Paco Osuna has got memories for days of his time in Ibiza. His rise to becoming one of the island's best-loved DJs started in earnest back in 1999 when he became a resident of Amnesia, and since then he's placed across the dance music haven, spinning tunes alongside every world-class DJ under the Balearic sun.
“The island has lost a bit of the freedom and hippie spirit that it had in those years,” he concedes when we ask him about its current vibe. His affection though is unaffected. “People come to Ibiza to enjoy the island but above all to enjoy the music and parties it offers,” he says. “That’s what has always kept me very in love with it.”
His own love affair with dance music started young. Like, properly young; he was heading out to Studio 54 (no not that one) in Barcelona at just 14 years of age. Following military service, Osuna moved to Valencia, cutting his teeth at the city’s top hotspots and getting tongues wagging for his serious talent. At the turn of the century – while we were busy getting high on UKG and bugging out about Y2K – Osuna made his first pilgrimage to Ibiza and secured himself that now legendary residency. Amnesia proved to be the perfect setting for his slick, techy sounds, always cut with an unshakeable groove.
Next came Milestone: the platform he launched in 2006 to distribute dance music from like-minded selectors. Building a red-hot roster of releases from the likes of Eats Everything, Blackchild, Andres Campo and Carlo Lio, the label has become a permanent fixture of the scene and as much of a part of techno’s furniture as a DJ booth decked out with a pair of NXS2s. Its success saw him elbow his way into Enter by Richie Hawtin, Elrow’s biggest parties, and become part of Marco Carola’s Music On family.
Never one to press pause, last year he launched NOW HERE, a new night at Hï Ibiza designed to encourage clubbers to live – and dance – in the moment. It quickly took off. “Ibiza is an island where tourism constantly changes, but we have created a community of loyal followers who come to be part of us every Tuesday,” he says.
Osuna recognises that no DJ is ever an island; the crowd is what makes it. “Many people on the island who work and ask for Wednesdays off to go to NOW HERE every Tuesday,” he adds. “For me, honestly that connection is the greatest thing and the most special value that my night has, its loyal and unconditional crowd.”
Luckily for these disciples, NOW HERE is back for another year. Relaunched in June, the second season has seen Osuna hold down Hï Ibiza’s Club Room with the likes of Solardo, Blackchild (who plays on September 19), Melanie Ribbe (who plays on September 26), and Iglesias. But while NOW HERE is all about the present – how about the flipside – what’s on the horizon for one of the island’s most iconic names?
Osuna is set to take NOW HERE on tour to the likes of USA, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and The Netherlands for ADE while maintaining the night’s signature ethos. He’s also keen to continue to prioritise sound over status. Once again, too, it’s a tale of love. “I simply seek to continue this love story with our audience who, as I have said before, is unconditional and very very faithful,” he says. This story is far from complete – memories will be made of moments yet to happen – but for now: well, it’s about exactly that.
You’ve been playing in Ibiza for 25 years now - what’s exciting you about the scene there recently?
Well, like everything in life, Ibiza has been evolving since the first time I came in 1999. With the massification the island has lost a bit of the freedom and hippie spirit that it had in those years, but there is something that has not changed and that is what has me completely in love with the island as time has passed: the passion with which music is experienced in Ibiza. People come to Ibiza to enjoy the island but above all to enjoy the music and parties it offers; and that has always kept me very in love with the island.
Nowadays clubbers and the world of clubbing has changed a lot, sometimes people follow the name and character of the DJ, but in Ibiza there are still places where the main and outstanding element of the night is the music, regardless of the DJ who plays, that these days is something that I value very much.
What advice would you give to the younger generation of DJs and producers trying to break through right now?
The advice I would give to the younger generation of artists is to really love music, to love the DJ profession and to respect their colleagues. At the time when I was starting to DJ, those who were really good at mixing or those who contributed a unique and personal musical history stood out. The new generations are the future and it is up to them that the art of mixing continues to be valued. I would also advise them to reject the comfort zone, to take risks, to be creative and to strive to be different, to seek to have a unique personality and their own sound identity, which is what will make them have a consistent career.
Do you feel like your legacy in Ibiza is felt on the island?
Well those are big words, I have not created any legacy yet, there are many other DJs who have made and created the history of Ibiza, I feel like I am a participant in a movement that changed the musical direction of the island, but I am still far from have created a legacy. I do feel that what we are creating every Tuesday at Hï’s Club Room is something with personality, that escapes the easy formula of booking only names that sell tickets. As our summer motto says: WE DO CARE ABOUT MUSIC! We don't care about the name of the artist, we care about the musical quality that the artist can offer. This is not a legacy but it is a good foundation to create it
How has your style and sound changed over those years?
I honestly don't think it has changed much, since the beginning of my career I have been a very eclectic DJ, I have always really liked house, tech-house, minimal, techno but all styles have always had an element in common - the groove - which is very important to me. The genre doesn't matter, but the groove has to be with a very marked bassline and a touch of funk, that is still my identity today, I can't play music that doesn't have groovy basslines. Thus, throughout all these years I have been adapting to the evolution of the different genres that I play, but always being faithful to the type of groove that identifies me.
You’ve released a few remixes recently, can we expect any fuller production projects before the end of the year?
Yes, many! Since the beginning of 2023 I have been excited again about producing and being in the studio. I have many works ready to be released this year and others that I am planning for 2024. As a preview I can tell you that remixes of CHUCKY 73 and Blackchild will soon be released on my Mindshake label, also a remix of 'Turn Around' by Phat&Small, as well as an EP of collaborations as I did previously with my project 'Amigos' on Plus 8 and original productions on my Mindshake label.
As we come towards a close on NOW HERE's second season, how will you look back on this run of shows?
The connection we have created with our audience is simply impressive. Ibiza is an island where tourism constantly changes, but we have created a community of loyal followers who come to be part of us every Tuesday. Above all, many people on the island who work and ask for Wednesdays off to go to NOW HERE every Tuesday, for me honestly that connection is the greatest thing and the most special value that my night has, its loyal and unconditional crowd.
Are you already planning for next season? If so, what are you looking to bring to the table next year?
I simply seek to continue this love story with our audience who, as I have said before, is unconditional and very very faithful. On a musical level I will continue to support new talents (they are the future), artists who are really interested in musical quality above all. As I said, what interests us is the music and not the names.
Do you have any dream collaborations when it comes to NOW HERE? Or someone you’d like to play back-to-back with?
Any DJ who plays on Tuesdays with me is an artist I would like to do a B2B with. I respect them for their music, they inspire me and teach me their musical vision, which is new and fresh. No DJ that I have called for NOW HERE has come by recommendation or because of his status, I invite them all because of what they contribute musically, many of them have enormous talent. Of the DJs of my generation, with everyone I loved or was fascinated by their music, I have already played B2B, so now I like to experiment with new people, like for example Melanie Ribbe, Blackchild or Mahony, who are artists with incredible talent and a exquisite musical taste.
You’re about to take NOW HERE to the USA and Chile in 2024, how different will that look from your annual Ibiza seasons?
The NOW HERE nights in NYC, ADE (Amsterdam), Colombia, Peru and Mexico may not be very different, our mentality and identity will always be the same, giving priority to music and talented artists. The element that will never change in NOW HERE, no matter what city of the world we are in, is our mentality and philosophy. So above all we need venues with an optimal sound system so that people can enjoy the music, which is the most important thing for us, we just need that and the audience.
What’s next for you?
Next year I will have 30 years of career as a DJ, so I have already visited almost all the important places in the world for electronic music, but I am especially excited to visit those places again with NOW HERE, it is my most personal project and my goal in the future is to be able to export the unique atmosphere that we achieve on Tuesdays at Hï to the rest of the world, that really excites me and motivates me to the fullest.
NOW HERE takes place every Tuesday at Hï Ibiza's Club Room: Paco Osuna is joined by Melanie Ribbe and Fer BR on September 26; on the closing night Paco Osuna will play a special all-night-long set on October 3; Paco Osuna is also playing Hï Ibiza's closing party on October 7