20 DJs tell us what they thought of the Ibiza 2017 season
Black Coffee, Lauren Lane and Adam Beyer are among those giving us their views
After nearly six months of non-stop party action, it's time to take a step back and ask some of the biggest DJs on the planet what Ibiza 2017 meant to them. Speaking personally, professionally, politically, culturally, economically, ecologically and, of course, musically, here's what how your favourite artists perceived the summer from the booth.
My season has been a big, big experience. We took over what was Space, which was a legendary club, so we knew it was going to be something special. But the parties at Hï Ibiza ended up becoming 10 times what I expected. I think the sheer amount of musical research required to front a party on that level surprised me the most. Hï is a 5000-capacity club and most people on the night are coming from Ushuaïa, an outdoor, hands-in-the-air party venue. My initial thoughts were that, for the first two or three shows, the crowd were going to come over to Hï and think “this music is not for us”. But what actually happened is that they stayed and every night was busy. The crowd were open to the sound and accepted the education. I think that was the biggest highlight for me, because for a long time the music I play has been considered niche.
I moved to the island permanently back in March, so obviously it's been a big change and a big step for me, because now I'm here in Ibiza for different reasons. For the last 15 seasons, I've come here to perform and to party and sometimes for a bit of a holiday. But now I live here, with three children in the school, I'm participating with the people of the island. Because of this, you begin to see the island differently. You begin exploring different parts of the island. You realise there's a big community here that are not taking part in our clubbing world. That's how I will remember this summer: the season I moved here. The season I realised that the island has a normal life as well.
This season feels different to the last few. Not in a negative way. The energy on the island is just very different. I think there's now a clear divide between the VIP clubs and the underground clubs. I think that in the last few years there has been lots of crossover in output, but now everyone seems to know their place and each of the clubs are catering for the different types of clubbers visiting the island.
Hï really ripped up the rulebook for the entire season. At the start of the summer no one really knew what we would see next. But the introduction of this incredible club has totally changed the format of everything. It's forced a lot of DJs to try new things and the result has been really colourful and exciting.
Pikes has been incredible. That place has just become a monster now. It really
has become the hottest party in town and the venue is simply not big enough.
Two years ago we struggled to get the message across at Pacha with the Ibiza
Rocks house parties. The event was a success, but the concept was unveiled just
a little bit too early and people didn't understand what we were trying to do.
Today, people want that flamboyant fun – just look at the success Elrow are
having with the younger crowds.
When something so big, so institutional as Space goes away, it's not just a club that disappears, it's also a lifestyle, a story that leaves the island. It's almost like a death, and it's really hard for the people that have been here for years to accept it. When something like Space disappears there has to be a process to allow it to pass. What happened with Space, what is happening with Hï and with the whole island, is that it is changing slowly. But that's okay. For me, it's always exciting to experience new places. This is how I have always built my career. In the past I've been criticised for changing venues so much, but the crowd is the most important thing. That change always brings with it something magic, something new. For that reason, Hï was both a reunion with the people I worked with for years at Ushuaïa, as well as the opportunity to start out along a new path and experience new things.
When we started getting certain offers through from certain parties in the pre-season, at that point we knew we were going to have a really strong Ibiza season. This year, we've come out and done at least 14 shows at the biggest venues on the island. We've played Hï, Ushuaïa, Paradise, Do Not Sleep, Abode. Last year we only did a handful of shows, maybe three or four. Coming to the DJ Awards ceremony and wining best Breakthrough Act was also testament to this really being our first big season. I feel that when we look back at 2017 in a few years time, we'll see it as the real starting point for us – when we laid down a serious marker.
2017 was definitely the most interesting season I've experienced in Ibiza. In my opinion, there were just too many changes in a short space of time and neither the island nor the people could really adapt to the situation properly. If you speak to all the promoters running the events and to the DJs playing nights, nobody is perfectly happy about how it went this year. Of course, there were lots of good events, but very few were deeply satisfying. In the first few months I went out to over 40 parties and gave every night, new or old, at least two chances, but, as I said, you felt there was so much distraction that no one was able to focus. Carl's Pure parties at Privilege were exceptional, but these were just one off nights. My heaven remains Sundays at Heart. Even with the change from Acid Pauli to Bedouin's Saga party, this is the event I enjoyed most and found the most inspirational. Saga at Heart was also where I heard the best set of the summer, an amazing performance by Damian Lazarus.
Looking back on this summer, I have to say the crowd has changed a bit. The island is getting more and more expensive and those who’ve been coming to island for many years can absolutely feel the change. It has consequences on the crowd as well. This could be a problem for the future if prices will continue to rise. Flights should be a bit cheaper and hotels as well. Water in the clubs should be free or cheaper than what it is now. Last but not least, the clubs should have more special treatment for workers that live on the island. These small steps will help the island to keep attracting the original audience that always made Ibiza special. Ibiza mustn’t evolve into something like Las Vegas or Monte Carlo. Ibiza is all about freedom, pure happiness and equality. The VIP attitude and prices, if not managed in the right way, could ruin the spirit of Ibiza.
I have had an amazing season as a resident for the new Labyrinth party at Pacha on Fridays. The last one with my fellow Swedes Adam Beyer and Ida Engberg was super memorable as I got to play a longer peak-time slot ahead of Hot Since 82. The week before that I warmed up for DJ Harvey and Erick Morillo, which I heard was their busiest night of the season. I was also really happy to play the Resistance party with Sasha & Digweed at Privilege as well at a date with Pete Tong at Blue Marlin. This year I felt the crowd was older, more mature. Since Ibiza has been challenged by other club destinations like Berlin, it has needed to adapt. So while places like Pikes have done well for more seasoned Balearic clubbers and the island is getting away from EDM highs, it does need to make sure that it still attracts younger underground clubbers. Ibiza still has the magic, but it shouldn't cost 70 Euros to experience it.
This season has definitely been the most unique and intense due to breaking my leg at the very start of it. It’s made the season a lot more difficult, but overall it has been really good. Even though I wasn’t living in Ibiza, I was still travelling there a lot and it has been one of my busiest summers yet. I think I’ve played over 80 gigs on and off over the past four months and when you spend your off days in Ibiza, there really isn’t any time for sleep. I think there has been a rise in parties on the island and some of them have struggled to get the numbers. Paradise and Elrow have definitely grown a lot this season; Elrow sold-out all their dates in June. Not to mention my first ever Four Thirty Two party, which was a huge success. It was surprising though as it was during the second week of the season which is definitely the hardest to sell, but even so we had 1400 people in and the vibe was incredible. The biggest lesson I’ve definitely learnt this season is not to break your leg.
Things can happen so fast in Ibiza. One minute you’re on the beach or in a restaurant in the Old Town. Then before you know it you’re off to Ushuaïa and partying in Hï until 6am. You get some inspiration and the morning after you’re in the studio, finishing off a track. You send it to the label, they test it out that night, and the next day it’s signed.
In the clubs, people seem to be having more fun, experimenting more with music and what they are wearing. It’s less formulaic and minimal, less black T-shirts, more expressive and spontaneous. I’d like to say that it’s becoming slightly more bohemian, perhaps going back to its original roots, in a sense.
Generally, there’s so much going on and I feel the scene has become much more competitive; you feel like you need to hit up every venue in one night. You see it in the numbers. But then there have been some truly great parties - I’ve got to hand it to the Defected guys, they've had Eden close to capacity every week and I’ve loved every minute playing there.
A lot of people constantly ask me to compare Space to Hï. Is Hï better? Do I miss Space? In my opinion, yes, Hï is certainly better than what Space was in its last five or six years at least. But more importantly, people need to realise that something new was coming and it was coming tailor-made for clubbers of all races, classes and genders. Of all the clubs I have played at in Ibiza and across the globe, one thing that Hï has done very well is serve both the dancefloor and the VIP equally. The way the main room is laid out is rather clever. Everyone feels like they are the centre of attention here, unlike many other clubs where the VIP gets better treatment.
Ibiza remains magical and aspirational, but 2017 may prove to be a watershed season for the island. I believe that those who were complacent – playing it safe – suffered, while those who were bold were rewarded. It feels like a shake-up is around the corner.
Personally, this season has been immense for many reasons. Curating two parties has been a challenge, but our approach to producing events that are musically and specifically targeted has proved successful. Clearly Ibiza is positioning itself as a high-end destination, but it also needs to invest in its future by catering for younger clubbers – the same clubbers that bring life to a dancefloor, that react to the right record at the right moment. Clubs full of older clubbers and VIPs lack a magic ingredient. This has been evident at numerous events this season.
I’ve felt nothing but positive energy on the dancefloor at every single gig I've played this summer. People come to Ibiza to celebrate electronic music and to have a good time. The vibe is always positive in Ibiza and I am saying this as a clubber and as a DJ.
Talking about things outside of the parties, I think personally everybody needs to take a big breath and just chill for a second. Ibiza has become big business for everything in recent years – new hotels, bars, restaurants, apartments, villas, cars, bikes, sunbeds – everything is pushed to the maximum year on year. The need for more and more and more needs to come to an end, allowing the whole thing to stabilise a little so that Ibiza will always be a place where clubbers from all over the world can come to enjoy their favourite venues, DJs and parties, as well as the beauty of the island.
Well, we have to start by saying the Ibiza season has been amazing for us! Despite all the rumours, the island has been as busy as ever, if not even more at times! Obviously there’s so much more on offer here now than in the old days, so everyone can be little more spread out at times. But again if you had any doubts about numbers on the island this year, you should have tried driving to Cala Conta in July!
One of our major highlights was hosting the BBC Radio 1 weekend at Café Mambo for two days with a big stage outside on the rocks. The line-up for both days was incredible! And that stage with the sunset going down behind it was stunning. We ended the weekend partying with lots of friends at our Sunday night residency at Hï, so it was definitely a weekend for the memory banks.
To me, this Ibiza season was the escape from the ‘all black’ era of our music. While Berlin, my hometown and basically the opposite to Ibiza, still sees everyone dressed in black, dancefloors all over Ibiza became more colourful and saw more positive vibes again. I saw lot of events popping up besides the established club nights and it generally seems the island ravers' liked that and remembered the roots of Ibiza and rediscovered the hippie-esque chic of the early days. For the sound I play, this is a good development and it’s good to see people being more connected to nature and the spiritual side of the island and the music. At Labyrinth in Pacha I was always playing to a very open-minded crowd that appreciated the diversity in the music. I’m glad the island is progressing and not stuck in the monotony of just one ruling sound.
Ibiza itself has changed a lot; it's getting more and more modern. It is now an island where you can find all kinds of people – it is for VIPs and for the true clubbers, but it is also for families and their children. In my opinion, that is the magic of the island, it can be special by day or by night! I do think, however, that the island is becoming too expensive. Flights and hotels are very expensive, especially this summer. That is not good for the island and it has to change somehow.
Ibiza is unique in many different ways: the weather, the food, the club culture and, of course, it is unique in the way people party and enjoy the day and the night. Regarding Ibiza trends, I guess I can say that there is one above all, and that is that people want to party and to enjoy the music as much as possible, simple as that. I love Ibiza deeply. I’ve been playing there for many years and I would like us to learn to respect the island more and to take care of its nature; Ibiza is not Miami, it is a small island and lately they are turning it into a big city and taking away the magic it has.
For me, what has made the 2017 season so unique is that I have had a lot fun and at the same time a lot of responsibility for each show, because many people are now going to Ibiza for only one night or for a couple of days and they want to have the best experience possible. This year I played 10 dates for Music On at Amnesia and each time I worked hard to try to fulfill the expectations of the crowd.
Hï is the start of something new. It was always going to be tough in the beginning, but In The Dark really blossomed into an amazing night. I don’t want to say it was the easiest summer, because obviously everyone involved worked their ass off, but to get a brand new club, which is pretty much unheard of in Ibiza, moving they way they did, is amazing.
Personally, it was quite a difficult transition for me; from being in and around Space for 15 years, a club which I really did love, to the sudden closure of that institution and the replacement of it by a different club, a different team - it was hard yet exciting at the same time. By the end of the season everyone was referring to the club as Hï, not as Space, which shows the strength of what Yann and the team have achieved there.
DC10 is always curating the best up-and-coming talent. And right now I see a new generation coming through. I always look at DC10 and see it as being like my summer camp; a place where you come every year and you see all your friends that have become like family, but I’ve seen the faces change over the years. Some newer and younger people are coming up and making an impact. A lot of new DJs this year have come onto the scene and people are paying attention to them. A lot of the Circoloco and Paradise residents have been playing there for quite a while, but it’s definitely been a breakthrough year for a bunch of lesser known artists.
[Main image: Travel Busy]