What a season it has been on the bass thumping island of Ibiza. A season of change, new directions and falls from grace that nobody saw coming. A year packed with surprises and disappointments, but always full of excitement and intrigue. 2013 was the year that Ibiza wriggled away from the tight grip of the music industry that previously dictated what music we should listen too. A well connected, backslapping, keep it all inside the circle attitude, where DJ’s, celebrity names and marketing spin, became more important than the music. Thankfully Ibiza saw through the bullshit and said enough is enough. Pacha led the way and got rid of the big egos and tired overpaid DJ’s pushing the same sound they were responsible for creating, well over a decade ago. Las Vegas came to Ibiza’s rescue and much of the dead weight and celebrity, went where the money was. Their relevance in Ibiza, now resigned to the history books. This created the opportunity for a new, fresh and youth driven musical agenda. Bass music and its sub genres, really came to the fore in Ibiza this season especially with a younger generation of clubber. Bass music had threatened to make a major breakthrough in the past, next season will tell if its here to stay. Personally, I hope that it is. Melody and vocal driven sounds were also making a comeback this season. Other noticeable trends included the decline of the celebrity DJ appeal, as many big names struggled to fill venues and required the help of other DJ’s on free transfers, to boost crowds at their parties. For many workers and industry people on the island, it was a tough season of hard work just to stay afloat. The VIP scene was very evident, especially in Palya Den Bossa and the Russians really made an impact with a free spending and serious party attitude. The awards below are a personal reflection on the season in Ibiza and a recognition of the people who worked hard to keep the true spirit of Ibiza alive.
Best Club Award – Pacha
Nominees Pacha, Sankeys, Amnesia, Eden.
For its much criticised and ridiculed break away from the “industry dictate” Pacha wins this award for sheer bravery and independence. The much loved Ibicenco club had enough self respect and confidence to break away and say something was not right. It would have been easier for Pacha to keep the status quo and rake in the cash, but instead they decided to break new ground, wipe the slate clean and start anew, focusing on the music rather than the DJ’s. All the team at Pacha deserve a big clap on the back for a job well done. The domino effect has already begun and more clubs and DJ’s in Ibiza will be looking at their musical programmes in a much different light next year. Musically, Amnesia was the best club in Ibiza this year with a fine balance and mix of some great parties, that included Music On, Together, La Troya, Cream and Cocoon (which benefited from smaller crowds). Sankeys kept it real with Viva Warriors and Darius Syrossian flying the flag for last seasons best club winner. Always ensuring a fresh sound and scene, Sankeys will sign three new parties for next season. Eden was a great addition to San Antonio this season and Ferry Corston was its highlight this year.
Best Party – Elrow
Nominees Elrow, Enter, Solomun+1, Insane.
Came close last year but just lost out to Enter. A real Mediterranean summer party, combining Spanish flair, colour and passion with some cool sounds. It got the Ibiza mix just right and the sunrise experience of the Vista Clubs domed glass roof at Privilege, added greatly to the fun and friendly atmosphere. Regarded by many industry figures as the islands best party. Solomuns +1 concept at Pacha worked a treat and the party could not have found a better fit for its understated stylish concept. The talented Solomun is here to stay and Ibiza looks set to be his natural home as he is creative and brings something different to the table. Richie Hawtin had another great season at Space and as last years winner, his team have built on that success delivering a slick, modern and creative clubbing experience to Ibiza. Insane was possibly Pacha’s best night musically and really cut the mustard with some technically savvy sets from the likes of Fritz Kalkbrennar, Uner, John Digweed and DJ Sneak. Another party that deserves mention was the Music On party at Amnesia, which as the season progressed, became one of the best on the island and is sure to be attracting industry kudos sooner rather than later.
Best Commercial Party – Avicci
Nominees; Avicci, FMIF, Pure Pacha, Departures.
Say what you like about the young Swedish hit making prodigy, the fact remains that the guy is a talented and creative young artist with an ear for producing melodic and vocally driven music. The atmosphere he creates at his parties is electric and he really knows how to put on a show. The girls love him and so do the boys and this season in Ibiza, his was the hottest party by far, road blocking Sunday nights, much to the detriment of other clubs and parties. He is ready to fill the shoes of David Guetta and become the islands King of commercial House – in fact, technically, he is a better DJ than Guetta. A below par David Guetta in Ibiza this year, failing to make an appearance for both the Pacha and Ushuaia closing parties – an out of character omission from a normally professional operator. His no show at Pacha was due to a late booking in Las Vegas but his relationship with Pacha reportabley remains solid for next season. Pure Pacha became the clubs most popular night and a fun Saturday night crowd packed the venue each weekend for a slice of what Pacha is all about. The Departures party at Ushuaia was slickly produced with a real professional management of its look and feel. While not as jammed as previous years, David Guetta continued to pack them in at a venue that best suits his style of music and performance.
Best DJ – Jamie Jones.
Nominees Jamie Jones, Richie Hawtin, Loco Dice, Solomun.
For keeping it real and not selling out to a commercial brand, Jamie Jones proved this year that he is Ibizas best and coolest underground DJ. DC10 fits him like a glove and his style is typically smooth and smoking. A talented DJ who sets the standard for others to follow, let hope that Jones remains true to his style and ensures that its always about the music. Richie Hawtin, when he has the time to really connect with his crowd, has few peers. A technical expert at mixing and building a set, some of his nights at Space were just mind blowing this year. Solomun has a style all of his own and is unique, expect to hear a lot more from this talented and grounded DJ who has a solid plan of where he is going within the industry. Loco Dice has provided many memorable moments in Ibiza and it was great to see him with a new lease of life in Ibiza this year. By far the best of the seasoned DJs- many of whom are still peddling their wares on past glories. This cannot be said about Loco Dice, who has innovated his sound and brought a great vibe to Ushuaia for his Used and Abused party. His once off party in La Marina of Ibiza town was a special Ibiza moment. Marco Carola made a big noise with his Music On party at Amnesia this year and many industry figures on the island were rating Carola highly all season.
Best Venue – Ushuaia.
Nominees Ushuaia, Destino, Ibiza Rocks, Nikki Beach.
With some of the best production values on the island, the open air, beach side stage at Ushuaia, was Ibizas best venue this season. Some great parties including Ibizas most popular, Avicci, ensured that a locally driven concept of style and music was brought to the forefront of the islands new direction. The big names like FMIF, Departures and Luciano all fitted in well with the underground parties such as Used and Abused and the exciting Ants party. In fact the Ants party attracted a musically savvy crowd and if there was an award for the best new début party, Ants would nearly get it. Watch out for it next season. Destino was a cool addition to the islands venue scene. An extension of the Pacha brand, so a certain level of quality and relaxed style that’s not in your face. Expect Destino to come into its own next season with some cool parties and concepts planned. Ibiza Rocks keeps the torch burning for live alternative music in Ibiza and the Friday DJ driven,WAR concept, worked particularity well this year. A new arrival to the island was Nikki Beach and it was a welcome addition to the beach scene, bringing its own unique American style of service and hospitality to Ibiza. Expect Nikki Beach and the east coast area to develop over the next few years.
Best Small Venue – The Bassment.
Nominees; The Bassment, Es Vive, BHS, Las Dalias.
I’m always supportive of people and places whose main priority is to create a venue that is all about the music, the party and the rock and roll. The Bassment was a fresh and welcome addition to the West End scene of San Antonio- a dedicated bass music driven venue that hosted one of my best nights of the year, the Utah Saints gig in July. Great staff with an underground friendly, personal atmosphere – a venue that was all about the music, dancing and having a good time. Setting a trend for others to follow, The Bassement and its team deserve respect for hanging in through a difficult first season. Maybe a little ahead of its time, The Bassment should reap the benefits of its hard work next season. Es Vive has long been an outpost of fashionable style in the laid back resort of Figueretas. An experienced and professional team provide a concept that is clubber friendly with a hint of Ibicenco style. Its rooftop terrace parties are well worth checking out and its a hotel that should be first on the list when booking accommodation in Ibiza. Same goes for BHS who continue to develop and evolve with the island and its culture. A fantastic location just across the road from Salinas beach lends BHS a unique and privileged atmosphere that is hosted by good people. Las Dalias needs no introduction. For well over six decades, it has been true to the real Ibiza vibe. The Namaste party is now nearing its 10th anniversary and its improvised nature has been a hallmark of the unique Las Dalias experience.
Best Live Performance – Chic@Ibiza Rocks.
Nominees; Chic, Laura Fowels, Shovell, Nicolas Jaar.
Cream always rises to the top and Nile Rogers has been an influential figure in the development of modern music culture. The Chic performance at Ibiza Rocks was a master-class from a legend whose work ethic and character is admired and respected by many. For Ibiza to host a live performance of Chic was a nod to good taste and respect. Live, quality music at its finest from one of the worlds most enduring artists. Laura Fowles is one of Ibiza’s hardest working artists and a pivotal part in the continued success of the Hed Kandi party at the beautiful Es Paradis. A beautiful smile, warm personality and an impressive set of lungs, ensures that any party she graces comes alive with her arrival. Shovell is a guy who epitomises what is good about music and is a strong light that burns individuality and essence. A linchpin of the Wax De Jam party at Las Dalias, his warm personality enders him to many. The performance of Nicolas Jaar at Destino this year, was one of those unique Ibiza moments that happen when you least expect it. Experimental and different, expect to hear more of his style next year.
Best Ibiza Track – Ten Walls Gotham
Nominees; Ten Walls, Ninetoes, Jack by Breach, Late Night-Foals, Storm Queen, Animals.
This was the hardest decision to make. It came down to a final two Ninetoes by Finder and Gotham. I went for Ten Walls just because it sounded right for a more underground Ibiza. It had dark edges that the other tracks did not have and while it was not as summery as Ninetoes, it did deliver with a well paced Ibiza beat infused with a distinct industrial synth that floated along. Jack by Breach was the most popular track on the island this year as it was sampled and played everywhere.