brand came to incorporate a booking agency, a record label, and most significantly a party at Amnesia in Ibiza that changed the face of clubbing on the island. It introduced the scene to new underground sounds, and with Sven as its charismatic leader, Cocoon established the afterparty culture that's still rampant in Ibiza to this day. My main takeaway from the conversation, though, was Sven's enthusiasm: even as he approaches his 50th birthday, he still brings a childlike sense of adventure to everything he does.