The French steal the show at the Ibiza International Music Summit
Extra reporting & photos: Frank Fabian
Women are the best. That’s the most important thing to learn from life. Women are the best, and they are superior to men, and we just have to accept it. David Guetta, who is managed and promoted by three women, including his wife Cathy, reveals the secret of his success.
Two million albums sold, eight million singles sold, three million singles in the USA alone, a hundred million radio audience of Sexy Bitch in the USA alone, I Got A Feeling for Black Eyed Peas the biggest selling download ever – ten million sales, 240 million hits on youtube, nominated for five Grammys in 2009, and 150 gigs in 365 days last year. Welcome to the stage David Guetta.
Ben Turner’s impressive intro started the first of the Big Dog DJ panels with the French house DJ, producer and impresario, whose hugely successful F*** Me I’m Famous parties are opening for the season that night. The interview touched on something that was to be a key talking point at this year’s IMS. Dance music has finally taken off in the US mainstream. Guetta is at least partly responsible for this. Despite all of that though he remains realistic about the whims of the industry. I know that I probably have two amazing years as a producer and then it’s going to go to the next hot new sound. The only really good idea I had was to create a bridge between European electronic culture and American urban culture.
It’s now officially the opening of summer season in Ibiza. After a sleep-deprived week that involved a record amount of sunrises followed by snatched morning siestas, I found myself gradually regaining consciousness from a new vantage point here in a perfectly down-home little kasbah in deepest Andalucia. It’s actually quite a relief to have escaped the huge lift-off that is now in full swing on the island. It’s getting stratospheric there.
The Third Ibiza International Music Summit (IMS) came round as ever to coincide with the first big summer opening parties in the beach bars and clubs. The respectably later starts to each day’s panels were most welcome given the heat and the palpably more laid back and confident vibe of this year’s event. Once again, the Gran Hotel in the marina was the mothership for the daytime events, with evening sessions at Grial and Pacha, and the grand finale event on full moon up in Dalt Vila.
Pete Tong’s interview with Erick Morillo focused a lot on how much of the superstar element the Colombian-American has brought over the years into the world of DJs, and how he’s undoubtedly raised the game for his peers. Absolutely. I’d say I was one of my promoters’ worst nightmares when it came to dealing with me, but I always deliver, and I think that’s one of the reasons that people continued to work with me.
He first brought P. Diddy here years ago, and started the now popular trend for hiphop artists in the States to work with dance producers. He told us that MTV in America doesn’t play dance music, which really surprised me. He also said that US radio is not at all supportive to dance music except for a few niche guys.
In America clubs are the only outlet for our kind of music. People like David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia and Deadmau5 are now opening doors for people like me after I’ve been in this industry so long. I just see it as all being so good for the scene as a whole. For me to be a star in my own home, it’s like fuck, it is finally happening.
Morillo has a house on the island and is still a committed clubber. I said I was going to retire when I was 35, but I didn’t and you know what? I still feel the passion. I don’t see me stopping this lifestyle any time soon.
His weekly Subliminal Sessions at Pacha kick off this week with a guest spot from Steve Angello. I think Ibiza is the only place in the world where you have so many people from so many different countries and cultures coming together during the summer. It is the world stage. What Miami is for one week Ibiza is for the entire summer.
Mike Pickering is old school Mancunian legend. A former northern soul boy and resident Hacienda DJ, he signed the Happy Mondays and James for Factory Records, played himself in 24 Hour Party People and founded M People. He’s at the IMS to give a keynote speech and we manage to get a few minutes alone with him in the bar.
I’m going to be back a few times during the summer because I’ve got Retrograde playing at We Love at Space and then Calvin Harris and Diagram of the Heart, our first release on Deconstruction are playing Ibiza Rocks, so I’ll be here for both of them. It’s so lovely being here. I’ve seen so many people from the past 25 years of my life. But one night in Ibiza is sometimes enough! If I can make the dash after one night, I’m good. I just get dragged along to all the parties, like some naughty schoolboy. I’m really looking forward to this year though.
Pickering founded Deconstruction Records back in the 80s, signing Black Box, Guru Josh and Calvin Harris, who is his new A and R man at the label. His artists include Axwell, Sasha, Way Out West and Diagram of the Heart.
I’m really looking forward to the Diagram of the Heart launch. We’re also re-releasing all the label’s old stuff, with remixes, so everything that’s rocked Ibiza for years. The artists themselves will choose the mixes.
One of those remixes is Sasha’s classic trance tune Xpander which he performed to the midnight crowd in Dalt Vila during the headline set of the IMS finale.
The big names in the global electronic scene are here at the summit mixing with several generations of music lovers and industry people from right across the spectrum. Being the start of summer season also means promoters from the more underground clubs are at large. On the pool terrace we run into Terry Costello, whose Fabrik In Sessions, for which he’ll also be resident DJ, will be at Summum in San Antonio this summer. Along with Ken Fan, Costello has chosen the small venue to showcase some of his favourite acts from the deep house and techno scenes, and the opening party’s on June 26th.
It’s going to an international crowd . . . given Fabrik’s success in Madrid and its already international following there. It’s massively popular with the Spanish and Italian crowds there. We want to keep this small. It’s 15 euros entry and the bar is cheap. We’ve got Joseph Capriato, Louis Osbourne, Uto Karem, Hauswerks . . . and an intimate vibe. We’re just interested in not ripping anyone off but giving a really good party, every Saturday night. Afterwards we’ve got a sunrise boat party at 9am every week too, and the tickets can be bought together for each weekend.
During a half hour liquid lunch break we run into the producer and trance/electroclash DJ Rebecca Saforiawho leaves her really excellent Dreamweaver CD with me; do an on-camera with former BBC presenter Emma B who has just moved her family here and has set up her own PR company on the island, and we film DJ/producer Dan Tait who is enjoying showing off the latest gizmology to Ed Banger honcho Busy P. and Philippe Zdar from Cassius at the Pioneer stand. We’re promised an on-camera interview with David Guetta up on the roof. Come back in an hour we’re told.
Exactly an hour later we leave the afternoon panel and head back to where Guetta is, we hope, waiting for us. But after creeping up the back stairs to the appointed place on the roof terrace we find no Guetta but what appears to be the aftermath of a cannily timed rain shower, the only one all week. It’s all rather mesmerising. Also around are Ibicencan politician Paco Medina, who’s taken time out to help promote his newly launched Ibiza Music Cluster, and his associate Jill Canney. The Cluster, basically a coalition of members made up of local promoters, artists and music industry players has just received financial support and backing from Madrid.
Paco presented this as the Rioja of music, in effect. We were talking about this last night at the presentation. There’s been such a history of the clubs here not wanting to work together in the past, and it looks like we’ve finally resolved it, because they were completely missing the point by not sticking together and supporting each other.
There are now just about 100 members working together, which is amazing so early on in the program. Following the IMS presentation last night some people are predicting that figure will double by this time next year. Could this really mean the end to the dirty tricks club owners are famous for torpedoing at each other? And if so, what happens next?
The Ibiza Music Festival! Which is already registered. Paco wants to do an Ibiza Music Week in which we might have one poster covering say all events that night, no matter what or where, as long as it’s music. We’re trying to sort out all the details of how that’ll work at the moment. So as well as what’s happening on the big club nights we’ll include the beach bars and so on, maybe do one for San Antonio and one for Ibiza Town. This is all about bringing it all together at last. The philosophy behind membership is that there’s no room for negativity, so if you’re in, you’re in to be positive and not give out about your neighbour.
Amongst all the Americans here this week, our two favourite characters are probably Jason Bentley and Tommie Sunshine. A big supporter at the IMS for the 3rd year running, Bentley hosts Morning Becomes Eclectic on California’s KCRW (he’s also the station’s music director), and has been involved in the LA dance music scene for about 20 years. He’s also the managing editor of Urb Magazine.
After having received dozens of calls over the years from film directors interested in tracks on his show, he realised that he could find a way to use his knowledge to help directors in a more official capacity, as a film music supervisor. His big break was working on The Matrix films. So this is the guy who chose Rob D.’s Clubbed to Death which went on to be almost uniquely associated with The Matrix soundtrack. In all honesty this was, at the time, my favourite thing about the film, and I already knew and adored the track from when it first appeared in the 1996 French film,Clubbed to Death (Lola). So even back then I was intrigued by how it had ended up on this Hollywood soundtrack. This little revelation alone pretty much makes Bentley a hero to me. He’s also recently finished working with Daft Punk on the soundtrack to Tron: Legacy and Pete Tong engaged him in a fascinating discussion about working with the French duo.
Daft Punk were always on top of the list. I took them round to meet all the big composers. Everyone has their gimmick. Hans Zimmer has his great big wooden doors and they open and you see the master. At the end of this two week frame and many many meetings and many funny situations where they’d be following me – I’d be driving and looking in my rear view mirror, and they’re driving in this mustard coloured convertible Peugeot around Burbank . . . It was just hysterical. Those guys are characters. They don’t really need to be robots, they’re hilarious anyway. Anyway, at the end of those two weeks when I asked them who they wanted to work with they said ‘we wanna do it ourselves’. It was certainly a leap of faith for Disney, but I gotta hand it to the studio, I think they understood from a very early stage that Daft Punk are game changers. The same way that they blew it up at Coachella with their reveal of the famous Daft Punk pyramid. That’s why they’re so meticulous in their process, because they know that the decisions they make are important.
Of course there was a short leash, at first, but also Daft Punk did their homework before the film had even been shot. They were willing to completely commit themselves to this process for two years. It’s highly unusual for the music to be a part of the entire process. Typically on a film the composer will come in for the final 6-8 weeks, completely post-production. In this case the composers were on board and writing. Music was played on set. It was the holistic approach to scoring the film. They really nailed it. Daft Punk have brought a lot of credibility to this project and I think the studio realised very early on what they had.
Their studio is wild. They’ve got these crazy looking instruments that look like some kind of ‘60s controller boards. They have this huge modular synthesiser. One of the most important things was to find an organic hybrid of orchestral and electronic. A lot of times this is clunky. No one really nails it. I know we tried hard with The Matrix and I don’t know if we quite got there, but I realise now it has to come from an individual source. I think the mistake I made on The Matrix is I would pair people up, and the egos and the agendas . . . it never quite came together. In this case it’s from Daft Punk solely, and looking at it now the lesson to be learned is it really has to come from a singular voice if the result is going to feel like a natural hybrid of electronic and orchestral.
My role is as a positive facilitator, making the right introductions. We do lots of review sessions with all kinds of feedback and long intellectual conversations. I really respect the amount of time and thought they’ve put into the process. And the detail that they get into! I mean the environments they want to record in or the instruments that they’re looking for. One time we went looking for a pipe organ for Thomas. I took them to Disney Hall, and there’s a brilliant pipe organ there, and they’re like ‘it’s not quite right’. So I found them another one at the First Congregational Church in downtown L.A. which has a massive pipe organ. The organist gave us a demo, and played for like half an hour while we sat in the pews, and it was amazing, but still they’re nitpicking. ‘I just don’t know . . .’ but it’s that kind of meticulous nature that amazes me. They actually found one back in Europe in the end.
I’ve always believed that dance and electronic music producers are very much creating soundtracks to imaginary films.
Later, Bentley moderated a panel discussion of the recent and long overdue surge of interest in dance music in the US. One of his panelists was New York DJ and producer Tommie Sunshine. On the circuit since 1986, Tommie got his first big break as the co-writer of Felix da Housecat’s Silver Screen. These days he’s a festival favourite and still very concerned about the importance of the underground in an America he sees as generally hostile to electronic music innovations. We managed to get Tommie backstage for an interview after the panel, to hear more.
One of the only real radio stations is Jason Bentley’s, because otherwise it’s all Clear Channel and controlled by inane corporate shit. When 9/11 happened they sent out a list of songs you couldn’t play any more. You couldn’t play Burnin’ Down The House, Edwin Starr’s War…all these songs came off the playlist because of what was going on.
Here’s what I love about New York. When I get home on Sunday I’m going to David Mancuso’s loft party which he’s been doing since the early 70s. He does something that’s completely out of this world in that he doesn’t mix. He puts on a record and plays it all the way to the end, and everybody claps, and he puts on another record. He plays records in their entirety and pretty much mainly plays disco, real proper ten minute long crazy disco from the 70s. But then he’ll play a DFA remix of MIA. It’s from 4.30 in the afternoon to midnight, and he’s got little kids running around as well as people in their 70s. Then there’s the deep and dingy warehouse parties in Brooklyn. So there’s all of this going on at the same time and it’s all connected. It’s a pretty legitimate history in New York. There is a community there, but it’s not as big as you would hope or as big as the mythology would lead you to believe. As I said in the panel, New York and the way it’s perceived is a myth. People think it’s this amazing place for dance music and it’s not. I mean you can go see the DFA guys throw a party and there’ll be only 200 people there. Derrick Carter can’t get 50 people in a room in Chicago!
The craziest place in the world I think for dance music right now is Australia. Absolutely. When you go out in that country it’s as if everyone in the room just got a text message that said that the world is ending in five minutes and that if they don’t fucking party as hard as they can its gonna end sooner. I just got back from Creamfields there where I played right before the Bloody Beetroots who were headlining to ten thousand people and it was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen.
The thing about Australia is that you can play anything, as long as you’re playing music from an authentic place and it comes from the heart they will react accordingly. I did an interview for my new single on Nova and the Action Battle Team as they’re called, the presenters are 19, 20 and 21 years old, so it’s coming totally from a youth perspective. It was hysterical. One of the things they made me do and this just goes to show you the perspective, was a station ID in which I insult them and they record it. So I abused them verbally and they play it on the radio all the time. When you put power into kids’ hands and you let them decide what they’re gonna play and they take the reigns that’s when things get interesting.
It’s the end of the three days and time for tonight’s Grand Finale event up in Dalt Vila. Tonight we have Pete Tong, Mark Ronson, Sasha, Buraka Som Sistema and others taking the stage till well after midnight. For me the act that will feel the most pressure is the one who carries the week’s finale gig through sunset and into the rising full moon night and weekend, effectively warming up the medieval ramparts for the summer season. This year the job went to Mark Ronson who, just before heading up to Dalt Vila to face his music, was increasingly feeling the heat. We managed to grab a few minutes alone with Mark after his keynote interview with Pete Tong.
He’s been here before. Indeed he headlined at Ibiza Rocks a couple of years back. He has his own style, reflected in his excellent sartorials, his warm and endearing relationship to everything he touches on, and his music tastes, which say total street dude one minute, and great big softie the next. Now he’s weighing up where to set the dial for tonight’s crowd.
Each crowd in each place is like its own little enclave, that’s the thing. I’ve played Pacha on a Friday night where its super-Euro, like Italians coming in to hear your music and trying to figure it out. Then you can play in Eden or something in San Antonio, where it’s like playing Manchester, and that’s nice too. This is the mecca of dance music. People really come here to have a great time unless you really fuck that up for them.
It’s really nice to play to a familiar sort of crowd, but it is also about turning other people on. You know, the English people here they know me, so there’s a comfort level there. They can come hear me, having probably heard me play before, but it’s exciting to play for the kids too, and for people that are going to maybe hear your thing for the first time and, hopefully, like it.
Ronson’s production credits include Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, Ghostface Killah’sMore Fish, Kaiser Chief’s Off With Their Heads, Lily Allen’s Alright, Still, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Osirus and Robbie Williams’ Rudebox. So I’m sure a few producers feature in his hero list.
Well yeah, and today I’m way more knowledgable because you get to study all the records and you get behind the people that you love. I definitely looked up to Phil Spector, but I really really loved Rick Rubin back then, because when you’re a kid and looking at someone that iconic . . . I mean he could be in a children’s book, likeWhere’s Waldo because he’s just so interesting. I loved the Beastie Boys, The Black Crowes, Slayer. LL Cool J. And then I loved hiphop, Dre and DJ Premier who was definitely my favourite producer. Pete Rock. I mean they’re all amazing.
Two hours later, after he’s been spotted backstage up in Dalt Vila by our cameraman, intensely finishing off his set preparation, he delivers a magnificently eclectic and heartfelt set to the appreciative lunar congregation and by the end he is having a thoroughly good time.
“Thank you so much! This has been totally fucking awesome!” he tells the crowd, and closes out with a new track featuring Boy George before he lets Sasha take over for the late set.
And finally back once more to the French, for us the ultimate show stealers this year. We ran into Cassius et al. the minute our IMS started, after picking up one of our crew who’d just flown in from London and getting our car blocked in by them at the airport. After that they seemed to be everywhere. At all the parties, recovering by the pool or adding some serious spice to the panels and presentations. Cassius were responsible for creating this year’s IMS anthem and demonstrating the production live during the summit.
They were here as part of the extended Parisian crew of Ed Banger/Club 75 artists for various panels, and their gig for the opening party of Pure Pacha would follow on after the Dalt Vila IMS finale. In tow with Cassius were Justice, DJ Mehdi, Arthur Velasquez and the pied piper of the group Pedro “Busy P.” Winter.
Busy P. was Daft Punk’s manager for twelve years, and he now owns and runs Ed Banger, whose artists include Justice, DJ Mehdi, Feadz, Uffie, SebastiAn and the wonderfully talented Mr. Oizo aka Quentin Dupieux, whose music and film credits include the Flat Eric series of adverts for Sta-prest.
The IMS panel Meet the Future – The Artists featuring Annie Mac, Skream, Toddla T, Heidi, plus Arthur Velasquez (the Berlin-based manager of Cassius and Tiefschwarz) and Busy P, was more like a party than a discussion.
Not only did the panellists openly sink an entire bottle of Hierbas Ibicencas within the 45 minutes, but Busy P. stood up to invite names for his Pacha guestlist, twittered a flirtatious come-on to a woman in the audience (which we could all read on the huge live #imsibiza Twitter screen behind him), just for a laugh, and he then suggested that the doors were locked so we could all have an afternoon party there and then.
So it was up to them to really close it all down on the Saturday morning as the full moon set. And how they did. Their Friday night Club 75 party at Pacha was absolutely jammed when we arrived at 4.30am, and remained so. The entire parisien collective were in the DJ box together, laying down some serious alchemy and somehow managing to stay cool in front of a completely ignited crowd and a sorcerous atmosphere that was, for me, indescribable. So I’ll leave it Frank to wrap this one up . . .
WE wanted to stay for the end of the Sasha set in Dalt Vila. The lights were fantastically trippy and this great DJ had already converted one of our extended party to dance music. However the lure of food from the old town was too much to resist. It had been a really long day at the IMS and we hadn’t eaten properly yet. Besides, we had our musical fill from Ronson and we knew the best was still yet to come. The Ed Banger Club 75 party at Pacha. ‘Right, we need energy . . .’
Eventually we did reach Pacha, some four hours later. ‘What happened in between?’ you might ask. ‘Ibiza happened’ would be the reply. The island’s like that. We bumped into some friends and got talking, and found ourselves bar surfing in the port. And bang, it was 4 a.m. ‘We have to go’, we said to our friends in certainty. ‘There’s no way we’re missing this gig.’
We’d been told the guest list was closing at 1.30 a.m. but maintaining the usual optimism we strolled right in. Wow. What a vibe in the club! I hadn’t felt the music like that for years. But then again this was the first time I had seen Ed Banger live, except on youtube. The first thing that hit me was the sound, so very different to Guetta’s much cleaner, more clinical set the night before at the opening party of F*** Me I’m Famous, in the same club. This was more like a rock concert by comparison. The tempo of the tracks would often change dramatically from one track to the next yet the mixes were smooth, which is not easy I might add (I’m a dj myself). As the proud owner of Justice and SebastiAn albums I was well aware of the style and what their sound is about. But it’s so different at club volumes. The bass goes right through you. People were actually dancing and screaming. Genuinely enjoying themselves. Heavens above! I live in London where sometimes you wonder if this is even allowed. This is amazing . . .
The two hours flew by, leaving us craving more at the end, which I found slightly weird as we’d had such a long day with very little sleep the night before. Also, we’d planned to do an on-camera with the full Ed Banger crew in the DJ box which we decided against in the end. Despite clearing it with every party required (politics) we got the strong feeling on the night that it would be a near impossibility, and looking up at that crowded DJ box we were right. This might have left us a little disappointed as an interview with the almost complete Ed Banger crew would have certainly provided an even bigger highlight to the week, but the party was so good we soon forgot all about that, surrendered to the dance and at the end of the night were just so very glad to have been there . . .
Photos by Frank Fabian
London Grip’s Film & Sound Contributing Editor Helen Donlon is the founder of Storm Agency and is the author of According to … David Lynch (a selection of his finest quotes)
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