Techno titan and bike fanatic Carl Cox talks us through ten years at the top with his trail-blazing Tuesday night Ibiza party
“We had no plan! I thought after the first year we’d be done!”
Has it really been a decade already? It’s the very start of the blazing 2011 season and we’re sat reminiscing with DJ Carl Cox in the biggest five star suite that the Ibiza Gran Hotel has to offer. Never less than affable and almost always seen sporting (or riding) bike gear of some sort, he has a laugh that could melt the coldest of promoters – and over the years, most definitely has. Always on the move, he’s just flown in from Cannes where he played at a pool party for 2,000 people and after Space opening (where a mind-boggling 20,000 punters streamed through their doors), he flies straight out again to prepare for the tenth anniversary of Carl Cox The Revolution. In short, he’s come a long way since he first came to the island with no money and no other option but to sleep in his hire car. But he was always drawn to that infamous entrance. “When I first came to the island, Space was the only club that really played the very best music I’d ever heard,” he smiles.
As anyone who’s seen Cox in action at Space will attest, it didn’t take Carl long to realize that for his career, Space really was the place. And while he’s played at pretty every club the white island has to offer (from Eden, Pacha and DC10 to long-forgotten dens of iniquity like Star Club), he’s always found himself returning to the cavernous club in Playa D’En Bossa. That’s due in part to the unique relationship that Carl and his manager Lynn Cosgrove have forged with the club’s owner Pepe Rosallo. From his annual appearances at the clubs grand opening and closing to his consistently evolving Tuesday night concept, their refusal to book obvious talent and slowly evolve from season to season has ensured a staying power that most parties can only dream of.
Really, it’s the focus on music rather than gimmicks that’s kept them ahead of the curve. From their tenacious pre-boom support of drum ‘n’ bass (Andy C, Pendulum and DJ Marky) to unique techno talent (Loco Dice, Dubfire and Laurent Garnier), it’s a testament to Cox’s musical staying power and reputation within the dance community that he has managed to stay on top for so long. And while the suites have got sweeter, the man underneath the black t-shirts and leathers really hasn’t changed one bit. He still loves Ibiza and his passion for music remains undimmed; it’s just that he now has a collection of classic motorbikes Tom Cruise would be proud of, including a replica of a Valentino Rossi bike approved by the Italian world champ himself.
Here’s to the next ten years.
CARL COX’S TOP TEN REVOLUTIONS
1. SPACE WAS THE PLACE
“When I first came to the island, Space was the only club that really played the most futuristic music I’d ever heard. The club itself, the inside, was all about that. I used to stand outside at 7 o’clock on a Sunday, paid my money and went in. Outside, it was Balearic and house with people lounging on the sofas talking about the night before; inside it was all R&S and new beat and I didn’t know where it came from, it was unbelievable. All I knew was one day I would love to play.”
2. COME EARLY, COME IN FOR FREE
“Because of my early experience on the island, there was no way I could afford to go to Space or anywhere else for that matter. Similarly, at our night we wanted people to see quality DJs and come down early to a quality night. We used to do a pre-party, but that meant people didn’t come early so we stopped that and headed down to Space for a 7 o’clock Sunday vibe. In Ibiza, it was unheard of for a party to be rocking at seven in the evening and that’s what we created - and most of those people had come in for nothing!”
3. THERE WAS NO NIGHT TIME AT SPACE
“There really was no night time at Space: it was an after-hours club that started at 7 and finished at 5 in the afternoon and it was like that for years. So when I decided to become resident, we needed to do something. My career could have failed right there but I thought that the club was beautiful and the sound was there. But I kept thinking: it’s a night club! We had to change things and we had to start early.’
4. SPACE SESSIONS
“We had Goldie, Andy C, Pendulum, the list is endless. The club lends itself for people to be open-minded. Because Space has all these different rooms and a new terrace, we called it Space Sessions and on the new terrace we always had one drum ‘n’ bass DJ and then a house DJ. We also wanted to push the envelope – all the DJs we have are masters of their craft so for them to play to an audience who would love to enjoy their music, that happens at Space. [Owner] Pepe was very sceptical at the start, because he didn’t understand the sound. I’m still inspired by that phenomenal energy. This is how you move things forward.”
5. THE NEW TERRACE
“The terrace was always an open air space but the problem was the sound: you couldn’t have anything amore than 97-98 decibels and you could hear conversations, coins in pockets rustling and keys shuffling! This is one of the reasons why they build a new sound-proofed terrace, to create a club within a club. It was originally 800 capacity, now it’s over 3,000.”
6. INSTALLING A BETTER SOUND SYSTEM
“The main problem with the old sound system was it wasn’t good enough. And what with me being an old sound boy anyway, we couldn’t have people walk through the door and hear the music sound shoddy. So we asked Funktion 1 to bring in the best sound system they could - and I was so impressed, I didn’t want anyone else to have it! So for a while, everyone else had the regular sound. In the end, Darren Hughes [from We Love/Sundays At Space] was adamant that he wanted it too so we split the cost with Sundays and had it twice a week.”
7. DJ MARKY
“When we booked Marky, I knew that primarily people went to Space for house music. So understandably, his concern was ‘how do you see me fitting in, there’s no drum n bass on this island, let alone this club!’ I just said, ‘do your thing’ – and from record 1, Marky tore the place up: the sound was phenomenal. And in the other room was Norman Cook!”
8. THE NEW BREED - PENDULUM
“It all started at Glastonbury, they were doing their full live show behind me and they were rocking it. I said hi and later on said to their DJ Paul Hornet would you consider coming to play at Space. I didn’t think they would come.
Because we liked their sound, they went from being a bit evasive to saying yes. On the website, someone said it was one of the worst line-ups we’ve ever seen – but when they went on, Space was transformed into a concert arena with Pendulum connecting with everyone in that room.”
9. THOMAS VS FILTERHEADZ – ‘SUNSHINE’
“What’s funny is that this was actually meant to be a b-side on my label In-Tec! I’ve always had a Latino tech-house sound but even today I play this record and peoples’ arms ALWAYS go up in the air. This was a pinnacle record for us as a label, for Thomas Vs Filterheadz and for how it makes you feel today.”
10. THE TEN YEAR REVOLUTION
“This year we have people like Magda and Hernan Cattaneo joining us – along with Richie Hawtin for the first time.
It’s all based on the DJs who were there at the beginning, who were there in the course of our journey and are there now at the pinnacle point. And in some cases, we’ve had to prove ourselves worthy. When we started at Space, Richie Hawtin wasn’t able to do it. But through respect and Space turning into one of the best club experiences in the world, they’re going to absolutely lose their minds when they heard him play. We’re looking to do B2B for the first time ever. Everything is set up for him in that club.”