It was a hot, balmy, Mediterranean evening in Ibiza. I was at the legendary Pikes Hotel, to meet Andy McKay and Dawn Hindle, who had kindly agreed to talk to me about Ibiza, Manumission, Mike and Claire, Ibiza Rocks, future plans and Life in general. Pikes was quietly busy, with a number of press interviews taking place, and it was a little past 8pm when, Andy McKay,strode confidently into the bar area. I had first met the McKay brothers back in 2006 when Ibiza Rocks premièred in a side room at Privilege nightclub. Back then, both brothers had already conquered Ibiza. Mike was brash, confident and more extrovert, than Andy’s ambitious, driven but measured style. At the time, Ibiza was not a happy place for the McKay brothers. The last days of the iconic Manumission Empire, were crumbling around them and they were struggling to get Ibiza Rocks off the ground, a new concept that many people felt would fail. To top it all off, Mike and Claire, the creative half of the Manumission partnership, left the fold after a falling out, that to this day, has yet to be resolved. But that is a story we will come back to, later in the interview.
It was good to meet Dawn and Andy again. Dawn still retained her demure personality and felt more in tune with the real Ibiza vibe than Andy, whose eyes, still retained the burning drive and ambition that was there in 2006. Since I last met them, the pair had married in Las Vegas, a true White Chapel wedding. I never knew. “Dont worry” smiled Dawn “I didnt want to loose the Hindle surname, as it is important to me. Its my identity, who I am… thats why we’re not known as Mr and Mrs McKay”. It was the first, of only two occasions during the interview, that Andy did not add to the statement. As we exchanged pleasantries and about to start the interview, both Andy and Dawns attention was drawn to somebody approaching the table. I had my back to the person so I did not see him coming. He put his hand on my shoulder to say hello and when I turned around, standing right in front of me, was the well groomed face of an Ibiza legend, Paul Oakenfold. When you are suddenly doorstepped by an Iconic Ibiza DJ, your mind goes blank. In that split second I could not remember his name. “Hello Danny” I said, trying to act cool and instead, confusing Oakenfold for Danny Rampling. When we sat back down, Andy was grinning at me and said “you do know who that was dont you…..Paul Oakenfold, hes over for the Happy Mondays gig and to celebrate Shaun Ryders birthday”. Oakenfold had produced the Mondays finest hour, the album, Pills n Thrills & Bellyaches, back in 1990. My interview was off on the wrong foot and trying to regain composure was going to be hard. Like a midget at a urinal, I would have to be on my toes.
At present, English culture is enjoying a modern renaissance. The London Olympics, especially Danny Boyles opening ceremony, was very much a British success and a celebration of its culture. The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, who holiday in Ibiza, has also contributed to the sense of well being among the one million plus English Holidaymakers that visit Ibiza each summer. Its now cool to be English again as they lead the fashion trends on the island. “Ibiza Rocks is all about youth and vitality” comments Andy. “San Antonio attracts a young crowd so we get to see the cutting edge of this new English confidence emerge. San Antonio has had bad press in the past but now its attracting a better educated and trend concious crowd. Youth lifestyle is our brand and what we do here at Ibiza Rocks reflects that”. One would agree that nobody knows its market better than Ibiza Rocks, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the islands most powerful family, the Matutes. Involved in politics and owners of the Fiesta Hotel Chain that manages Ushuaia, its CEO Abel Matutes, visited Ibiza Rocks in 2009. “He liked what he saw and we were delighted to have him and his company on board with us in Mallorca Rocks” adds Andy. In its multi million euro, five year investment with Fiesta, Mallorca Rocks, increased fourfold its total bed capacity to three thousand. Some on the island may see it as a double edged sword but Andy McKay was not of that view. Anglo-Spanish relations have never been this good and the McKays have conducted their business in a professional way that has impressed the locals. Employing a large Spanish workforce and giving something back. Ibiza Rocks works with local charity’s and is very much part of the island community. Andy and Dawn’s children, Coco (3), Zach (7) and Tyler (11) are Ibicencos, born in Ibzia and attending school there. At this stage, they are regarded as the unofficial British consulate in Ibiza, flying the flag with classic understated style.
We move on to the question of Ibiza, the current state of the clubbing industry and the direction the island is going. Dawn is first to recognise that Ibiza is changing “Yes I can feel it… the vibe is different”. Andy also agrees, “Yes things have become stale at the moment…its time for something new” When the McKays sniff a change in wind direction, then everybody else sits up and notices, such is their ability to read the waters around them. Manumission was timed to perfection, as was Ibiza Rocks, pioneering the way for outdoor, evening parties on the island, a gap in the market that Andy feels was there to be taken. “Ibiza is always changing but at present, I cant say anything is catching my eye. Everything has gone so expensive and I am not a fan of the whole VIP and hype trend”. This is where Andy sits forward and gives the first inkling that he may be about to embark on something new. “I feel the environment is right to try something new. Production costs are high and the spending power of Holidaymakers is reduced, due to external factors such as the Airlines and Hotels. Ibiza is an island, people have to pay out a fair amount of cash just to get here and have a place to stay. This is why Ibiza Rocks has diversified into Hotel Rooms both here in Ibiza and Mallorca. Not all of the clubs can continue to survive as a stand alone business, disposable income is just not there anymore”. I ask if they think some clubs will close soon, both agree that casualties are inevitable. “Prices have become too expensive and clubbers are looking for alternative, better value ways to enjoy Ibiza and I feel strongly that dance music is not the only way to entertain them” The glint in Andys eye returns, as he hints that there may be a new project in the pipeline. I ask him about an Ibiza Rocks Festival, similar to the Rocktronic 123 Festival which was held in San Antonio this year. “Why take the risk” he replies “Ibiza Rocktronic is backed by Live Nation, a Global Company which can absorb losses with a long term view in mind. We are not in that position, so no, an Ibiza Rocks Festival would not be a runner for us, plus I feel festivals have had their day.”
We return to Manumission and Mike and Claire. I ask what is the current status of the Manumission Brand. “Lets put it this way” replies Andy “Its still alive but shelved for now. Mike and Claire have their own film project that they are involved with and we have Ibiza Rocks. If and when the time is right, I would like to see Manumission return in some format. Once again I would be worried about high production costs. They were a lot less when we started Manumission back in 97”. I then ask Dawn and Andy about their relationship with Mike and Claire. It is Andy who steps forward to answer this one. “At present we are like a band that has broken up. We had some good times together at Manumission but we all have our own paths to take in life. I can’t say what the future may hold, but I would be happy to see Manumission return again”. Its a diplomatic reply to the delicate issue of sensitive family affairs, but there is no resentment or anger in Andy’s voice. We leave it at that, but one would hope that time will heal wounds and that the McKay brothers will reform, and instead of trading on nostalgic past glories, will dazzle the island with a new and exciting project.
Its nearly time for the interview to end. I have taken up an hour of the couples time, in their new home of Ibiza Rocks House at Pikes Hotel. Owned by the legendary Tony Pike, the venue has played host to some of the best celebrity parties ever witnessed on Ibiza. Freddy Mercury’s forty first birthday party at Pikes, is part of Ibiza folklore. It was the island’s first agrotourism Hotel and is now under the management of Ibiza Rocks, who have re branded the old finca as a place for bands and their entourage to sleep and party. “It’s for a more discerning type of client, a place where they can let down their hair and have a good time. Ibiza Rocks in San An is for our Holiday guests, Pikes is for the bands and musicians” adds Andy “At Pikes we want to keep the spirit of Real Ibiza alive, that free abandon where anything can happen…… it’s important to us to retain that essence”. Just then, a guest jumps off the roof and into the pool beneath, the one where Wham shot their video for Club Tropicano. “Go to your room” shouts Silvia, the Hotel Manager in jest. I leave the last word to Dawn, asking if there is anything that catches her eye in Ibiza at present. “Yes”, she replies with a cheeky grin aimed at Andy “The Classic White 61 Rolls Royce Fog, parked outside the front door of Pikes”. Its the second and last occasion of the interview that Andy does not add to Dawn’s comment. The couple, together for over two decades, still remain one of Manchester’s finest exports to Ibiza. As long as they remain on the Island, Ibiza will have a cutting edge.
The Blog would like to thank, Elena Sanchez and Jillian Canney of Fix Ibiza, Slivia Santos of Ibiza Rocks House and La Skimal for their assistance with the interview.