The Dee Jays

What would Ibiza do without the DJ’s?? Once a shadowy figure in a dark corner, now a micro-managed, commercial entity, that’s more about image than substance. Summer 2014 in commercial Ibiza, is all about the sound of EDM and the big EDM DJ’s are as popular as ever. With their large wage demands comes big ego’s and pretentious attitudes and speaking to a few of the club owners and promoters, some are acting like spoilt children and Divas. Others are very well organised, with professional teams of talented people around them. They do a slick job on PR, visuals, production, sound and management, ensuring a polished product is delivered. Its all about knowing your market and packaging that sound to sell to a holiday crowd and everybody worth their salt in the music industry knows that Ibiza is the place that adds value, kudos and prestige to a DJ’s “brand”. Of course, Ibiza would not be Ibiza without the freestyle Balearic style of mixing that made it famous in the first place. A kind of musical expression where DJ’s play to a crowd, feeding off its energy and bringing them on a musical adventure. No set playlists, or timed “drops”, no production except for a set of decks and a cool venue. The only publicity they seek is the feeling of a good party with an appreciative crowd that knows their music. In this mid season report on Ibiza 2014, we take a look at the DJ’s that are making noise in Ibiza this summer.

Armin Van Buuren and ASOT

On the EDM commercial circuit, which is big this year in Ibiza, Avicii can do no wrong at Ushuaia. The kids love him and he puts a good show together. He’s the islands top commercial DJ and his popularity is as strong as ever. One has to be impressed by Armin Van Buurens new ASOT residency at Ushuaia. Probably the best produced show on the island, with neat 3D visuals and a crossover trance/EDM sound which makes the party feel fresh unlike Hardwells show, which is limp in comparison. The Worlds #1 DJ has disappointed in Ibiza this summer and maybe he is better doing one off shows rather than residencies, where he looks uninterested. Axwell and Ingrosso have a new sound this summer and you get the feeling that both are working well together to please their loyal fan base. Sadly their old friend Steve Angello, is not impressing with a few lack luster and repetitive sets. EDM is moving on and some are been left behind as they are either not working hard enough, or do not possess the creative ability to progress. Steve Aoki has been a hit at Pacha. While some have a problem with his showmanship style, he is a popular guy and many who have worked with him in Ibiza, have only good things to say about the 36 year old American. His party is full of energy and madness and the Playhouse is a good fit for Pacha.

Eric Prydz on fire at Cream.

In between commercial and underground in Ibiza, sits a subculture of parties and DJ’s that combine elements of the two genres.  Scale is important for ticket sales but a cool underground party is usually boutique in size, so the popular DJ’s that had their roots in underground are marketed to larger venues. Luciano is a classic example of how over-marketing of an underground DJ can go wrong. There were other issues with Luciano but a well managed campaign this year has seen the Swiss DJ make a welcome comeback. His team correctly chose a “back to his roots” Origins direction that was designed to appeal to Luciano’s underground beginings. Cova Santa was a mistake but luckily, Destino, was on hand to welcome Luciano back with open arms. On his first comeback season, Luciano is doing nothing wrong and will build on a good year with Cocoon. Cream is having a belter of a season and Eric Prydz is on fire with some excellent sets. A surprise hit this summer, Prydz is really capturing the energy present at Amnesia every Thursday night as the elder statesman that is Cream, shows the rest of the island how to party. Solomon continues his rise to greatness at Pacha and hes having another solid season at the club, astutely building his brand and image in true Pacha style. Carl Cox is Carl Cox nothing but professionalism from a DJ in tune with he islands heartbeat. Ok, hes pushing on in years, but more people are going to his party than they are Hardwells – supposedly the Worlds #1.

Much of the gossip in Ibiza this year centers around Marco Carola and his Music On party at Amnesia. Very popular with an Italian crowd but reports are coming back that the party has lost some of its freshness and the harmony between Club and DJ could be better. Ushuaia is rumoured to be interested in Carola’s talents for 2015, so it will be interesting to see what transpires over the winter months. Duke Dumont is proving popular with the Sankeys crew and has added extra dates to its calender, which is an interesting direction for the iconic Manchester brand to be taking with a mainstream DJ. Another surprise this summer has been the popularity of the iconic producer Fatboy Slim. Roadblocked Cafe Mambo with a huge crowd early this month and he has been seen to good effect on the Terrace at The House Of Madness in Amnesia where Marcus Schulz has been nicely placed, playing 6 hour plus sets of trance led EDM infused sounds. Over at Defected, Oliver $ has been leading the way with the classic disco house sound that the island loves.

Maceo Plex the sound of Ibiza 2014

On the underground scene there has been one big name producing the trendy sound of Ibiza this summer and that is Maceo Plex. His fingerprints are all over the big tracks and remixes that are driving the fresh underground sound of Ibiza 2014. His heavy baselines with orgasmic, ambient infused synths, are classic Ibiza and he has ensured that Richie Hawtins Enter party at Space, continues to drive the islands musical creativity. Over at the other creative musical hub that is DC10, Jamie Jones is as good as ever, serving up real sounds of the Ibiza underground. Unlike Luciano, Jamie Jones never sold out and for purists of the real Ibiza sound, his Paradise party on Wednesdays is the place to be. Sven Vath is still inspirational when on form and he lords it at the much loved Cocoon party at Amnesia. Guy Gerber’s decision to associate his new party to a venue like Plan B, is similar to dining in an Ibiza restaurant with pictures of food as its menu outside the door. Hes done himself no favors by blaming others for closing him down and may have missed an opportunity to build on the goodwill that WOTG generated at Pacha. Other names to note on the Underground scene are the Danish producer Kolsch, Shlomi Aber, Steve Lawler, Ten Walls and Greg Vickers at Tribal.

Next in Part III we look at the music that is shaping Ibiza 2014.